SBJ/April 28-May 4/Labor and Agents

Teams take different approaches to extra lead time for draft

NFL clubs have two more weeks than usual this year to study a star-studded NFL draft class, but what teams are doing with that time varies from working harder to analyze each prospect to giving scouts and other talent evaluators time off.

“It’s a combination of things,” said Charley Casserly, former general manager of the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins and now an analyst with NFL Network, about what teams are doing with the extra time. “Most of them just started two weeks later in their meetings.”

As for teams that are giving employees time off, that’s something Casserly said he would do if he were still running a club. “What you don’t want to do is burn everybody out so they are brain dead when it’s time for the draft,” Casserly said.

The draft, which typically has been held in late April, will be held May 8-10 this year. The reason it was moved back from its usual time is because of a scheduling conflict at its host site, Radio City Music Hall in New York. It’s unclear if this marks a permanent shift for the event.

“No decision has been made on a date or venue for next year’s draft,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, in an email.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Buffalo Bills gave its scouts a week off recently, prior to Easter, but it’s not clear how many other teams’ employees similarly had time off. Teams are notoriously mum when it comes to their draft plans, for proprietary reasons, and attempts to reach current general managers for comment were unsuccessful.

Gil Brandt, former head of personnel for the Dallas Cowboys who now writes a column for NFL.com, said some clubs have indeed given staff time off because of the extra two weeks. “I think it’s varying degrees of time off,” he said. “I know some teams have told their scouts, ‘You don’t have to come back until a certain date, but in the meantime, do the thing you do: Go to your schools and get prepared for next year.’”

Agents, meanwhile, had mixed opinions on the significance of the later date. Andrew Kessler, an NFL agent at Athletes First, which represents 20 draft prospects, said he doesn’t think it changes much on either the player or team side. Agent Neil Schwartz, who is representing University of Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage, said, “We are in uncharted waters here.”

And then there were other agents, and at least one former general manager, who said some current general managers were likely spending the extra time overanalyzing this year’s prospects. “You know what they are doing?” said one agent about general managers around the league. “They are looking at their boards and moving things around every day.”

On that, the former general manager referred to what was going on at clubs as “analysis by paralysis.”

Timmy Jernigan signed with 320 Sports.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

> DOLSON SIGNS WITH AGENCY: Wasserman Media Group has signed former University of Connecticut and newly drafted Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson for representation. Wasserman Vice President Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who represents a field of WNBA players that includes Maya Moore, Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne, will represent Dolson.

> 320 SIGNS JERNIGAN: 320 Sports Inc. has signed Florida State University defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, one of 30 prospects that the NFL has invited to the draft next month. 320 Sports Inc. founder and agent Sunny Shah is representing Jernigan. Shah also represents Jernigan’s fellow draft prospect and former Florida State teammate defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, as well as Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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