Here’s another way to look at the race to get a player drafted, or at least signed after the draft. It’s kind of got an analytics feel to it. Hear me out. It involves creating a market for a player, and how you do that. Today, I’m speaking directly to agents who are new and/or have limited client lists, and have lower-rated players they hope to get onto a team.
I think there’s a perception (and this is reinforced by the draft media) that all teams see players about the same way. I think there’s also a perception that every team rates about 250 players, one through 250, in a similar form to the draft itself. Also not true. Most teams start by evaluating 2,000 players heading into the season and reduce that number to about 150-180 draftable players on draft day. Whittling that number down is done differently by different teams.
For example, some teams (Cincinnati, Dallas, maybe New England) have higher risk tolerance. These teams are more likely to keep a Randy Gregory, for example, on their board even though he’s got a roomful of red flags related to this drug issues. We’re now seeing why so many teams pulled Gregory off their boards. On the other hand, I was talking to one GM who interviewed him before last year’s draft, and he applauded him for “getting naked” about his drug issues and what he’d done at Nebraska. The GM still took him off his team’s board.
Then there’s injury issues. If your client has had surgeries on his knees, ankles, hamstring, or anything from the waist down, he’s in trouble, especially if he’s a ballcarrier who’s going to take a lot of punishment. I don’t have a rule of thumb for when such injuries are fatal, draft-wise, but injuries are a real factor in the draft process. I’ve often heard that hospital day is the most important day of the week for a player, at least in the eyes of teams.
Now let’s look at performance. If a player was on a team with a player rated as draft-worthy, then his film is in the NFL’s Dub Center. That means there’s a better chance someone has seen him and, perhaps, taken an interest in him.
If you can make sure your client (a) doesn’t have any character red flags, (b) hasn’t suffered a series of major injuries, and (c) has been seen by NFL teams, plus he comes from an FBS school and he’s at least 6-feet tall, you’ve improved your chances of having the most number of teams liking him. In turn, this improves his chances of being on a 90-man roster in a couple months.