Players now engage in elaborate training in the period between their
last game and the scouting combine in February and the agent takes on
the financial and advisory role during the process. As recently as 2005, I
was asked by a father what my training program was. My response: "From
1989 to 2005 I represented the very first player in the first round of
the draft-impossible to be selected higher-and they all trained
themselves at their universities with the help of the staff." He
responded "then we can't select you" and a new era had begun.
Elaborate training facilities and programs have arisen to meet the
need. Players usually are focused on nutrition, strength and weight
training, and prepared for the combine drills in January and February.
I monitor these sessions closely to chart the progress physically and
skill set wise of a client. A state-of-the art program transforms
weary bodies into RoboAthletes and the improvement is marked. We
prepare players for the twenty-minute interview process with teams
using a former NFL exec. We give them our own intelligence test so
they are prepared. One year I had a player score a 11 on the
Wonderlic, we had him tutored in test-taking and the next time he
scored a 27.
We use a physician to monitor their injuries. The NFL is obsessed with
speed, it is the variable that vaults or diminishes draft status most
dramatically. So we hired a speed coach who produced the fasted player
at the combine by having him "count steps." We also had a player set
the record one year for most 225 pound lifts.
The first "second season" events are team bowl games. Then the focus
turns to All-Star games like the Senior Bowl. For a week players are
scouted daily at practices as well as the game. Playing in these games
is voluntary. Attendance at the Scouting Combine is mandatory. Every
single team executive, coach, asst. coach and scout is present in
Indianapolis for the week. Players are weighed, measured, tested for
banned substances and given intelligence tests. They receive the most
thorough physical exams imaginable -- if they have a tender spot,
multiple physicians will put stress on it. Players choose whether to
compete in physical drills including a 1) 40-yd dash 2) vertical leap
3) horizontal leap 4) lifts at 225 pounds and 5) lateral drills.
Players can choose to display their position talents in workouts. For
a quarterback, a session throwing to receivers is the equivalent to their Super Bowl of
The action then returns to college campuses in March and early April
for "Pro Scouting Days." The same tests and drills given at the
Combine are administered all over again. Clubs especially interested
in a player may return to campus for a specialized workout. Teams
compile their Draft Boards by position and by overall athletic rating
and prepare to draft.
The key to being drafted high is to have an individual franchise "fall
in love" with a player and desire him specifically, not simply to feel
that he would be a good player for someone. All of scouting is a
search for enough teams with real passion for a player to drive him to
the top of the draft. Having the most accurate assessment of how a
player is rated throughout the process is necessary to be flexible
strategically. No one tells a draftee which scouting events he should
perform at and in what order. The agent is crucial in understanding
the process and which activities will show the player at his best.
Making sure that a player is courteous and cooperative and interacts
well with teams is important. Character is key. A team is risking
guaranteed bonus and a damaging hit to their salary cap if a player
has behavioral problems or motivation problems. The player is applying
for employment and the burden is on him to explain his past and deal
with whatever concerns a team has. He also has to be rigorously
disciplined in avoiding any incidents of any kind in this period.
Teams will be in touch with the agent in the weeks leading up to the
draft, so it ought not be a surprise who is interested. If a team gets
a sense that the agent is planning a difficult negotiation it can
point them in a different direction.
Successfully guiding a client through this process builds a bonding
and confidence in the relationship that will last a lifetime. The
ultimate question on the night prior to the draft is: "Was there one
single thing we could have done more to have enhanced the chance for
this hopeful player to be drafted any higher". If the answer is
negative, get ready to enjoy the single most exciting, dramatic moment
of a players' career to that point. A day like no other.