SBJ/February 27-March 5, 2017/Labor and Agents

Lattimore, Thomas lead another strong CAA Football class

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CAA Sports has signed seven projected first-round picks for this year’s NFL draft, including Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams.

CAA Football, headed by agents Jimmy Sexton, Tom Condon and Todd France, also signed Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and Temple outside linebacker Haason Reddick.

CBS Sports’ mock draft last week had Lattimore taken at No. 5, Thomas at No. 9, Williams at No. 13, Davis at No. 15, Peppers at No. 16, Howard at No. 18 and Reddick at No. 27.

At CAA Football, teams of two or three agents typically represent each player. In addition to Sexton, Condon and France, the players are represented by Brian Ayrault, Ed Berry, Patrick Collins, Tommy Condon, Tory Dandy, Jim Denton, R.J. Gonser, Rick Landrum and Ben Renzin.

CAA Football has had the most first-round picks of any agency every year but one since 2006. Last year it had seven.

Mock draft projections at this time of year are no sure thing, and players can slip or move up between now and the draft, April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

CAA Football has signed several other highly ranked players who could be taken in the first few rounds, including Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson, Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson, Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, Illinois defensive end Dawuane Smoot, Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram, Utah safety Marcus Williams, Virginia Tech wide receiver Isaiah Ford and Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt.

It’s not clear whether any other agency can compete with that class this year, but Athletes First also has signed several highly ranked players. That agency represents six players who are ranked as potential first-round picks by CBS Sports: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (No. 6), Ohio State safety Malik Hooker (No. 7), Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer (No.12), Vanderbilt outside linebacker Zach Cunningham (No. 17), Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk (No. 20) and Missouri defensive end Charles Harris (No. 31).

> HILLER SIGNS COOK: Zachary Hiller, a relatively unknown agent, has signed Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who could be a top-five pick in the draft.

Dalvin Cook, hoisting the Orange Bowl trophy, has signed with Zachary Hiller.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Cook was listed at No. 4 last week on the CBS Sports mock draft. “Because of his talent as both a runner and receiver, Cook provides as much immediate impact potential as any offensive skill position player in the 2017 draft, including the quarterbacks,” said Rob Rang, CBS Sports senior draft analyst.

Hiller confirmed that he had signed Cook, as well as Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley, in a brief phone interview. He did not return follow-up emails or calls.

Hiller, who was certified by the NFL Players Association in 2014, is embroiled in a lawsuit with veteran agents Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod. In the lawsuit, filed last summer in New York federal court, Hiller alleges that Schwartz and Feinsod violated state and federal labor laws by, among other things, failing to pay him the minimum wage, overtime and expenses for working for them many thousands of hours between 2011 and 2016.

In legal papers, Schwartz and Feinsod deny the allegations and allege that Hiller offered “to shadow” them in order to train to become a sports agent. “Schwartz and Feinsod do not owe Hiller anything,” Mario Aieta, attorney for the veteran agents, told SportsBusiness Journal.

Schwartz and Feinsod have asked U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti to remand the matter to NFLPA arbitration, but the judge has not ruled on that motion.

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

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