I have had the time of my life over the last two days in Mobile, Ala, and I'm positive that is the first time that statement has ever been written by anyone.
I kid, I kid! Alabama is a wonderful place for anyone who is a football fan, and thanks to NFL superagent and good friend Joe Linta, I've had the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Senior Bowl.
As someone who covers the NFL, I'm thrilled about the people with whom I've been able to meet and converse over the last two days. But as a fan of this great game, I've been crapping my pants and geeking out something fierce. For a guy like me who is so passionate about football, covering the Senior Bowl has been an astonishing and educational experience, and I'm going to try to share it with you the best that I can.
What's so interesting to me about being here is the chance to view the NFL from the perspectives of those who are masters in evaluating football players. There is a cavalcade of coaches and scouts in attendance, and they all view the collection of players and their talents differently.
So what have the experts been saying at this year's Senior Bowl? Here are some highlights:
IT'S TOUGH TO BE A KID
Position coaches approach the players after practice is over, and the players' futures largely depend on how they handle themselves in post-practice interviews. A good interview could help move a player up a few rounds in the NFL Draft, while a bad interview can mean irreparable damage to a player's draft stock.
The tough part? While these kids (let's not forget, we're talking about kids here) are answering questions during these key interviews, the media is also blurting out questions while sticking cameras and microphones in their faces. It looks incredibly nerve-racking and I cannot imagine what it must be like for them.
A lot of these kids look downright rusty, and they are the first to admit it. I think the Senior Bowl needs to be closer to the end of the season, especially for smaller schools that may not get bowl experience.
By the way, I've had a half-dozen scouts tell me this is the worst quarterback class in decades, and that's including Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston, two quarterbacks widely expected to be selected at the top of the first round in this year's draft.
The scouts here seem to have been very frustrated when the coaches (The Tennessee Titans staff is coaching the North squad, while the Jacksonville Jaguars staff is coaching the South roster) actually coach the kids. From what I've been told, the most important thing is for the scouts to see drills; they don't want eager kids taking bad coaching.
As one scout said to me, "Let's face it. These coaches are here because they couldn't coach their own professionals. Why should they be wasting our time teaching techniques to kids?"
However, in defense of the coaches, one of them told me that because of the advent of no-huddle spread offenses, he had to teach some of the players how to huddle. You read that correctly. There are players who made it to the Senior Bowl without knowing how plays are called in a huddle. This is astounding to me.
BABY MAMA DRAMA
I can't tell you how many times I heard "paternity test" mentioned while walking onto the field.
TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS
According to another scout, the key to evaluating the Senior Bowl itself is figuring out if the players can spot the ball. He said a high percentage of the backs, wide receivers and cornerbacks simply lose the ball in the air. Though tracking the ball in the air seems incredibly fundamental, it's considered an unteachable technique.
Amazing stuff, right? Once again, I'm so thankful to Joe Linta for granting me the mind-blowing opportunity to engage with everyone and learn more about the NFL while attending the Senior Bowl. But especially, thanks to all of you who listen to The Jason Fitz Show and reach out to me through my website and social media. None of this would be possible without your support.
Stay tuned to this week's episode of The Jason Fitz Show for more of my Senior Bowl takes and so much more.