MILWAUKEE (AP) — Long before their names are called at the NFL draft, prospective rookies become prized commodities in another professional arena: Agents begin vying to represent players. Here are five things to know about how the agent game works:
SIGNING ON: Signing with the agent usually is the first career move a college player makes in turning pro. Some agents boast their successful clientele at certain positions, or alumnus from certain schools.
"A lot like a restaurant, it's word of mouth, but frankly (that) isn't the worst way to build a business," said David Dunn, who boasts Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers among the stockpile of players represented by his firm, Athletes First.
A promising college quarterback with an eye toward the pros sifts through potential agents and can't help but notice other players they represent at the position. And make no mistake, agents notice the quarterback prospects, too.
For Dunn, the successful and model NFL citizen Rodgers is the type of client that attracts attention. For any agent, it certainly doesn't hurt that quarterbacks play at the best-paid position in the league.
"Obviously because of the economics and the business standpoint, but also the role that they play ... because they're the highest profile and most effective role models," Dunn said.
UNDER THE RADAR: Sometimes uncovering unnoticed diamonds can be just as rewarding as signing the draft's top players.
Bengals linebacker Jayson Dimanche turned into a TV star after making the team under the microscope of the HBO training camp series "Hard Knocks." Then Dimanche became a special teams ace on a team that won the AFC North.
His agent, Joe Linta, takes pride in his success.
"I'm pretty well known ... as the 'under-the-radar' guy," Linta said.
That means watching a lot of film for Linta, who has coaching experience. In turn, Linta said he's up front with his prospective rookies about the need to watch film with him.
If Linta notices a mistake, he said he tells the player "what they did wrong ... I'd rather lose him by being honest than being deceptive by giving him false hope." Linta is a 21-year veteran of the business whose best-known client is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who got a huge contract after playing out the final year of his deal in 2012 — and leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl title.