I get a lot of players and their parents who reach out to me this time of year. Many of them are seeking an agent who can help sell them to NFL teams. I tell them this week is a sort of ‘line of demarcation’ for NFL evaluation.
At this point, a draft-eligible player’s college career, all-star play and combine are long in the books. He may be working out for teams at his pro day this week, but most are done. That means there are no more opportunities to spark interest for scouts and NFL teams unless players are invited to do so. Now, some NFL teams hold their own local workouts for players who competed in high school or college in a team’s metro area, but the number of invitees is usually limited to 20-30 players, maximum.
This is why, even though I know they don’t want to hear this, I tell most players I speak to at the end of March that if they are NFL prospects, they will know it by now. They are getting calls from scouts, scheduling private workouts, getting invited in for visits, or at least getting some form of correspondence from people in personnel. If they are not, it may be time to move on.
If a player is willing to accept this and still wants to pursue his dreams, he probably needs to do something to spark new interest in his playing ability. Usually, this has to take place on the field. He has two main options. One is the Arena Football League, which started play this weekend. Arena teams are always looking for local players they can plug in when injuries strike, but they pretty much have to be local. AFL teams don’t have the budget to be able to bring in people from across the country for workouts.
The other outlet is the CFL. I generally discourage players from going to these cattle call-style open tryouts, especially before a player’s pro day, but if he has run the winter gauntlet with NFL teams and still not won anyone over, it may be time to see if there’s interest up north. Most of these workouts charge $100 (usually cash only), and there will be plenty of them all over the country in April. Most agents take a pretty dim view of these workouts because the chances of success are pretty minimal, and I’d agree with them. However, if a player makes it to the end of March without much interest from NFL teams, odds are long anyway.
Look, anything can happen, and the last thing I’d want to do is rain on a young man’s parade. At the same time, I think it’s important to be straight with people. As I always say, the NFL is not for the good, but the great, player. It’s rare for players to make it to college athletics, much less professional sports. Every young man doesn’t fit that profile, and there’s no shame in that. All you can do is give it your best shot.