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Agent Draft Rankings: Who got biggest slice in $1B worth of NFL rookie class contracts?

The business of sports agents is one of the most fascinating in the sports world. Though many fans are passionate about their favorite NFL teams and are consuming more football information than ever, few pay attention to which agents represent their teams' most important players.

Agents are often the most influential business advisers in a player's life, and have the ability to alter the fate of an NFL franchise based on the advice they give to a player during his career, particularly during free agency. To get a better understanding of exactly who the most influential agents in the industry are, Yahoo Sports has created its first NFL Agent Draft Rankings which are based on this month's NFL draft. 

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Detroit's Eric Ebron was the first tight end selected in the 2014 draft. (AP)

A select group of agents and agencies sign the majority of elite talent in the NFL every year. The most successful among them can end up representing multiple starters on a given team. For instance, Bus Cook, who had an impressive draft class this year – which included No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney – now represents first-round pick Eric Ebron of the Detroit Lions and he happens to rep the team's all-world wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Meanwhile agents at Creative Artists Agency represent Titans OT Taylor Lewan, the 11th overall pick of the draft. If Lewan earns a starting spot as expected, CAA would represent four Titans starters this season barring injury and three key backups.

These rankings are divided into six performance-based categories. The agents who earned their way into these spots were the most successful recruiters in this year's draft.

TOTAL ESTIMATED CONTRACT VALUE OF CLASS

With a total rookie salary pool worth more than $1 billion, 10 agencies signed 103 players who have a total potential contract value of $510 million. While agents can earn up to 3 percent of the contracts they negotiate, some do them for a lesser percentage or a flat fee. Without access to the contracts between the players and their agents, it's unknown how much each player is paying, but assuming top agencies are all charging the maximum amount allowable for their services, they stand to earn $15.3 million in fees from this rookie class.

Those agencies are as follows:

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Agent money rankings

ROUND 1 LEADERS

Of the 32 players selected in the first round, 19 (nearly 60 percent) are represented by seven sports agencies. In order to make this list an agency had to have at least two first-round clients. The agencies that had the most success signing first-round talent this year were:

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TOTAL DRAFTEES

The competition was fierce among the more than 700 NFL Players Association certified agents to sign the 256 dratable college players. As a result, agencies have to engage in a year-round recruiting cycle that sees them spend more time on the phone each month than most of us do in a year.

Of the 256 players selected in the 2014 draft, five sports agencies represent nearly 27 percent (69) of them all. Those agencies are as follows:

 

New players

Highest draftee

Sportstars

25

Jimmie Ward, 30th pick

Athletes First

17

Jake Matthews, 6th pick

Relativity Sports

9

Sammy Watkins, 4th pick

REP 1 Sports

9

Blake Bortles, 3rd pick

Priority Sports

9

Mike Evans, 7th pick

BC Sports

9

Jadeveon Clowney, 1st pick


TOTAL DRAFTEES (BY AGENTS)

The most productive agents in the draft from a volume standpoint are as follows (some agents share clients):

 

Players

Highest draftee

Chase Callahan/Bruce Tollner/Ryan Tollner

9

  Blake Bortles, 3rd pick

Bus Cook

9

Jadeveon Clowney, 1st pick

Brian Mackler

8

Jeremy Hill, 55th pick

Dave Dunn

7

Kyle Van Noy, 40th pick

Todd France/Brian Ayrault

7

Aaron Donald, 13th pick

Jonathan Perzley

7

Jeremy Hill, 55th pick

Tom Santanello

7

Dominique Easley, 29th pick

Eugene Parker

6

Sammy Watkins, 4th pick

Dave Butz

6

Jimmie Ward, 30th pick

Jim Ivler

6

Will Clarke, 88th pick

Pat Dye

6

Ja'Wuan James, 19th pick

Jared Fox

5

Jimmie Ward, 30th pick

Erik Burkhardt

5

Johnny Manziel, 22nd pick

 

TEAM CONTROL (Two players on at least one team)

Seven agencies signed multiple players who were selected by the same team in May. In some cases, those players were late-round picks. The agencies that represent multiple early round players on a given team will play a big role in whether those players stay or leave once they get to free agency in four or five years.

The agencies that obtained the largest measure of control over teams based on the players they represented in the recent draft are:

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LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL

Increasingly, young agents are carving out their space in this ultra-competitive business. In order to make this list, an agent has to be 35 years old or younger and must have signed at least two clients (one of whom had to be a second-rounder or better) in the recent draft.

Those agents and their highest draft pick are as follows:

 

New players

Highest draftee

Chase Callahan (REP 1 Sports)

9

Blake Bortles, 3rd pick

Brian Ayrault (Five Star Athlete Management)

7

Aaron Donald, 13th pick

Jonathan Perzley (Sportstars)

7

Jeremy Hill, 55th pick

Tom Santanello (Elevate Football)

7

Dominique Easley, 29th pick

Jared Fox (Sportstars)

6

Jimmie Ward, 30th pick

Erik Burkhardt (Select Sports Group)

5

Johnny Manziel, 22nd pick

Sunny Shah (320 Sports)

3

Lamarcus Joyner, 41st pick

CJ LaBoy (Relativity Sports)

3

Jason Verrett, 25th pick

Tory Dandy (Relativity Sports)

2

Sammy Watkins, 4th pick

Ryan Williams (Athletes First)

2

Jake Matthews, 6th pick

David Mulugheta (Athletes First)

2

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 21st pick

Damarius Bilbo (Revolution Sports)

2

Jarvis Landry, 63rd pick

 

ODDS AND ENDS

• For the second consecutive year, veteran agent Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited had three clients drafted in the first round: Khalil Mack (5), Kyle Fuller (14) and Darqueze Dennard (24). Last year, Segal's first-round clients were Eric Fisher (1) Tavon Austin (8) and Jarvis Jones (17). The only other agency to have three or more players drafted in the first round of the past two drafts is industry giant CAA.

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Greg Robinson (Getty Images)

• Perhaps the biggest single signing in the draft – figuratively and literally – was OT Greg Robinson. Longtime agent Eric Metz of Lock, Metz and Malinovic got Robinson out of Auburn shortly after the Tigers played Florida State in the BCS title game. Every agency that had a player drafted in the top 10 had at least five players drafted, except for Metz. Robinson was Metz's only client in this year's draft.

• Cousins Bruce and Ryan Tollner and their partner Chase Callahan of REP 1 Sports signed the biggest draft class in the agency's history and saw six of their players drafted in the first four rounds. Those players included QB Blake Bortles, OL Joel Bitonio and OL Weston Richburg.

REP 1 is seen as a boutique-ish agency, but it's probably outgrown that classification given its impressive and growing client list. It now represents more than 50 players, including Pro Bowlers like 49ers OT Joe Staley, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and 49ers OG Michael Iupati.

• David Mulugheta of Athlete's First has cemented himself as a safety guru of sorts, with one of the most enviable client lists for an individual agent at the position. If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was selected 21st overall by the Packers, earns the starting job in Green Bay, Mulugheta will represent three starting safeties in the league. His other two clients at the position are all-world safety Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks and promising second-year player Kenny Vaccaro of the New Orleans Saints.

Meanwhile, Ryan Williams, another member of the Athletes First team, made a big splash in his first year as a certified agent, signing OT Jake Matthews, the Falcons' sixth overall pick.

• Sportstars' Jonathan Perzley added seven clients from this year's draft, giving the 30-year-old agent a total of 32 NFL players. Few agents represent more than 10 players in the league. Among Perzley's recent additions are rookies Jeremy Hill, Christian Kirksey and safety Marqueston Huff.

• Veteran agent Todd France of Five Star Athlete Management had two players selected in the first round of this year's draft, his seventh consecutive year of achieving that feat.

• A handful of relative newcomers burst on to the scene this year. Tom Santanello of Elevate Sports was chief among them, signing seven players during his first year running his own practice. The crown jewel of Santanello's draft class was DT Dominique Easley, who was selected 29th overall by the Patriots despite having torn the ACLs in both of his knees during his college career.

In his first year operating his own agency, Damarius Bilbo, the former recruiting director for Todd France's firm, signed two players, WR Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins) and TJ Jones (Lions).

• Priority Sports was among the leaders in volume with nine clients from this year's draft class. Its highest draftee, Mike Evans, was signed by Deryk Gilmore who for the second straight year landed a first-rounder.

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