Round one of the 2014 NFL Draft concluded late in the evening on May 8. Creative Artists Agency dominated the night with a total of five clients selected by NFL teams: Justin Gilbert (No. 8 to the Minnesota Vikings), Taylor Lewan (No. 11 to the Tennessee Titans), Ryan Shazier (No. 15 to the Pittsburgh Steelers), Zack Martin (No. 16 to the Dallas Cowboys) and C.J. Mosley (No. 17 to the Baltimore Ravens). Two other agencies each had three clients picked during the night — Lagardere Unlimited with Khalil Mack headlining its class and Relativity Sports, which had Sammy Watkins taken by the Bills at the No. 4 slot.
The 2014 NFL Draft will resume for rounds two and three on May 9, followed by rounds three through seven on Saturday. A total of 102 underclassmen have decided to leave their respective schools early (four of whom have already graduated) and were granted special eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft. Seventy-three underclassmen filed paperwork for the 2013 NFL Draft (previously the record number of early entrants); 30% of them went undrafted.
The power of the pick rests in the hands of each decision maker at every NFL team. Players’ agents have done their work and there is little left for them to do. Football agent Chad Speck of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Allegiant Athletic Agency said it best, “Agents have no control today.” They retain little control through the remainder of the NFL Draft.
Michael Sam was not be selected in the first round, but he has signed his first endorsement deal. The draft-eligible player who announced that he is gay has signedan endorsement contract with Visa. Sam’s agents had told FORBES he would maybe do one or two deals prior to the NFL Draft and that would be it.
Round 1 in real-time
1. Houston Texans - DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina – Agent: Bus Cook (BC Sports)
Outside of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, no player may have been more preoccupied with pre-NFL Draft deals than South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney had a gloves and protective gear deal in place with Wilson and a shoe deal with Puma before he set foot inside of Radio City Music Hall.
Clowney’s agent selection process was more closely followed than most of his colleagues. In July 2013, a rumor that Clowney was “smitten with Jay Z, and that the two are in regular contact under the guise of the rapper recruiting him based on his marketing potential,” became a topic of discussion among NFL insiders. Clowney responded to the rumor by writing on his Instagram, “You kno we about to turn up. Dream coming true.” However, Clowney ended up choosing Bus Cook as his representative. The defensive end may eventually add Jay Z to the fold for marketing purposes. For the time being, he is rolling with Bus Cook, who also represents NFL Draft prospects Eric Ebron, Cyrus Kouandjio and others. 7:15 p.m. ET – Right as Jadeveon Clowney was selected by the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton decided to fire off his first tweet ever.
2. St. Louis Rams - T Greg Robinson – Auburn – Agent: Lock, Metz & Malinovic
Greg Robinson decided to leave Auburn despite having two more years of eligibility to play college football. He quickly decided on football agent Eric Metz and his partners at Lock, Metz and Malinovic (LMM) to represent him.
Robinson trained at EXOS in preparation for his Pro Day and the NFL Scouting Combine. He also dabbled in some MMA training in an effort to help with his striking and worked with Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith, who told Robinson that he has never seen anybody like him (6’5, 332 lbs and athletic).
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Blake Bortles – UCF – Agent: Rep 1 Sports
Blake Bortles trained for the NFL Combine at EXOS, which used to be widely known in the sports business community as Athletes’ Performance. He trained alongside defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, offensive lineman Greg Robinson and tight end Eric Ebron.
Bortles signed an exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics Authentic, the new memorabilia division of Fanatics, which is the world’s leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise. He is also a part of “Team Nike”, having signed with the apparel company prior to the NFL Draft and has a partnership with Tide.
The agency selected by Blake Bortles also represents Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, another athlete signed to a memorabilia contract with Fanatics Authentic.
4. Cleveland Browns traded the pick to the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo Bills - WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson – Agent: Eugene Parker/Tory Dandy (Relativity Sports)
Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree. Each is considered one of the best at his position, and they are all wide receivers. They are also all represented by Beverly Hills-based Relativity Sports. Add a new shining star to the wide receiving core at Relativity Sports – Sammy Watkins. Football agents Eugene Parker and Tory Dandy also represent South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington, another strong wide receiver in this year’s draft.
“Sammy is the most complete receiver in this Draft in terms of speed, his hands, his route-running, his vertical jumping and the ability to go up and get the ball…He is the complete receiver the NFL is looking for,” Dandy said when he signed Watkins.
Sammy Watkins has signed with Adidas and Tide. The other known Adidas endorser is running back Carlos Hyde, also a Relativity Sports client.
5. Oakland Raiders - LB Khalil Mack – Buffalo – Agent: Joel Segal (Lagardere Unlimited)
Football agents Joel Segal, Chafie Fields and Greg Barnett of Lagardere Unlimited are tasked with representing players signed with the company in the 2014 NFL Draft. The team from Lagardere Unlimited had a total of 10 clients selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, including 3 in the first round alone.
Mack trained with Coach Tom Shaw, who has worked with nine number one picks and more than 130 first round selections.
6. Atlanta Falcons - OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M – Agent: Ryan Williams (Athletes First)
Early in 2014, it was announced that offensive tackle Jake Matthews was signing with football agent Ryan Williams of Athletes First. “His tremendous talent on the field matched with his incredible character makes him a great addition to the Athletes First family,” said Williams at the time.
Athletes First had its imprint all over Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. It not only represents many football players, but also NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Steve Young and Ray Lewis, along with head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M – Agent: Deryk Gilmore (Priority Sports)
Mike Evans is a rare receiver that already has a deal in place with Nike. The wide receiver from Texas A&M has no doubt been benefitted from a prior close association with quarterback Johnny Manziel, but going forward he will have to make a name for himself in the NFL.
Evans has signed with football agent Deryk Gilmore of Chicago-based Priority Sports. “Mike is a big, physical, imposing receiver who can go up and get the ball and make yards after the catch,” said Gilmore when he confirmed the signing. “A student of the game and his determination to be great is what will make him a Pro Bowl receiver.” Evans must feel great about his representation as well. See below.
8. Minnesota Vikings traded the pick to the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland Browns - CB Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma State – Agent: Jimmy Sexton (CAA)
Creative Artists Agency is always a juggernaut in the NFL Draft. Last year, the company had five clients selected in the first round alone, with another five taken throughout the remainder of the 2013 NFL Draft. 2014 should be another outstanding year for agents Jimmy Sexton, Tom Condon, Ben Dogra, et al. Justin Gilbert is one of many top-rated clients under representation for this year’s Draft.
Sexton, who represents Gilbert, is a rare breed of agent. He is actually better known for his expansive practice of representing pro and college coaches (including Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn and Jimbo Fisher) than his football player clientele; however, the latter group is getting larger by the year.
Justin Gilbert trained at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
9. Minnesota Vikings - LB/DE Anthony Barr – UCLA – Agent: Michael Bauer (SportsAdvisors, Inc.)
Anthony Barr decided to sign with a somewhat lesser known agent in Michael Bauer of Wisconsin-based agency, Sports Advisors. Bauer’s current clients include Maurice Leggett, Cord Howard, Danny McCray and Hollis Thomas. While it has not been officially confirmed, multiple sources have indicated that Barr was very persuaded by Bauer offering to represent the UCLA linebacker on a flat fee as opposed to a standard 1-3% commission (the NFL Players Association caps agent fees at 3%). That flat fee has been pegged to be at or near $75,000.
On the marketing end, Barr has retained JABEZ Marketing Group. He has already secured an apparel endorsement deal with Nike.
Barr trained for his Pro Day and the NFL Combine at Athletic Gaines, which has locations in Los Angeles and Houston.
10. Detroit Lions - TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina – Agent: Bus Cook (BC Sports)
With the selection of Eric Ebron, Bus Cook becomes the first agent to have two players selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Cook’s other selected client thus far is Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick to the Houston Texans.
Ebron is the first tight end selected in the top 10 since Vernon Davis was selected No. 6 overall in 2006. If Ebron plays up to expectation, he may face an issue similar to Jimmy Graham, who wants to be paid like a wide receiver, but has instead been slapped with a Franchise Tag under a tight end classification. There is a pending grievance related to same.
Ebron has endorsement arrangements with Nike, Gillette and EAS Sports Nutrition.
11. Tennessee Titans - OL Taylor Lewan – Michigan – Agent: Tom Condon (CAA)
Bus Cook became the first agent to have two players selected and now Creative Artists Agency (CAA) becomes the second agency to have a couple of clients off the board. Taylor Lewan trained at IMG Academy leading up to his Pro Day and the NFL Scouting Combine.
12. New York Giants - WR Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU – Agent: Ryan Morgan/Zeke Sandhu (Morgan Advisory Group)
Ryan Morgan’s agency, Morgan Advisory Group, has focused heavily on recruiting talent at LSU as of late. The biggest reward in this year’s class of players from LSU is Odell Beckham Jr., who has placed his trust in Morgan and football agent Zeke Sandhu.
Beckham Jr. has signed an endorsement deal with Nike. His pre-Draft training was conducted at EXOS.
13. St. Louis Rams - DT Aaron Donald – Pittsburgh – Agent: Todd France/Brian Ayrault (Five-Star Athlete Management)
Aaron Donald is Five-Star Athlete Management’s first client selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. It had two players picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft: Jonathan Cooper (No. 6 overall to the Arizona Cardinals) and Sylvester Williams (No. 28 overall to the Denver Broncos).
Donald, with No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, has signed an exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics Authentic. He is another player who trained at one of the popular EXOS training facilities.
14. Chicago Bears - CB Kyle Fuller – Virginia Tech – Agent: Joel Segal (Lagardere Unlimited)
Joel Segal joins his colleagues Bus Cook and the agents at CAA as the agents to have two players selected within the top fourteen picks of the 2014 NFL Draft. Khalil Mack is the other Lagardere Unlimited client selected (at No. 5 overall to the Oakland Raiders).
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Ryan Shazier – Ohio State – Agent: CAA
Creative Artists Agency becomes the first agency to have three clients (Justin Gilbert, Taylor Lewan and Ryan Shazier) off the board.
16. Dallas Cowboys - OG/OT Zack Martin – Notre Dame – Agent: CAA
Two clients off the board in a row for the perennial powerhouse Creative Artists Agency.
17. Baltimore Ravens - LB C.J. Mosley – Alabama – Agent: Jimmy Sexton (CAA)
That’s three in a row for CAA and five out of seventeen players selected represented by the same company. With five clients taken at this point in the NFL Draft, CAA has matched its final number of clients picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
18. New York Jets - S Calvin Pryor – Louisville – Agent: Isaac Conner (Allegiant Athletic Agency)
CAA’s unbelievable streak comes to an end. Calvin Pryor is represented by Isaac Conner of Allegiant Athletic Agency, which sees its first client come off the board. “Our agency is very excited to sign the best safety in the 2014 Draft,” Conner said in January. “Calvin Pryor exemplifies excellence both on and off the field. He was the leader of a Louisville defense that annihilated opponents. However, Calvin’s leadership abilities cannot be overshadowed by his sheer talent. Calvin has great instincts in the secondary, can cover, and is the hardest hitter in the nation.”
Pryor trained at XPE Sports.
19. Miami Dolphins - Ja’Wuan James - Tennessee – Agent: Pat Dye Jr. (SportsTrust Advisors)
First selection for agency SportsTrust Advisors, which also represents the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill.
Yet another athlete who trained at EXOS.
20. Arizona Cardinals traded the pick to the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans Saints - WR Brandin Cooks – Oregon State – Agent: Jeff Sperbeck (The NOVO Agency)
Jeff Sperbeck and his agency represented Michael Sam prior to the Missouri defensive end making a switch of agencies. Yet, while Sam will slip past the first round, Sperbeck has his first client off the board with Brandin Cooks being picked by the New Orleans Saints.
“Brandin’s season was remarkable and capped off by winning the Biletnikoff Award,” said Sperbeck in January 2014. ”He is more than just a quick receiver who caught bubble screens. He will impress NFL personnel with his route running, remarkable hands and his RACability (run after catch). Some personnel already believe he may be the most polished receiver in this draft class.”
21. Green Bay Packers - S Ha’Sean “Haha” Clinton-Dix – Alabama – Agent: David Mulugheta (Athletes First)
Sports agency Athletes First had three clients selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. One of those players, defensive back Kenny Vaccaro, was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and represented by David Mulugheta. He has only been certified as a Contract Advisor with the NFL Players Association for two years, but has quickly made his mark representing top players leading up to and through the NFL Draft. The latest of which is Ha’Sean “Haha” Clinton-Dix.
“After graduating from law school in December 2010, my plan was to get certified in 2011. However, the NFL Lockout’s effects were far reaching and the NFLPA did not certify any new agents during that time forcing me to work a year at Athletes First without being a certified agent,” said Mulugheta in 2013. ”Obtaining a law degree has definitely been helpful in my career as an agent. I was able to acquire an in-depth understanding of contract law and learned the importance of paying attention to detail. I deal with a lot of guys with different personalities and goals – paying attention to detail is key.
Athletes First now has two clients taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
22. Philadelphia Eagles traded the pick to the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland Browns - QB Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – Agent: Erik Burkhardt (Select Sports Group)
Johnny Manziel is not only a rare breed of quarterback, he is also quickly showing off his skills is an able business man before taking a snap in the NFL. His intellectual property holding company, JMAN2 Enterprises, LLC has already filed applications to protect nine different trademarks, including “The House That Johnny Built” and “Johnny Football.” None of those applications have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Draft Day.
In January 2014, Manziel picked Houston, Texas-based Select Sports Group as his football agents; however, Manziel’s team of representatives only begins with his on-field representation. Johnny Football decided he wanted an “Executive Management Group,” which also includes Maverick Carter of LRMR Management Company, LLC in partnership with Fenway Sports Management, as his marketing agent and manager related to all business activities and opportunities in the entertainment, media and merchandising industries. Carter is best known as the marketing agent for the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. Manziel also retained Len Sanderson and Denise Michaels of Sanderson Strategies Group to coordinate all public strategy, communications, and media relations. Finally, Bradley Beckworth and Jeffrey Angelovich, partners at the law firm of Nix, Patterson & Roach, LLP, and personal lawyers for the Manziel family, will continue to oversee all business-related matters for Manziel and any Manziel-related company going forward.
Manziel already has an exclusive memorabilia deal with Panini America and has signed an apparel deal with Nike that includes the creation of a line of clothing with, of course, a “Johnny Football” t-shirt. His deal with Nike is for multiple years and is expected to be one of the richest endorsement contracts signed by a rookie in this year’s class.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - DE Dee Ford – Auburn – Agent: Adisa Bakari/Jeffrey Whitney (Kelley Drye)
Adisa Bakari and Jeffrey Whitney are lawyers at the law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. They represent over 30 NFL players including Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell. Bakari and his partner represented a total of five players in the 2013 NFL Draft.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - CB Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State – Agent: Chafie Fields (Lagardere Unlimited)
In December 2013, Dennard’s mother said she was receiving fifty calls per day from agents expressing interest in representing her son. At the end of the process, the family selected Lagardere Unlimited, which has now had three players selected by NFL teams.
Through twenty-four picks, one-third of the NFL Draft is represented by CAA (5 players) and Lagardere (3 players).
25. San Diego Chargers - CB Jason Verrett – TCU – Agent: CJ LaBoy (Relativity Sports)
Jason Verrett was originally an Octagon client when he played his last game at TCU and began the process of selection an agent. Verrett would go on to choose CJ LaBoy, who at the time was an employee at Octagon. In February, LaBoy left Octagon and joined Relativity Sports. Verrett followed his agent to the new company.
Sammy Watkins is the other Relativity Sports client off the board by the No. 25 pick.
26. Philadelphia Eagles – LB Marcus Smith – Louisville – Agent: Todd France/Brian Ayrault (Five-Star Athlete Management)
A couple of months ago Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a likely No. 1 overall pick. Now, the quarterback has slipped past the No. 26 pick and behind two other Louisville Cardinals players who have been selected by NFL teams. Smith is the second Five-Star Athlete Management client to be picked in the 2014 NFL Draft.
27. Arizona Cardinals - S Deone Bucannon – Washington State – Agent: Foster & Easley
28. Carolina Panthers - WR Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State – Agent: Tory Dandy/Eugene Parker (Relativity Sports)
Relativity Sports had an early pick in Sammy Watkins and is finishing the first round strong with both Jason Verrett and now Kelvin Benjamin coming off the board.
29. New England Patriots - DE/DT Dominique Easley – Florida – Agent: Tom Santenello
Dominique Easley was one of the first members of this NFL Draft class to hire an agent. Easley spent this past year out of the Florida Gators line-up due to an injury. He withdrew from classes and hired agent Tom Santanello.
30. San Francisco 49ers - S Jimmie Ward – Northern Illinois – Agent: Dave Butz/Jared Fox (SportStars)
The first pick for agency SportStars and another player who trained at EXOS selected by an NFL team. SportStars had more clients picked in the 2013 NFL Draft (twenty-one total) than any other agency; however, it also only had one such client taken in the first round of that Draft.
31. Denver Broncos - CB Bradley Roby – Ohio State – Agent: Pat Dye Jr. (SportsTrust Advisors)
32. Seattle Seahawks traded the pick to the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota Vikings select QB Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville - Agent: Kennard McGuire (MS World)
Teddy Bridgewater took a long time to select and agent and similarly spent a lot of time waiting for his name to be called. Before the end of the evening, the Minnesota Vikings traded up and selected the quarterback from Louisville.
Bridgewater is represented by agent Kennard McGuire of MS World who has served as an agent for many impressive players including Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Jacoby Jones. It was once believed that Bridgewater would sign with Jay Z. Later Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited seemed like a potential option. Throughout the entire process, Bridgewater has relied on Baltimore Ravens cornerback Matt Elam’s brother, Abe Elam, for advice. McGuire was the ultimate selection. Bridgewater is now the final selection of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Teddy Bridgewater has an endorsement agreement with Nike.
Article by Forbes.