Head coach Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars staff wrapped up their third consecutive Senior Bowl engagement over the weekend, Bradley’s South squad collecting the victory 27-16 over Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett’s North team.
As nice as it is to win (a feeling that Jaguars fans hope is more common in 2016), it is the week of practice that really matters for all involved – players, talent evaluators and coaches.
For the past three years Bradley and the Jaguars staff have capitalized upon the up-close opportunity to work with the future pros, using this insight to nab a number of key contributors to the current roster who were showcased at the Senior Bowl.
The 2014 Draft may be best remembered for bringing franchise QB Blake Bortles and Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson to Jacksonville, but it was the selection of current starters offensive guard Brandon Linder, linebacker Telvin Smith and defensive back Aaron Colvin, along with contributor defensive end Chris Smith in rounds three to six that has been a major factor in the roster turnover. You expect to have immediate impact players drafted in the first two rounds, but with the on field evaluation, character assessment and personality engagement through the senior bowl, this quartet, and 2015 UDFA Nick Marshall were outstanding additions to a roster in need of talent.
It is not clear yet which of the 2016 Senior Bowl players that Bradley and co. may have targeted through this week’s exposure, and as per 2014/2015, we are unlikely to get this insight until their name is called. But the past three years of Senior Bowl coaching has made an undoubted impact upon the Jaguars now and into the future. Linder, Telvin Smith and Colvin are all up-and-coming stars, Smith unlucky not to be in Hawaii himself this year, Linder likely to emerge as one of the best interior OL in the NFL and Colvin poised for a real breakout season.
The potential leap for Jacksonville has roots firmly planted in Mobile, Alabama and Bradley’s staff have made the most of the opportunity. And they never want to go back there again!