There has been a lot of news recently about draft-eligible players making visits to certain clubs. So what does it all mean?
First off, each team can bring in a maximum of 30 players each year for visits prior to the draft. As part of the process, each player making a visit has to undergo some sort of medical evaluation. You cannot bring in a player just for an interview. A club also cannot work out the player at their facilities unless that player either resides in the metropolitan area of the club or goes to a college in that same area.
The 30-player limit does not count toward players who reside or go to school in the metropolitan area of the club. In that case a club can bring in an unlimited amount of players who fit into that category. Because of this, many clubs that are in a large metropolitan area may have a “local” workout for the players who fit into those criteria.
Often the question is asked if the players a club brings in for a visit are players that the club is definitely interested in drafting. In some cases yes, but it also can serve as a smokescreen. In other words, bring in and publicize that you are bringing in certain players only to make other clubs think that you may be interested. Remember, we are in the heart of the “lying season” and anything that a club can do to throw off other clubs on what they really want to do can be advantageous.
Another thing to remember is many of the players that clubs bring in are players that they have an interest in but were not at the Combine. Every year, there are about 40 players who weren’t at the combine who get drafted and some of those players will get drafted as high as the second round. You need to get a medical on these players before you draft them. Another large group of players brought in are players that you may have no interest in drafting but are very interested in signing as an undrafted free agent after the draft. By getting the medical done you know if the player is healthy and all right to sign. It also gives the coaches and scouts an opportunity to “recruit” these players when they are in for the visit. If you can build a relationship with a prospect during his visit and let him know exactly how he will be able to compete for a job, the better the chance of signing him after the draft. A comfort level always helps. In cases like this I would never lie to the player. I would tell him that while I hope that he gets drafted, we were not interested in drafting him but were very interested in signing him as a free agent. The player may not want to hear that you have no intention of drafting him but he appreciates the honesty and that can go a long ways towards getting him to sign after the draft.
Because many of the in-house visits are publicized, a club may choose not to bring in a player that they have a strong interest in but rather go visit the player at either his school or home. It’s easier to keep these visits quiet unless you bring an “entourage” with you for the visit. Either way, the more you can find out about a player and begin to build a relationship with him, the easier it is to pull the trigger and select him come draft day.