The Senior Bowl is the pinnacle of the college All-Star games played annually sandwiched in the weekend between the AFC/NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl. The rosters are divided up into two squads – North and South, while players are inserted onto rosters depending on which college team they played for.
This year, the Reese’s Senior Bowl is slated for Saturday, January 25 with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network. In fact, all week long NFL Network will telecast practice sessions.
Our own DBN writer Barry Shuck is in Mobile, Alabama all week long and will give daily practice session updates on which players look good, which do not, plus player interviews. The focus will be on several positions the Browns have definite needs to fill in order to improve their roster.
The nationally-televised game is unique because two complete NFL coaching staffs tutor both squads instead of the norm of having college coaches. This year, the full coaching staffs of the Detroit Lions and AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals will handle the job of getting the most out of these high-caliber athletes. Players realize that this is their first true taste of what life in the professional ranks is going to be like.
As important as the actual game is, the entire week of practice is equally vital to the players. Because the Reese’s Senior Bowl is basically an NFL convention, almost every head coach is in attendance, as well as every assistant coach and scores of scouts. Almost every team sends all their coaches, front office and all components’ of player personnel as part of the week’s evaluation process in order to gauge and analyze the talent which is essentially critical information come draft day. Members of the Canadian Football League and several indoor league teams also attend.
What is special about the Reese’s Senior Bowl is that the talent level all across the board is extremely high. This means that exceptional offensive linemen are taking on equally great defensive linemen all week long. Stud wide receivers who may have seen a few exceptional cornerbacks now will face off against some of college football’s best for a solid week.
A player who has an excellent practice week against premier talent can elevate his draft status.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is a pivotal stop in the careers of many an NFL draft pick. Almost half of the first-round and over half of the second-round competed in this All-Star game. Players are hand-picked by a committee and feature many of the nation’s best athletes; although normally players earmarked for the Top 10 in the first-round do not participate in this game as they have nothing to gain.
An excellent example occurred in 2008. Quarterback Joe Flacco was invited as one of six quarterbacks 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 ultimately 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 and scouts to see first-hand what these guys are like. They will have an up-close and personal view of players who they might not get to see otherwise; and then are able to do one-on-one interviews and get to know them as men as well as their athletic prowess.
It’s not a well-kept secret. The Browns most glaring need is the offensive tackle position – on both corners. Although none of the Top 4 tackles that will be available in the first-round are at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, there is quite a bit of talent that is playing. Fortunately, the 2020 class is deep in offensive tackle talent. A new right guard might be needed to give incumbent Wyatt Teller some competition, and maybe even his replacement.
A safety upgrade is inevitable as is a middle linebacker if Joe Schobert leaves. The middle of the defensive front could use some new blood as well. And some may question whether Baker Mayfield is the answer or maybe the Browns need to take a flier on a guy in the mid-to-late rounds for insurance.
Josh Jones – Houston: LT 6’, 5” 310 pounds
Trey Adams – Washington: LT/RT 6’, 8” 314 pounds
Prince Tega Wanogho – Auburn: LT 6’, 6” 305 pounds
Hakeem Adeniji – Kansas: OG 6’, 4” 310 pounds
Logan Stenberg – Kentucky: OG 6’, 6” 322 pounds
Ben Bredeson – Michigan: OG 6’ 5”, 320 pounds
Tremayne Anchrm – Clemson: OG 6’, 2” 315 pounds
Shane Lemieux – Oregon: OG 6’, 4 317 pounds
Nick Harris – Washington: C 6’, 1” 302 pounds
Ashlyn Davis – Cal: 6’, 1” 190 pounds
Brandon Jones – Texas: 6’, 0” 210 pounds
Jalen Elliott – Notre Dame: 6’, 1” 210 pounds
Julian Blackmon – Utah: 6’, 1” 204 pounds
Alohi Gilman – Notre Dame: 5”, 11” 201 pounds
Linebackers and Defensive Line
Logan Wilson – Wyoming: ILB 6’, 2” 250 pounds
Malik Harrison – Ohio State: ILB 6’, 3” 240 pounds
Terrell Lewis – Alabama: EDGE 6’, 5” 254 pounds
Jabari Zuniga – Florida: EDGE 6’, 3” 245 pounds
Alton Robinson – Syracuse: EDGE 6’, 4” 260 pounds
Jon Greenard – Florida: EDGE 6’, 3” 263 pounds
Neville Gallimore – Oklahoma: DT 6’, 2” 301 pounds
Raekwon Davis – Alabama: DT 6’, 6” 316 pounds
Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State: 6’, 1” 206 pounds
Antonio Gandy-Golden – Liberty: 6’, 4” 220 pounds
Devin Duvernay – Texas: 5’, 11” 210 pounds
Bryan Edwards – South Carolina: 6’, 3” 220 pounds
Collin Johnson – Texas: 6’, 5” 220 pounds
Kalija Lipscomb – Vanderbilt: 6’, 1” 200 pounds
Jalen Hurts – Oklahoma: 6’, 2” 218 pounds
Justin Herbert – Oregon: 6’, 6” 225 pounds
Shea Patterson – Michigan: 6’, 2” 203 pounds
Jordan Love – Utah State: 6’, 4” 225 pounds
QB Justin Herbert is projected as a Top 10 pick in this year’s NFL draft. Should the Browns draft him with their 10th overall pick in the first round if he is available?
This poll is closed
The Senior Bowl played its initial game in 1950. It has since been a pivotal stop for many NFL superstars 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.
Recent successes include Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Darius Leonard, Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, Rashaad Penny, Cooper Kupp, Zack Martin, Derek Carr, Dee Ford, Bobby Wagner, Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman, Nick Foles, Von Miller, Richard Sherman, Ryan Kerrigan, LeGarrette Blount, Jimmy Graham, and Clay Matthews.
Several Browns who played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl since 2010 include Wyatt Teller, Sheldrick Redwine, Austin Seibert, Sione Takitaki, Baker Mayfield, Austin Corbett, Danny Shelton, Damarious Randall, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Jamie Collins, Kevin Zeitler, and Mitchell Schwartz.
The Browns’ coaching staff has been placed at the helm of this All-Star match several times. Paul Brown was a regular and took on the 1952-1959 teams. Bill Belichick also coached the 1993 Senior Bowl while Hue Jackson headed the 2017 South squad.
Former Browns in the “Senior Bowl Hall of Fame” include Coach Brown, Marty Schottenheimer, Ozzie Newsome and Hanford Dixon.
For a complete list of this year’s players visit https://www.seniorbowl.com/the-game/accepted-invites/