As noted after the regular season ended, the entire Browns coaching staff has been selected to coach the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl game in Mobile, AL. The game is Saturday January 28 at 2:30 (eastern), but more importantly the staff will get up and personal with the South squad. And yes, that includes players from Alabama and national champions Clemson, even if QB Deshaun Watson won’t be there.
The Chicago Bears staff will coach the North team.
The Senior Bowl is a pivotal stop in the careers of many an NFL draft pick. Half of the first round and over half of the second round play in this All-Star game. Players are hand-picked by a committee and feature many of the nation’s best athletes. Normally, players earmarked for the Top 10 in the first round do not participate in this game, but the remainder of the first round will be loaded from this contest.
What makes the Senior Bowl a major advantage for players is that both squads are coached for a solid week by full NFL coaching staffs plus their support staff. Another advantage is the Senior Bowl is virtually an NFL convention. Except for the two clubs who have made the Super Bowl, virtually every head and assistant coach, every scout and every General Manager are attendees all week. Yet another advantage is because the talent level is so high in this game, players go against the best of the college game all week. A player who has an excellent practice week against premier talent can elevate his draft status.
An excellent example occurred in 2008. Quarterback Joe Flacco was invited as one of six QBs selected for the game. He played at tiny Delaware and was projected as a low second round or high third round choice. The Baltimore Ravens coached the North squad which Flacco was a member. In the first round of the corresponding draft, they selected him at pick #18. After spending an entire week with him, they felt he was the guy who could lead their franchise. He became NFL Rookie of the Year, and then led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XLVII.
There is a tremendous benefit for the Browns coaches to participate in this game. They will have an up-close and personal view of players who they might not get to know otherwise.
There are eight QBs in attendance this year including Chad Kelly (6-2, 224 lbs.) from Ole Miss, Baylor’s Seth Russell (6-3, 220 lbs.) and the highly-touted Davis Webb (6-5, 230 lbs.) of Cal, all South squad members. Another blue-chip QB is Pittsburgh’s Nate Peterman. All of these signal-callers should be available in rounds two and three. Later in the draft Josh Dobbs (6-3, 210 lbs.) of Tennessee, another South squad player, would be available.
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (6-6, 251 lbs.) is also a South squad player. The Browns are desperate for a good blocking TE with excellent hands who was well-coached. He should be available with the Browns second pick in the first round at number 12, but is unlikely to last until pick number one in the second round. An excellent athlete to take with the first choice in the second round is Florida safety Marcus Maye (6-0, 216 lbs.). And yes, he is also on the South.
Ranked as the number one guard prospect, Indiana’s Dan Sweeney (6-4, 305 lbs.) will be playing for the North. He is expected to go in the late 20s of the first round, but the Browns certainly need interior linemen. Another guard prospect that would be sitting at number 33 is Dorian Johnson, the massive 6-5, 315 behemoth from Pittsburgh. Other notable players available with the first pick in the second round playing in this game are DT Chris Wormley (6-6, 303 lbs.) and Oklahoma WR DeDe Westbrook (6-0, 175 lbs.). Round three attendees of note include OLB Hasson Reddick (6-1, 230 lbs.) of Temple, Alabama OLB Ryan Anderson (6-2, 253 lbs.), and cornerbacks CB Chidobe Awuzie (6-0, 205 lbs.) of Colorado and Tennessee’s Cameron Sutton (5-11, 186 lbs.).
Two of the nation’s top centers are also playing in this game. In the fourth round, the Browns would be fine with taking Tyler Orlosky (6-4, 296 lbs.) of West Virginia.
This is not the first time the Browns’ coaching staff has been placed at the helm of this All-Star match. Paul Brown was a regular and took on the 1952-1959 teams. Bill Belichick also coached the 1993 Senior Bowl.
The entire week of the Senior Bowl is attended not only by the NFL, but also members of the Canadian Football League, the Arena League, and also several other indoor leagues. Many an unemployed coach will attend the week just to be interviewed during down time between practices and hopefully hired.
The Senior Bowl has been a pivotal stop for many NFL superstar such as Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Walter Payton, Bo Jackson, Franco Harris, Doug Williams, Brett Favre, Lynn Swann, Doak Walker, Thurman Thomas, Ray Nitschke, Art Monk, Derrick Thomas, Brian Urlacher, DeMarcus Ware, Michael Strahan, Mean Joe Greene, Sam Huff and Hines Ward, to name a few.
Former Browns in the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame include Coach Brown, Marty Schottenheimer, Ozzie Newsome and Hanford Dixon.
For a complete list of players, click here.