SBJ/July 14-20, 2014/Labor and Agents

CAA Sports a leader in first-round picks for four pro drafts

CAA Sports this year represented the most, or tied for the most, first-round picks in four major North American league drafts: the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB. It is thought to be the first time a single agency has accomplished this. 

CAA Sports represented five in the first rounds of the NFL and NHL drafts and six in the NBA draft, and is advising six selected in the first round of the MLB draft (see chart). The agency had the most first-rounders in the NFL, NBA and MLB this year and tied with Newport Sports, the hockey representation firm owned by agent Don Meehan, for the most in the NHL. 

“We didn’t try to set out to accomplish this achievement in particular,” said CAA Sports co-head Michael Levine. “We are just trying to do the best we can in each individual circumstance, and we are thrilled that the collective work demonstrates the collective success of the group that we put together at CAA Sports.”

In the agent world, arguments exist about which agency had the “best draft” in every sport, and weight is given not just to the quantity of picks but to the quality. Top-10 and top-five picks are much prized, and when analyzing those numbers, other agencies stand out as well.

In hockey, Newport Sports arguably had the best draft, representing Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 overall pick, as well as picks Nos. 7, 10, 17 and 21.

In baseball, Boras Corp. and Excel Sports Management each are advising five first-round picks. Excel MLB agents are advising the No. 1 overall pick, as well as the Nos. 2 and 4 picks. In the NBA, Wasserman Media Group represented five first-round picks, including the No. 2, 3 and 5 overall picks. 

Wasserman in 2012 represented the No. 1 overall pick in four league drafts: the NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS. That accomplishment was thought to be a first for any agency. 

This year, CAA Sports’ highest draft pick was the No. 8 overall pick of the NFL draft, Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert

“The criticism will be they [CAA Sports] didn’t get the top five in any of those [four major league drafts],” said Bob Kain, former co-CEO of IMG and now senior adviser to CAA Sports. “It’s still first-rounders. And it is a first.” 

“There have been many years we had terrific years in a particular sport but may not have had, on paper, the draft that we had had in prior years,” Levine said. “The recruiting cycles ebb and flow and in this particular year, it’s pretty amazing now that all four drafts are over, we can look back and say, ‘Man, we had all four of these groups, all 40 or 50 agents in the respective sports, humming on all cylinders together and outpacing their competitors in each instance.’ And that’s pretty remarkable.” 

> ROC NATION EXECS TO SIT FOR NFLPA TEST: Roc Nation Sports president Juan Perez and vice president Rich Kleiman will take the NFL Players Association test, which is required before agents are certified to represent NFL players in contract talks, sources said. 

Perez and Kleiman, as well as Roc Nation Chairman Jay Z, are already certified to represent NBA and MLB players in playing contract work. Jay Z, who has been touring to promote his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album, is not expected to attend the NFLPA seminar and test, which will be July 24-25 in Washington, D.C. The NFLPA, unlike the National Basketball Players Association and the MLB Players Association, requires prospective playing contract agents to apply months in advance, attend a two-day seminar and take an exam on the NFL collective-bargaining agreement before they are certified to represent players in contract talks. 

A Roc Nation spokesman declined comment. 

> MVP SIGNS KOPECH: MVP Sports Group signed Michael Kopech, a right-handed pitcher from Mount Pleasant High School in Texas, after he was drafted No. 33 in the MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox and agreed to terms with the club. Danny Lozano, MVP Sports Group president and founder, will represent him.  

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

SportsBusiness Journal research director David Broughton contributed to this report.

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