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The Basics of Combine Prep (Part 3) by Neil Stratton from Inside the League


As we’ve mentioned previously, the rise of combine prep facilities is the biggest change in the draft business in the last decade. Of course, these things must be funded somehow, as these packages can run up to $25,000 or more, so let’s spend today focusing mostly on the economics. We’ll break it down by prospect level.

Combine invitees: If you are a combine invitee, you can find an agent to pay for your training. You may not get to train at Bommarito Performance, XPE Sports, Athletes Performance, TEST Football Academy or one of the best services in the business, but you’ll find someone who will pay. You may also not get your first choice agent-wise, and you might have to make a business decision based on how much you value training somewhere other than your school, but you’ll probably find training.

Starter at FBS school: If you started your senior season and played for a successful Division I-A school, you have a chance to have your training paid for. Of course, there are several variables. If you played an impact position (DE, LOT, QB, CB, etc.); played at a BCS school; started multiple years; arrived at your school as a highly touted recruit; or have extraordinary physical skills (4.3 40, or an Olympic background), you have a better chance of getting your training covered. If you were a one-year starter; you have a background of arrests; you played a low-impact position (OG, box safety, PK, PT, etc.); or lack NFL dimensions and/or speed for your position, chances are you’ll struggle to find someone to pay.

The training rider: Either way, a good agent will cover himself by asking you to sign a training rider. This rider will state that all training fees are covered as long as you don’t fire your agent before signing an NFL deal. You’ll find some agents that might not ask for you to sign such a rider, but be careful there, because either that agent is so desperate to sign you that he’s probably in over his head, or he’s so lacking in knowledge of how the industry works that he’ll be liable to make a costly mistake down the line that could have a major impact on you. Of course, before you sign a rider, realize that it will make it much tougher for you to fire your agent in most circumstances. If you dump your contract advisor in, say, March, you’ll face preparing for your pro day, the most important event of the offseason, while simultaneously trying to find a new agent willing to cover a training package that could be thousands of dollars. Now, if you’re projected to go in the first three rounds, that’s probably not going to be a problem, but if you’re not one of the top 100 prospects in the draft, it’s going to be a lot more difficult. Training riders may be tricky, and it may feel like they inhibit your freedom, but it’s the only way agents can protect themselves and their investments.

We’ll talk about training options if you don’t have an agent who’ll assume costs in tomorrow’s newsletter

Inside The League ( is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $25/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at

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