So after 1,000 miles of driving, six practices, media night, and the meat market (weigh-ins), what did this NFL Fan take away from Senior Bowl week?
While I am a draft junkie that tries to build a "Big Board" during the offseason, and a lot of what I saw will help me with the seniors this year, I spent the week focusing on the process as much as the players. And it is from that perspective that I learned the most.
The last practices were held on Thursday morning, and by that time the vast majority of NFL personnel evaluators had left Mobile. Turns out that Senior Bowl "week", from a talent evaluation perspective, lasts about three days. Ladd-Peebles Stadium was nearly devoid of observers at that last practice.
As I mentioned in a previous posting, each coaching staff conducted their respective practices differently, but it was notable that some of the position coaches on either side did take the time to instruct their players. These fortunate players often improved from day to day or even play to play.
The NFL teams that provide the coaching staffs for each of these Senior Bowl squads have a distinct advantage with regard to evaluation of the prospects, because they basically live with the players for a week in meeting rooms, practices, dinners, etc. The rest of the NFL teams only have a few minutes to have face time with individual players.
South players at practice with their coaches.
The Senior Bowl is a career fair not only for NFL prospects, but for coaches and scouts, too. While prospects were being interviewed by NFL evaluators, there were also former coaches and other staff in Mobile looking for positions with teams. Not sure if anyone got hired this year, but I have heard of positions being filled subsequent to interviews that happened at this event and others.
Furthermore, the week is an opportunity for old friends on the teams and in the media to catch up with each other. Every day in practice, I was in earshot of acquaintances trading war stories or veteran NFL staffers being interviewed informally.
I must admit to indulging in a bit of star-gazing at the Senior Bowl events, where you can see head coaches, general managers, former NFL stars, and national media folks. There is one person that I saw every day that may be the only person in Mobile with seemingly unlimited access: NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. He strolled out onto the field before every practice, and stood among the players and coaches during warmups and preliminary walk-throughs.
It's time for me to return to "civilian" life, and you can be sure I'll be keeping my press credential as a memento of my time in Mobile. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see the event from the inside. I must thank Lance Zierlein for making it all possible by sponsoring the credentials and for giving tips on how to make the most of the event; and to David Stagg for turning my rough emails into the professional material you see on The Sideline View.