By Liz Mullen, Sports Business Journal.
Vincent Taylor was a combo guard on the Louisiana Monroe team that played Tim Duncan-led Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 1996.
“I was thinking we were going to put our Cinderella slippers on,” Taylor said.
But it wasn’t to be. Wake Forest won 62-50.
Twenty-four years later, Taylor, now an NFL agent and owner of an independent agency, Elite Loyalty Sports, had his Cinderella moment. He is the agent for No. 1 NFL Draft pick Travon Walker, who was chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In a business where mega-agencies increasingly dominate the business of representing the best athletes in America, the 2022 NFL Draft was a story of underdogs. Yes, Athletes First did lead all agencies for the most first-rounders for the third year in a row with five. And yes, CAA Sports was second among all agencies with four first-rounders. But five different agencies represented the No. 1 through No. 5 picks (see chart). Klutch and VaynerSports were the only two agencies with two top-10 picks.
Walker was not, originally, supposed to be the No. 1 pick, according to draft experts. When Taylor signed him in January, after Walker helped the Georgia Bulldogs win the national championship while playing defensive end, he was seen on mock drafts as a late first/early second-round prospect.
But this year was not a normal NFL Draft year, with a particularly weak quarterback class, and Taylor saw an opportunity. “When I saw him, I said, ‘Man, this is a non-quarterback year. Pound for pound, he will be the best player in this draft.”
At Georgia, Walker played defensive tackle and outside linebacker in addition to defensive end, and because he changed positions so often, he wasn’t able to put up dominating statistics in any of them. In the NFL, he will play outside linebacker for the Jaguars.
DRAFT DAY Top 5 NFL Picks and Their Agents
|1||Jaguars||Travon Walker/DE/Georgia||Vincent Taylor/Elite Loyalty Sports|
|2||Lions||Aidan Hutchinson/DE/Michigan||Mike McCartney, Jaymeson Moten/VaynerSports|
|3||Texans||Derek Stingley Jr./CB/LSU||Don Weatherell, Martin Fischman, Rick Roberts/Ballengee Group|
|4||Jets||Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner/CB/Cincinnati||Bus Cook/BC Sports|
|5||Giants||Kayvon Thibodeaux/DE/Oregon||Kelton Crenshaw/Klutch Sports Group|
Created with Datawrapper
Fox Sports NFL analyst Rob Rang said, “Walker lacked the eye-popping production to generate significant attention from most in the media.” But after Georgia’s defense dominated in the national championship game, scouts, the media and NFL general managers started digging more deeply into all the Georgia defensive prospects, Rang said.
Taylor is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs 272 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, the fastest at his position, at the NFL combine. He trained at Exos.
Taylor said that all teams with the top six picks in the draft met with Walker and were impressed with his willingness to change positions for the team effort, even if it adversely affected his personal stats. Walker is the son of a Marine turned police officer father and a school administrator mother who is a disciplinarian.
Taylor became an NFL Players Association-certified agent in 2005 and started his career at Capital Sports and Entertainment before opening his own shop in 2007. He represents about 25 NFL players, including San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams, who signed a six-year, $138.06 million maximum deal, with $55 million guaranteed, last year.
Elite Loyalty Sports also represented LSU running back Ty Davis Price, who was selected in the third round by the 49ers; Georgia offensive guard Justin Shaffer, who was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round; and Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, picked in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers.