We’re nine days out from the NFL draft, and with that in mind, I thought I’d reach out to some of my friends in the agent community to talk about the draft stories for some of their better clients. Today, I reached out to Annapolis, Md.-based Travis Martz of Business Arena.
Travis reps North Carolina Central DC Ryan Smith, who’s one of the hottest small-school corners in the ’16 draft. He’s expected to go in the fourth- or fifth-round range after a sterling combine followed by a great pro day. This is all taking place despite the fact Ryan didn’t play in an all-star game and wasn’t highly regarded coming out of high school. In fact, he wasn’t a guy who generated much buzz at all going into the season.
Travis picks up the story right from where he started the recruiting process up until today, shortly before draft day.
“Ryan was suggested to me by a scout, and Ryan happened to live about an hour away from me. Essentially, the conversation (with the scout) was, ‘there’s a kid in your backyard who’s buzzing, and who comes from a good family, and you should talk to him.’ I got his number through his high school coaches, and they connected us that way. So I went down and met with him and his family, and had a great meeting. His parents were very professional.
“So I didn’t know what I had until I started calling teams, and then I found out Ryan was a guy that was pretty widely known with scouts, though media wasn’t (clued in), as expected. Scouts were buzzing pretty hard. So I was able to sign him.
“He didn’t have any postseason. His season was done in late November, so through the month of December, I really just pressed Ryan on keeping his conditioning so that he would be ready to play in an all-star game. He didn’t play in any games — he was a wait-list kid for the Senior Bowll, and it got to be early January with no invites, so it was Senior Bowl or bust. It didn’t concern me that he didn’t play, given that some of those games are political and invites go out way earlier than they should. So what we did was, I prepped Ryan that month of December about keeping his conditioning, and not trying to be a track star way too early. We were going to let the experts determine when to peak.
“So I sent him to Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Weston, Fla., back in January, and he got most of his draft prep there. He also worked on his nutrition and training and did a lot of position work and board work, and also some simulated coaching interviews, and he really enjoyed his time down there.
“At the combine, we knew he would perform well if he didn’t get hurt. He turned a lot of heads, and we knew that would happen. It wasn’t a surprise to us going into the combine.
“Immediately after the combine, I received a few text messages from teams because the (40 times) they had, as far as the timing for the electronic radar, was off. Most teams had a much faster time on Ryan, and so I got a lot of calls and texts right afterwards saying, ‘good training, the guy really is a definite third- or fourth-round lock. The film looked good, but to get that confirmation (helped). From then on, it’s been a whirlwind.
“At the combine, I had him meet with a defensive backs coach at the Omni, and he said, ‘here’s the deal with the interviews: don’t try to talk in eloquent prose. If you got in trouble at school, just tell them you got in trouble at school. Just be honest, that’s all the teams care about.’ So that was a good, comforting conversation.
“At the combine, the only team that did an interview was the Colts, which I thought was a little surprise. They were the only team to give him an official interview.
“As soon as the combine ended, the Top 30 visits hit like crazy. He’s been on six Top 30 visits and he’s gone to two local pro days (Ravens and Redskins), including Washington today. He’s not working out in Washington, just talking to executives, and he’s done working out until the draft. For his last (Top 30 visit), he goes out to see the Rams, and he’s also had five or six workouts with position coaches, with DB coaches who either went to his pro day or came to Washington, D.C. Arizona and Indy both worked him out here at his high school. So from that, that’s been sort of the routine.
“After the combine, he came back to D.C. and took some time off. Then we worked on his conditioning, then had him come back down to UNC-Central for pro day. He had a whirlwind pro day, and a couple teams came back to Durham to see Ryan after that specifically. So he was down there 4-5 days after pro day, then back to DC for a whirlwind Top 30 tour, and we’re done after tomorrow. For the most part, there’s nothing else to be done. All the evidence has been presented. The ‘judges’ in those 32 rooms will make their decisions. He’s done everything he’s been expected to do, everything he’s been asked.”