by Jack Bechta
February 19, 02014
When agents give a presentation to prospective new clients, a big part of their/our pitch is addressing concerns, questions and plans for combine preparation. Agents, as a group, collectively invest between $7 and $8 million dollars in a draft class.
Here is where our time and money goes in helping our clients:
Physical training prep: The combine is an open book test. We already know the answers. Meaning that we know the drills, the tests, the schedule, the field surface, position drills and the how the interviews go. Therefore, we hire specialty performance trainers who focus on Combine preparation. Everything they do is for the Combine, not the season or even an offseason. It’s all about mastering the drills, the forty-yard dash, the jumps, and the throws. Training usually starts the first week in January. Six weeks later, players then fly right from their training facility to the Combine.
In addition to the training, these performance coaches actually set up rooms at nearby hotels in Indy for massages, stretching, continued rehab, light lifts and even snacks and supplements.
When an experienced agent signs a new player, we will tap into our network and retrieve intel from NFL evaluators to find any weaknesses of our players. We then pass that on to the performance coaches to work on those weaknesses. Or, it may be something like the player has to gain or lose weight. We basically help to design the workout script.
Nutrition/meals: A good chunk of our investment goes to feeding our clients. We may supply specialty chefs, meal plans, prepared meals like Fitzee, Simple Nutrition or Fresh Fit, and/or a monthly stipend of cash so the players can choose to eat at good quality restaurants and or purchase quality foods. Some players still revert to fast food if not supervised.
In most cases, these performance facilities often supply a sports nutritionist along with designer meals, supplements, shakes and monitor players weight and body fat very closely.
Position specialty coaches: Another unique investment made by the agent community and/or the performance facilities is the hiring of a former NFL coach. For example, the last two years I've hired former Cowboys and Chargers O-line guru, Hudson Houck, to work with my offensive lineman and tight ends. Others may hire former coordinators or even head coaches like Mike Martz to work with QBs. A conscientious agent will help his client accelerate their development by getting tutored by such experienced NFL coaching veterans. In addition to on-field work, many of these coaches prep the draftees for Combine interviews with coaches and scouts.
The interviews: Ah, the oh-so important interviews. With each team only having 30 minutes to interview a player, he has a short window to make a big impression. Many of the premium performance facilities and/or deep-pocketed agents will bring in former general managers and/or scouting directors to prep the draftees. Some even conduct mock interviews.
One general manager once advised me to not over-coach a player for interviews. He said, “we can tell when a player has been programmed and by which agents because they all sound like they were reading a script.” So I don’t tell my players exactly what to say and let them be who they are. However, I will tell them to emphasize and articulate certain intangible traits about themselves that will set them apart from the pack.
For many evaluators they can spot players who are trying to con them or hide something. When a team evaluator asks a question he already knows the answer. So the player better be truthful and accurate in his answers.
The evolution, and the bar for Combine preparedness, gets better and higher every year. Older scouts and GMs are amazed at what superior physical condition players are showing up in. In addition, most players are polished up for the interviews and they have learned to manage each and every component of the Combine. Therefore, when a player does slip up on the field, in the medicals and/or in the interviews, they may drop him down the board significantly because they know he had time to prepare.
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