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Volume 21 No. 17
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Labor and Agents: NFL first-round prospect joins VaynerSports’ 2nd draft class

VaynerSports, the NFL player representation firm founded by the owners of VaynerMedia, has signed its second NFL draft class, headed up by Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, a potential first-round pick.

Jackson will be represented by NFL agent Tommy Sims, who joined VaynerSports from Allegiant Athletic Agency last summer.

A redshirt junior, Jackson won the 2017 Jack Tatum Award last fall, given to the nation’s top college defensive back. NFL Draft Scout ranks him as going in the first or second round. “He possesses the length, athleticism and ball skills to warrant first-round consideration,” said Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout senior analyst.

New York-based VaynerSports has also signed Kansas State cornerback D.J. Reed, Penn State defensive back Christian Campbell, Boston College defensive back Isaac Yiadom, University of Miami kicker Michael Badgley, University of Houston quarterback Kyle Allen and Oklahoma defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin.

NFL agents Sims, Brian McLaughlin and Mook Williams are representing the players.

Josh Jackson won the Jack Tatum Award in 2017.
Photo: getty images

Brothers Gary and A.J. Vaynerchuk founded VaynerSports in 2016 by buying a majority stake in McLaughlin’s and Williams’ former agency Symmetry. In addition to Sims, also last year VaynerSports brought on marketing executive Justin Giangrande, who founded athlete marketing firm Nclusive, as executive vice president of marketing. VaynerSports is representing all the players it signed on and off the field.

It’s a bigger class than last year, said A.J. Vaynerchuk, who is COO of VaynerMedia and handles day-to-day operations of VaynerSports. And the agency has learned lessons from its first year in the business, he said.

The NFL agent business can be especially challenging, and the Vaynerchuks experienced that their first year.

Last year, they signed a smaller class, and their top prospect, running back Alvin Kamara, switched representation to agent Damarius Bilbo of Revolution Sports prior to being selected in the third round by the New Orleans Saints. He is now one of five nominees for Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year.

“I’m not going to lie, of course that’s tough,” Vaynerchuk said of losing Kamara. But he added that it’s part of the business. “Every industry, you’ve got to learn.”

Building VaynerMedia may have been easier. Founded in 2009, the digital advertising agency now employs 800 people worldwide and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chattanooga, Tenn., and London.

“We were very blessed with timing and talent and some luck, and through our resources were able to build a very successful and profitable business,” Vaynerchuk said of VaynerMedia. He added he’s aware some agents are leaving the NFL agent business because of the tough economics, but that he and his brother have the economic wherewithal to stick it out and have a vision for building a successful business.

“I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made in two years,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of agencies have a draft class that looks like ours or a veteran roster that looks like ours starting out where we started.”

In addition to the draft class, Vayner-Sports has 12 veteran NFL players, including Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis, Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, Cardinals defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and Texans wide receiver Braxton Miller.

VANGUARD SIGNS RECEIVERS: Vanguard Sports Group has signed Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and Utah wide receiver Darren Carrington II for representation in the NFL draft. Vanguard founder and CEO Joby Branion is representing the players.

RUSSIAN AGENT SIGNS MOZGOV: Brooklyn Nets center Timofey Mozgov has signed with Russia-based National Basketball Players Association-certified agent Stas Ryzhov. Mozgov had been formerly represented by Andy Miller of ASM Sports but became free to sign with another agent when Miller voluntarily surrendered his NBPA certification in December.

Ryzhov formerly represented Mozgov when he played on professional teams in Russia, including Euroleague team BC Khimki Moscow.

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