Grading the Graders: Comparing May ’17 and March ’18 mocks

Every spring, the NFL draft captures the attention of football fans virtually from bowl season through April. One reason for the draft’s popularity is the mock draft, which gives everyone a snapshot of the biggest impact-makers of the new crop. Mock drafts were practically made for the Web, and indeed, many draft gurus have made quite a name due to the popularity of their mocks.

But how accurate are they, really? Sure, they’re fun to look at and argue over, but without accountability, what’s the point? Which of the draft experts seem to be the most accurate? It’s a question we’ve asked for ages, but not until last spring did we start to take steps toward measuring it.

In May, we logged the picks for each of seven of the biggest names in Draft Twitter. Then we perused their most recent drafts (most were published the first week of March). They are Tony Pauline of Draft Expert (the most recent we could find was from early February, pre-combine); Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo; NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler; Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller; ESPN’s Todd McShay; 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.

We break down our finds in today’s Friday Wrap (shameless plug; you can register for it here, and it’s free). But first, here are a few tidbits.

  • Only 56 players showed up across the seven mocks this month, which is a pretty small number when you think about it. Of the 56, 15 show up in all seven mocks.
  • A total of 38 players received at least one first-round mention in March, but none this month. It’s more evidence of the pack mentality of Draft Twitter.
  • Here’s even more damning evidence of Draft Twitter groupthink: there were five players that were no-shows in May’s mocks, but showed up in every one of March’s mocks. They are Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Iowa DC Josh Jackson, Georgia OB Roquan Smith, UTSA DE Marcus Davenport and Virginia Tech OB Tremaine Edmunds. Two other players, Boise St. IB Leighton Vander Esch and Alabama OB Rashaan Evans, make six of the seven mocks this month, but made none of them last May.
  • Mayfield is, on average, the No. 9 pick, and none of the experts has him later than 15, yet he wasn’t good enough for any of them last spring.
  • Of the 38, seven were juniors (Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt, Ohio St. DT Dre’Mont Jones, USC DC Iman Marshall, USC IB Cameron Smith, Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham and Clemson DT Christian Wilkins) who wound up skipping the draft.
  • Three others — Missouri DE Marcell Frazier, North Carolina SS Donnie Miles and Oklahoma DC Jordan Thomas — are draft-eligible, but were combine snubs. Chris Burke (then at SI, now at The Athletic) had Thomas at 25; Walter Football liked Frazier at 29; and Tony Pauline had Miles as the last pick in the first round.

We’ve got a lot more — who did the mocks like in March most vs. who they like best now; which experts really went out on a limb, then and now; which conferences, teams and the like dominate; and plenty more. I hope you’ll join us there. Everyone else from across the industry reads it, and I hope you will, too.


Talking Taxes (and Football) with Tim Johnson of JLK Rosenberger

It’s tax time, and though taxes aren’t especially sexy, they’re absolutely important, especially to people in the football business and the players that rely on them. With major changes approved by Congress, it’s important to have someone who knows the tax code inside and out. With that in mind, I decided to turn today’s post over to Tim Johnson of the Irvine, Calif., office of JLK Rosenberger. Not only is Tim my CPA, but he was a lineman at Cal Lutheran during his college days. He has dozens of active NFL players as his clients, plus he knows a little about the game himself.

So how was the end of the year with all of the new tax law changes for you?

“Well, it was interesting, to say the least.  We had to keep up with the multiple proposals, counter-proposals, and then the final law.  Then, and even more important, figure out what it all meant for our player clients since there were some use-it-or-lose-it-type items, so it was a hectic year-end for sure. Christmas is always a fun time of the year for a tax guy as the phone and laptop are never too far away.”

With tax day about a month away, what are players currently concerned about that is different from the past?

“They are aware of the tax law changes, but most do not know how it will impact them quite yet.  So, we are talking more about those changes impacting 2018 and forward whereas, historically, it was always talking about last year’s taxes. Now, we are still talking about 2017 and trying to get every deduction out there, but we are educating our guys, their advisors, and their families about the changes so they know how they can plan and be prepared.”

What are some of the major changes that will benefit players?

“We do have more favorable tax rates. You hear about that in the news. The top marginal federal tax bracket is dropping by 2.6% (down to 37%) and that top rate impacts taxable income over $500,000. So, the tax rate structure is generally favorable. Additionally, the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, is now changed to where it will impact very few people.  It is not eliminated, but it might as well be, for most.  Often players may not have even known what the impact of AMT was, but if you were in a non-bonus year making annual minimum and played in a high-tax state like California, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota or Maryland, you very possibly were impacted.”

We know this is not all good news. So what’s the catch?

“Yeah, it is not all rosy.  The two biggest downsides I see impacting players are the limitations on state and local taxes and the elimination of player-type expenses.  State and local taxes including property taxes are limited to only $10,000 per year, which guys who work in a taxable state will hit no problem, and those who own a home will also hit that limit pretty quickly for the most part. So we are highly limited in the taxes we have been able to deduct.  Additionally, player-type expenses such as agent fees associated with on-the-field contracts, union dues, training expenses, therapy, gear purchases, player fines and the like, as well as investment management fees, are no longer deductible.”

So, agent fees are no longer deductible.  Is that as big of a deal as it sounds?

“Yes, it is a big deal. It’s tempered a bit when you dig into the numbers due to agent fees and other player-type expenses not being deductible for AMT and the overall phase-out of itemized deductions. Still, for the most part, it is a big deal. I think it will impact not only the player’s taxes but also eventually how agents are charging for their services.”

“What else are you looking at strategy-wise?

“So many of our players are charitably minded, whether that is a church or another charity.  One of my favored strategies for the right guy is donation of appreciated stock using a “ditch and stack” strategy.  Essentially, we “stack” controllable expenses, now mainly charitable contributions, in one year and we “ditch,” or forego them, in the other year. This allows us to take a larger itemized deduction in one year and then the standard deduction in the other.”

Is it too late to start working with you for 2017 taxes?  How does someone contact you?

“Not too late at al. Now is actually when we get really running on 2017 taxes, but the earlier, the better. Folks can email me at or just follow me on Twitter @CPA4Athletes.”


Three Scouting Takeaways from our 9th Annual Seminar

As you know, this week, we at Inside the League, in conjunction with The Scouting Network, brought together people across the football industry for our the 9th annual Capital Preservation Partners ITL Combine Seminar Presented by SureSports. It was a special night for a lot of reasons and it was exciting to have coverage from some fine folks at The Advocate and Times-Picayune as well as the Saints media team.

However, we weren’t finished after New Orleans Assistant GM Jeff Ireland accepted the award for the NFL’s Best Draft Class in 2017. Our three-man panel of former NFL scouts, including James Kirkland (Browns, Titans, Falcons, Bears), Bob Morris (49ers, Browns) and Matt Manocherian (Saints, Browns) also had interesting stories, insights and other observations that they offered over the hour-plus remaining in the program.

As always, we’ll have complete video of our seminar on YouTube within a couple weeks. Here are three memorable moments to look for when we debut it.

Meat and potatoes: Morris told a story from the 2007 draft when he was on staff with Kirkland and the Browns were holding the third pick and unsure of what to do. They considered Oklahoma OH Adrian Peterson, while another local product, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, was also on the board. Either would have given the team a splashy playmaker, but Morris credited Kirkland for taking a strong stand for Wisconsin OT Joe Thomas, what’s known is “getting up on the table” in scouting parlance. Morris said Kirkland was a strong advocate for getting a solid, every-day player that would deliver Sunday after Sunday, a “meat and potatoes” player, Kirkland said. He was right. Though the Browns have struggled mightily over the past decade, it wasn’t because of Thomas, who has been arguably the finest offensive tackle of his generation.

Take a picture: Manocherian, who also knocked it out of the park as our keynote speaker last year, mentioned his desire, during his area scout days, to take a picture of the team’s draft board pre-combine every year. As a player who evaluated players on the field, he said it was always a revelation to see how drastically the team’s board changed after workout totals were added. Is that a good thing? Is it really more a reflection of how the media and a desire to cover one’s posterior influences team decision-making? I think you could make that argument. It was interesting candor and the kind of thing I find fascinating.

Making money: One of the more provocative questions of the evening, posed by moderator Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sports Consulting, was how much money each of the scouts made in his last year with a team. I was a bit surprised to find out Kirkland, in his final season in Cleveland (he left in the spring of 2016) as an area scout, made about $130,000. Morris, in his final season with the 49ers (he left in the winter of 2017), said he made about the same. That’s a little north of what I expected, though I’d love to see an hourly breakdown. With the time area scouts put in, it might look more like minimum wage. Manocherian, in his final season in Cleveland (he left in May 2014), said he made $60,000 in his last year, which is reasonable given he was much younger in the game at the time.

Of course, these are merely highlights of what we heard here on Wednesday. In a couple weeks, we’ll have the entire program online, so stay tuned.


The 9th annual Capital Preservation Partners ITL Combine Seminar Presented by Sure Sports

I’m pretty excited about our ninth annual seminar. I’m excited about our partners; I’m excited about our program; and I’m excited about seeing so many friends and clients. I’m also excited about the new venture we’ll be introducing next week, The Scouting Network.

I wanted to use this space to provide a quick look at the agenda for Wednesday (7 p.m., Room 126 of the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis).

  • 6 p.m.: We’ll start with networking for an hour before we officially kick things off. We’ve expanded the invitation list a bit this year from previous years, and we’ve already got more confirmed attendees with five days to go than we had last year.
  • 7 p.m.: The winner of the top 2017 Draft Class Award will be announced, and a representative from that team will accept the award, provide a few thoughts on the team’s selections and process, and answer a couple of questions from the audience. Want to know which team won, and who’ll be representing the team? We’ll be announcing that this evening in our Friday Wrap. You can register for it here. It’s free.
  • 7:15 p.m.: Our title sponsor, Leo Gjoni of Capital Preservation Partners, will welcome the audience and introduce himself and his service.
  • 7:20 p.m.: Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sport Consulting will introduce our new venture, The Scouting Network. Shawn and I hope to make the Network the place for people in the football scouting and evaluation business — college personnel directors, all-star game organizers, and NFL scouts and former scouts — to learn more about the profession, make and renew acquaintances, and otherwise solidify their respective places in the game. Shawn will lead The Scouting Network in addition to his other projects.
  • 7:30 p.m.: I’ll return to the podium to recognize some of our guests, then I’ll introduce our panel of former NFL scouts.
  • 7:35 p.m.: The members of our panel will each lead things off with a brief summary of their respective careers in football and how they got started. Then they’ll field questions from our audience on the business, where it’s going, and other related topics. Our panel will include Matt Boockemeier, who’s worked with the Vikings, Packers and Saints as well as in the UFL and CFL; James Kirkland, who’s the Director of Player Personnel at Illinois after an NFL evaluation career that included work with the Browns, Titans, Falcons and BearsMatt Manocherian, who was with the Browns and Saints and who now serves as the Director of Football Development for Sports Info Solutions; and Bob Morris, who’s worked with the 49ers and Browns and coached at the college level for more than two decades. Shawn will moderate.
  • 8:45 p.m.: Shawn will deliver brief closing remarks. We hope to wrap things up by 9 p.m. at the latest.

We’re really excited and feel it’s going to be a fun and informative night for anyone in the football business. We’ve opened it up to all members of ITL as well as other members of the football community on the college and pro side.

Though it’s invitation-only, we have limited spots available for people interested in the business. Want in? We’re all about helping people get a leg up on a career in the business. Email us here and we’ll try to work you in.

Taking a Look at Who’s Signing Whom in the ’18 Draft Class

For the most part, the end of January marks the end of the signing period for any draft class. At that point, all-star games are over, combine prep for most players is a month old, and with a few exceptions — in this year’s case, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and Alabama PT J.K. Scott — everyone going to the combine has representation.

That’s why the list of players signed to SRAs through the end of January provides an interesting snapshot of the draft class as seen by agents and the industry at large. Though the number of signees should still swell by at least 50 percent over the next couple months, and though there are still signed players out there that haven’t popped on the NFLPA’s master list, for the most part, the players that will be signed have been signed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the draft class so far.

  • We counted 27 contract advisors this year with at least 10 signees in the ’18 draft class. They are Evan Brennan (29); Tyrone Barnes (27); James Krenis (25); Harold Lewis and Jimmy Sexton (tied at 18); James ‘Bus’ Cook (14); Derrick Fox and Andrew ‘Buddy’ Baker (each with 13); Ed Bailey (12) and Joel Segal (12 each); Jordan Byrd, Carter Chow, Rachel Dahlen, Craig Domann, Brian Levy, Brian Mackler, Justin Vititoe, Ed Wasielewski, Cameron Weiss and Don Yee, all with 11; and seven agents with 10 each: Patrick Collins, Pat Dye Jr., Todd France, Matthew Glose, David Rich, Justin VanFulpen and Robert Walker.
  • While every year a subset of the new agent class takes Year 1 off, hoping to get an early jump on the coming class, two of the names on the above list are rookie agents. Both Atascadero, Calif.-based Dahlen of Brand Sports Management and Buffalo, N.Y.-based Glose of Priority Athletes took a ‘damn the torpedoes’ approach as new contract advisors and signed a healthy-sized class.
  • Brennan and Krenis came out of nowhere to zoom to the top three through January. At the same time last year, each had six clients, while Barnes, last year’s leader, had 20.
  • Krenis is especially of note given his willingness to go over, around and through to sign a player. We counted seven different SRA arrangements for Krenis, including signing two clients by himself. He shares the SRA with Brennan on 23 of his 25 signees.
  • Rockville, Md.-based Scott Bergman had 14 last year through the end of January, and has been a regular leader in the client count over the past 3-4 years. This year, however, he has one signee as of the end of January.

It’s important to understand that simply signing a player doesn’t represent victory, and one could even argue that big classes are a significant negative. Very often, agents signing multiple players are simply trying to increase their odds of finding one who can make a roster. They often find that sizable draft classes are an albatross after the draft when totaling training costs and handling endless phone calls from undrafted and unsigned players asking, ‘what are you hearing?’

Still, taking inventory of SRAs signed, and who’s signing them, is one way to see how agents work, recruit and risk in the modern game.

For more on the 2018 signing class as well as everything else associated with the inside of the game, make sure to sign up for the Friday Wrap. It’s free, and read by nearly 100 members of the NFL scouting community each week, as well as dozens of agents and wealth managers who are wired into the game.

How the Eagles Built a Front Office That Built a Champion

Lost in last weekend’s pre-Super Bowl hypefest was a story in the Baltimore Sun with a hidden Eagles subtext. In the story, which announced that GM Ozzie Newsome would hand the reins to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta after the 2018 season, was this paragraph:

“The Ravens have struggled in recent years with losing scouts such as Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight. All four currently work in the front office of the Philadelphia Eagles. . . They had 55 years of working experience combined in Baltimore.”

It’s worth noting that the Eagles won this year despite going against the NFL hiring grain in almost every way when it comes to how its front office was crafted. To wit:

  • Owner Jeffrey Lurie pulled off the unusual move of demoting the de facto GM, Howie Roseman, while keeping him in the building. Equally surprising: Roseman accepted the exile, then returned stronger and better after a year of growth on the business side.
  • When hiring GMs, the league tends to pick from the Packer, Seahawk or Patriot tree. Two of the last four GMs hired in the last two months (Cleveland’s John Dorsey and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst) were well-rooted in the Packers’ ways, while the three hired in 2016 (Miami’s Chris Grier, Detroit’s Bob Quinn and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson) came off the Patriots’ branches. But the Eagles have gone their own way. Except for Senior Personnel Executive Trey Brown, none of their senior executives are from those three organizations.
  • You could argue that the Eagles put as much emphasis on the pro side of scouting as any team in the league. While most teams put most weight on the college side, the Eagles have six scouts with ‘pro’ in their title. While numbers aren’t available for other teams, that total is likely to be among the highest, if not the highest, in the league.
  • Unlike teams that rely on continuity in their scouting staff, the Eagles have been aggressive about making changes until finding the right mix. Joe Douglas, the V.P. of Player Personnel, has been with the team less than two years. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl was hired the same day as Douglas. Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham, Player Personnel Executive J. McCreight and Director of Pro Scouting Dwayne Joseph all have two years or less in the Eagles’ front office.

Winning a Super Bowl often means boldly going in a direction that defies conventional thinking in a league full of copy cats. Credit Owner Jeffrey Lurie with having the courage to go with his gut and trust his instincts in assembling a winning front office.

For a different look at how the Eagles built their roster into a Lombardi Trophy-worthy outfit, take a look at Shawn Zobel’s analysis of the team. His piece leads off this week’s ITL Friday Wrap. It’s free, and it goes out to more than 4,000 people across the football business each week. It’s free, and you can register for it here.

Shawn is a scout with experience working in the NFL at the team level and for the league office. He owns and Zobel Sports Consulting; hosts the Football Headquarters Podcast with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities; and has won three state championships as an assistant at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.




Calling an Audible: Four Questions with James Walker

One of the best things about going out on the all-star circuit is the people I meet. Pretty much, if you’re at the Senior Bowl, you’re either part of the business or you’re hoping to become part of it. One of the people I met at this year’s trip to Mobile is part of both of those groups.

James Walker recently left ESPN to become a part of Adeptus CPAs. Moving from sports media to numbers-crunching is not a particularly common path, so I wanted to dig into why and how he wound up with Adeptus. My questions and his answers follow.

Why leave sports media for sports accounting?

“The timing couldn’t be better. It’s no secret that sports media is having issues. Recently ESPN, my former employer, had two rounds of layoffs last April and November that impacted hundreds of talented people. Fortunately I wasn’t part of those layoffs. But it did force me to rethink my career and decide if this was a battle I wanted to fight for the next 25 years, because I’m still in my 30s. Over the summer I decided getting out the business entirely was the best long-term play. So I began discussing this with my business contacts in August and received some good feedback and interest. I was very happy to ultimately land with Adeptus CPAs.”

Why was Adeptus a good match?

“They are creative and forward thinkers, and so am I. What other CPA firm would hire a sports reporter without accounting experience? What longtime sports reporter, who spent the past decade at ESPN, would give up his life’s work to join a CPA firm? It took outside-the-box thinking on both sides to make this work. Adeptus was willing to create a new position for me as lead recruiter, which I am very grateful for. And I am leveraging my 15 years of pro sports experience, contacts, access and credibility into accounting. We have a good long-term vision for where things are headed and are very excited.”

What are some of those long-term goals?

“We want to be the go-to accounting firm for pro athletes, coaches and executives. That’s the primary goal. Currently we are doing most of our business in the NHL and MLB. I will recruit all pro sports but a major objective is to boost our NFL clientele, which is in my wheelhouse. Something that was really exciting while researching the sports accounting industry is there is no single, dominant player in the marketplace. There is not a CAA for sports accounting, for example, who already has a gigantic chunk of the industry. Most of the work is spread out. I very much believe in the quality of work and team we have at Adeptus. So why not us?”

How will you look back at your reporting career?

“Very fondly. No doubt there will be things I miss, such as covering the big games and interesting stories. But I accomplished everything I wanted and more in sports reporting. I covered four Super Bowls, the Pro Bowl, NBA Finals, major college sports and did national television and radio hundreds of times. I traveled all across the country and worked at the No. 1 sports network for 10 years. Throughout my life I’m usually self-aware when it’s time to make important changes, and this is another example of that. Fortunately I still get to be involved in sports but in a different capacity.”

Who Drafted Best in 2017?

If there’s one thing I think the sport has lacked, it’s an affinity group, a trade organization, a body for those in personnel. I’m not talking about some kind of fan-based organization, but a real society for people in the business akin to the Pro Football Writers of America, the Sports Lawyers Association or the AFCA.

I was discussing this on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl with a longtime friend, Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sports Consulting, and we decided we should do something about it. We’re working on ideas and trying to decide how to approach it. Along the way, we got to talking about what team had the best draft in 2017, and we came up with these five teams. I’ll list them alphabetically and try to state each team’s best case.

Bears: I think there was some thought the Bears might make big changes in their front office around this time of year going into the ’17 season, but you have to hand it to GM Ryan Pace. He had the courage to stand up to the naysayers and draft one-year wonder QB Mitch Trubisky, and based on one season, it looks like a great move.  But it wasn’t the only one. The Bears landed two big players in the fourth round in FS Eddie Jackson and OH/KR Tarik Cohen.

Jaguars: The Jags got instant starters out of their first-rounder (OH Leonard Fournette) and second-rounder (OT Cam Robinson), plus promising rotational pieces in the third round (DE D.J. Smoot) and fourth round (WO DeDe Westbrook). Oh, by the way, they went from 3-13 and last in the AFC South to the AFC Championship game this season.

Saints: Marshon Lattimore. Alvin Kamara. We maybe needn’t go on, but we will. The team also drafted starters OT Ryan Ramczyk and FS Marcus Williams, as well as key contributor DE Trey Hendrickson in turning a franchise that had gone 7-9 three straight seasons — with Drew Brees — into one answered prayer away from the NFC Championship Game. You could argue that the ’17 draft even saved the team from having to draft a starting QB in 2018.

Texans: It wouldn’t be a discussion of the draft if it didn’t involve some projection, right? Think about what happens if QB Deshaun Watson doesn’t go down after six starts. If the Texans only had that one pick, after rolling the dice to trade up, you could argue they had the best draft, especially if he continued his brilliance over a complete season. However, the team also hit on IB Zach Cunningham in the second round, as well as OH D’onta Foreman (another injury casualty) and several other picks. Houston’s won-loss record masks a tremendous draft class.

Vikings: If you read this blog regularly, you know that we hold Minnesota’s front office in pretty high regard, and the ’17 draft class was another good one, though, again, it requires projection. Would KC’s Kareem Hunt and Kamara have stolen all the rookie rusher glory if Dalvin Cook, whom the team got in the second round, doesn’t go down in Week 4? And that’s to say nothing of rookie OC Pat Elflein, who stepped right in and helped make the Vikes’ OL a strength throughout the season? They also drafted a starter at weak side LB, Ben Gedeon, in the fourth round.

Shawn and I will be putting these contenders to a vote with our friends in the scouting community as well as in college personnel departments across the land, and we’ll announce the results at the NFL combine in about a month.

In the meantime, who do you like? Who did we leave out? Let us know in the comments, hit me up on Twitter, and/or listen in today as Sirius XM Radio’s Orlando Alzugaray and I give our votes on Mad Dog Radio (channel 82) at 5:30 p.m. ET today. You can also vote in our poll.



Notes from the All-Star Trail, Part II — Jan. 2018

I spent Sunday through Wednesday in Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl. It’s always the best week of the year, the game’s ‘outdoor party.’ Everyone from around the game is there, and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. What’s more, the people of Mobile are hospitable and engaging and the hotel staff is excellent.

Here are a few stories, observations and items from Mobile.

  • I know a lot of people who read this blog are hoping to work in the NFL someday. If you do — or if you just want to go to the game to see what all the fuss is about — make sure you’re there Monday to Thursday. Scouts start showing up Monday night and leave Wednesday or Thursday, and most agents follow them. It always amazes me when people who should know better arrive Thursday and leave after the game. By Thursday, the show is ending.
  • Here’s a story from this week’s game. A player was strolling through the lobby of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel when he stopped briefly to talk to a financial advisor. He was immediately confronted by a scout who claimed he’d sent four texts to the player requesting an interview. After the player acknowledged that he’d received the texts, the exasperated scout asked why he hadn’t responded. The player essentially responded with a shrug. This is a prospect with fifth- to sixth-round grades, yet when he slides out of the draft this spring, he’ll likely blame his agent.
  • There were four players — Southern Miss OH Ito Smith, Troy QB Brandon Silvers, Kansas St. WO Byron Pringle and Florida St. SS Nate Andrews — represented by rookie agents. In a business where the richest agencies continue to get richer, it’s refreshing to see newer contract advisors getting a chance.
  • We’ve got four former NFL scouts lined up to provide a panel of experts at our 2018 ITL Combine Seminar, set for Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Indianapolis. We’ll have more details next week. For now, we’re still finalizing our lineup and locking down our venue. We think it’s going to be very special for everyone interested in scouting and evaluation.
  • I asked a scout who attended the Senior Bowl this year about the talent level, which was criticized by many this year. Here was his response: “There were . . . 30 players who declined invites for various reasons. Take the 90 juniors (who left last year and were drafted or signed post-draft), plus the 30 seniors who did not show up, and you have a lot of players who will be drafted in the first three rounds. The Senior Bowl is now a bowl game with a lot of mid-round and lower draft choices.” That’s sad, but it’s a sign of the times.
  • By the way, we’ll have a detailed look at the players who had the best week as judged by the ITL Scouting Department (made up of former NFL scouts) in today’s Friday Wrap, which will be out this evening. It’s free, and you can sign up for it here.

What Would a Scouting Association Look Like?

Last week in this space, I wondered why there was no society for people in personnel and scouting. There’s no trade association where people can meet and network, and maybe even get job tips. This seemed to spark interest, so I thought I’d flesh out what I’d think such an organization would involve and offer to members.

Here are my thoughts.

  • You can’t start an affinity group without establishing guidelines. I’d want to develop a ‘club’ for people who either (a) currently had jobs in scouting, (b) at one time had held jobs in scouting at the NFL level, or (c) were currently working personnel jobs at FBS schools. This makes for a rather limited group, and perhaps this would be expanded, but to me, the group loses its identity if half of the members are wannabe scouts rather than actual ones. Maybe I’d open it to people working in scouting in indoor leagues and overseas leagues, as well. I’d have to think about it some.
  • Obviously, any kind of serious interest group has its own seminar or convention. Any serious gathering of scouting professionals would have such an event. Choosing a date would be important, so we’d have to schedule it at a time that members of college personnel staff could attend. I’ve been chewing on this schedule and looking at potential times. It looks like the best chance to bring everyone together would be late July or early August, immediately before players return for camp.
  • Seminars would have speakers from the game that could address topics related to scouting and evaluation. We set up the template for that earlier this month with the College Gridiron Showcase Scouting Academy presented by Inside the League. We’re working on getting the film for that event and putting it online. We had four former scouts that spoke about the job of scouting and the life of a scout, and it was outstanding.
  • We already have several interviews with scouts on my site, Inside the League. We’ve interviewed former Cowboys scout Jim Hess, who helped ‘discover’ QB Tony Romo; former 49ers scout Oscar Lofton, who has some good stories about legendary DC Deion Sanders; former Saints scout Barrett Wiley, who describes how Saints Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson had a role with his getting a job in scouting; and several others. These are all quite lengthy, relaxed and conversational. They are a lot to listen to for most general football fans, but I’d think this kind of video (or podcasts) might be a key part of a society for scouting enthusiasts.
  • Every organization worth its salt has to have some kind of awards as a way of bringing its members together. I’ve always wondered why no one honors the team that has the best draft each year. That would seem to be a fun way to unite members and give them something to debate. We’d definitely make that an annual ritual.
  • Naturally, any such organization would also provide some kind of jobs network. I’m the first one to say that finding employment in scouting is not very linear, and quite different from other jobs. Still, to be an honest organization, we’d have to at least give it a try, and we would.
  • There’d be a cost to join, but we’d keep it low. I’d think $75 would be affordable for most anyone.
  • As we moved forward, I’d expand the number of people eligible to join, or maybe start alternative groups for aspiring scouts, students, etc.

What do you think? Do these ideas seem valid? Am I way off base? Is it a good start, but you think I might be missing something? Please let me know on Twitter or even via email. Thanks for reading.