MOBILE, Ala. -- Last week the National Football League descended on Mobile for the 70th annual Senior Bowl. Scouts and team officials from all 32 professional football franchises were represented as …
MOBILE, Ala. -- Last week the National Football League descended on Mobile for the 70th annual Senior Bowl. Scouts and team officials from all 32 professional football franchises were represented as the most coveted crop of collegiate seniors spent a week trying to prove on the practice field and in meetings that they deserve to be drafted.
The week leading up to the game is widely considered more important than the game itself, which is a glorified scrimmage these days. Regardless, Ladd-Peebles Stadium was as full Saturday as it has been all season to watch this group of college veterans compete.
The North Squad, coached by NFL legend Jon Gruden and his Oakland Raiders staff, came out victorious 34-24 over the South Squad, who were under the direction of Kyle Shannahan and the San Francisco 49ers.
This year the Senior Bowl rosters were unusually loaded with potential draft picks at the quarterback position. Duke's Daniel Jones and Missouri's Drew Lock both saw playing time with the North squad and are projected first round picks in the upcoming draft. Jones was named the game's Most Valuable Player after going 8 of 11 for 155 yards passing and a touchdown, along with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Lock went 9 of 14 for 57 yards, while fellow North gunslinger and early-round draft hopeful Ryan Finley of North Carolina State went 7 of 11 for 83 yards. Penn State's Trace McSorely, who's looking to prove scouts wrong and make a strong impression before the draft, completed 7 of 13 passes for 59 yards.
The big-name quarterbacks for the South Squad weren't nearly as successful passing the ball with West Virginia's Will Grier, Washington State's Gardner Minshew and Auburn's Jarrett Stidham combining to go 9 of 21 for just 95 yards. It was small school prospect Tyree Jackson of Buffalo who stood out, going 13 of 21 for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns to go with an interception en route to earning South Team MVP.
Clemson's Hunter Renfrow led all South receivers with 5 catches for 63 yards, while his North Squad counterpart Andy Isabella of UMass led all receivers with 7 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, earning the North Team MVP.
Neither squad got much going in the ground game. Memphis running back Tony Pollard led all rushers with 8 carries for 60 yards, which was more than the South gained collectively (59).
As mentioned earlier, the game isn't much of a barometer of who will be drafted or who helped or hurt their draft stock. Most of the nitty gritty work in practices and workouts, as well as the meetings with teams behind closed doors, are where players really helped or hurt themselves. Nevertheless, the Senior Bowl is a part of Mobile history and never ceases to provide a great time for locals and fans of the players who are invited.