As we’re entering draft season, I thought it a good time to remind players, fans, and even a few people in the league where the info being Tweeted, broadcast, written, IG’d, etc., comes from. This is kind of a companion piece to Wednesday’s post.
- Small agents: Let’s start here. Many players see an agent’s job as to ‘get their name out there,’ and given that this is kind of hard to do with NFL teams (that already have opinions on these players), many agents turn to the media. Once we get to April, countless small-school draft hopefuls will have had features done on them by small-school beat writers and/or draft websites trying to produce original content. This is why when you read these features, you really have to take it with a grain of salt when the player is described as ‘rising’ or ‘a probable draft pick’ or given other vaguely hopeful platitudes. Almost every time, this story was pitched by an agent and most of the backstory came from the agent. He’s just hoping someone somewhere will take notice.
- Big agents: This is where the major media really come into play. Once we get into March and April, when pro days take place, there’s a constant jockeying for places in the draft order, and it’s important to understand the quid pro quo among top writers/broadcasters and the major firms representing players. Much of the on-air talent is represented by the same agencies representing players, so often the big firms can control almost all communications, good and bad.
- Director-level NFL personnel: Many of the top front office personnel who haven’t yet made GM work furiously with the media to put themselves in the best light. Obviously, they can enhance their standing with national writers by passing along tidbits about the draft process and various players. Sometimes, a player, an NFL executive and top media member are all represented by the same agency. It’s really easy to keep the draft narrative on script when this is the case, and don’t think an agency doesn’t emphasize this during the recruiting process.
- Coaches: More and more, the coaching staff is becoming part of the draft process, and I see this as a trend that could become even more pronounced if analytics continues to take hold across the league. Coaches often have cordial relationships with writers; they see each other every day, whereas scouts are out on the road and have far less daily interaction with writers. I remember a scout telling me that KC head coach Andy Reid, when he was in Philadelphia, used to give short shrift to the local beat guys, but when the national media came around, he always trotted out the ‘I’m fat’ schtick, and that’s just one instance. Everyone’s trying to get someone to tell their story, and coaches are one of the best examples.
- Area scouts: I think this is the least common source of info. Most scouts at this level, unless they’ve been in the game for years, lack media contacts and are constantly trying to hold onto their jobs, so they’re loathe to provide inside info. Still, it happens sometimes. It’s just more rare.
It’s also important to remember that plenty of the info coming out over the next 2-3 months is subterfuge intended to mislead other teams about draft intentions.
At the end of the day, it’s very important to know how info travels around the league and just how much weight you can put into what you read. So keep in mind what you’re hearing and where it might be coming from.