The Senior Bowl kicked off this morning at the Mobile Convention Center ballroom. This was really cool, and in hindsight will probably be my most favorite part of the week. You have around 1,000 scouts, coaches, and media packed into a room looking at 22-year-olds in underwear. You can feel and hear the buzz in the air as the scouts reminisce on the past season and catch up on things.
You know it's "real" when Ted Thompson, Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano sit three rows in front you. Among other big names I saw in the ballroom where Brad Childress, Jack Del Rio, Marvin Lewis, Raheem Morris, Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips. Wade still looks very confused and the media follows Jerry everywhere. After the weigh-in, there were literally 10 cameras around him. What could they possibly ask? "So coach, whom are you going to draft with only one pick in the first three rounds since you traded for the overrated Roy Williams?
As you can see by the picture below, the mannequins were incorrectly set up. Apparently, this was the Combine in year 920 (supposed to be 20-09). I thought it was hilarious they could mess up something on such a big event.
I met up with a writer for DraftDog.com, Brandon Thorn. He was really cool and we sat together during weigh-ins to cross check on mistakes. Apparently, he met Mike Mayock, so I am extremely jealous. If I don't meet the New Godfather of the Draft this week, then I am taking Charles Davis hostage for not saying anything negative about any football player ever.
On to the weigh-in. The buzz around the Senior Bowl literally revolves around Herman Johnson. He is so big you can see people get closer to him because he has a greater gravitational force than Pluto. I saw him on Sunday and was impressed with his body because he lost most of his gut. At the weigh-in on stage, there was a collective "WOW" when he measured in at 382 with 11.25 inch hands and 36-inch arms. He carried his weight so extremely well I can't get over it. This could be bad news for him though. With such impressive measurements, he must show scouts this week tenacity and the will to dominate. If he does that, he is going to rocket up draft boards.
Another really impressive physique was Rashad Jennings, running back from Liberty. Meanwhile, Brian Cushing is built like a Greek god. Comes as no shocker that he does Strongman training in the offseason. Among other guys I felt stood out where Rashad Johnson, Andre Brown, Ramses Barden, Anthony Hill, Brooks Foster, Michael Oher, Eric Wood, Phil Loadholt and David Bruton.
Then there are the players who did not impress. B.J. Raji was overweight and had a gut, as did Ron Brace. Ramon Foster was about 25 pounds overweight and unimpressive. Peria Jerry did not look like the athlete he is on film and was overweight, but he only weighed 290 pounds - not good. Nathan Brown measured in at about 6 feet and was very small on the practice field. Cullen Harper measured in two inches shorter than listed at about 6-3. William Beatty was lanky for a tackle at 6-6, 291. I thought Rey Maualuga would look better than he did, yet he was pretty average and look s like he needs to hit the weight room more often.
After the weigh-in, I headed back to the hotel at Ramada and rest up before practice started at Ladd for the North team. At the practice I met a few famous names in the draftnik community. Chris Steuber from Scout.com was in attendance, as was Scott Wright from DraftCountdown.com. We had an epic debate talking about Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Wright and I are on the same page. We both feel like Stafford's arm strength and experience put him slightly above Sanchez. Steuber, on the other hand hates him. It annoys Steuber that Stafford tries to fit the ball into tight spaces.
"He is like Jay Cutler," Steuber said - and can you tell me how that is a bad thing? How many teams in the NFL don't want Jay Cutler? We all have our biases since this is a subjective process, and that's Steuber's. Maybe he is right, maybe he is wrong. Time tells all.
For some reason, Steuber also hates Matt Ryan - still. Don't get me wrong, I also did not think Ryan should have been a top-five pick, but what's this about: "Matt Ryan did nothing this year to impress me."
Look, Steuber is one of the best draft analysts in the business and I respect a lot of his views and he is a professional, but come on. Wright and I laughed a bit at that comment. Maybe he was talking about some other Matt Ryan.
After practice I went over to the USS Alabama for Media Night. There was a nice spread of catfish, chicken, gumbo, and salad. All the players were in their game uniforms for Saturday and ready to do interviews. I caught up with my No. 1 tackle Michael Oher. Oher was very articulate and well spoken. I honestly think there is a huge bias against him just because of The Blind Side and people for some reason or another are just haters. He has a great team-first attitude and I think he genuinely loves the game. Maybe he was just saying the right things, but I liked his demeanor and he didn't feel "fake" to me.
Among other interviews were Rey Maualuga, Larry English and Alex Mack. All of those interviews will be up on the site in the next few weeks, so watch out!
I didn't plan on interviewing Sam Houston State quarterback Rhett Bomar, but I decided to ask him a few questions:
MM: Is it different going from the smaller school environment to the Senior Bowl with more talent?
RB: Yeah, I mean it is a different deal, but it's a great opportunity also so you have got the best of the best out here. That's what you want going to the next level. It's only going to help prepare you for the next level so it's a great opportunity.
MM: What is the toughest part about being here? The playbook?
RB: It's just learning stuff in a week. I mean you gotta learn a lot of stuff and the terminology plays is really in a day. You basically have a week to learn the offense and that's difficult, but I mean you are also going to have to do that at the next level. You just have to go out there and do it.
MM: This is one of the really serious questions of the interview. Who do you have this year in the Super Bowl?
RB: (Laughs) Oh, man. I'm going to go with the Cardinals. I like offense. I am a quarterback. I like to throw it around. They got those great receivers.
MM: Ben Roethlisberger plays quarterback. You don't like him?
RB: He's a great player also. They are solid on defense too, but I like points.
MM: Thanks, Rhett. Good luck in practice tomorrow.
It was a fun day of trading business cards with the media, talking draft, and generally being around the league. It really feels like the entire National Football League is here in Mobile. Not only that, but the future of the league is here, and isn't that why we love the NFL Draft?