2019 NFL Scouting Salaries: Our Survey Breakdown

This year, like last year, we sent a 13-question survey to active NFL scouts. We asked them several questions about their job, including pay, contracts, pension and other benefits. We also asked about which team they felt had the best draft last year, and we announced those results in Indianapolis.

We’ll break down the info we gathered on salaries, sorted by number of years in the league, in today’s Friday Wrap. Here’s a question-by-question look at the other info we gathered from scouts this year.

  • As of Jan. 1, 2019, how many years have you been a scout, not counting any years spent as a scouting assistant or intern?: We got a pretty homogeneous mixture this year, with 28 percent of respondents having five years or less and 34 percent with 11 or more. The 6-10 and 11-14 groups split the remainder evenly. Last year, almost 90 percent of our respondents came from the three upper-tier groups, with just 11.6 percent from the 0-5 group.
  • How long is your current contract?: This question might get struck next year. Last year, about 74 percent of respondents had two-year deals, while this year, 72 percent do. Last year, the bulk of scouts without two-year deals were on one-year contracts. This year, responses were split evenly between one year and three years, which I found unusual.
  • Have you ever served in a director-level NFL role (Director of College, Director of Pro, DPP, AGM/GM)?: As last year, the overwhelming majority of respondents had no director-level experience (81 percent both years).
  • Pension?: This offered a bit of good news, as the percentage of scouts with a pension actually ticked up slightly (58 percent over 56 percent last year). The perception across the industry is that pensions are disappearing, and that still may be true. As we continue with the survey, time will tell if this is really a trend.
  • 401(k) match: The results here are really too diverse to read. We offered nine options on our survey, with no real consensus. The two biggest percentages are in basic match and five percent or less match (about 22 percent each). Last year, match up to a fixed (and not designated in our survey) match led the way with about 28 percent. The bad news: last year, only two percent of respondents had no match at all; this year, it’s more than 12 percent.
  • Per diem: These numbers basically didn’t move. About 70 percent of the industry gets between $50-$60 per day.
  • Car allowance: Not many scouts are driving around in company cars, with less than 10 percent checking that box each of the last two years. The majority of scouts seem to be getting $600-$700 (31 percent this year) or $700-plus (28 percent this year). Those numbers are similar to last year.
  • Receipts/miles for gas: About two-thirds of scouts must turn in their receipts for reimbursement; those results are basically unchanged from last year. Among those that get paid per mile, the going rate is 41 cents per mile or higher for about 30 percent of respondents.
  • Buy Super Bowl tickets?: These numbers didn’t change in any meaningful way. More than half (53 percent both years) don’t get a chance to buy. Of those that do, about 30 percent (both years) get to buy two, and a little less than 10 percent get to buy four. I’ve heard that some teams in military towns donate tickets to bases, which cuts back on the number available to scouts.
  • Playoff share: Both years, about a third of respondents said playoff share is up to the owner’s discretion, while about another third get a 25 percent share. Last year, about a quarter got a half share, while this year that number fell to about 15 percent. 
  • Does your current contract make any provisions for a possible lockout?: Not good news here. Last year, only about a quarter of respondents reported provisions for a reduction in pay due to a lockout. This year, that percentage is up to almost half. Clearly, owners see storm clouds looming.

For a closer look at what scouts take home in actual pay, check out the Friday Wrap. It comes out at 7:30 p.m. EST, and you can register for it here.

 

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Building a Network

At Inside the League, we encourage people that want to work in the football business to get their knowledge from volunteering, building relationships and soaking up football any way you can. On the other hand, we don’t encourage trying to get it from a classroom. You have to go where football people go, shake as many hands as you can, and even pass out business cards to anyone that will take them.

Of course, you have to start by going where football people go, and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis is obviously one of those places. Here’s a look at some of the people you could have met if you were at the XFL Hospitality Room (Suite 125 of the Indiana Convention Center) last week (and oh, by the way, we had free sandwiches, too):

  • Craig Redd: Craig is the co-founder of the College Gridiron Showcase, a game I serve as a partner. I’ve spoken in the past about the high regard I have for everyone associated with the game, and that goes especially for Craig and his co-founder, Jose Jefferson. But the most important thing to know is that all-star games are always looking for volunteers, and we can even offer college credit for the work done there. If you were in Indy last week, he’s a key contact you could make. Craig is incredibly friendly and accessible, and always looking for good workers.
  • Doug Whaley: You might think that the Senior V.P. of Football Operations for the XFL, a former NFL GM (Buffalo), would be far too busy for ordinary people. After all, he’s building a new league from scratch. However, I’ve known Doug for about a year, and he’s always treated me as an equal. Doug is the kind of person who sees everyone as having something to offer. If you’re looking to get into scouting, you should know that XFL teams won’t have a full scouting department, and will follow more of a college football model. That means if you aspire to be a scout someday, here’s your shot at volunteering in evaluation. You could have gotten started on that if you were at our suite last week.
  • Kevin Dunn: Kevin owns TEST Football Academy in New Jersey, and besides being the sponsor of our suite and a longtime friend, he’s a perfect example of a guy who built a sports practice from the ground up. Most everyone I know who’s got a combine prep facility in the north is struggling, but Kevin isn’t. Not only did he approach me months ago about sponsoring our suite, but he’s also got stacks of sponsors and a full gym. That’s a real accomplishment in a business as difficult to navigate as football is these days.
  • Ric Serritella: Not only is Ric connected in the football world; not only is he a noted NFL Draft expert; and not only is he incredibly talented when it comes to video production, but he’s incredibly friendly. And like Craig, Doug and Kevin, he’s not too big to talk to people just getting started out in the business.

If you weren’t in Indy this year, make plans to be there next year. If you read this blog, and you’re serious about working in the business, you need to get serious about being where opportunities are.

Want to learn even more? Don’t forget to register for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can do that here.

Our First Seminar for Coaches of Agents: Three Takeaways

So yesterday was our first-ever seminar solely for agents of NCAA and NFL coaches, the Franklin Capital Strategies Coaches Agent Seminar presented by Texas Interventional Orthopedics.

Actually, it really wasn’t a seminar; it was a limited-participation morning with our three panelists, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post (formerly ESPN); Doug Whaley, Sr. V.P. of Football Operations for the XFL (and formerly with the Steelers and Bills); and perhaps the top name in the coach search firm business, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • While there’s a lot of energy associated with representing players, the real interest is in working with coaches. The problem is, no one has nailed down the business model. Joe told the story of one assistant coach who dangles the prospect of 10 percent of his first-year salary to any agent who can get him a job as head coach of a specific team. In this way, he sends droves of hungry agents out to work for him without locking himself into an agent who may or may not always burn the midnight oil.
  • Doug said the key to getting a job in today’s world is knowing the trends. One thing he said was that in the old days, trends trickled down from the NFL. That’s not true today. College football is undergoing a renaissance, and the most imaginative offenses are not in New Orleans or Kansas City but in Oklahoma and Texas Tech (hence Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury). Therefore, to get a job in the NFL with a progressive team, it’s advantageous to have an association with one of the hotter programs in the NCAA, even if you’re on the personnel side.
  • Also from Doug: When he was with the Bills, he and his staff conducted a review of all coaches in the NFL just in case the team needed to fill a vacancy on the fly. We hear a lot about breaking down the draft, and even scouting active NFL players, but who knew teams actively scouted and evaluated coaches.
  • What’s the first thing an agent negotiates for a coach? His salary, of course. However, once the salary is set, it’s time for the benefits. Country club memberships. Private jet hours. A car for the coach’s wife. Luxury box access. You might think that a coach getting paid millions of dollars wouldn’t worry about these things, but that’s not the point. The point is, a good agent sets it up so that they don’t have to. If you want to rep coaches, you better be prepared to do the same.

Still curious about what was said and heard at our first-ever seminar for agents of coaches? We got you. Reach out to our title sponsor, Paul Franklin of Franklin Capital Strategies, by any of these methods.

Path to VKTRY: New Insoles Give Bounce to Competition, Off-Field Opportunities

If there’s one thing I always hear from agents, it’s that their clients regularly ask them for off-the-field marketing opportunities — endorsements, paid social media posts, signing shows, etc.
Well, if you’re a contract advisor in that situation, I’d like to introduce Inside the League’s newest partner, VKTRY Performance Insoles. Hey, athletes preparing for the combine and their respective pro days, take heed: VKTRY is the only performance insole on the market and has been proven to reduce injuries and increase explosiveness.
VKTRY Performance Insoles (VKs) are made from aerospace-grade carbon fiber, weigh less than one ounce, and fit comfortably in all athletic footwear. VKs are custom-made for each athlete and are available in five different levels of flexibility to optimize comfort, performance and protection for the athlete.
VKTRY worked closely with the football programs at N.C. State, Texas A&M, Duke and Northern Illinois to gather research data on injuries with or without wearing VKs. These schools reported team injury statistics to VKTRY following the 2017 season. Teams experienced 41% less foot/toe injures using VKs and 22% less lower-leg injuries. More than 170 professional and NCAA teams are currently using VKTRY, including LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and TCU on the college level and the Saints, Eagles and Titans in the NFL.
Along with the hundreds and hundreds of individual elite athletes wearing them, there were more than 50 invitees to the 2018 NFL Combine wore VKs, and this year, there are 20 projected first-rounders wearing VKs during combine prep. While everyone seems to be offering helmets, mouthpieces, shoes, pads and accessories of every stripe, VKTRY is the only one that I know of offering insoles. And the best part is, they can improve performance whether it’s on the field or at a school’s pro day. 
On the other hand, maybe here’s the best part: VKTRY is looking to sponsor 10-15 NFL player camps or events this offseason and summer. I can vouch for Doug Oomen, Director of Elite Teams at VKTRY. I’ve known Doug for at least 10 years and he’s as connected in the football world as about anyone I know, and that only happens when you pay your dues, prove yourself reliable and don’t burn bridges. And Doug’s not about to start now.
If you represent an NFL starter (any position) and you’d like to discuss opportunities with Doug, reach out to him at 312-933-7529 or doug.oomen@vktrygear.com. 

Looking at the 2019 NFL Draft Mocks: A Few Observations

As we roll toward the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine — now less than two weeks away! —  we thought it was time to take a look at what the biggest voices in #DraftTwitter are saying about the first round, which is a little more than two months away.

It’s the third time we’ve checked out draft experts’ picks heading into the 2019 selection meeting. Our first look was published in our Friday Wrap in July, followed by an update just before Thanksgiving, also posted in our weekly Friday Wrap. Here’s a look at the complete composite grid from July (sorry, it’s a pay link), and here’s the grid from November.

As usual, we surveyed seven major draft experts, all of them (except one) posted in the first or second week of February: Tony Pauline at Draft Analyst (Feb. 4); Pro Football Focus (we used their most recent mock, written Feb. 5 by Mike Renner, though normally we use Steve Palazzolo’s work); Dane Brugler at The Athletic (Feb. 5); Mike Miller at Bleacher Report (Feb. 4); ESPN’s Todd McShay (Feb. 7); Sports Illustrated (normally we use Albert Breer, though their most recent work was published Jan. 29 by Kalyn Kahler); and Walter Football (Feb. 13).

Obviously, surveying Draft Twitter doesn’t give you specific answers about who’s going where, but it’s an interesting look not only at the top players as the media sees them rising and falling, but it’s also fascinating to look at the various experts and see who’s most accurate and which ones are willing to go farthest out on a limb.

Anyway, based on our grid, a few thoughts.

  • It’s interesting how little the field of possible first-rounders has shrunk since November, while at the same time seeing a number of players dropped and picked up simultaneously.
  • For example, at least one of the seven services rated 55 players as first-rounders in November, while today, it’s just 52 players. On the other hand, 15 players who got first-round acclaim last fall — Stanford WO J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Wisconsin OC Tyler Bladasz, Auburn DT Derrick Brown, Notre Dame IB Te’Von Coney, Alabama DE Raekwon Davis, Auburn DC Jamel Dean, Alabama DC Trevon Diggs, West Virginia QB Will Grier, Oregon QB Justin Herbert, Oregon OB Jalen Jelks, Buffalo WO Anthony Johnson, Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger, Georgia OB D’Andre Walker and Michigan DE Chase Winovich — no longer show up in any of the seven mocks. Of course, Bladasz, Brown, Davis, Diggs, Herbert and Okwuegbunam all stayed in school, but apparently the needle is pointing down for the other seven.
  • Among the 12 players they claim now look like first-rounders are Delaware DC Nasir Adderley, West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste, Washington St. OT Andre Dillard, Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson, Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson, Alabama OH Josh Jacobs, Mississippi WO D.K. Metcalf, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, South Carolina WO Deebo Samuel, Vanderbilt DC Joejuan Williams, Miami (FL) DT Gerald Willis and Old Dominion DE Oshane Ximines.
  • There’s not a lot of variation on the first-round quarterbacks. All seven services see Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins as a first-rounder and the first QB off the board, and all agree that Murray is a first-rounder, though Sports Illustrated sees him going at No. 27 and Matt Miller at Bleacher Report has him going highest (No. 7). Only ESPN’s Todd McShay sees neither Duke’s Daniel Jones or Missouri’s Drew Lock as a first-rounder.

We’ll have plenty more in today’s Friday Wrap. If you read our blog, you should read our Wrap, as well. Go here to register.

A Quick Look at the 2019 NFL Combine Class

You follow the game, so you know that Thursday the NFL announced the names of the 338 players invited to the combine later this month. As always, there were a few surprises and a some big-name snubs, plus a few interesting trends that we observed.

Here are five thoughts on the combine list from a football business point of view.

  • The agency with the most clients at Indianapolis? It’s Irvine, Calif.-based Athletes First with 25. Coming in second are two firms with 24 each: Nashville-based CAA and New York City-based Sportstars. Philadelphia-based Octagon Football and Los Angeles-based Wasserman Sports each tied for third with 15 each. For what it’s worth, there are two players (Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Washington State’s James Williams) for whom we have no agent listed, so these totals aren’t written in stone.
  • One thing not widely known about the combine is that the number of players at each position changes with each class. For example, it’s mildly surprising that this year, only 17 quarterbacks were invited (and we’re still not certain Murray will play football). Last season, 19 quarterbacks were invited.  In 2017, only 15 came to Indianapolis, while there were 19 passers in 2016 and just 15 in 2015.
  • Here’s a handful of players that were the next ones on the list for invites (it will be interesting to see how many of them are drafted before those who did get invites): Auburn OB Darrell Williams, Cincinnati DT Cortez Broughton, Maryland IB Tre Watson, Ohio WO Sefuan White and Nevada OB Malik Reed.
  • In all 936 seniors were part of the voting process before they were whittled down to around 250 for the first wave of invites. Some made the cut as part of the second wave.
  • Of the 936 players submitted to voters, 251 received no votes from any of the 32 teams and another 123 got just one. What’s more, 529 players got five votes or less. That seems to indicate that there’s pretty wide acceptance of which players are draftable, though opinions may vary on what order and which ones are at the top vs. the bottom.

We take a longer look at the combine list as compared to previous classes (plus other things we found interesting) in today’s Friday Wrap. As you know, it’s completely free and read by about 5,000 people from all walks of the football business. Here’s last week’s edition.

If you’re interested enough in “the game behind the game” to read our blog, you’ll find our weekly newsletter interesting, as well. Sign up for it here.

Safe and Getting Safer: Goodell’s Green Shield Strengthening

The following column is courtesy of NFL Draft Bible’s Ric Serritella, who has previously written on tech issues for Succeed in Football and also is a contributor to NFL Draft Scout

When it comes to sponsorships and generating new revenue streams, the NFL reigns supreme. Despite its controversies (CTE, anthem protests, blown calls that affect Super Bowl participants and more) the league continues to produce ‘must-see TV’ up to four nights weekly.

Consider this: the four highest-rated TV programs in 2018 were Super Bowl LII, the Super Bowl LII post-game, the NFC Championship and NFC divisional round playoff game.

For more, let’s rewind to the year 2010. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed ownership during league meetings in Orlando, with the declaration that the NFL plans to earn $25 billion per year in revenue by the year 2027.

That’s correct. $25 billion. A ‘b,’ not an ‘m.’

At the time, it seemed like a lofty goal and a long way off, as the entire league had just taken in $8.35 billion in revenue that year. The plan was to generate an additional billion dollars in revenue each year, and as we approach the end of the 2018 season, it now appears that the league might get there even sooner than expected. While official numbers have yet to be released for 2018, revenue is expected to be nearly double that figure from eight years ago, according to this chart.

One big reason for the spike in revenue is the Thursday Night television package rights. In 2016, the NFL increased its TV deal with CBS and NBC to $450M, up from the $300M package sold in 2014. Last January, it was announced that FOX will pay $3 billion over the next five years for the new deal. That is quite a significant increase in a short period time. It’s also roughly $21M in revenue for each NFL owner every year, just from TNF alone.

When the next round of TV packages are put up for bids, negotiations could mirror a scene from the Wild West. New players such as Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and others will be chomping at the bit to secure NFL television licensing rights.

Another factor in the NFL’s rising revenue stream is in this latest report by IEG Research, which states that total sponsorship spending on the NFL and its 32 teams rose 5.1% to $1.39 billion in the 2018-2019 season. A big reason for the spike in sponsorship revenue is the league’s changing attitude toward gambling and fantasy sites. The NFL recently struck a deal with Caesars Entertainment to become the league’s first-ever official casino partner. The deal is reportedly worth $30 million per year. According to IEG’s findings, additional growth was also driven by a spate of new league-wide sponsorships including Intuit, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Sleep Number.

From a category perspective, beer companies were the biggest NFL investors, spending 4.3 times more than any other category. Autos and telecoms spent 4.0 times more, while soft drink and technology companies spent 2.9 times as much on football than any other sports category.

The most invested brands were Ticketmaster, which has sponsorships with 100% of NFL Properties. Next up is Budweiser/Bud Light at 88% of the league; Gatorade works with 79% of teams, Microsoft 73%, and Bose 70%. With the NFL increasing its presence globally into new markets such as Mexico and Japan, while expanding the slate of games scheduled in London for 2019 to five and increasing the number of regular-season games abroad, the continued spike of revenue could be even greater in years to come.

While it’s easy for the media to paint Goodell as a villain and question why he remains the commissioner, remember, he’s a hero to the 32 owners who hired him.

Follow Ric on Twitter @NFLDraftBible or on his personal account, @RicSerritella.

Creating a Better Business Climate for Agents and Players

As you know if you read this blog regularly, it’s a highly volatile time to be an NFLPA-licensed contract advisor. Agents are being squeezed by players with an increasingly long list of expectations and a poor understanding of what they do. At the same time, there’s more and more pressure from the union for top players to go without representation. Meanwhile, more and more players are being lured with fee cuts and mounting enticements (high-end training, signing bonuses, marketing guarantees, per diems and the like).

Denver-based Peter Schaffer is among those trying to fight back. He’s arranged a meeting of all contract advisors in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine (Thursday, Feb. 28) to allow everyone to gather and clear the air, perhaps uniting behind a handful of actions designed to unify the agent community and create a more level playing field. As supporters of NFL player representatives, we are playing a supporting role in efforts to ease turmoil in the business.

Here are a few measures that I’ve heard might have support from agents in my discussions with them over the past 2-3 weeks. The last four are recommendations Schaffer has made.

  • A representative who will speak (and fight) for contract advisors: One agent I spoke to said there’s a need for someone who’s not NFLPA-certified to go to bat for the rights of contract advisors. The problem is that only NFLPA-licensed reps are allowed into seminars presented by the Players Association. It’s also anybody’s guess whether or not the PA would even listen to such a representative.
  • A published list of the fee schedule for every standard representation agreement (SRA) signed in a draft class: This would be a bold move, and one supported by some agents I’ve spoken to over the last two weeks. Others oppose it, some vehemently. One way or another, this would show conclusively who’s holding the line on fees and who’s just paying lip service. In any case, it would be a true long shot for the NFLPA to do this.
  • A seat at the table for the next CBA negotiation as well as NFLPA Executive Committee and Player Rep meetings: This seems like the longest shot of all. Obviously, there are some highly skilled negotiators among the ranks of NFL agents, but this might be seen as an indictment of DeMaurice Smith’s ability to strike a deal. What’s more, in the past, the PA has operated with limited transparency.
  • Crafting new language that defaults to a 1.5-percent fee on all SRAs: When this was introduced in August 2016, it set the agent community ablaze. I think the Players Association saw it as a way to give draft prospects more freedom, but I think its tangible effect has been to devalue the role of contract advisors. I believe that setting the default rate back to three points would signal a respect toward agents by the NFLPA. It wouldn’t be easy, but I could see the NFLPA ditching this measure and returning to three percent, especially since it’s not binding (agents don’t have to charge at all if they so choose).
  • Ending the continuing education exam: I could see the PA ending this, as well. There are better ways to ensure that all contract advisors are up to speed than by simply coming after them with a pass-or-else exam. On the other hand, though this exam was met by fire and fury at the 2018 NFLPA Seminar in Indianapolis, only 17 agents wound up losing their certification.
  • Capping the amount of bonuses that can be recovered in case of termination: Schaffer has recommended that no more than $50,000 can be recovered by an agency that gets fired. We regularly hear of six-figure signing bonuses provided to top prospect as a means of getting the signature. This seems fair, though there’s been resistance.

This is a quick overview of what agents could ask for. We’ll find out in just over a month if there’s a consensus behind any of these, and if the NFLPA will even listen. In the meantime, for a deeper look at the business of football (college and pro), we recommend you sign up for our weekly Friday Wrap.

 

Notes from the All-Star Trail: January 2019

The best time of the year for me, professionally, is definitely January. It’s the time when I get to go on the road and hit four of the five major all-star games (College Gridiron Showcase, Tropical Bowl, Shrine Game and Senior Bowl) and really get out into the football world. It allows me to not only meet new people, but to have lengthy, more insightful, more detailed conversations with the people I know and trust in the game. It always give me new things to think about.

Here are a few nuggets from the road so far this year.

  • I spoke to a financial advisor this week who’s a longtime friend, and we talked about the times when it’s hardest to do his job. He said it’s normally as hard or harder to deal with parents than the players themselves. He discussed one time when he caught a parent writing checks to herself and signing her son’s name to them, and another time when a parent declared she was “tired of this piecemeal (stuff)” when she was unsatisfied with the amount of money being doled out to her. The worst thing is, when such incidents occur, the player is trapped. “It’s my mother,” he says. “What can I do?”
  • The departure of Gen. James Mattis as Secretary of Defense might be bad for the country, but it may be good for any players at service academies that aspire to play in the NFL. I learned from talking to an agent who regularly represents players at Army, Navy and Air Force that Mattis was a hard-liner when it came to players going right to the pros. That could change when a new Secretary of Defense is named, though it would be surprising if there’s a new policy in time for the 2019 NFL draft.
  • I was approached by a scout this week who actually thanked me for listing his exit from a previous team a couple years ago on my Twitter account. He told me it actually helped him find another opportunity. It’s never easy to bring the news of changes in scouting departments to cyberspace, but it’s pretty rewarding when it helps open another door.
  • Incidentally, I learned of two scouts who, after being relieved of their duties by one team, continued right on scouting. One of them found a new team to scout for and did just that, providing his reports and opinions for free for a full year. Another scout went back out on the road and stopped in with selected schools as if he never left. Eventually, both found new jobs. It’s just another reminder of (a) the passion of people in the industry and (b) the pure, unadulterated will you have to show to remain in it.
  • If there’s one concern that unites all agencies, it’s the rising cost of doing business. Two of the bigger agencies in the business, both of them based in Southern California (Rep1 Sports and Athletes First) have actually brought their training in-house, developing their own combine prep academies. However, there’s a new one on the scene this year. Capital Sports Advisors, a multi-agency firm that has advisors spread across the country, is sending its clients to South Florida to work one on one with some of the bigger names in the business. They include former Bears and Miami (Fla.) head coach Dave Wannstedt; former NFL linebacker Bryan Cox; former Steelers and Vikings offensive coordinator Ray Sherman; and former Bears, Browns and Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slowik. I personally spoke to one of their clients in the ’19 draft class who specifically cited CSA Academy as the reason he signed with the firm. It’s an innovative idea and one that might quickly gain traction.
  • If there’s one shortage in the NFL, it’s not at quarterback. It’s offensive linemen, and specifically tackles. I’ve been chewing on ideas on how to use the resources available today — elite training facilities, legitimate alternative leagues, and loads of tall, athletic players not quite good enough to play in the NBA — to turn players that would be on the street into NFL prospects. This week, I took a few more baby steps toward making that happen. I’ll keep you posted in this space as we progress.

That’s not my only wild idea. In today’s Friday Wrap, we’ll be introducing a modest proposal that might turn the all-star game model on its head (and make it a lot more interesting for all involved). You can register for the Friday Wrap here, and check out last week’s edition here.

2019 CGS Scouting Workshop: A Recap

If you weren’t among the crowd at the second annual 2019 College Gridiron Showcase Scouting Workshop Presented by Inside the League, I’m really sorry you. It was a chance to not only meet a real-live NFL evaluator — Cowboys Assistant Director of College Scouting Chris Hall — but it was a chance to truly learn about the business.

When I asked Chris to speak at our event, I hoped for two things: he’d say “yes,” and he’d give us a half-hour. However, when he agreed to come, I never dreamed he’d far exceed 30 minutes. In fact, Chris went almost two hours in discussing his path from intern in the team’s scouting department to key member of the team’s braintrust almost 30 years later.

If you weren’t there (or even if you were), you can review his impressive discussion, in its entirety, here. If you don’t want to wade through it all, here are a few points Chris made that really resonated with me.

  • Trades remembered and forgotten: In his 29 years, Chris has worked with Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Bill Parcells, and has seen the depths as well as Super Bowl victories. He was also on the team for the Herschel Walker deal, which was historic. He pointed out, however, that the Steve Walsh trade was almost as much of a bounty, while the Cowboys also struck out on trades, citing the Stan Smagala trade. I think his point was that no one bats 1.000 when it comes to wheeling and dealing.
  • College coaches used to make the best scouts: In the old days, you hired ex-coaches to scout for you because they knew the players and the schools. Today, it’s less important because film has become so much more available and the Internet makes the country so much smaller.
  • Everyone considers quitting: Chris came very close to leaving the Cowboys to pursue a masters in advertising at SMU. He made it clear that everyone has their time of disappointment and burnout. A fortuitous staff change inspired Chris to stay. For you, it might be different. The key is to figure out how to press on.
  • It’s a game of space now: It’s important to keep up with the changes dictated by the game. Though Dallas is seen as a power-running team, its scouts have focused on speed and athleticism on defense to match up with modern trends on offense.
  • Don’t miss kids in your backyard: Chris said the Cowboys really focus on Texas schools because the team takes pride in the state and doesn’t want to be beaten by local players.
  • Write thank you notes: During the portion of his discussion aimed at aspiring scouts, he said it’s incredibly important to thank people in the business by writing actual thank you notes (yes, pen and paper). Chris is the second person I’ve heard say that exactly. As you build your network, don’t forget to do this.
  • Draft pundits can tell you what the league thinks about a player: I’ve never thought about it this way, but Chris said he believes the bigger names in the media (McShay, Kiper, Mayock) talk to enough people to give a general summation of who’s hot and who’s not.
  • Character is subjective: You have to know the position group on your team before you know if a player will fit in, and before you know if you should draft him. That’s also a theme in Michael Holley’s book, War Room, which I highly recommend.

If you weren’t there, there’s always next year, and we hope to see you then.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the College Gridiron Showcase or the business of pro and college football in general, make sure you register for the Friday Wrap. It comes out this evening, and it’s must-read info for thousands of people  in the game. You can register for it here. Here’s last week’s edition.