On the eve of the 2017 NFL Draft, teams, prospective draftees and their agents alike are all experiencing anxiety wondering where they will end up in the next coming days. As a first year agent, Shawn O’Dare of the Miami, Florida-based Epic Agents has been documenting his journey in the lead up to the draft. Each of his five entries can be found on the Epic Agents website here.
In his fourth entry, O’Dare highlights the process of choosing a training facility for each client to prepare for his Pro Day, the NFL Combine (if invited) and potential private workouts. Some clients decide to work with the strength and conditioning coach at his college, which is what two of his clients decided to do. It just so happens that their coach was also O’Dare’s at the University of Miami. Because of this, he took the opportunity to bond and workout with clients – something that most people would not think of when it comes to a agent-client relationship.
Once the athletes select their training facilities and the training begins, some players had the opportunity to play in collegiate All Star games (Senior Bowl, East West Shrine Game, NFLPA Game, and the Tropic Bowl). These are opportunities for the athletes to improve their draft stock through practices and the game which is attended by scouts from all NFL teams. However, players can also hurt their draft stock by getting hurt during the games, or other issues.
It is also during the training process that agents work to secure marketing opportunities for their clients. Epic has secured deals with adidas, Panini and Samsung, among other companies. It is becoming more and more popular for agencies to throw Super Bowl parties for clients and friends (Leigh Steinberg has thrown an annual party for years), so at this year’s Super Bowl, Epic decided to throw its first party. It is used as a networking opportunity, and moreso a way for clients to unwind given the hectic few months they endure leading up to the pre-draft process and draft itself.
The Combine is not only a training ground for players, but also agents, as they are required to complete continuing education seminars which are offered at this annual event. O’Dare saw this as a networking opportunity to market his clients as every NFL coach, GM, pro personnel staff and scout are all in one place. In addition, brands such as Nike, Under Armour and adidas each have their own “suite” which they use to promote the newest and greatest innovations for the upcoming season.
With NFL players participating in community relations events throughout the season, Epic prepares its clients for these commitments with various volunteer opportunities that can also be used as networking opportunities. Further, these allow players to build a name for themselves off the filed in addition to their on field reputation.
For the 2017 NFL Combine, 330 prospective draft picks were invited. For those who do not get the invite, their university Pro Day is the most important tryout that they will ever participate in. While attending the Combine is not a guarantee to get drafted, the Pro Days are still very important. At these universities, players essentially participate in their own “mini combine” most often held at the practice facilities. At the University of Tennessee’s pro day, the university does not allow agents in the facility during the workout. For clients at the University of Miami, they participated in their pro day during a torrential downpour, as the school is in the process of building an indoor facility.
Once pro days are over, clients can have individual private workouts with teams if they are requested. But first, Epic decided to treat its clients to a nice meal (since the players had been training and dieting for three months leading up to pro day) and a night on the town.
The pre-draft process and the draft itself are a stressful time for both agents and players, but the work does not stop there. For those not drafted, the undrafted free agent signing period is another frenzy of phone calls, texts, emails, etc. of teams contacting agents trying to sign their clients.
As O’Dare and the team at Epic Agents prepare for the 2017 Draft, keep an eye out for entry six of the “Life as a First Year NFL Agent” blog.