We made it down to Mobile, Alabama for a week of football at the Senior Bowl. It was an awesome and interesting experience.
The rosters were highlighted by the quarterbacks with the likes of Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Josh Allen (Wyoming) and Luke Falk (Washington State), but there was so much more talent on the field than just those taking snaps under center. The receiving corps and the edge rushers were also major focal points of the week. Receivers such as James Washington (Oklahoma State), Michael Gallup (Colorado State), D.J. Chark (LSU) and J’Mon Moore (Missouri) headlined a star-studded group of pass catchers. In terms of edge rushers, Shaquem Griffin (Central Florida) was the talk of the week, but he was joined by Marcus Davenport (UTSA), Uchenna Nwosu (USC) and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma). Running Back Rashaad Penny (San Diego State), Guard Will Hernandez (UTEP) and Tight End Mike Gesicki (Penn State) were also on hand in Mobile.
The week got started on Tuesday morning when all players walked across the stage in front of hundreds of scouts and NFL personnel while getting measured for their height and weight. It was a very interesting, but awesome experience to be in the room and witness that take place. The players had gotten their hands, arms and wingspans measured before going out onto the stage to get a height and weight.
The first practice was Tuesday afternoon and each team had three practices (Tuesday-Thursday). The coaching staffs for the game were the Denver Broncos (North) and the Houston Texans (South). Spectators and scouts sat all over the stadium in the same areas, making it a unique experience. One day you may look over and see Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson and General Manager John Dorsey sitting a few rows over and the next day you may turn your head and see Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott standing next to you.
Being able to watch players go through three straight days of practice allowed us to see how they progressed each day. Quarterback Mike White (Western Kentucky) struggled mightily on the first day because he struggled to take snaps from under center. By the end of the week, he looked like he had been doing it for years. Those are the types of things you want to look for in All-Star Games and especially practices: seeing how guys take coaching, apply what they learn and improve from one day to the next. Wide Receiver Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State) was another guy that struggled the first day of practice, but improved each day and finished off the week on a high note.
Each night, players converged in the lobby of the team hotel to meet with the scouts and personnel. There aren’t enough rooms for everyone to go into, so many of the meetings happened in the lobby right in front of us. Teams would grab an open table and a couple of chairs, sit down and talk for 10-15 minutes. This was another very interesting part of the week and it was an intimate setting where players, coaches, scouts and spectators were all in close proximity to one-another. It was also a good place for us to meet up with scouts to network and pick their brains a little bit on we can do to break into the league.
Friday was an off-day in terms of on-field work. The Senior Bowl Experience is set up in the Convention Center to allow fans to come in and meet the players and get autographs. Having no idea what to expect or how the event would be set up, we made it over to hang out and get a few autographs. Players were divided up into their conferences, plus a line for Alabama and a line for Auburn. Depending on what player you wanted an autograph of, you got in the line of that conference/team. As expected, Alabama’s line was gigantic, as was the Big 12 line for Baker. Shaquem Griffin and the American conference were also in the same line as the Big 12. Needless to say, we didn’t make it up to see those guys. However, we were able to meet and get autographs of Josh Allen, J’Mon Moore, Brian O’Neill (Pittsburgh), Harrison Phillips (Stanford) and Nathan Shepherd (Fort Hays State).
A view of the field on Day 1
A view on what’s going on Day 2
Some Offensive Line work on Day 3