I have been working in this industry for around 10 years, and one of the most asked questions I receive is “What are my chances of making it to the NFL”? This article is going out to all the players who read my website, and follow me on either Facebook or Twitter. I want you to know the truth before you end up a statistic to false dreams.
When you are a college athlete you are the man on the campus. You are known by everyone in your little area/city because you are the star football player at your school. When you are a star or future star it is very clear you are going to have FAKE friends. What is a fake friend? Those are the people who have interest in your career, because they are hoping to get something from you. Those are the people that are never there when times get tough. They are the people that run out on you when you don’t make it. They are the people that forget about you when you don’t succeed. Unfortunately those people can be family, so-called friends, neighbors and even coaches (From High school to College).
When you are a good player you tend to search your name because you are curious. You will look at websites to see where you rank, you will look at websites to see what they are saying about you as a prospect. Well that is your first problem. None of these draft websites have NFL scouts working for them. They may use some materials that are provided from NFL scouts, but it is never accurate. For example, several websites will get the BLESTO or National grades and post them on their site. Those are usually pre-draft grades for players. I know you are going to ask what a BLESTO or National List is, so I am going to tell you they are grading services that go into colleges and assess players. Then they sell it to the NFL and the NFL will use it along with their own grades to get a better assessment on a player. Kind of like Cliff Notes but for football. Are they right all the time? HELL NO!!!!
Last year the BLESTO and NATIONAL Grading services had Javon Hargrave as an undrafted free agent, and did not even have Jalen Richard on the list. Yet both are in the NFL. Everyone misses players, including us. Nobody is perfect because there are so many schools. So let’s move on.
Now that you understand a little let me explain something. Kids are being told by coaches, friends and family to leave school early. They are being told they are draft picks. They are being told they can make the NFL with ease and tons of NFL teams are in love with them. Let me explain something to you. There is a procedure in place from the NFL that will tell you what they think of you as an underclassmen. If you are a 1st or 2nd round pick they will tell you. They will also tell you if you are considered an undrafted guy. LISTEN TO THEM, they are pretty good at what they do. Stop listening to your Pastor, or your Coach who have never scouted in the NFL. That would be like getting stock market advice from a homeless man, WAKE UP!!
Family and Friends can sometimes be the worst enemies for student athletes in this process. Every Mom and Dad believe their son is an NFL player. If you don’t believe me just listen to them talk about you. They will extend the truth a lot because you are their baby. They are always going to over sell you. Why? They LOVE YOU, and that is fine, but you have to understand that not every kid will get a shot.
This process is stressful for families, but even more stressful for the player. Why? There are many changes about to take place in your life. If you are a Junior and you are told you are not a draft pick, STAY IN SCHOOL. Now I am going to talk to Seniors. If you are a Senior, you have likely finished your collegiate career unless you are in a Bowl game or deep in the playoffs in FCS. If you still have schooling left, as if you graduate in MAY, that needs to be your number one priority. I do not care what family and friends say or an AGENT says for that matter. School is your fallback option. It is very important because at the end of the day if you are hurt, or cut where do you go? You can only work out and chase the dream for a little while, because you will need money to survive. So remember that if you are hoping to train off campus. You may want to stay on campus and train with the training staff.
You will need to make a decision. You need to find an agent. This year agents have been slacking, because there are some solid players hitting me up looking for representation. I am going to tell you why they are not chasing undrafted to late round guys as heavy. A new rule changed with the NFL, stating agents can get as little as 1.5 percent of a player’s contract when they were getting 3 percent. Also the fact that all the kids want training is killing the passion for late rounders. It costs money to train players. It costs money to invest in guys that have a slim chance of getting in. Agents will not take players if they cannot make their money back, can you blame them? I can’t, because I would not pay 5k dollars to train someone to have a 15% chance of getting my money back. It is not a good business decision. It does not mean they do not believe in you, it is a business. To stay in business you have to make smart decisions. Look at Heinz and their Green Ketchup Idea for example, that was a horrible idea (REMEMBER), it was like you were eating moldy ketchup on your burger….YUK.
Agents will not touch a player if they have to invest a lot of money. I am going to tell you that now. You will need an agent pushing for you though, because they have connections with NFL scouts, marketing agencies and to All-Star games. While the All-Star games have likely all been filled up, players will need an agent for their pro day’s as well. Agents help get your name out there. The sooner you have an agent the faster your name gets spread to NFL teams (If they are doing their job correctly).
For small schoolers you need all the attention you can get. If there is a scout near you, you need to be there. You need to do everything and anything to get in front of NFL scouts. NFL scouts rarely come to small schools and hang out. As I stated last night on Twitter, the average HBCU school has 1 NFL scout in attendance. That goes for D2, D3 and the NAIA as well. Many D1 schools will not allow you to attend their pro day because they are scared you will take away from their star players. Some bigger schools will allow you to attend their pro day (if they are within a certain distance from your school). This is important and why you need an agent. He can help you get into a bigger Pro Day. If you do not have many options, you MUST look at the Regional Combines. Regional Combines will get you drafted if you ball out. The center for the Redskins Austin Reiter was drafted after he murdered the Regional Combine. It works kids but there is a cost to it.
Many players believe they can make it because they tore up their conference. They scored 10 touchdowns so that means they are NFL worthy, right? Listen kids that is good, I am proud of you but it doesn’t mean you are an NFL talent. NFL scouts make that decision. You need to convince them you are an NFL talent.
Nothing in this industry is handed to you, if you feel it will be a walk in the park you are wrong. Draft picks are cut every year, and their roster spot goes to an undrafted guy. A guy that had to outwork the man they invested a draft pick in. Every year underclassmen will not make it. Shoot last year 30 of the 96 that entered the NFL draft were not drafted. That is damn near 1/3 of the players leaving early. Imagine if those 30 stayed in school? Some are sitting at home right now, while others are playing in Canada or overseas. It is not easy to make it in the NFL, it is a blessing if you even get a work out. Be thankful for the opportunity, but be realistic.
From Damond Talbot – Owner of NFL Draft Diamonds