Who’s the Master of the Mock Draft? Talking to Drew Boylhart of The Huddle Report

Today in our Friday Wrap (you can register for it here), we talk to Drew Boylhart of The Huddle Report. Drew and the site’s founder, Rob Esch, do an incredible job of tracking the accuracy of mock drafts and Top 100 lists across the web every year.

In our newsletter, which will be out in less than three hours, we talk to Drew about how the site got started, how the rankings are set up, and who really rocks at predicting who’s going where. As for the Top 100 lists, Boylhart said Bob McGinn, a veteran of Wisconsin newspapers who launched his own site in 2017, excels.

“This year, Bob McGinn got 86,” Boylhart said. “He’s won it three times, and has an 82.8 average. He was in the 13th spot this year with his five-year average, and was in the top five with his board this year. He’s won it the most, three times. He’s able to call contacts and get names. McGinn has a tremendous amount of contacts and he can call them up and get into, just like Gosselin.

“Rob has had lunch a couple times with (Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, who also excels at predicting picks and players), and McGinn is the same way. They really are interested in what they’re doing and they interact with scouts and GMs, and they keep secrets so they can interact with them.”

Though some are better than others, Boylhart said there’s a fair amount of randomness to the mock draft process.

“Rob himself won it one year,” he said. “It’s like the lottery. Anyone can win. You don’t have to be in the system to win. My 94-year-old mother could win.

Evan Silva (of Rotoworld) did the best this year. 10 matches, which is highly unusual. He got 28 of 32 players in the first round. He did a really good job this year. But many, many times, you’ll do great one year and bottom of the barrel next year. It’s a real crapshoot.”

Tracking consistency has become difficult because so many sites don’t last long.

“The funny thing about them is, these sites go in and out so fast,” said Boylhart, 66. “These guys are dropping off like crazy. Seems like every 3-5 years, they’ll start a site, and most of these guys are kids, and they think an NFL team is gonna notice them, and their friend who went to college with them is an intern someplace, but they get discouraged after five years.

“It’s a lot of work. Most of them have jobs and want to be successful at their jobs, and after three years, its’ not fun.”

He said it’s also hard dealing with the abuse, particularly on Twitter.

“I can’t tell you the stuff they say to me,” said Boylhart of the controversy his profiles have generated. “I had one person tell me I should have been pulled from the womb of my mother because he didn’t like the profile I did. I had a parent call me at midnight, drunk as a skunk. Twitter is a beast. The stuff they say on Twitter, it’s incredible.”

Boylhart said the key to The Huddle Report’s longevity is that he and his partner take things in stride.

“We’re entertainment,” he said. “I have no agenda, I don’t think I’m gonna be hired by a team. I don’t break down film, and I’m not gonna suggest I’m a scout. I’m probably the furthest thing from a scout. I’m a profiler. I try to profile players on whether they’re gonna be successful or not.”

For more from Drew, make sure you register for our newsletter here.

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Examining NFL Hiring and Firing Trends In Scouting

There are still a few teams — the Saints, Patriots, Chargers and possibly Browns come to mind — that have openings in their respective scouting departments. At the same time, Memorial Day weekend signals the traditional end of hiring and firing season in NFL personnel departments.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the trends for 2018, and compare this year’s post-draft period to last year and previous seasons. All our information is culled from the Scouting Changes Grid we compile each season. This year’s grid is here. You can find all of the grids we’ve compiled since 2014 here.

  • With new full-time GMs in New York, Charlotte, Cleveland, Houston and Green Bay, it was expected that this would be an incredibly busy offseason. So far, not so. Last year, we tracked a whopping 170 moves — hirings and firings, promotions and reassignments — and 126 in 2016. To date, we’ve tracked 89 moves.
  • For a while, it looked like colleges would become the logical landing spot for ex-scouts, but we’ve only tracked two such hires (Tampa Bay’s Pat Perles to Kansas as an analyst and Atlanta’s Kevin Simon to Tennessee in a player development role) this offseason. Why? A new rule allowing a 10th coach on the field in college football is credited with pulling money away from the personnel side and into the coaching side.
  • It’s getting harder and harder to get back into the league. We counted 30 members of scouting and personnel who got let go between the end of the ’16 season and start of the ’17 season, most of them last spring. Of that 30, only 10 are back in football as of this week. And only eight of them are back in the NFL (former Chiefs exec Will Lewis and ex-Titans scout Tim Ruskell are now GMs in the Alliance of American Football).
  • Area scouts seem as disposable as ever, and maybe more so. Nine area scouts were let go after the ’17 draft. Only one — former Bills scout Shawn Heinlen, who was hired by the Eagles — is back in the league.
  • The reason is that teams seem to be elevating their own people. We counted 11 area scouts hired this spring (though they have various specific titles), and of the 11, five — about half — were in-house hires as either promotions or reassignments.
  • Staying in-house is actually part of a larger trend. Sixty people got hired to new jobs this spring. Of those 60, 24 didn’t have to change addresses. Again, almost half.
  • At the same time that it’s hard to get a second job in scouting, loyalty isn’t always valued, either. Of the 23 scouts and executives dumped this offseason, eight had never worked for another team.
  • Looking over the course of the last five years we’ve been tracking scouting changes, about 20 men get fired every year and don’t return. Those scouts vary in experience, time with team, and success of the team firing them. With about 250 jobs across the league in scouting and evaluation, that’s around 10 percent.

I wish I knew what to make of these numbers, but it’s hard to find trends, and our research and scope are still limited (five years and counting). At the end of the day, the only things to know are that it’s a volatile business; loyalty and personal relationships are critical; and once you get in, work as hard as you can not to get out.

Combine Prep for Beginners: A Conversation with Brian Martin

Brian Martin, CSCS, has been a friend of mine for over 10 years as he’s worked with some of the top training facilities in the business, playing a key role with training titans like TEST Football Academy and Parabolic Performance and Rehab, two New Jersey-based services. But he’s also had a hand in successful training services in California and Florida, giving him a resume that’s more varied and diverse than most in the business.

But Brian’s more than a trainer. He’s an entrepreneur, and having recognized the growing trend in combine prep, he’s putting his expertise to work with upstart services looking to expand their work with young athletes. With the number of players he’s trained and relationships he’s built over almost three decades, I can’t think of anyone more qualified to do this.

With that in mind, I spoke with Brian about his emerging business, B. Martin Sports, as well as a few tips for rising trainers in the combine prep space.

Tell us more about working with others to create elite-level football and sports performance destinations.

BRIAN: “Having been in the industry for 26 years (since 1992), I felt that it was time to lend my experience to up-and-coming sports performance coaches and facilities. Also, many ex-(NFL) players are opening facilities and I’m trying to help them navigate the waters on how to set up a facility. I had received hundreds of inquiries over the years asking how I got started in the NFL training business and how we were able to grow the business in cold-weather New Jersey as well as more ideal warmer-weather climates like South Florida and Southern California.”

What kind of volume of players in combine prep were you dealing with at your peak?

BRIAN: “In peak years, between combine prep and NFL offseason athletes, we would work with over 100 athletes in multiple locations in the winter months and dozens over the summer. This process took a lot of time, effort, and strategic planning. We had to make sure we had the proper facility (indoor and outdoor), strategic equipment and layout selection to optimize training.”

That’s a lot to take on. How did you break it down to the basics?

BRIAN: “It all starts with the 4 Ps. They are:

People: You have to know who you’re dealing with and value them, from owners (many of them former NFL players or other business leaders), to sports performance directors and coaches, medical staff, massage professionals, nutritionists, etc.

Program: You’ve got to focus on programming and periodization and have a well-thought-out coach-to-player ratio and sequence. This is all based on medical history, position played, and a movement screen; they’re all key factors. You must be sure to match your equipment selection and layout of facility to your training methodology.

Place: Facility location and proper space are critical to success. Equipment layout and selection are monumental so you can be efficient with use of space and to achieve optimal results. In 2018, I signed a deal with EnerG Wellness Solutions in Baltimore because they are the very best in the industry in facility layout; selecting ideal equipment from multiple vendors (and not just one or two companies because facility has a sponsor deal); and meeting the demands of your clients and customers.

Promotion: Once you are locked and loaded with a great staff (people) and have amazing (programs) in the right space (place), be sure to be strategic in your sales/recruiting and marketing approach. Working with groups like Inside the League is a great starting point, and then be very diligent in your media, print and marketing approach by aligning with strategic partners who specialize in this area.”

What would you tell a young sports performance coach is the most important element of getting started in the NFL training business?

BRIAN: “I would suggest mastering the 4 P’s above before trying to jump right into the business. There is a lot of competition in the NFL training space so be sure to align with the right people. That includes aligning with people in FOOTBALL-specific training (sports performance AND positional); with current and former pros to help with program design and recruiting; with the right medical and physical therapy staff, massage professionals, nutritionists and meal prep companies, sports psychologists, hotels and housing; and aligning with NFL agents, coaches and players. Most importantly, ask a lot of questions!”

How can people ask you further questions about the process?

BRIAN: “I am happy to help those looking to get into or grow in this business with advice on all of the above, with a particular focus on facility layout and design and equipment selection as well as advice and guidance on programming, logistics, and connections to NFL agents and coaches/scouts in various markets.”

Readers can also follow Brian on Instagram and Twitter at @Bmartinsports, and Brian welcomes questions or comments via DM.

 

 

Who’s Next at the Senior Bowl? Here Are A Few Names

This week, the pro and college football world was stunned by Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage’s resignation. Angus R. Cooper II, the Chairman of the Mobile Arts and Sports Association, immediately launched a search committee and is actively engaged in accepting applications and seeking to fill the vacancy.

Savage was an inspired hire. Not only had he been an NFL GM (with Cleveland 2005-08), but he is a Mobile native and Alabama grad. Since assuming the reins of the game in May 2012, he’s consistently kept the number of draftees at around 90 players while introducing innovations like adding underclassmen and bringing the game’s production and promotion into the 21st century. He had other ideas, like a Junior Showcase, that looked promising and exciting but never came to fruition, unfortunately.

Savage will be a hard act to follow. Though we don’t yet know who’s shown, or will show, interest, let’s have a little fun and look at some names that might make sense (in no certain order).

  • Ozzie Newsome, GM, Ravens: Newsome is in his final season in Baltimore, and this might be his golden opportunity to return to Alabama (he’s from Muscle Shoals) and stay involved in a more relaxed role. As a former Tide player (and a member of the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame, Class of ’89, as well as Savage’s former boss in Baltimore, he checks all the boxes. He’s respected, connected and proven. The only negative is that he wouldn’t be able to assume the reins until after Baltimore’s season ends.
  • Tony Softli, Executive Director, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: Tony has one of the things Savage had when he arrived: plenty of NFL experience, including 15 years spent with the Rams and Panthers (four of those as the Rams’ Director of Player Personnel). He also has something Savage didn’t have: extensive all-star game experience. Though the 2018 roster wasn’t the best of his five-year run, Tony has given the game stability and a sharp eye for talent since he arrived on the scene in 2013.
  • Marc Ross, former V.P., Player Evaluation, for the Giants: Like Tony, Ross has an impressive NFL pedigree, having worked for the Bills and Eagles along with the Giants. He’s also Ivy League-educated as a Princeton grad. At 45, he’s plenty young enough to continue Savage’s innovations and expand them. Energy shouldn’t be a problem. And speaking of Ross, his former boss, ex-Giants GM Jerry Reese, wouldn’t be such a bad candidate, either, though we expect to see him in an NFL front office role again soon.
  • Jeff Foster, President, National Football Scouting: This would probably be a step down in station and money for Jeff, but the job might involve less pressure and  almost as much football. He’s done a great job at National, though with the NFL threatening to start moving the combine from its Indy home, maybe it’s a good time for him to look around.
  • Ryan Grigson, former GM, Colts: Though he doesn’t have Southeast roots, this might be the right opportunity. He’s coming off a tough tenure with the Colts, followed by a short stint with the Browns, so the Senior Bowl could restore momentum to his career. And like Ross, he’s between jobs right now, so he could start immediately.
  • Blake Beddingfield, former Director of College Scouting, Titans: An Alabama grad and native of Huntsville, Beddingfield would be coming home. He’s well-regarded across the league and highly organized, and he knows talent. He’s also well-liked and polished. Blake is another one who might not be as sexy as other candidates, but he could be an excellent pick who sticks around for a long time in Mobile.
  • Doug Whaley, former GM, Bills: Like other ex-GMs on this list, Whaley has football connections by the bushel, knows evaluation and is highly regarded. The only negative would be his lack of ties to the area and his possible reluctance to relocate to South Alabama.

Do these names make sense? Want a few more? In today’s Friday Wrap, we’ll look at some candidates that might be home-run hires if the powers that be (and the candidates themselves) are willing to take a few risks. It comes out this evening (6:30 p.m. CT), it’s totally free, and you can register here. And if there are any we’re missing, let us know on Twitter.

2018 NFL Scouting Salaries: Our Survey Breakdown

This spring, we took on the tough task of asking active NFL scouts and evaluators to fill out a completely anonymous survey asking them about their respective salaries and benefit packages. Our aim was simple: we respect the job scouts do, we were curious, we thought it would be helpful, and shoot, no one else was doing it.

Before we presented our results, we wanted to look at what assistant coaches make. Though no one is comparing the heat head coaches and GMs have to take to what scouts face, assistant coaches typically work in greater anonymity and deal a lot more with pure football than others. For that reason, they seemed like the closest parallel.

Figuring out what they make isn’t easy. This article seems to set the floor for assistant coaches at around $300,000, or about double what most senior area scouts make. That seems about right, though we’ve not been able to research it thoroughly.

Here’s what our survey told us about today’s area scouts.

  • 6-10 years’ experience: We got 13 responses from scouts who’ve been in the league between six and 10 years. All but one were on two-year deals, the de rigeur contract length for most evaluators. Only one reported having served or presently serving in a director-level role (Director of College Scouting, Pro Director, Director of Player Personnel or AGM/GM). There was a wide variety of salaries: one made less than $50K last year; one made less than $65,000; two others were between $65,000 and $80,000; three made between $80K and $100K; two were between $100,000 and $125,000; and four made $125,000 or more despite having a decade or less in the game. More than half (seven) are employed by a team with a pension plan; all have at least some form of 401(k) match, with most (four each) either having a five percent team match or a match up to an unknown amount. Standard per diem (10 of 13 surveyed) was between $50-$59 while on the road, and car allowances were all over the map, ranging from none to a company car to various car allowances ranging mostly between $500-$700.
  • 11-15 years’ experience: Ten scouts with 11-15 years in the business responded. Their respective lengths of contract were divided pretty evenly between one (3), two (4) and three years (3), and none had served in an executive role. One, surprisingly, made less than $50,000 in the last year. Three made between $100,000 and $125,000 per year, and the rest (6) were at $125K or more. Six of 10 had no pension plan; five of 10 made 3-5 percent match on their 401(k); and six made $50-$59 on per diem. Six of 10 had a car allowance of $600 or more.
  • 16 years or more: We had 14 respondents to our survey in this bracket. Eleven of 13 are on two-year deals. Most (8) had some director-level experience on their resume. When it comes to salaries, there was surprising diversity. Though nine of 14 are making $125,000 or more and three are in the $100K-$125K range, one scout fell in the $65,000-$80,000 range and another was in the $80,000-$100,000 range. Eleven of 14 have some form of pension; seven of 14 have a 401(k) match up to an unspecified match (four have basic match, while one each have 3 percent, 5 percent and ‘other). Nine of 12 make a per diem rate of $50-$59 (the others, $49 or less) and most (8) make $600 and up for a car allowance.

We’ll compile the answers to our other questions regarding playoff shares, Super Bowl tickets and contracts with lockout stipulations (among others) in the pages of ITL, or here, soon. In the meantime, we hope this provides a snapshot of scouting salaries that may not be comprehensive, but at least better than nothing.

 

Here’s What Several Former NFL Scouts Would Do at No. 1

Though the chatter on Draft Twitter seems to indicate that Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield will be the top pick in the draft, there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty about what the Browns will do at No. 1. With that in mind, we asked several former scouts what they would do. Here’s what they told us:

Jeff Bauer (Jets): “Obviously, there is not a consensus of who the best QB is, if you should take the sure thing in (Penn State OH Saquon) Barkley, or even the best DE in (N.C. State DE Bradley) Chubb. Here is what I know: without a high-caliber QB, it is very unlikely you will win a Super Bowl. There have been exceptions, but you can count those times on one hand. Now, which QB? Do you draft the least ideal physical specimen who won more than the other ‘physically preferred QBs?’ That is what every GM, coach, owner is asking today who has a top 10 pick. For my money, you have to go with your gut on who is the smartest, best leader type that will win games. (Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson and (Saints QB) Drew Brees have proven you do not have to be 6’4 to win championships. I have not sat in a room for hours with these QBs like the guys making the decisions today have, but I would think when it comes time for me to turn in that card, it is going to be the guy they felt best about with leadership, smarts, and resilience to come back from mistakes.”

Danton Barto (Rams): “I would take Barkley the RB and grab the QB with the 4th.”

Ryan Hollern (Saints, Bills): “Has to be a quarterback. It’s a quarterback/head coach-driven league. You need to have a franchise guy in the building. Plus, they pick the guy they want from this talented class.”

Bruce Kebric (Raiders): “I would take the best player (Barkley) unless my team was a talented one.  An excellent running back can take a lot of pressure off of a quarterback, particularly an inexperienced one who the Browns can select at No. 4. I always use my experience of what Earl Campbell did for the Oilers and Dan Pastorini.  Of recent note is Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.”

Matt Manocherian (Browns, Saints): “It depends on how you feel about the quarterbacks, and since I’m not 100 percent in love with any of them, I would try to trade out and hope to land Chubb at 4. He’s my favorite player in the draft, and I’d feel comfortable taking him at 1 if I couldn’t get good trade value. If you love one of the QBs, that has to be your move. For me, I like Mayfield and Rosen over the other top prospects. And even though I now often get pegged as an ‘analytics’ guy, I’m not in the camp that’s vehemently opposed to taking Barkley high. He’s a good football player who changed Penn State’s offense as soon as he saw the field, he creates matchups, and he has obvious value on all four downs. I wouldn’t want a team in my division to draft him.”

Bob Morris (49ers, Browns): “The consensus best player in the draft is Barkley from Penn State. I would take him with the first pick if I did not have a consensus on which QB is the best. Browns can still come back and get one of top 3 QBs at #4. The RB will help, whoever is the QB.”

Josh Washburn (Redskins): “As far as Cleveland goes, they’re in a pretty good spot. I would look into trading down. They’re still in a good position at #4 to get a pretty good player whether it be their franchise QB or someone else to make them better. Plus, they’d pick up more picks to go with their surplus in the first two rounds and help recover some of what they lost by picking up (WO Jarvis) Landry and (QB Tyrod) Taylor.”

 

 

Reviewing Some Top 2018 Mock Drafts with One Week to Go

As you know, last month, we took a look at seven reputable draft services — Tony Pauline of Draft Expert; Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo; NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler; Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller; ESPN’s Todd McShay (this month’s mock is behind the pay wall); Chris Burke, then of Sports Illustrated, now of The Athletic (sorry, it’s behind the pay wall, though their rate is pretty affordable); and Charlie Campbell of Walter Football — and compared their mock drafts published in May 2017 with their updated mocks in March.

It wasn’t a straight apples-to-apples comparison, as some writers moved around and some services combined prognosticators’ picks into one mock, but we did the best we could. As you can imagine, there were plenty of changes over 10 months.

With one week to go until the ’18 draft (actually, less than a week), we thought we’d take one last look before things get real. Here’s what we found.

  • Last May, 11 players were listed in the first round by all seven services. This month, predictably, things have tightened: 20 players are now across-the-board first-rounders.
  • In the last month, the number of players rated as first-rounders by at least one service has dropped from 56 to 49.
  • Remarkably, five of the seven services see Georgia OB Roquan Smith as the No. 10 pick in the draft. The other two, The Athletic and Walter Football, have him as the 11th pick.
  •  After Smith, the three players with the greatest consensus in one place, all by virtue of four services, are USC QB Sam Darnold, the top pick in four mock drafts; Alabama WO Calvin Ridley, who goes No. 19; and UTEP OG Will Hernandez, who’s No. 30.
  • Florida State DC Tarvarus McFadden is Exhibit A of the fickle nature of the draft process. In May, he was rated as a first-rounder by all seven services, one of just 11 player so rated. This month, no one has him in the first round.
  • LSU DE Arden Key is Exhibit B. In May 2017, he was a first-rounder on all seven boards with an average selection at No. 6. As of this month, only one service, The Athletic, has him going in the top 32, and just barely (31).
  • Speaking of LSU, Derrius Guice was a first-rounder in the eyes of six services last May. Today, the running back is first round in the eyes of just two services, Draft Analyst (Tony Pauline) and NFL Draft Scout (Dane Brugler), and No. 32 for both.
  • Pauline was the only prognosticator to have Iowa IB Josey Jewell in his first round last May, and he stuck to his guns last month, but he’s removed him from the top 32 as of this month.

We’ll have more analysis in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening. If you’re into the draft — and I figure you are — you won’t want to miss our further breakdown of the services and who they like. As always, the Friday Wrap is free and is read by people across the industry, and you can register for it here.

Changing Teams: SunTrust Duo Making Most of Move

I’ve never met a financial advisor who didn’t say he chose to get into the game because he wanted to help players. Sure, the money’s nice, and being part of the NFL is a great way to escape the mundane nature of a ‘regular job,’ but most wealth managers I’ve found are genuine.
This certainly extends to Jeff Glusman and Austin Murphy. The Florida-based duo — Jeff is in Jupiter, Austin in Bal Harbour — recently moved to SunTrust from Merrill Lynch. I caught up with them recently to discuss their move and other matters related to their work and the game.
What prompted the move to SunTrust?
Austin: “It’s a company with over 100 years in existence and it’s publicly traded on the NYSE. That provides safety for our clients’ assets, and that’s important. But also, SunTrust’s specialty group in sports and entertainment has a 30-year record of success in catering to athletes, and we wanted to bring that to our clients during their career and into retirement.”
Most people that work with athletes want to get into the high-energy world of agents and athlete representation. Why did each of you choose finance?
Jeff: “My love for the markets started at an early age, from stock market competitions in high school to reading the Wall Street Journal and The Economist religiously to stay up to speed as I grew up. But the decision for me came with the (stock market) bubble in 2000 and losing my personal wealth to the point of not trusting others to do it for me going forward.  So I followed family advice and joined what was a great training program. Working with athletes makes it especially rewarding.”
Austin: “I’ve always had two major interests: working in sports and being able to make a difference in people’s lives. Wealth management allows me to accomplish both. My friends always say, ‘well, why didn’t you become an agent?’ My response is twofold. One, I’m not limited to just one sport as a financial advisor, so I can easily work with NFL, NBA, MLB and any other professional athletes. Two, as a financial advisor, when I get a client, it is for their whole life, not just their playing career.
There’s no shortage of financial advisors and wealth managers in the game. What separates you two from all the others? 
Jeff: “I’ve been blessed to be in wealth management for over 17 years, and I think my resume speaks for itself. What’s more, I have spoken at the Senior Bowl seven of the last 10 years as the financial literacy keynote speaker, and I have had countless professional athletes as clients, and none have gone broke or bankrupt with my guidance. What’s more, I’ve got a perfectly clean (Form) U4 through two of the worst financial crises in market history.”
Austin: “I’m 27, with experience working for a professional sports team (Austin was with the Miami Heat for the 2012-13 season) as well as having a law degree. Though I’m young, I think long-term, and I have the potential to work with my clients for a very long time. Also, I take pride in working for some of the most elite athletes in the world. That’s part of what makes my job special.”
I think a lot of people think of wealth management in athletics as resembling the show Ballers on HBO. Having seen the show, what are the most extravagant departures from real life that you see Dwayne Johnson do?
Jeff: “The biggest thing is, our relationships are not built on loaning players personal money or trips to Vegas or late nights at the club. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are built on trust created over time, during which there is a lot of stress and struggle.”
Austin: “Obviously, Ballers is made for TV, but there’s a lot viewers don’t see. The thing to realize is, there’s a tremendous amount of stress put on young athletes from an early age, not just from the point when they become professional, but from the time someone recognizes that they have a special talent and potential. Very often, their families exert a tremendous amount of pressure to reach that professional level.  Along with that pressure is the stress of always wondering who is talking to them and for what reason and if they are being exploited. We aren’t here to buy bottles and surf-and-turf dinners. We are hired to establish financial plans and educate our clients so that, with our guidance, they can maintain the ability to buy their own bottles and steak and lobster dinners.”
What are the top 3 tips you would give a rookie or veteran on managing their money?
Jeff: “Liquidity is key, so No. 1, have a good allocation to cash. And if the two emotions that rule the world are fear and greed, stay fearful and do not chase returns. Chase goals and a plan, and be accountable to yourself first.”
Austin:  “I would advise all athletes to stay up to speed with their respective league retirement plan, to have a basic will for their assets, and to consider the ‘what if’ factor with every financial decision. As a professional athlete you only get one chance to have this sudden wealth, and unlike the average American retiring and needing to make their money last for 20-30 years, athletes need to make it last for 60-70 years.”
For more information, reach out to Jeff here or email Austin at Austin dot Murphy at suntrust dot com.

Three Reasons It’s Bad to be a Scout During Pro Days

I remember one of my first pro days. It was at Texas A&M, probably sometime in the early 00s. This was during the Slocum era, before the school had built its luxurious athletic complex, and it was held in the weight room. Yes, they even ran 40s there, right between the benches and the squat racks.

The strength coach, while eyeing me the whole time and suspecting I was an agent, never threw me out. But then again, it was a pretty intimate affair — no crowds, no pushing to see the players, no cameras. It was me, about a half-dozen scouts, and 6-7 players. Those were the days. You could get some work done in relative peace.

Those days are gone. Even at the smallest schools and the coziest venues, it’s way different running a pro day in 2018. Here are a few things scouts have to deal with now that just a few years ago were unheard of.

Families: I was watching a sitcom last week, and the opening scene involves a man going to meet a potential investor in a big, fancy office, and he has his kid with him (he couldn’t find a babysitter). It was done for a laugh on television, yet every pro day you go to today involves extended families showing up, and yes, that often involves little kids. At the very least, a young man’s parents are there, and at the bigger schools, they’re allowed to bring about anyone they want, within reason. But that’s even true at the smaller schools these days.

I was at Prairie View A&M last week, and crowded into a big room waiting for the players to work out were several men that looked like players’ dads to me (which is to be expected) but also moms, brothers and sisters, and yes, girlfriends and kids. That not only makes scouts’ jobs harder, but also the pro liaison on staff at the school who now has dozens of people he has to manage. Here’s another thing: many of the parents come dressed up, wearing long dresses and ties. Others will show up wearing themed shirts. I don’t mean to minimize the event, and I respect that this is a big day and they want to look their best, but geez, that has no impact on a scout. Having generations of families there just tends to slow things down.

Media: As recently as 10 years ago, most people in the media didn’t know what a pro day was, or at least, acted like they didn’t. These days, a scout has to often weave his way through writers and dodge cameras simply to get heights, weights and times. What also cracks me up is how so often reporters try to ask scouts about specific players and their draft chances. Come on, man. This is proprietary information. You think a lowly area scout will risk his job to give you a few comments for your story? I totally recognize that members of the media have a job to do, but it’s asking a lot to expect scouts to give up morsels during a pro day so a writer has something to toss onto Twitter. I asked one scout last week at Texas A&M if he’d be at Texas the following day. His response? He was headed to another state entirely, presumably by air, but I wouldn’t rule out his driving it. The point is, most scouts have a plane to catch afterward or another pro day to drive to. They just want to get their jobs done and move on.

Greater and greater numbers: Again, I think that it wasn’t long ago (maybe a decade) when players realized that playing in the NFL was for the privileged few. The seniors got workouts, and there might be a handful of players from smaller schools that worked out, but these kids were highly decorated, all-conference types. Now, the drill is that if a kid isn’t signed by an agent, he calls around until he finds one. There are always agents willing to sign a small-school kid, hoping they get lucky, as long as there are no costs involved. The kid then expects the agent to call around and try to get him into a pro day. Sometimes, a big school relents, though most of the time, these kids are just not NFL material. I’ve seen the looks on the faces of scouts that show up at some of these workouts, hoping to see a half-dozen kids, but seeing 10-15, and knowing that their 90 minutes of work just turned into three hours, and they’re hoping to get home before 9 p.m. that night. Fat chance.

 

Ask The Scouts: Does Lamar Jackson Risk Falling Out of the First Round?

There’s no question Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is an exciting player with a spectacular blend of athleticism and play-making ability. On the other hand, in the wake of his decision not to run the 40 at his pro day Thursday — coming on the heels of skipping it at the combine — there are other questions.

Just how fast is Jackson? And also, how advanced is he regarding reading defenses, making decisions and directing a modern NFL defense? There are reports suggesting he’s been hard to reach and evasive with NFL teams.

But is all of this just media hype? Will any of it have any real impact on his draft standing? We asked several scouts and this is what they had to say.

  • “Last I heard he had just ‘risen’ into the first round, so I find it interesting that we are already talking about him potentially ‘dropping out.’ I think his grade should mostly be what it was on December 1. The area scouts should know best.”
  • “He’s probably not running a 40 because he doesn’t want to run fast and people think he’s a WR automatically. But he also probably hasn’t prepared for everything else.”
  • “(He won’t slip in the draft) due to 40. (i) can’t imagine any team questions his speed or (athletic ability). He’s too dynamic, (and) some team will take him in (the) 1st. (Tim) Tebow and (Johnny) Manziel went in (the) 1st.”
  • “Definitely think all of those things have and will affect his draft status. Should’ve had a legitimate QB guy and organized workout. Should communicate better with teams…he and his mom. And Lamar should never make apologies for his speed and athleticism. Adds to the ‘wow factor’ that is Lamar.”
  • “His build and style of play make him a long ways from being a sure thing at QB. There (have) not been 4 QBs drafted in the first round since 2012. Last time 5 QBs in first round was ‘99. I think he will be drafted first as a QB, but first-round QB?”

Want more feedback from NFL scouts? We’ve got plenty of it. In fact, some of the responses we got from our friends in the business was as nuanced and lengthy as any question we’ve posed in the past.

You can read what we heard from people across the league in today’s Friday Wrap. As you know, it’s free, and it’s read by people across the NFL (agents, scouts and executives, financial advisors, trainers, the works) every week, and if you care about the game inside the game, you should, too. Sign up here. You won’t be sorry.