The year long process of building an NFL team ramps up as the best seniors in college football (and some juniors) arrive in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday to kick off Senior Bowl week. The Senior Bowl is a menagerie of scouts, coaches, GMs, agents, entrepreneurs, media, mystery guests and college football players.
For most, if not all, NFL teams it's a reunion of sorts as scouts that have been on the road scouting these same players all fall/winter long are finally in one room and/or at one stadium. General managers and front office personnel finally get to sit in the same room with players and get a feel for who they decide will the next piece to their team's puzzle.
Coaches, having spent all year with their own players, see these college all-stars for the first time, which provides a completely different perspective. Throw all of that into the mix and it's six long days for some eager twenty-somethings about to be professional football players.
It's a wild scene to be on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel in Mobile early in the morning. There's a ten to 12 table radio row set up down one corridor, while in the main foyer, scouts and front office personnel take over the sofa and chairs waiting for the players to enter for breakfast.
Then, it's free game. NFL personnel can talk to anyone and everyone they choose and it's always interesting to me to see who makes the most of the opportunity. One team's GM is consistently the first to the lobby and does a lot of the meeting and vetting of prospects himself. It's fascinating. Every single morning, without fail.
It's also the opportunity for the prospects to get a chance to reconnect with scouts they met in the fall. The well-prepared players may be inundated with requests from one scout after the other wanting to meet them/reunite with them. Trust me, those players have won by just being available and adaptable. Then, last year, there was the one player that told one team's scout, and I quote "this is my me time" then walked to the elevator to his room.
Uh, yeah, imagine telling that to one of your future bosses. I can't, but I digress.
If it were only as easy as saying, draft the best player available. This week tells you it's a wee bit more complicated than that...if you didn't know already.
This week, Drew Dougherty and myself will trek to Mobile with Jay McDevitt and Joe Amaral to give you, hopefully, some kick-tail coverage. Selfishly, this is what I love so I'd do it for free but y'all need to keep that a secret between us. I can't have that getting out or I'll have plenty of "me time", if you know what I mean.