Scouting for players that are potential 2016 NFL draft picks still has a month to go. Agents have a valuable role to play in ensuring that their clients are showcased to maximize their draft potential. There are no rules governing what events a player should participate in. This is where agent advice comes in. It starts with having a thorough understanding of what strengths a player has that will attract teams and what possible impediments need overcoming. You are not a fan, and uncomfortable realities need to be shared with your client.
An agent needs to be thoroughly conversant with team scouting reports to understand how to navigate the scouting process. Which events can best showcase your client and how should he approach them? The second season of scouting began with all-star games played in by seniors. Those players had a week of evaluation and a game to play. Next came the NFL Scouting Combine, with its comprehensive physical, skills tests, team interviews and performance by position. An agent needs to monitor the team feedback from these testing events. Did a player interview well? Did he run and do the other drills impressively? Are there injury concerns? Character concerns? If so, pro scouting day, on-campus visits and visits to franchises can be used to answer these questions.
Pro scouting days are held on college campuses. It is helpful to have the agent present, interacting with teams, monitoring feedback and concerns. This day replicates the same drills done at the combine. This is a chance to answer any lingering questions or concerns. For a quarterback, conducting a passing session with all the possible throws is critical. Back in 1990, Illinois quarterback Jeff George dazzled the scouts, and his throwing session was later called "The $15 Million Workout Video," which was the size of his contract. In 2014, SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert's amazing performance made the difference in whether he would be drafted. Quarterback Paxton Lynch has the last pro day throwing session on April 6 in Memphis.
Teams can schedule in-person workouts with players either at the college campus or close to his hometown. These visits indicate a serious interest on behalf of the team. These one-on-one, up-close-and-personal sessions may involve working out, chalkboard sessions and discussions. Teams rarely use a high-round draft pick without such a visit. Stay in touch with the player and teams so that you can adjust your recommendations and strategy. The families and friends of players need to be kept up to date. They are important partners in the process.
NFL teams can invite up to 30 players to come to their facility for a visit. No workouts are allowed, but players interact with front office and coaching personnel. These visits along with the on-campus visits are usually scheduled through the agent. It is important to keep an up-to-date calendar so that the player knows where and when he is supposed to be, and he gets maximum exposure.
Do not get discouraged by draft "experts" and their mock drafts. In 1995, a draft guru put a certain quarterback on the front page of his winter draft guide as the prospective first pick in the draft -- the player went in the seventh round. Teams have their own individual draft boards rating best overall players, and best players at individual positions. They do not share these often with the public. You need one or more teams to "fall in love" with your client in a football sense and feel that he is worth a draft pick. Consensus means nothing.
Over the years I have represented more than 60 first-round draft picks and the very first pick in the first round eight times. These results come from understanding the draft system and team mentality and adjusting to the feedback that comes. Remember, the draft is a projection as to how a player will benefit a team for the next 10 years -- it is not a merit badge for conspicuous college performance. Your job is to ensure that a player and his family sit on draft day knowing there was nothing else he possibly could have done to enhance his draft status.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.