Every year, the NFL Combine is a time for networking, renewing acquaintances, and of course, holding special events for our clients (we had three this year, more than we ever have). But it’s also a time for learning. Here are a handful of things that I thought were especially interesting.

  • We’ll have more of this in next week’s Friday Wrap (register for it here: http://tinyurl.com/qduqv7p), but our award winners Wednesday night were San Francisco, Best Draft 2019 Award (they won by just a single vote out of 108 votes cast by scouts); Bears Executive Scout Jeff Shiver, C.O. Brocato Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Scouting; Arizona State Director of Athletics Ray Anderson, Eugene E. Parker Memorial Award for Lifetime Service to the NFL agent community; and Ben Standig, Best 2019 Mock Draft Award. It was an incredible night, and it meant a lot to have not only 49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan attend, but for them to bring their entire scouting and coaching staffs, as well.
  • Today, I had a friend in the wealth management business tell me that players don’t hire them based on how much they know about money and investing. They hire them based on how much they like them. That’s an important distinction, and probably as good a description of why so many players get taken advantage of by unscrupulous money managers as any.
  • Here’s something a lot of NFL fans don’t know (and I didn’t know until today). Combine prep whiz Tony Villani of XPE Sports was discussing with me how the NFL has wised up and is now weighing players twice — once when they arrive (when they are “watered up” to appear bulky and thick) and once immediately before workouts. That’s an important distinction. I wonder if the NFL will start publishing the second weights?
  • In that vein, another trainer told me that one tight end lost 16 pounds between first and second weigh-ins. I don’t even know how that’s possible in three days.
  • One other thing — players are now arriving at the stadium four hours (!) before they actually run the 40. That’s a long time. Prior to this year, right before they ran, you’d see guys practicing their starts and getting stretched out in the hallways of the convention center and downtown hotels. This year, they have to do all that on their own once they actually check in for workouts. This might be reflected in performances.
  • Had an interesting talk with a handful of sports management students from Lynn University this week. Associate Professor Ted Curtis brought them there to really see what the combine looks and feels like. I’ve always wondered why more schools don’t do that. I mean, there’s another school offering a sports management major every day, yet you never see groups of students walking the halls of the Indiana Convention Center.
  • Had a growing agency ask me for referrals this week on young agents who are really on the rise. Was equally as rewarding to put four contract advisors with this firm as it was to be trusted for my insights. You can really only do that at combine time, when everyone is in town at the same time.
  • In our coach representation seminar on Wednesday, it was interesting to me that Chad Chatlos of Ventura Partners — who totally killed it, by the way — said that he’s getting more and more calls from athletic directors who are seeking superstar college personnel directors. Not surprised at all. People who’ve been reading us for a while now know we’ve been talking about this as a rising profession. I could see a day where colleges rely far less on the recruiting services and more on their own evaluation. In fact, after his coordinators and his strength coach, Chad said a head coach’s success is most contingent on who he hires as personnel director.
  • By the way, Chad presented and answered questions for about 90 minutes. I mean, if any of our attendees had any questions about how search firms work; how much they cost; how the college search process is conducted and how long it takes; what schools are looking for (and how they communicate that); the vagaries of identifying and hiring talented people; and how you can get your client needed exposure with the people doing hiring, I can’t imagine they still do. Chad was just phenomenal. And everyone there left with a valuable new contact.
  • Actually, two key contacts. It’s hard to imagine someone more composed, professional and organized than Northwestern’s Director of Player Personnel and Strategy, Cody Cejda (our other speaker). It’s easy to see why NU has “sent up” more personnel and operations assistants to be NFL scouts than any other school  in the last decade. As for South Carolina Senior Deputy AD Chance Miller, a longtime friend staggered by the flu this week, get well, soon, my man.

If you’re part of ITL (or would like to be), and I missed you this week, please accept my humble apologies. It’s just such a fast 3-4 days. But I look forward to catching up with you next year.