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Here’s Part 4 of our breakdown of former Browns GM Ray Farmer’s presentation at our seventh annual ITL Seminar in Indianapolis last month. Click here to review the first half of his presentation.

  • Here’s Ray’s take on late-round picks vs. UDFAs: “If I know that one percent of seventh-rounders make it, but three percent of college free agents make it, would y’all call me stupid for trading seventh-round picks away? . .  . Seventh-rounders have got a one percent chance. I’d rather trade my seventh-round pick, move up in another round, get a better player that I like, don’t take anybody in the seventh round, then bring in 55 guys for a workout after the draft, and let the cream rise to the top.” It’s an interesting strategy. When you go that route, you may lose a chance at the marquee UDFAs, but you put the numbers on your side. Often, a team will strike gold at these camps, but it makes scouts nervous because their favorite post-draft players don’t make it to these camps.
  • Like most scouts, Ray doesn’t put much stock in a player’s pro day. “It may change them from a free agent to a priority free agent,” but it won’t move him into the third round. “When ball is done being played, that’s it.” So don’t put too much into a much-hyped pro day.
  • On the other hand, bad character will drop a player. This is a bit of a departure from last year’s speaker, ex-Bears GM Phil Emery, who seemed to lean more in favor of talent over conduct and behavior.
  • Every year in April, some of my agent clients are getting no interest whatsoever from teams. It’s hard for me to do this, but I have to tell them that their client is probably not going to be a post-draft signee, much less a draftee. On the other hand, if a scout calls, there’s an even-money chance the player will get signed as an undrafted free agent. The real difference-maker, however, is if a position coach is calling. That’s when you know a team is interested.
  • Ray says that it’s easy to figure out who a team is looking for, if you pay attention. That makes sense. There’s so much information out there now about free agent signees, futures deals, numbers on contracts, etc., that a good agent should know exactly what teams are the best for his client.
  • Ray makes an interesting point about how teams could significantly reduce the amount of money they spend in free agency — they could hold free agency after the draft. So often, teams sign veterans to plug holes, then get to the draft and find that they could have drafted cheaper, younger players at those key positions.
  • If your client carries a jug of water to weigh-ins, hide that jug from the scouts, because it says “his weight ain’t real,” according to Ray. Yet every year, you see kids in line at weigh-ins at each all-star game carrying a jug of water. Use common sense.
  • Ray recommends that players drop all their social media accounts during draft season, because teams are scrutinizing them for any false moves.
  • Here’s an interesting quote from Ray: “There are a number of quarterbacks in this league that have lived the exact lifestyle that (Johnny Manziel) led for their first three, four, six, seven seasons.” Of course, he’s referring to the party lifestyle, not the domestic abuse allegations. It’s interesting. I agree with Ray: part of Manziel’s failure in Cleveland was his lack of discretion. Another part was that he failed to realize he was a marked man when he entered the league, and he needed to rein things in a bit.