An inside look at how two agents guided clients throughout NFL Draft

Wednesday May 14th, 2014
No one guessed Blake Bortles (left) would go No. 3 to the Jaguars, who put up a smoke screen that his even his agent Ryan Tollner couldn't penetrate.
Jason DeCrow/AP

While Bortles posed with commissioner Roger Goodell onstage, a young woman bearing a box of Jacksonville ball caps approached the table belonging to the newest Jaguar. Members of the QB's entourage were given a choice between flat or bent brims. (The line of demarcation was right around 22: Those older went with rounded brims; those younger opted for flat.) Photos were Instagrammed, congratulatory texts poured in. Family members laughed and grinned and shed happy tears, but the Rep1 crew -- the Tollners, Callahan and charismatic marketing director Nima Zarrabi -- had already turned their attentions back to the draft.

The Browns selected Nevada offensive tackle Joel Bitonio in the second round last Friday.
Sandy Huffaker /SI

That same low-key, genuine approach serves Ryan well at work. In 2003, he travelled to Iowa City to watch a player with whom he'd developed a rapport after a cold call. Iowa was feasting on Miami (Ohio), whose junior quarterback had asked Tollner before the game what he needed to do to get to the NFL. Among the agent's suggestions: Throw at least four touchdowns for every one interception.

The Carolina Panthers selected former Stanford star RB Tyler Gaffney in the sixth round last Saturday.
Sandy Huffaker/SI

For the first time, he represented the first quarterback selected. He's pretty sure it won't be the last.

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