Scouts on Scouting: Ex-Raiders evaluators Kebric, Kingdon Answer Our Questions

On Tuesday, two of the co-authors of the new book, Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield, Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric, answered our questions about the book and about scouting in general. We had a few more questions, and their answers are below.

Did Al evaluate scouts and front office personnel? If so, how?

Kingdon: In his own way, Al would evaluate the scouts.  He would rely more on the opinion of the better scouts in the department. He was very loyal to his employees and did not fire people easily. If someone proved to be disloyal to him or the organization, that was certainly grounds for termination. The coaches were a different story.

Kebric: He did know who could perform and who could not but remained loyal to certain individuals. On a number of occasions, he would tell us just to “work around so and so.”  Of course, this created a burden on the rest of us.

Al was an innovator. How would he look at the rise of analytics in the game today?

Kingdon: I once heard a historian talk about the greatness of our founding fathers like Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Adams.  They wrote this amazing document using quill pens in bad light. It would be amazing to think what they could do with the facilities of today. I think the same think about Sid Gillman, Al Davis and the other great football minds that would sit in a room, cutting and splicing film as they put together their offenses.  I’m sure that Al would have analyzed the analytics from all angles and perspectives and found a way to maximize its use in ways that may not have been considered.

Kebric: Perhaps, because of his health decline, Al did not adapt to modern devices (e.g., computers, cell phones, etc.).  He remained reliant upon daily faxes and used an overhead projector to detail particulars of the Lane Kiffin firing. I once made mention to him about all the data that could be located on a computer and he replied that, “Jon Kingdon provides me with that information.” The book contains a comment from Al to the effect that history repeats itself and that what worked in the past once again will work in the future.  He never really left the 1960s (Sid Gilllman’s vertical passing offense, etc.) and so, analytics would have been a tough sell.

Thursday, we ask Jon and Bruce the biggest mistake a team can make during the scouting process; how they think Davis would have dealt with evaluating players in college offenses that don’t translate to the NFL; and why some scouts and executives lose their effectiveness over time. Don’t forget to check in tomorrow, and make sure to check out their new book.

 

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Two Ex-Raider Scouts, Now Authors, Reflect on Al Davis and the Game

If you read our weekly Friday Wrap (and if you don’t, you can register for it here), you know that there’s a new book out called Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield. It’s written by Bay Area sportswriter Steve Corkran along with two men who knew Davis well: former Raiders scouts Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric. Also, Gary Peterson served as editor.

I’ve known Jon since the late ’00s in my days running all-star games, but only recently met Bruce (and his friendly and engaging wife, Liz). They’re both promoting the book around the Bay Area and nationally, so I took the opportunity to ask both of them a few questions about past Raiders drafts, as well as the scouting business. They were kind enough to spend a little time answering those questions, and we’ll have them for our readers this week. Here’s the first excerpt.

Looking back to your four decades with the Raiders, which draftee’s success (or failure) surprised you the most?

Kingdon: The late-round picks that make it are always the most satisfying. Ron Wolf getting the team to draft (DT) Reggie Kinlaw, who had a very good career and (who was) dominating in the Super Bowl win versus Washington. La’Roi Glover, another defensive tackle, who we battled to draft and went on to a great career. Unfortunately, it was done with the New Orleans Saints.  Another was Ronald Curry who was a quarterback out of North Carolina that we tried as a safety and then went on to become a very fine wide receiver.

Kebric: As stated in the book, the players that we did not draft (Brett Favre, Aeneas Williams, Steven Jackson, etc.) stand out more than the ones we did draft. During my early years with the Raiders, I lived in Houston and scouted the Southwest. Two players that I recommended who performed beyond my expectations were SS Vann McElroy (Baylor) and DE Greg Townsend (TCU). The biggest disappointment had to be (former No. 1 overall) JaMarcus Russell (LSU), who I had rated as my third best player for the 2007 draft (behind Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson).  As the book relates, we told Al that JaMarcus needed a structured environment but such was not provided in Oakland.  We basically gave a young man $30 million and let him roam the East Bay.

Is life better overall for scouts now than it was 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Kingdon: There has been a great evolution in scouting. When I was first hired, scouts would be lugging projectors around to the schools to watch their film. Sometime you would have to watch the film against the wall in the bathroom of a locker room. Going from film to tape and finally to digitizing also makes things a lot easier. Now the teams have film on every school from the prior season and receive it as the season progresses. Scouts are now able to watch a team’s film prior to showing up at the school, enabling the scout to determine where the players he is scouting line up prior to arriving at the school, saving time and allowing the scout to go right into the evaluation process.

Kebric: Worse. The (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones mantra of “hiring 25-year-olds and paying them $25,000 a year” seems to pervade the league.  When I entered the NFL in 1968, the scouts were held in much higher esteem since the majority had been NFL players, NFL executives or NFL/college coaches. Of course, until the late 1970s, the draft was held in early February, which did not permit the coaches to be as involved as today.

Wednesday, we ask Jon and Bruce how Al Davis would look at the analytics wave in football, and how Davis evaluated his scouts and draft team. Don’t forget to check out the book on Amazon.

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Sept 11-15

In order to cater to the ‘superfan’ among the NFL’s most passionate supporters, Super Bowl champion and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has announced the launch of his new app, TraceMe.

The new project provides an immersive, interactive and content-filled experience between fan and celebrity, according to the company. Users will have access to a weekly Wilson-led podcast as well as insight and tips on how to train like the QB.

“Now that it’s football season, my No. 1 priority is leading the Seahawks to another Super Bowl victory,” Wilson said in a statement. “TraceMe is going to help me on that journey by providing me with a direct line to my most passionate supporters.”

The app recently announced a $9 million Series A funding round led by Madrona Venture Group. Among a group of angel investors is Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Here’s a look at other new developments on the grid horizon, courtesy of Rick Serritella.

Lynch Out Loud: The comeback of Raiders OH Marshawn Lynch is paying dividends for the budding reality show star. That is not a misprint folks. The character once known for not speaking to the media at the Super Bowl will now be the focal point of a reality show produced by Bleacher Report. The show, “No Script,” will begin streaming this month on Facebook Watch as the social media titan attempts to compete with Amazon and Netflix with original sports video content. While their new video offerings are barely even a month old, Facebook has opened its bank account to ensure this project gets off the ground quickly. Lynch’s deal is reportedly in the millions, according to Reuters, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook intends to invest up to a billion dollars on original shows.

More reality programming: As the market for original sports content heats up, Amazon announced a new show featuring the University of Michigan football team and head coach Jim Harbaugh. The show will spotlight players and coaches in day-to-day life on campus and provide an inside look at practice and game day. “We are proud to partner with Amazon Prime Video in documenting our University of Michigan student-athletes’ daily experiences and lifelong lessons learned both on the football field and in the classroom,” Harbaugh said in a statement. It will be produced by BTN Orginals and the Montag Group, and will be released in January. Meanwhile, the NFL Network has two other docu-series ready for launch. “Football Town: Valdosta, GA,” is produced by Panthers QB Cam Newton and chronicles the 2016 Valdosta High School football team. The new series airs Tuesday nights and will be followed by “Elite 11,” which tells the story of the nation’s best young athletes as they look to follow in the footsteps of others such as No. 1 overall draft picks Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Jared Goff.

Six more seconds: Last week, we examined the introduction of six-second ads on NFL broadcasts. It didn’t take long for other to follow. According to Adweek, look for six-second ads to begin appearing on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, among other platforms. It’s the latest attempt to keep advertising relevant as modern attention spans decrease. In a new ad campaign aimed at potential advertisers, YouTube claims  that millennials and members of Generation Z aren’t the only demographics that watch online video. The plan is to eventually phase out longer ads traditionally used at the outset of such content.

 

 

 

Weekly Gridiron Tech Report with Ric Serritella

If it seems as if a day doesn’t go by without news of a new football livestream offering, you’re right. With media entities such as Twitter and Facebook now over a decade old, the millennial generation has become accustomed to watching football online, which means increased revenue opportunities for the NFL and more smiles on owner’s faces.

With that in mind, here are some items of interest from NFL Draft Bible’s Ric Serritella, especially to those people seeking to find a niche in the game.

Six-second ads: During the offseason, the NFL announced its intention to eliminate the ‘double-up’ commercial breaks. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when broadcast networks decide to go to commercial break following a touchdown, then again following the kickoff. These ‘double ups’ have helped the league generate about $3.5 billion for the five networks carrying their broadcasts (CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC and NFL Network). On the other hand, they’ve irritated fans and made for longer games at a time when attention spans are getting shorter.

With the growing influence of social media, the average user’s attention span has drastically decreased. According to a recent Microsoft study, the average attention span is now eight seconds, down from 12 in 2000, which would make it shorter than a goldfish.

So what’s the answer? Six-second ads. Fox is the first to announce this offering. Ads will debut on America’s Game of the Week and be deployed in a variety of forms, including a shorter commercial load or in-game execution, designed to “most seamlessly integrate with each type of sport.”

C-USA goes with Flo: Whether you’re away from home, out of market or on the go, the recent increase of online livestream channels has made it easier to keep up with every college football team. The latest to enter the arena is FloSports, which has signed an agreement to broadcast Conference USA games.

The deal includes exclusive live and on-demand coverage of three regular-season games featuring Charlotte, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Rice. Though lacking the national exposure of the Power Five conferences, most of which own their own network, Conference USA is leading the charge as an early adaptor to Over-The-Top (OTT) content. They also struck a deal with Stadium, in addition to beIN SPORTS, which makes its 2017 Conference USA debut Saturday with FIU’s home opener against Alcorn State, the first of 10 Saturday evening games on the network.

Though NFL broadcast networks generated a bundle in ad sales, the biggest money-maker for NFL owners comes from TV deals. Last year, the league earned $7.8 billion in TV broadcast rights. That means each NFL team earned $244 million from broadcast deals before the season began.

NFL expands social networking: As the league continues to turn toward livestream online network deals, a recent shareholder report by Twitter signals that an increasing NFL presence on social media is arriving faster than we ever imagined. According to the report, last year’s Thursday Night Football (TNF) livestream package drew an average of 3.5 million unique viewers per game, with 55 percent under the age of 25, an indication of the strong demographic metrics most advertisers covet.

The success was so great that Twitter lost out on the TNF package to Amazon this year, which paid $50 million for the rights to the package, five times more than what Twitter paid the year before. However, Twitter managed to keep skin in the game by agreeing to a multi-year deal with the league to provide uniquely packaged official NFL video.

 

Checking Out New Tech on the Gridiron

Courtesy of NFLDraftBible’s Ric Serritella, here are a couple of notes related to new technology and innovations that are being used by NFL and college teams and their fans.

QBs meet VR: As virtual reality continues to trickle into mainstream sports and figures out its identity, behind the scenes, it has become a great learning tool for quarterbacks. Since the new NFL collecting bargaining agreement in 2011, the difficulty for quarterbacks who want to develop during the offseason has increased. So how do some teams overcompensate? With virtual reality.

Roughly 25% of the league subscribes to STRVR technology, which allows players to have the ability to put on a headset and instantly have a 360-degree view of the field. The extra mental reps allow them to break down different coverages and blitzes without having to put on a helmet. Such technology is even being introduced at premier combine prep facilities, such as IMG Football in Bradenton, Fla.

“It’s a new tool, there’s probably seven or eight teams using it [VR],” said Bears head coach John Fox to reporters last month. “With our newness at quarterback, whether it’s Mitchell [Trubisky], Mark [Sanchez] or Mike [Glennon] it’s just getting reps that other guys don’t.”

At the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit in June, San Francisco 49ers president Al Guido spoke to the technology’s importance. “How do you reduce the hits but yet not reduce the amount of time someone can practice their craft? So knowing someone can put a VR machine on and get real, live, what in football we call ‘reps,’ without taking those hits, was, we thought, advantageous,” he said.

One of the most impressive players during the preseason has been 49ers rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who swears by the new VR technology and says he reviews over 1,000+ players during a single week using the headsets.

“You only get limited reps in practice, but you’re able to watch through virtual reality, essentially every rep in practice – all of Brian [Hoyer]’s and Matt [Barkley]’s and go back and watch mine, and kind of play things out in your head as you watch practice,” Beathard told NBC Sports Bay Area.

SOCIAL MEDIA INVADING THE LIVE-STREAM MARKET

With the evolution of how we digest media, the live-streaming network Stadium is out to meet consumer demand for more live-stream sporting events on social media.

In consecutive days, they announced a partnership with both Facebook and Twitter to stream exclusive broadcasts of college football games. The move creates tremendous new opportunity for online advertising revenue, while shaping the course of the live-stream broadcast industry.

Stadium will carry a 15-game lineup with nine Conference USA match-ups and six games from the Mountain West Conference. Custom-produced broadcasts will introduce uniquely coordinated production assets and social elements to create a first-time-ever viewing experience. Elements include: live curated chat experiences from well-known and well-respected football personalities; a dedicated social production team and correspondents; and ongoing integration of real-time social elements provided by the competing schools.

In addition, Stadium hopes to drive traffic back to its linear network WatchStadium.com, where sports fans are able to watch an additional 2,500+ college games. This lineup includes football, men’s and women’s basketball, lacrosse, and volleyball events from conferences such as the Mountain West, West Coast Conference, Patriot League, Conference USA and Southern Conference, the company says.

Look for this to become a growing trend in all sports. In a recent Morning Consult poll, 37% of adults said they’d be more inclined to watch college football games if a social media company such as Facebook were to live-stream them. The number for the NFL was even higher at 47%, with 60% of men and 58% of people aged 18 to 29 more likely to watch a football game on social media.

The network will run 24 hours a day, broadcasting live and on-demand games, highlights, classic games, as well as original and daily live studio programming. These streams will be available via the @WatchStadium Twitter account, as well as Stadium’s own website and the streaming service Pluto TV. The action kicks off Saturday with Miami (OH)/Marshall at 6:30 p.m.

*Be sure to check back for more technology news and how it is changing the football landscape!

On NFLPA Exam Results, Our Practice Baseball Exam, a New Book and More

While we prepare for Hurricane Harvey here in West Houston, here are a few thoughts to wrap the week.

  • The NFLPA sent out results from the 2017 contract advisor exam Thursday. For agents, there’s no better time than draft day when players get to realize their dreams. For me, ‘results day’ is my draft day, because I get to hear from so many newly minted contract advisors. So far, we’ve heard from about 15 people with good news (some of it on Twitter) and a couple with bad. Of course, that’s a fraction of the people who used our resources, but it’s a good sign. Exciting stuff.
  • Speaking of exams, our practice baseball agent exam is up and running. For those people planning to becoming MLBPA-certified, it’s worth a try. And this year, as we debug this thing, it’s FREE! What have you got to lose? All we ask is that you give us fair feedback on how our exam compared to the real one. The test will next be offered Wednesday in New York City.
  • The word ‘enigma’ is thrown around a lot, but the word was really invented with Al Davis in mind. That’s why a book about the former Raiders owner is something I’m really excited about. Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield is coming in September, and it’s already getting some positive buzz in major places. It’s co-written by a longtime friend, Jon Kingdon, who got washed out when Davis died and the new regime came in. Jon was Director of College Scouting under Davis, who was not your average owner who makes the big-picture decisions and leaves the details to others. I’m a firm believer that if you know history, you know the future. Reading about Davis, who was such a factor in the AFL merger as well as the key subsequent decisions in the life of the league, should be incredibly insightful.
  • One thing that we’re going to try to focus on more at Inside the League is developing trends, especially as it comes to new technology. With that in mind, I’ve asked my friend Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible to help find interesting items to pass along. Not only does Ric have a very thorough eye for talent (he helps assemble the rosters for the College Gridiron Showcase and puts out a widely respected draft guide every year), but he’s also a wizard of video production (he has filmed and produced the last two ITL Combine Seminars for our YouTube channel. In other words, he’s perfectly placed at the intersection of football and hi-tech. One thing he turned me onto this week is the new Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Complex, which will be shared by the Chargers and Rams. Located in Inglewood, Calif., the $2.6M sports entertainment district is scheduled to open in 2020 and spreads over 298-acres (three and a half times the size of Disneyland). Fans will be able to see the action from just about anywhere; it will include 70,000 seats, will be open-air, and will feature an oval-shaped, dual-sided Oculus jumbotron that will stretch 120 yards. The compound will also house 2,500 modern residences, 300 hotel rooms, 890,000 square feet of retail space, 25 acres of public parks and a 6,000-seat performing arts venue. While naming rights have yet to be sold, 125 of the 260 luxury suites have been made available—they include all Chargers and Rams home games, in addition to the right of first refusal to all other events. The LA Sports and Entertainment Complex is scheduled to host Super Bowl LVI in February 2022 and the opening ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics. To view a virtual tour of what some are calling the eighth wonder of the world, click here.

Introducing the ITL Baseball Agent Practice Exam

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that, at Inside the League, we try to help the football professional succeed at his trade. That’s whether you’re an agent, trainer, financial advisor, coach, scout, marketing professional, parent of a player, player or anyone else associated with the game.

Our help for some people starts before they are even officially part of the game. For example, you’ve probably heard about our practice exam for NFL agent hopefuls. You might also have seen our short video on it. Maybe you’re even sick of hearing about it. But the bottom line is, for seven years, we’ve been helping people get ready for one of the tougher written exams in sports (it has a less than 50 percent passage rate). Say what you will about the NFLPA (and we’ve said plenty), but the players association takes its certification of contract advisors seriously.

Perhaps as a tip of the cap to the NFL, Major League Baseball recently started testing its would-be agents, as well. In fact, in just about 10 days (Aug. 30), the MLBPA will offer one of its two annual testing dates. Two tests will be offered: a General Certification exam with 50 questions and a Limited Certification exam with 40 questions. Applicants will have up to three hours to complete either exam. The test is open-book (though no electronic devices will be allowed), and will be preceded on Aug. 29 by a seminar introducing the basic concepts to be tested, a la the NFLPA exam.

For the first time, this year, we’re offering a practice exam for those fine folks who’ll be  trying their hand at MLB certification. Our test has 30 questions, and it’s written by someone who recently took (and passed) the exam, so it’s authentic. Still, it’s new, so it’s not nearly as polished as our time-tested football agent exam. As such, there are still a few trims and edits we have to do, and those who complete it won’t yet have access to the same explanation of how we arrived at the answers (though that’s coming later).

Still, we feel it will be helpful for everyone taking it, and the best part of all is that, for the next couple weeks, it’s totally free. Of course, there are caveats. If you take us up on our offer, we’ll ask you for a little feedback on our exam before (and after) you take the actual test in New York. Our aim, as always, is a seamless practice test that gives you a much better chance to pass than others, as our football exam does (our passage rate is about 70 percent, vs. about 45 percent for the at-large test-taking population). We’re not going to pester you and not going to spam you — just a few questions about how we did, before and after, is all we ask.

Ready to sign up? Register here. Make sure not to make your username and password too crazy or long (for some reason, our database prefers five characters or less, and hates the # character). Once you get to the pay wall, you’re done — just drop us an email (nstratton at insidetheleague dot com) to let us know. Since there’s no payment protocol set up, we won’t get a notification otherwise. Then we’ll activate you, and you’ll be ready to go.

Sound fair? We hope so. It’s all part of our efforts to not only help people succeed in football, but succeed in sports. Good luck!

NFL Success: The Formula, or At Least Our Theory

On Tuesday, I’ll be talking to a small group of business leaders from around Houston. The friend who asked me to speak, a wealth manager from a major firm here in the Bayou City, asked me to talk a little bit about what I do, and a little bit about the coming season, the Texans, etc.

Here’s a confession: I always get a little nervous when I’m speaking for a general crowd, i.e., mostly fans. If I’m talking to agents, scouts, financial advisors, parents of players, or anyone who’s already in the game, that’s my wheelhouse. We speak the same language, and I think I can provide them with something helpful. For people who just want to talk about the game, I’m a little less certain about things.

In thinking about what to present, I decided I’d try to discuss my theory on the keys to success in the NFL and apply it to the Texans. The beauty of this topic is that it can be applied to most any team. I’ve set this up to basically determine a team’s chances of making the playoffs, because I think winning the Super Bowl is a function of so many things (team health, how hot the team is over the last month of the season, relative strength of teams in your conference, etc.). If you can pinpoint a team’s chances of making the playoffs, to me, you’ve got a pretty good indicator of what kind of organization you have.

Anyway, in my estimation, here are the five elements that lead directly to NFL success, and their relative importance.

Quarterback (team leader, leader of offense): 25 percent – I was texting with a scout recently who was sharply critical of the Patriots’ college scouting record and methods, and in gest, I responded that their philosophy only works if you have Tom Brady as your quarterback. Actually, that’s true of almost every team. If you have an elite QB, it’s like you’re halfway home. It certainly covers for a lot of mistakes.

Rest of roster (football IQ, athleticism, fit to system): 25 percent – At the end of the day, players play. Others get fired when they don’t play well enough, but it’s the success of the players that determines everything else. If you have a ‘C’ coach and an ‘A’ roster, you can win. The reverse is not necessarily true, certainly not long-term.

Owner (commitment to winning, stadium, control/delegation): 10 percent – You may disagree with Jerry Jones’ style, or his ego, or whatever, but you can’t question his commitment to winning, the team’s stadium and practice facility, and his willingness to make tough decisions. Obviously, not all his decisions have worked out, but he’s not ben afraid to make them.

GM (head coach selection, management of draft, management of cap, head coach accountability): 25 percent – Here I’m assuming this is the traditional GM who has total control of the draft and hiring a head coach. I know this model is going away, but I think it’s the best way. In fact, I debated over making the GM 30 or 35 percent. This is why the Dave Gettleman and John Dorsey firings are, to me, incredibly big mistakes.

Head coach (selection of staff, game manager, fits system to talent, player accountability): 15 percent – There are plenty who’d say the head coach is the most important part of the team, and we’re seeing that realized in their salaries, but I think the ‘genius’ coach is mostly a function of his players.

This is my theory. Am I right? Am I wrong? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

 

Are NFL Scouts Becoming a Thing of the Past?

We’ve been exploring a scouting-related theme in this space for the last few months, and it has to do with the value and relevance of traditional, on-the-road area scouts (also known as college scouts). More precisely, we’ve indirectly asked the question, are  scouts becoming a thing of the past?

A few developments over the last month-plus put a finer point on our question. First of all, two classic evaluation-style GMs, John Dorsey in Kansas City and Dave Gettleman in Carolina, were let go. You could argue (and I believe) they were two of the top five general managers in the game.

Shortly after that, the Packers, one of the most stable and well-respected teams in the league, shifted several of their seasoned evaluators to the pro side and replaced them with first- and second-year scouts.

As we’ve done previously this summer, we went to Angry Scouting Veteran and Angry Scout 2 for candor and opinion without compromise. Both made good points.

Angry Scouting Veteran made several good points in a lengthy take. I won’t run it out completely here (it’s pretty extensive), but his main points, in his own words, were:

  • “Some guys view moving from college to pro scouting as a way to go home every night as opposed to being on the road.”
  • “Other guys view pro scouting as a quicker way to move up the ladder towards GM because you’re in the office, around people at the top level, and learning/working in other elements that college guys aren’t around or don’t have time for.”
  • “John Wojciechowski is a great guy, very highly respected in the scouting community, and has deserved some kind of opportunity for advancement for quite some time now. He has a young family and between he and the Packers brass, they both most likely agreed that this was the best move for his career and his family.”
  • “I’ve also heard that (Packers GM) Ted Thompson detests change, so moving up younger guys who were already in the program to road scout roles was another logical move for him.”

He also went on to decry the idea of eliminating road scouts, and his hopes that this isn’t a trend. Obviously, I heartily agree with both sentiments.

Angry Scout 2 was less certain about the Packers’ motivations, but was willing to believe the team wanted to reward some young people Thompson sees as rising stars. On the other hand, he sees some deference to trends, as well.

  • “Remember there are people in the NFL who want a “yes” man and to feel their scouts will just go with what they think. Maybe Green Bay did some favors or perhaps they know these people are good scouts. . . You never want a staff entirely of people over 50 (and) it’s good to have a mix.”
  • “If (the Packers) do what they use to, then the new scouts are good. I know their NFS scout has always seemed to be pretty good the last 10 years.”
  • “People are gravitating to analytics. They see how it’s a crapshoot no matter how good the scout is, and they want older scouts out because younger people are more likely to accept analytics.”
  • “One theory I have is that people see (New England). They are killing it on pro side but very average on the draft. They want experience in pro.”

 

The 2017 NFLPA Agent Exam: The Post-Mortem

I spent the better part of the last three days talking to people who took the agent exam last Friday in Washington, D.C. Here’s what I’ve gathered.

  • Anyone expecting the NFLPA to take a little off its fastball had to be disappointed. There were no true/false questions, and the questions were said to be even longer than last year (more than one person described most questions as ‘wordy). “There were a few pages with only 2-3 questions on the page,” texted one agent hopeful. “Every question was a paragraph,” wrote another.
  • What’s more, the hard questions started at the beginning, whereas we’d been telling people for weeks to focus on the last 20 questions, where the real meat of the test started last year.
  • In addition, though we tried to focus on time management with everyone we worked with (about a third to half of the people who took the exam for the first time), several people barely finished on time (or didn’t).
  • Finally, the questions weren’t arranged in ‘blocks’ this time. Unlike the last couple years, “it seemed that the questions were random, as in certain topics were not grouped together,” according to one test-taker. Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.
  • Two agent hopefuls told me there was a discrepancy with one of the questions, and several people made the NFLPA aware of it. If this is true, I’d expect that question gets tossed. Maybe that makes the test one question easier for everyone.
  • Apparently the NFLPA has found a new way to grade the exams, as they told everyone to expect results within about two weeks, instead of 6-8 weeks. That’s good news as long as the players association continues to curve the results. I don’t have any reason to think they won’t have one. I’ve had probably a dozen agents ask me how much the curve will benefit test-takers, and exactly what total one needs to pass. It’s impossible to tell.
  • Word continues to get out on our practice exam and study guide. One person said the two people he sat next to and hung out with in D.C. also used our resources. That’s a good feeling. And next year, we’ll be even more prepared to help would-be agents. We’re hoping to add a second complete practice exam next year, and we hope to sharpen up our current one, as well.
  • While we’re at it, we’re also working on a practice exam for the MLBPA exam, which will be offered next month and next year (twice annually).

If you don’t mind the indulgence, I’d like to close with a few final words, all unsolicited, from our clients.

  • “Hey Neil. Just wanted to say thanks for your help on this process. The review really helped me prepare for the seminar and for the most part the seminar was just a review. I feel really confident that I passed the exam.”
  • “(Test was) cake. Was far easier than I anticipated.”
  • You provided helpful tools for me for an important task. I appreciate your services.”
  • It was tough but I feel good. I cannot imagine taking it without the study guide/practice test.”
  • Your exam was spot on. . . Taking this test without doing your practice exam is similar to cancelling all practices prior to Alabama week.”
  • I feel much better walking out this year than I did last year! Thank you again for all of your help. Hopefully I’ll have good news in September!”