Much of what fans find fascinating about NFL happens between the months of September and February—the regular season, the NFL playoffs and ultimately, the Super Bowl.
But when all is quiet from a fan's perspective, that's when things ramp up for the Kansas City Chiefs personnel staff, and it all starts with the week of Senior Bowl practices down in Mobile, Alabama, this week.
"It's the beginning of the process of how we do our season," said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. "It's the best of the senior class within this year's draft, so it gives you a chance to really put your hands on these players, watch them move around, watch them compete. It also gives you a chance to kind of, for the first time, really to see who they are as people as well."
According to the Senior Bowl website, at least 30 percent of NFL rosters are comprised of players who played in the Senior Bowl, and there are currently 12 on the Chiefs current roster who took part in it as they were going through the draft process.
Chiefs who played in the Senior Bowl
Participation of the Senior Bowl is by invitation only, and that way, the event solely showcases the best seniors in the country.
"There's only one more time they can put the pads on and be football players and get right in front of the coaches and all the GMs and scouts in the stands and say 'This is how I measure up with my pads on as a football player against the best seniors in the country,'" NBC football host Paul Burmeister explained. "It's not just what happens when they blow the whistle and how they perform against really good players. How do you respond to getting beat? I want to see that top-ranked offensive tackle get beat a couple times in a row by a D-end and see 'How's he respond then?'"
The Senior Bowl also gives the personnel staff its first chance to meet and talk to the players, enabling them to determine whether or not their character-type may fit with their team.
"It's massive," said NFL Analyst Charles Davis. "They want to know who they're getting in terms of that person, the character-type, the type of person they are, what type of integrity they have, work ethic, how they relate to others, are they going to be good teammates?
"Guys that you'd like to have in a locker room, all of that, and let's face it. From the morning when they get up and emerge from their rooms to the time they go back to bed and lock themselves in, they're on display. People are watching them whether they know it or not, and that's a big, big deal."
There will be two practices a day (one for the North team and one for the South team) beginning this Tuesday until Thursday, and media night is on Tuesday.
The Senior Bowl is this Saturday, January 30, at 1:30 p.m. CT at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and will air on the NFL Network.