Senior Bowl Week: Tuesday Observations

The Reese’s Senior Bowl began on Tuesday in Mobile, Alabama

Reese's Senior Bowl week kicked off in Mobile, Alabama, with practices on Tuesday. The Senior Bowl will air from Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 1:30 p.m. CT this Saturday on the NFL Network. 1. We started with the weigh-in

Tuesday began with a traditional weigh-in. A group totaling more than 1,000 members of every NFL personnel staff filled an auditorium as each one of the 110 Senior Bowl participants walked across the stage to be measured and weighed.

North team Lightest: Oklahoma State defensive back Kevin Peterson (173 pounds)
Heaviest: Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler (325 pounds)
Shortest: Temple defensive back Tavon Young (5 feet 9 inches)
Tallest: Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib (6 feet 6 inches)

South team Lightest: Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones (178 pounds)
Heaviest: Clemson defensive tackle DJ Reader (340 pounds)
Shortest:Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington (5 feet 7 inches)
Tallest: Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman (6 feet 7 inches)

South team practice observations

Once the weigh-in was over, the event moved to Fairhope Stadium for the South team's first practice. 2. The Jacksonville Jaguars staff is coaching the South team

For the fourth consecutive season, the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff is leading a team at the Senior Bowl. This could prove to be an advantage for the Jaguars franchise, as the coaches are given a firsthand look at some of the best seniors in the country. The Jaguars select at number 5 this year's NFL Draft.

3. Shorts and shells on day one

Both the South team and the North team opted to start the week of practices wearing shorts and shells rather than full pads. This was likely in an effort to ease into the week and learn the basic schemes headed into Saturday's game. 4.
Shawn Oakman of the South team is a "giant amongst men"

Baylor's Oakman is the tallest member of the South team at 6 feet 7 inches, and he has long arms that serve like clubs when he is going through pad drills.

In addition to that, during the weigh-in portion of the day, he appeared to have very little sloppiness—an impressive frame.

5. Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence made an impression on several of the best draft analysts in attendance

Just based on his weigh-in alone, Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence became someone to watch at this year's Senior Bowl.

All practice long, Spence showed an ability to move quickly and forcefully, and he looked dominant in one-on-one drills with his offensive line opponents.

6. Missouri offensive lineman Connor McGovern left practice early due to injury and did not return

Missouri's Connor McGovern hurt himself during drills early during the South team's practice and did not return. It's uncertain if he will available for Wednesday's practices and the rest of the week moving forward.

7. A familiar face in the football world made it out to Senior Bowl practice

North team practice observations

8. Wide receiver Braxton Miller turned heads

Ohio State's Braxton Miller was one of the stars of the North practice, showing impressive speed and an ability to run a variety of routes well.

At one point during practice, Miller laid out for a ball in the end zone, reminiscent of Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin during training camp. While the practice certainly means more to Miller than a training camp one does to Maclin, seeing how passionate Miller in leaving it all out on the field caught the attention of scouts, analysts and personnel staff members.

9. Fun moment for Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett

Towards the middle mark of the North team's practice, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett stopped the practice to get his players in order. He could be heard from the stands saying that he had a problem with the way the team was huddling.

10. The Senior Bowl isn't only about the on-the-field performances

Over the course of the next three nights, from Tuesday to Thursday, the 32 NFL franchise will hold both formal and informal meetings with players of their choosing at night. A third of the players will be available each night for formal interviews, beginning with quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen and specialists on Tuesday.

SPOTLIGHT: SENIOR BOWL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PHIL SAVAGE

Here is the situation.

110 football players need to get to Mobile, Alabama, for an event nearly a year of preparation in the making, but on the weekend before, one of the biggest snowstorms of the winter hits the east coast.

That was last weekend—just a day in the life of Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage.

"Well, we're in the midst of our week now and everything's underway," Savage said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl's media night. "We got all 110 players here after 12,000 flights were cancelled over the weekend, so that worked out well."

The snowstorm is just an example of the many things that go wrong for Savage each year, but when things do happen, he turns to his staff, a group he calls "terrific" for their flexibility and patience to make the whole thing come together.

Once the players make it to Mobile, that's when the fun begins.

Many of the NFL's most passionate fans know about the Senior Bowl, but there's more to it than just on-the-field player evaluation. On the other side, Savage and his staff build an entire regiment to give their players a true feel for what it's going to be like to be a professional athlete.

"For us as an organization, [our focus] is their connection off the field, whether it's through the media (training), through financial education with a new partner we have in Morgan Stanley this year, whether it's the community service aspect of the game on Friday, we try to give them a glimpse, a flavor of what being a pro athlete is all about, so that they have a head start on the rest of the draft class as they go through the next three or four months."

Over the years, the invite-only event has rightly become an honor among college football players, and in this particular year, Savage said that honor has reached new heights.

"I was very proud of this roster because in the last two years, we've lost 28 players either through choice, or injury, or rehab situation, and this year, we only lost 16. I think the depth of this group is very strong compared to the last couple of years."

Especially in one specific position, according to Savage.

"The defensive line is the group from top to bottom," he said. "Every single player in that defensive line group that is here, I almost can guarantee they will be drafted unless they run into some sort of unexpected medical circumstance. That's Sheldon Rankins from Lousiville, it's Carl Nassib from Penn State, Jihad Ward from Illinois, Sheldon Day from Notre Dame, Jarran Reed from Alabama, it's a long list of players, so it's exciting to have that kind of quality here."

The quality is here, and thanks to the Senior Bowl and the efforts of Savage and his staff, so is draft season. At the weigh-in Tuesday morning, the event he coined as "the Broadway show" of Senior Bowl week, Savage looked out and saw a full house with standing room only.

He joked that next year he'll need to provide even more seating, before affirming what the decision-makers of professional football already know to be true.

"[The weigh-in] does, in fact, kick the week off," he said. "It gets everyone focused on 'OK, the 2016 Draft is here, and it starts in Mobile.'"

Rain, shine, or snow.

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