Posted on: January 25, 2010 11:54 pm
In scouting the Senior Bowl since 2000, I've seen anything quite like today's South practice.
There were more fans, media, security at this one practice than I may have seen in any two combined practices in the past.
Let me attempt to describe the scene for you.
With the exception of the walk-through Friday practices, Mondays typically offer the least amount of excitement. Players are still jumpy, they've developed very little to any rapport with oneanother, they're more often than not limited to only shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) and the coaches are often more focused on teaching certain basics, rather than allowing the players to really hit.
Furthermore, with the player weigh-in Monday morning, there is only enough light in the day for one practice session. Therefore, the North team practiced at Ladd Peebles Stadium, the site of Saturday's game, and the South team traveled to Fairhope Municipal Stadium, a 30 minute drive away. Each practiced began at 2:30 pm local (central) time.
Despite the fact that scouts were split up, it was obvious which team held the most interest for them. Based on the number of Florida fans in the stands, it was just as obvious why so many chose to go watch the South -- Tim Tebow was practicing there, after all.
Years ago, the Senior Bowl wasn't the spectacle it is now. As such, NFL personnel and media were allowed onto the field, itself, to scout from the sidelines during practice. We were only asked to remain on the sidelines until practice ended. Once it ended, upon flashing our credentials, we could enter the field to speak to the players. In the post 9/11 world, however, security tightened and league personnel and media were asked to remain in the stands during practice. A uniformed police officer remained at the gate and allowed us to enter at the conclusion of practice to speak to players.
There were several police officers on and off the field Monday, as well as some yellow-coated crowd control officers. There was an impromptu gate set up just to enter the stadium with one of the yellow-coated officers brandishing a metal detecting wand and patting down visitors.
If the event was the circus, then Tebow was clearly the main attraction on center stage. There were more Florida #15 jerseys in the stands and on the sidelines than Alabama and Auburn jerseys combined. When Tebow left the field, he was serenaded with chants of his last name and the screams of girls more suited to a Jonas Brothers concert than a typical Senior Bowl practice.
And to think, tomorrow, when there will be even more NFL scouts on hand, the circus could be even bigger...
Posted on: January 9, 2010 2:43 pm
In prepping for what will be my tenth Senior Bowl, I was pleased to read that the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins will be the coaching staffs in place for the Mobile all-star game classic.
For one, Jim Schwartz and Tony Sparano are innovative, high-energy coaches that will push the players throughout the week of practice. If everything I've heard about these teams' practice habits are correct, the drills and scrimmages will be run efficiently. Teaching and coaching will be a focus, but the players won't be over-worked on scheme or re-working their technique. They'll be allowed to play and, more importantly, audition for the hundreds of scouts in attendance.
Secondly, with their varied offensive and defensive schemes, we'll get an opportunity to see these prospects preparing to play in or prepare for the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, as well as pro-style and Wildcat offenses. The variety of scheme is particularly important for judging whether 'tweener players could effectively transition to an NFL system -- as in the case of undersized pass rushers potentially making the jump to the rush OLB position in the 3-4 or "Slash" quarterback types.
Considering the coaching choices, I'll not be at at all surprised when some of the more hotly debated senior prospects that fit in these two categories -- Tim Tebow, Dan LeFevour, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Wille Young, etc. are ultimately invited to this game.
Posted on: August 25, 2009 12:23 pm
The Senior Bowl, the preeminent all-star game for prospective NFL talent, may be on the verge of moving.
Though the Senior Bowl began in Jacksonville in 1950, it moved to Mobile, Alabama a year later and has been a fixture there since. The game this past January, however, concluded the contract the Senior Bowl had with Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
As a result the Senior Bowl, which is run by the Mobile Arts and Sports Association, has begun filtering through the cities that have previously expressed interest in hosting the game, should organizers elect to move it. Tampa and Jacksonville are reportedly among the cities in consideration, though negotiations remain ongoing between the game's organizers and Ladd-Peebles' board of directors.
While proposals have been swapped in an effort to keep the game in Mobile, its home for the past 58 years, according to the Financial News and Daily Record of Jacksonville, the Mobile Arts and Sports Association is looking at other options. "We have a conference call with them next week," Mike Bouda, director of sports and entertainment for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, told the Financial News and Daily Record of Jacksonville. "I really believe we have an opportunity to move it to the next level."
The Senior Bowl had been previously linked to Tampa, with Under Armour, the Senior Bowl's title sponsor, reportedly discussing a potential move to the city since March.
Though Senior Bowl spokesman Kevin McDermond would not confirm whether any contact with Jacksonville, Tampa or any other city was scheduled, the Mobile Arts and Sports Association issued the following statement yesterday:
"In the spring we clearly stated that due to circumstances it would be prudent if not necessary to consider options. Subsequently, representatives acting on behalf of the Mobile Arts and Sports Association have identified and distributed a request for proposal to multiple cities in the Southeast that have expressed interest."
Posted on: March 27, 2009 8:49 pm
Northern Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker didn't necessarily have to workout for scouts Friday. The two-time MAC defensive player of the year was impressive off the edge at the Senior Bowl and flashed athleticism in Combine workouts, as well.
However, considering that many teams wanted to see him shed some time off his 40-yard dash, the move was a good one. English's fastest time at the Combine was 4.82 seconds, but he was clocked in the high 4.6s to low 4.7s according to scouts in attendance Friday, and was better in both defensive line and linebacker drills, as well.
The knock on English is that while he has good burst off the snap and reasonable straight-line speed, he doesn't necessarily change directions as fluidly as some teams operating the 3-4 defense would prefer out of their linebackers. In a 4-3 scheme, English, 6-2, 255 pounds, is probably best suited as an undersized defensive end, which is why many of the teams who had scouts on campus were from clubs operating out of the 3-4.
English has the tools to warrant consideration late in the first round, but this year's unique collection of outside linebackers and hybrid defensive ends likely to make the transition to the OLB position could push him into the mid second range. He is among a group of about a baker's dozen hybrid pass rushers (Brian Orakpo, Everette Brown, Brian Cushing, Aaron Maybin, Robert Ayers, Connor Barwin, Clay Matthews Jr, Clint Sintim, Paul Kruger, Michael Johnson, Lawrence Sidbury, Jr, Cody Brown, Zach Follett, etc.) scouts feel warrant first day consideration.