That's right—it's the Senior Bowl.
I'm here courtesy of both Cheesehead TV (who got me the credential again) and Bleacher Report who paid for my flight and lovely hotel room.
For those of you not aware of what a Senior Bowl is, it's one of the premiere college All Star games and a pivotal aspect of the draft process for many (though nowhere near all) Seniors.
Every year, all 32 teams (and assorted media) head down to Mobile Alabama to watch the players practice and show what they are capable of.
Interestingly, the actual game is the least part of it. In fact, very few media and almost no teams stay for it. They can watch it on TV and all of them have to move on to the next step in their draft evaluations.
Monday Morning kicks things off with what I like to call the most awkward 5 minutes of any player's draft experience.
They get poked and prodded more at the Combine, but not quite as publicly. The players are trotted out in front of an audience of scouts and media, onto a stage in nothing but boxers. They get measured for height and then weighed.
The most interesting part of this morning's process was actually the speech by director Phil Savage before it all started. He mentioned a list of players not attending who had been invited, citing everything from injury (Matt Barkley) to personal reasons (not shockingly, Manti Te'o).
He then said that more and more players are putting prep for the Combine ahead of general football prep and games like the Senior Bowl. Savage asked the assembled teams and scouts for ideas on how to counter this so the players focused on more important things like actual football.
I can't say how much reaction or help he'll get. Let's be honest though—draft preparation is a huge industry. Players absolutely focus more on training for the Combine and Pro Days than they do worrying about appearing at the Senior Bowl or the NFLPA game.
Does it hurt them? Probably not, but by the same token, it can lead to some difficulty with teams falling in love with a Combine superstar and forgetting film. That's on the teams, frankly, and isn't a matter for the players to worry about.
But I can see where at some point the teams, league and All Star games might want to stop the bleeding so to speak.
Now, to the weigh in. As I am writing this I am having a Twitter debate on the relative merits of the 'meat market' and measurables.
The argument I am getting is that it's meaningless. That height is irrelevant because film is all.
I disagree and vehemently on this point. Sure, it's not the most relevant thing, nor even the biggest portion of it.
To dismiss it as irrelevant is foolish though. It's not an either/or thing. It's a part of the puzzle. You never want to get too caught up in it, but by the same point it does matter.
For example, Noel Devine showed up to the Senior Bowl last year and weighed about 180 lbs. Now, in a vacuum, that seems not great for a RB.
Now add to it the context that he was completely ripped and his frame looked maxed out. He ended up adding some weight but it was an eye opener, and gave context to the staff not letting him in blocking drills.
Now, the push back is, well if he can do it on tape, the measurables are meaningless.
They aren't. Because Noel Devine could play in college. He was too small to play in the NFL.
Like I said—part of the process and a piece of the puzzle. That's all.
Now, you might be wondering why almost 700 words into this article I'm not listing heights and weights yet. That's because while the numbers are important, they also aren't something I tend to vomit out.
So here are a few notable players, how they measured up and what it means, if anything.
Margus Hunt, DL, SMU: Holy crap was this kid big. Not just tall (at 6'8"), but big at 277 lbs. Not sloppy though. Hunt looks like he is in good condition. The big question I have over the next few days is, how does he move? That height is all well and good but can he use it? Is he quick or slow and ponderous? You can see it on film, but seeing something in person adds a different spin on it.
Onterio McCalebb, RB/RS, Auburn: There is no way this kid will take an NFL pounding as a running back. Not at 5'10" 164. It's just too small. That said, depending on how he takes a hit, he could be a very good kick returner. He played well at Auburn—further analysis is definitely warranted if he stands out this week.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: He is who you thought he was. He's big enough for what teams want in a prototypical QB with a decent frame. I'll be watching him closely today as I will be at the South practice with him.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon: My buddy from Denver, Cecil Lammey likes this guy, so that's enough to make me take notice. 5'10", 188 lbs is a bit light, but he looks like he could add some beef to his frame and he's been good enough at Oregon. He's with the North so I won't get to see him until tomorrow.
So that's some brief thoughts on the weigh-in and some of the players. I'll be back tonight with some practice reports from the South, maybe some pictures and also some notes from Media Night as well.
It's a long week—I better get some Saucy Q.
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