The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the biggest offseason showcase for college athletes that’s not the NFL combine. College football seniors from across the country will arrive in Mobile, Ala., next week and get an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of scouts and GMs from all 32 NFL teams. Not many star prospects play in this game, so it’s a great opportunity for players who might not have gotten the playing time they expected during their college careers.
This year’s Senior Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 30, holds even more importance. Due to the pandemic, there are many college football teams that couldn’t play this season or had to play a shortened schedule. Players who didn’t feel comfortable playing were also given the option to opt out of the season, which many did. Some of these players will get their opportunity at the Senior Bowl to showcase their talents against some of the best competition around the country
The Senior Bowl is a great opportunity for NFL scouts to see these prospects up close, and it’s especially advantageous for the two NFL teams that coach in the Senior Bowl. Snce the two teams that are tabbed to coach in the Senior Bowl are non-playoff teams, they are normally picking high in the upcoming draft. This year’s Senior Bowl staffs are the Miami Dolphins (who have the third overall pick) and the Carolina Panthers (eighth overall pick). In addition to merely scouting the Senior Bowl participants, that means these coaches will have the opportunity to work closely with the prospects all week in practice. It’s potentially a distint advantage over the other 30 teams.
Over the last five years (2016-2020), 10 different teams have had the opportunity to coach the Senior Bowl and have the advantage that Miami and Carolina hold this year. Since 2016, those 10 teams have combined to draft 25 players that attended the Senior Bowl.
A majority of these players were drafted in the middle rounds:
Only two of the drafted players (4%) were taken in the first two rounds, while 72% were taken in Rounds 3-5.
The San Francisco 49ers are a good example of how coaching the Senior Bowl can inform a team’s draft and help to find key prospects in the middle rounds of the draft. The 49ers coached in the 2019 Senior Bowl. 2019 NFL A few months later, they selected four players who were at the game. Three of those players have since become starters: wide receiver Deebo Samuel (second round), punter Mitch Wishnowsky (fourth round) and linebacker Dre Greenlaw (fifth round).
It will be interesting to see which players next week make an impression on the Dolphins and Panthers coaches.