The Miami Dolphins will begin their preparations for the upcoming NFL Draft in earnest this week as the scouting department is in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. This game, which includes a week of preparation, interviews and more, showcases the best NFL Draft prospects for the upcoming draft.
This year, the two teams will be coached by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. The teams are selected by order of worst records in the NFL. Since the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers all had questions about their coaching staffs, the Jaguars got the nod. This will be their third consecutive year coaching the talent on the field.
With a new head coach in Miami and a new coaching staff, one may think it would be beneficial for them to head to Mobile to view the players from the stands. However, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, head coach Adam Gase is not expected to attend. The last time the head coach of the Dolphins didn't attend the week of practices and game was Joe Philbin in 2014. However, is this really a big deal?
We really don't know how draft boards are affected due to the Senior Bowl. Does a general manager pick a player because of his performance during the week of practices? Does a general manager move a player up or down based on conversations he had with him during the week?
I am sure that there is some tinkering that goes on but the reality is that most of the evaluations have already been mostly completed from film study. The next few weeks will make scouting departments look at a player more closely if he has a dominant performance during the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and/or Pro Day. Generally, general managers who drastically move guys up and down are going off reaction and not necessarily sticking to the tape.
Let's take a further look and see whether or not this is a big deal, dating back to 2010 through the 2013 draft. I am leaving out 2014 and 2015 because it is simply too early to base a draft in such a short turnaround time.
In 2010, the Detroit Lions and Dolphins coached the two teams. The Lions drafted Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best, Amari Spievey, Jason Fox, Willie Young and Tim Toone. Not one of these players attended the Senior Bowl.
The Dolphins drafted Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, John Jerry, A.J. Edds, Nolan Carroll, Reshad Jones, Chris McCoy, Austin Spitler. Out of that group, only Odrick, Misi, Edds and Jerry attended the Senior Bowl. Odrick and Misi have had solid careers thus far while Edds and Jerry have turned into pedestrian players. Yes, Jerry is a starter in New York but that had a lot to do with injuries they suffered.
Looking back at 2010, there were 14 draft picks between the two teams and only four players were drafted that were at the Senior Bowl. Out of those four, two of them look to have solid/great NFL careers while two are struggling to keep theirs alive.
In 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills coached the two teams. The Bengals drafted AJ Green, Andy Dalton, Dontay Moch, Clint Boling, Robert Sands, Ryan Whalen, Korey Lindsey, and Jay Finley. Out of that list, only Dalton and Boling attended the Senior Bowl. Both have had very good careers thus far, although Boling has struggled with injuries.
The Bills drafted Marcell Dareus, Aaron Williams, Kelvin Sheppard, Da'Norris Searcy, Chris Hairston, Johnny White, Chris White, Justin Rogers, and Michael Jasper. Of these players, Searcy, White and Sheppard attended the bowl. Searcy has turned into a nice safety and recently got a four year deal worth $24 million dollars from the Titans. Meanwhile, White isn't employed by a team and Sheppard was the starting linebacker for the Dolphins this season, but in reality, he is best served as a backup.
Looking back at 2011, we had 17 draft picks between the two teams. Five players were drafted that attended the Senior Bowl and three of them have showed sustained promise thus far through their NFL career.
In 2012, the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings coached the teams. The Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, Josh LeRibeus, Kirk Cousins, Keenan Robinson, Adam Gettis, Alfred Morris, Tom Compton, Richard Crawford, and Jordan Bernstine. The only two who attended the Senior Bowl was Cousins and Robinson. Cousins is set to lock up a long-term deal to be their franchise quarterback while Robinson is a backup linebacker.
The Vikings selected Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison, Greg Childs, Robert Blanton, Blair Walsh, Audie Cole, and Trevor Guyton. Harrison and Cole were the only two who attended the Senior Bowl. Both Harrison and Cole are still with the Vikings with Harrison being a quality starter and Cole being a backup linebacker.
For 2012, we had 19 draft picks between the Redskins and Vikings and only four players who were at the Senior Bowl were drafted. Out of those four players, two are having great NFL careers while the other two are playing in backup roles.
In 2013, the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders coached the teams. The Lions drafted Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay, Larry Warford, Devin Taylor, Sam Martin, Corey Fuller, Theo Riddick, Michael Williams and Brandon Hepburn. Only Ansah, Warford and Williams attended the Senior Bowl. Ansah and Warford are both starters for the lions and have had solid careers thus far. Williams is currently on the New England Patriots as a third string tight end.
The Raiders drafted DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson, Sio Moore, Tyler Wilson, Nick Kasa, Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera, Stacy McGee, Brice Butler and David Bass. Only Wilson, Kasa and Rivera attended. Wilson and Kasa are unemployed while Rivera is having a decent career, but nothing spectacular.
19 players drafted in 2013 and only six attended the Senior Bowl. Two are having good careers thus far, one is decent, one is fighting to stay employed and two are unemployed.
In the end, we have had 69 players drafted between the two teams coaching the Senior Bowl from 2010 - 2013. Of those 69, only 19 attended the bowl. Narrowing that down, 10 of those 19 are having solid careers in the NFL thus far.
Keep in mind that this information is based off the teams that were on the field and in the meeting rooms with these players for the entire week. If they are spending the vast majority of time with them and getting up close and personal with them, you would think more players would be drafted from the Senior Bowl and the players they coached. However, as this data shows, it is simply not the case.
That's because as I mentioned before, the Senior Bowl is an extremely small piece of the puzzle when it comes to the draft. Yes, you can confirm your evaluations of various players and possibly take a look at some who have shined. However, for someone like Gase who is still putting his staff together and trying to get everything in order, it is better for him to stay back in Miami and let the scouting department handle what they are best at. Gase is a guy who just wants to coach and doesn't want to get too heavily involved in the personnel side of things. While some will try to make a big deal of this, the reality is that it isn't much of a big deal at all.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter! Follow @FinsInsider