2015 NFL Draft: Sports Agencies Winners and Losers

John Hernandez

John Hernandez

Advican is our business consulting company. However we also own a sports agency that is involved in athlete management and sports marketing.

Though being an entrepreneur and serving as a business consultant to other entrepreneurs is my passion. Another passion of mine is sports where I am a certified NFL Agent working for our other company Agency Athlete.

So now with the 2015 NFL Draft complete it’s a good time to look back and see who were the winners and losers. I’m not talking about the projected players that dropped in rounds or that didn’t get drafted. I’m talking about the sports agencies that signed NFL prospects and made sizable investments with the hope they would succeed in the NFL Draft.

To paint the picture let’s start from the beginning of the cycle. The ultra-competitive recruiting season usually starts over a year before the NFL Draft. Sports Agents begin to target upcoming NFL prospects by building a relationship with the player, family, mentors, coaches and friends. Sports Agents will work the recruiting process hard in order to cement that relationship.

The recruiting continues until the player’s last NCAA College Football game which usually will be a Bowl game. After the player has exhausted his NCAA eligibility and declares for the NFL Draft, then agents are free to sign that player. Towards the end of the recruiting process that’s where the bidding war begins.

Draft graded prospects can command a package that includes a training stipend, monthly stipend, travel expenses and possible marketing guarantees. These packages can range anywhere from $5,000 on the low-end to well over $100,000 for top 1st round graded players.

During this time, Agents need to make educated financial decisions on how much they will invest in a player in January for the NFL Draft in May. Agents are relying on the most recent scouting information, draft projections and their gut.

But in this business many things can change from January to May. January’s first round projected pick can be an undrafted free agent in May (i.e. – La’el Collins, LSU). Then in reverse where January’s projected undrafted free agent can turn into a 4th round pick in May. So it swings both ways.

While large agencies can weather the storm of bad player signings that cause them to lose their initial investment. Smaller agencies can be wiped out by financially over extending themselves during the signing period.

In the 2015 NFL Draft there were 322 players that were invited to the 2015 NFL Combine in February. Out of those 322 combine invites there were 108 players that did not get drafted in May. Those 108 players were represented by a total of 70 sports agencies.

Leading the list of the most non-drafted combine invited players was the powerhouse agency SportStars with 9 players. Athletes First came in 2nd with 4 non-drafted combine invited players. But once again these are some of the top sports agencies so they can handle the financial hit.

On the positive side there were 41 players who did not receive a combine invite but still were drafted in May. According to Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague, the 41 non-combine invited players that were drafted is the highest number since 2006. Those 41 non-combine invited players were represented by a total of 34 agencies.

On the high-end there were 3 sports agencies that were able to secure 4th round Draft picks that were not invited to the NFL Combine. That is some tremendous upside value and kudos to them. I just want to stress how difficult it is to sign an NFL prospect that doesn’t get invited to the NFL Combine but still ends up getting drafted. You basically have to thread the needle to make that happen.

I know how difficult this can be because our agency was able to thread that needle. Our client Malcolm Johnson (TE/FB) from Mississippi State was not invited to the NFL Combine or a All-Star Game and was still drafted in the 6th round (195th Overall) by the Cleveland Browns.

Furthermore, some of the top draft prospects (projected to be drafted in 2nd – 5th rounds) we were recruiting but lost out during the signing period back in January to major agencies like SportStars didn’t end up getting drafted. Though at that time, those recruiting losses were depressing but now they seem to be wise misses as our agency would have taken a serious financial hit.

The lesson here is about making educated decisions whether in sport or business. You need the best information and intelligence available in order to put yourself in a position to succeed. But even with that you still need a little luck on your side to thread that needle. Advican can help bridge the gap and make sure your business avoids the challenging pitfalls.

John Hernandez serves as the CEO and Senior Business Consultant of Advican, a boutique consulting firm helping small businesses reach their full potential. John has over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs. John is also a certified NFL agent that has negotiated millions in player contracts. Follow John on Twitter @playerceo