For those in the sports industry, especially those who are always interested in what brands align with what players, seeing what brand top prospects sign with is always intriguing. With the 2017 NFL Draft a mere 10 days away (at the time of this writing), Nike has signed some of the top NFL prospects who many expect to be drafted early on in Philadelphia.
The list of almost-rookies, according to SBJ’s Terry Lefton, include: Deshaun Watson (QB – Clemson), Dalvin Cook (RB – Florida State), Christian McCaffrey (RB – Stanford), and John Ross (WR – Washington). These players are all very highly rated by draft experts. Some scouts have ranked Watson as a sure-fire first-round selection and the top QB in the draft. Not only does his performance on the field make him the target of many teams, but Nike tabbed him as a “must-have” endorser due to his personality off the field as well.
With the addition of these soon-t0-be-NFLers, Nike’s client roster (which makes up more than 70 percent of NFL players) continues to grow. It is worth mentioning that all four of these players came from schools and football programs that were endorsed by Nike. As the largest sports brand in the world, the brand loyalty was instilled within these players for the last 3-4 years (and probably even longer).
In the past few years, adidas and Under Armour have made a push to compete with the conglomerate that is Nike. This past year, Adidas has made quite the run with its increase of popularity and unique marketing tactics (see “Yeezy” cleats, offering up an island at the combine, etc.), while Under Armour is remaining competitive in the marketplace. However, up until the 2014 NFL season, the only logos allowed to be visibly worn by players was Nike (which overtook the uniform deal prior to that season). Since then, both Under Armour and adidas have reached agreements with the league, but Nike remains king on the gridiron.
As these newly-signed rookies look to embark on their NFL careers, keep an eye on the competition heating up amongst these brands both on and off the field as well.