Skipping Senior Bowl No Longer a Sound Strategy

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Looking at the 1st round results of the recent NFL draft it's fairly easy to see the benefit of attending the Senior Bowl. Skipping the Senior Bowl as a negotiating ploy or to protect against a poor on-field performance no longer out weighs the opportunity to impress a team decision-maker.

QB Geno Smithy is an obvious example of the peril of not attending after sliding from a predicted top 10 to the 39th pick. It was Geno firing his agent that made me realize how the Senior Bowl is about to change in prominence. I think you will see more top Senior prospects participate in the game and take that opportunity to bond with a decision-maker.

Forget the combine, going forward it's the Senior Bowl that will be the prime pre-draft event!

The 1st round is littered with Seniors who made the most of their Senior Bowl experience:

  • Senior Bowl standout OT Eric Fisher jumped over non-Senior Bowl attendee Luke Joeckel
  • LT Lane Johnson (#4) jumped to a 3 way tie with Luke Joekel and Eric Fisher
  • Detroit made no bones of their love of DE Ziggy Ansay (#5)
  • The Rams traded up to #8 to get WR Tayvon Austin
  • DJ Hayden (#12) was invited to the Senior Bowl but did not play due to injury.
  • EJ Manual (#16) was drafted way ahead of Geno Smith after being named game MVP

In fact, 94 Senior Bowl attendees were drafted in 2013, the highest total to date. The game recap include more risers in the 1st and 2nd round:

Game Recaps 2010s : Game History : The Game : Senior Bowl

MVP: E.J. Manuel, Florida State

NORTH COACH: Dennis Allen, Raiders

SOUTH COACH: Jim Schwartz, Lions

TOP PLAYERS: Ziggy Ansah, Kawann Short, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Desmond Trufant, Markus Wheaton, Datone Jones, Jamar Taylor

So I'm predicting that going forward fewer top prospects will skip the event though I'm sure some will, mostly due to injury though. EJ Manual honestly didn't necessarily have a great performance either. None of the QBs had a noteworthy performance yet we still saw Manuel improve his stock.

The counter argument is that the game hurt some players, in particular Nassib and our own Kenyon Barner. Yet I would argue their performance did not hurt their chances, it merely didn't help. That is a risk future prospects will need to make because all it takes is for one GM to fall in love with you.

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