The NFL Scouting Combine may have wrapped up Monday, but top athletic labels are already rushing to sign players who will soon make their NFL debuts.
Notable deals include Jordan Brand’s signing of LSU safety Jamal Adams, Adidas’ acquisitions of LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre and Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, and Nike’s addition of Washington wide receiver John Ross III. (Under Armour landed LSU running back Leonard Fournette in January.)
Although some of the big names have already partnered with brands, there are ample players out there who can boost the business of athletic labels by signing with them. These four athletes should be next up to be affiliated with an athletic footwear manufacturer.
DE, Texas A&M
People love boisterous personalities, but excluding players such as Richard Sherman, the game’s biggest personalities usually are on the offensive side of the ball. Myles Garrett, a defensive end, isn’t as in-your-face as others in the draft, but that doesn’t mean a brand shouldn’t anchor its football business on the best player available. Garrett is likely to go No. 1 overall, and having a stud like this on your roster of sponsored athletes gives you added legitimacy in the sport.
QB, North Carolina
The quarterback is the face of the franchise, and the name being thrown around pre-draft as a top prospect at the position is Mitch Trubisky. Wherever he goes in the draft, which is projected by analysts anywhere from No. 3 to No. 12 overall, he will be the new leader of a squad and a regular face in front of cameras.
He’s a proven winner, sealing the College Football National Championship for the Clemson Tigers in the game’s final seconds over the Alabama Crimson Tide in January. And he’s a quarterback, the most important position in the sport. Both traits make him a valuable asset for any brand. It also doesn’t hurt that his head coach at Clemson, Dabo Swinney, gave him a glowing endorsement (and warning to NFL teams) after the championship game: “If they pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan.”
RB, Florida State
The value of the running back position in the NFL has been diminishing, with an air attack holding more importance than one on the ground. But a great running back can change how your offense looks and its potency instantly (i.e., Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys). Dalvin Cook has the goods to transform an offense, and what he’s wearing on his feet accumulating excessive yards out of the backfield will get ample attention.