This time of year, I get lots of questions from newer agents about how they can drive interest in their clients, and what real interest from NFL teams even looks like. Do teams play it close to the vest, afraid their interest will be exposed? Or do they let it all hang out, throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to get as much info as possible on a player they like?
To get these answers, I called my former right-hand man at ITL, Houston-based Murphy McGuire, who passed the NFLPA exam last summer and who now represents Texas Tech WO/KR Jakeem Grant, who set the Internet on fire last month with his performance at the Red Raiders’ pro day. I’ll turn it over to Murphy on what Jakeem’s experience has been over the past three-plus months.
“When we signed him, I was of the belief he would be a late pick. He had a late-round grade. Now, in January, he was coming off a huge bowl game against LSU, and that really helped him a lot. Of course, he was also an All-American as a return guy, but his size is always the first thing teams talk about. At his bowl game (the College Gridiron Showcase in Bedford, Texas), he measured at 5-5 and 5/8, so he’s 5-6 in cleats. How many 5-6 players have been successful in the NFL?
“Anyway, I knew going into the CGS that we needed a good week, and he had a huge week, really lit it up, and talked to every team. All teams interviewed him, which was good, and created a really good vibe for us. Then we waited. I think there were two weeks from then until the last wave of invites to the combine, and there were 4-5 scouts that texted me and asked if Jakeem got a combine invite, and I said, ‘no, still nothing.’ I thought the scouts would hep push the needle for him, but they didn’t seem to, so no combine invite. But he said, ‘I don’t care, I’m gonna prove everyone wrong.’ He has a permanent chip on his shoulder. I mean, he set the all-time receiver mark at Texas Tech, which is kinda known for throwing the ball, so nothing deterred him.
“We got through that time, so he was training at D1 Sports Training in Lubbock (in February), and I got good feedback from his trainers there, but no calls through the combine and into early March. I maybe got two texts from scouts until his pro day on March 11.
“His pro day was crazy. He ran a stupid 40, had 15 reps and threw them up like Mighty Mouse, had a broad jump around 10 and his vertical was about 37 inches, so it was good. Anyway, I started getting calls then. His pro day was on a Friday (March 11), and I got a call from a national scout right after the pro day. He wanted to see him catch punts, but before that, wanted to huddle with his GM and scouts. That following Monday, (the national scout) reached back out, and that’s the week when we got calls, texts, emails, and I think that first week after (pro day) he had one workout, and the next week none, but we set up three the following week. Then this week, he had a Top 30 visit, and he has one next week. So far, he’s gotten four total workouts in Lubbock, plus two top 30 visits. He even had two workouts on the same day last week, one in the morning and one toward the afternoon. One team flew in the day before the workout, went to dinner with him and got to know him, and then the other flew in his special teams coach and watched him catch 7-8 punts, met him, then left. They really liked him.
“So overall, interest didn’t really start until after pro day. It’s a little out of the norm, his 40 time, but I would tell any agent who has a guy with a UDFA or late-round grade, call a scout or text a scout. A lot of times, scouts will respond to a text way faster (than a call). Email is OK, too, but I like to text them. I feel like I actually get more back from them that way. It’s convenient. He may be thinking, I’m not gonna call this (agent), but let me text him and start a dialogue. But most of them initiated contact.
“The one (scout who contacted me) today, about 48 hours ago, they told me, we’re not bring him in for a Top 30, and it was a scout that wasn’t even at the pro day who’s been talking to me. And he asked me, ‘how’s the interest level going,’ so I told him about the Top 30 visit and the workouts, and said, “I want to let you know, there’s a lot of interest.’ So I think I leveraged nothing into something. Then two days later, I got an email saying they want to bring him in, and when’s the best day? With a young (agent), you might be intimidated, but don’t be arfraid to push back. Say, ‘look, I understand your (situation), but there is interest, and if you want to do something with him, you might need to bring him in.’ I think I did a decent job of pushing back a little back.
“The first workout, one of the special teams coaches texted me, and then the last three reached out to Jakeem or me, and said, ‘we want to do this.’ Both of the Top 30 visits, the first one I spoke to the scouting coordinator a while, and then they brought him in. I don’t know if that has anyting to do with me or not, but there could be something there. I think I might have helped.
“I would say, of all the teams that have reached out ot me or Jakeem, Jakeem has been reached out to before me about 65-70 percent of the time. The player has been the first point of contact. That’s not what I expected, but that’s how it’s gone.
“I’m not sure what I expected. I expected interest. I expected teams to reach out. It just doesn’t become real until it really happens. You’re prepared, but you’re not, and then, it’s really happening. Luckily for me, working with ITL for the last three years, I got to meet a lot of agents who told me a lot of stories, so I kind of knew what to expect. It can be, man, I’m really talking to (a scout)! You can’t really expect it until it hits you in the face. I’ve had 3 special teams coaches call me, and they’ve told me to have my phone handy the week of the draft, and I assume most that have worked him out will want to be in touch, I don’t know if he’ll have any more workouts. I mean, I wasn’t expecting any Top 30 visits, but what’s to say there won’t be more?