Announced earlier today. It got me thinking about whether coaching the Senior Bowl squads gives teams a leg up on draft picks. So I looked at the past 3 senior bowls, and then looked at all of those respective teams picks in that given draft and which of their players were Senior Bowl attendees, and which were not. Then I looked at Pro Football Focus grades for each when they were rookies, and it does seem to have a correlation between initial success (or at least playing time).
Last year, the Redskins and VIkings coached in the Senior Bowl.
From the SOuth squad, Redskins picked QB Kirk Cousins, RB Alfred Morris, and LB Keenan Robinson. Obviously Morris was a major coup. Cousins played well in limited duties (+4.9 on 98 snaps) and even Robinson was decent for a limited amount (+0.8 on 69 snaps). Obviously, their big rookie: RG3 was a junior, but he had a very good rookie season.
For the North Squad, the Vikings 2 guys: S Harrison Smith and LB Audie Cole. Smith had a very good rookie season (+6.5 on 1067 snaps), while Cole only played a single snap. But the Vikings had some success with their other picks: OT Matt Kalil (+15.9 on 1056 snaps), Jarius Wright (+1.2 on 208), Rhett Ellison (+12.8 on 252) and Robert Blanton (+0.9 on 59). Josh Robinson scored negatively (-10.3 on 651 snaps).
In 2011, the Bengals coached the north and the Bills the south squads.
The Bengals took Andy Dalton and OG Clint Boling, both who played on the south squad. Dalton did not grade well for PFF (-10.6 on 1124 snaps), but most would not say he had a bad rookie season. Boling also scored poorly (-6.0 on 172 snaps), but has rebounded with a solid 2nd season (+8.2). A.J. Green was their big coup (+0.4 on 981 snaps) among their other picks. Four of their 8 draft picks did not play a snap for them as rookies.
The Bills also drafted a guy from the North, S Da'Norris Searcy (+3.3 on 232 snaps). They took 2 guys from the south: LB Kelvin Sheppard (+1.9 on 441 snaps) and LB Chris White (0 snaps). Marcell Dareus was a hit (+13.9), but not so much with Aaron Williams (-5.5 on 444 snaps), Chris Hairston (-3.7 on 472) and Justin Rodgers (-1.1 on 216) with their other picks.
In 2010, the Lions (north) and Dolphins (South) coached.
The Lions took nobody from either squad with their draft. Obviously Suh was their big pick (+7.6 on 997 snaps), while Jahvid Best (-11.4 on 572), Amari Spievey (+2.8 on 576) were their other major picks that year.
The Dolphins draft 4, 1 from the South: OG John Jerry, and 3 from the North: DT Jared Odrick, LB Koa Misi, and LB A.J. Edds. Misi graded well (+9.8 on 623 snaps), while Jerry (-4.3 on 636) did not. Edds got hurt and didn't play, and neither did Odrick (+0.3 on 22 snaps). Others like Nolan Carroll (+2.5 on 79 snaps) and Reshad Jones (+3.1 on 153 snaps) had good rookie years.
Conclusion? It does seem that when teams draft guys they like from the Senior Bowl, those players tend to fare well as rookies. A total of 14 players have been taken among the 6 teams the past 3 years, out of 50 total players drafted. 7 of those guys played significant snaps (200+) as rookies (50%). 5 of those 7 received positive grades (71%), and the two that did not (Dalton and Jerry) weren't exactly bad by most standards.
Of the 36 non-Senior Bowl players drafted, 14 received significant reps (200+) or 39%. Of those 14, 7 received positive grades (50%).
Now more extensive research would need to be done in order to have a definitive correlation as that may just be unique to the past 3 years, and/or you may discover that most players that participate in the Senior Bowl have early success (since it is after all supposed to represent the best 4 yr. players in college football).
But it does seem that if the Lions and Raiders both do draft a couple of Senior Bowl prospects come April, those players are likely to have more success than your average rookie.
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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