The NFL world will take over Mobile, Alabama, this week for the annual Senior Bowl and you can bet the Eagles will be well-represented.
The motto of the Senior Bowl is, “The draft starts in Mobile,” and that’s hard to argue. This is really the first step of what will be a very lengthy pre-draft process for these college prospects. It’s their first chance to show NFL scouts they belong. After this, the NFL Combine doesn’t begin until early March.
The National and American squads will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the game on Saturday.
I’ll be heading down to Mobile for the week, so here are several Eagles storylines to keep an eye on:
Scouting the players
The main reason for the Eagles to be down in Alabama is to scout the 130+ players who make the trip. In 2021, there were 106 Senior Bowl players drafted and 36 from the first three rounds. There were 259 players drafted in 2021, which means just under 41% of the draft last year was in Mobile.
With no combine last year, the Eagles scouted the Senior Bowl very thoroughly in 2021, interviewing every player down there. So it was no surprise when five of their nine picks last year came from the event: DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson, JaCoby Stevens.
While there will be a combine this year, expect the Eagles to still do their work on these Senior Bowl players.
Senior Bowl history
The Eagles have drafted a lot of players from the Senior Bowl before. Since Howie Roseman regained control of personnel back in 2016, the Eagles have drafted 45 players and 16 of them (35.6%) have been on a Senior Bowl roster.
They’re up to 30 total players since 2010: Smith, Dickerson, Tuipulotu, Jackson, Stevens, Jalen Hurts, Davion Taylor, K’Von Wallace, Prince Tega Wanogho, Andre Dillard, Dallas Goedert, Rasul Douglas, Donnel Pumphrey, Nate Gerry, Carson Wentz, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe, Jordan Hicks, JaCorey Shepherd, Marcus Smith, Lane Johnson, Jordan Poyer, Vinny Curry, Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Marvin McNutt, Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Casey Matthews, Alex Henery.
There are some hits and some misses in there, but the fact remains that the Eagles pay attention to this week.
Back in 2016, the Eagles really began to fall in love with Wentz at the Senior Bowl, where he showed off his abilities with other top prospects. That’s where they began the process of scheming to move up in the draft to get him.
Will the coaching staff change?
The NFL’s 2022 coaching cycle has been moving pretty slowly so far. But one of the jobs that’s still available is down in Houston, where Jonathan Gannon has emerged as one of the favorites. I know some fans are hoping he gets this job and gets hired away from the Eagles but then they have to figure out how to replace him. And they’ll have to see if he poaches any staff members from Nick Sirianni. Sirianni joked that Gannon wasn’t allowed to take any coaches but Sirianni took a few from Indianapolis when he came here last year; one of them was Gannon.
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And if the Eagles need to replace their DC, it’ll help to know quickly about his replacement. Think about it. The Eagles will be in Alabama this week scouting players that fit what they want to do offensively and defensively but there’s a chance they could be running a much different defense next season if Gannon is gone.
We’ll also hopefully find out this week about other potential coaching changes. Kevin Patullo is reportedly an OC candidate in Chicago and Brian Johnson is reportedly an OC candidate in Green Bay.
Time to see the quarterbacks
If you take the Eagles at their word, then they’re not in the market for a quarterback this offseason. Jalen Hurts is simply the guy going into 2022. But it’s worth noting that most of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class (minus Matt Corral) are going to be in Mobile. So we’ll see if one of them begins to separate from the pack.
Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Carson Strong, Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder will all be in Mobile this week. Not saying the Eagles will be going down there with an aim to draft one of them, but they will do their due diligence … and they fell in love at the Senior Bowl once before.