The Bengals will coach the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 25. Bengals.com talked with Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy about what the team and fans can expect.
What is the Senior Bowl?
"The Senior Bowl is the most prestigious college all-star football game. It kicks off the draft process. When you work in the NFL and are in scouting, the pre-draft process is in three segments – you have Senior Bowl, Combine and Pro Days. There is a rich history with this game. Some of the greatest players of all time have come through Mobile, with 53 Hall of Fame players."
Why is the Senior Bowl in Mobile?
"Our community has really embraced the Senior Bowl and it is a big point of pride for our city. When you see the Senior Bowl game day, we've got between 30,000-40,000 people at our game every year. It just goes to show what this means to our community."
You have a background in scouting. How does that help in your current role?
"I spent 18 years in the NFL as a scout. In this job, we do our best to scout the country exactly like an NFL personnel department would. We are in essence trying to be the league's 33rd personnel department. We've got scouts all over the country and are really trying to create a game where the NFL can come down here and see the best against the best."
How do you determine who is invited to the Senior Bowl?
"We've hired a group of scouts with NFL experience who are going to games every weekend. As a staff this year, we were at 8-12 games every Saturday scouting players. We get access to the same tape the NFL teams do, so all of these guys can sit at home and watch tape and file reports. And then we build our board for our game just like an NFL team would position by position. We try to select the best players, then we have to recruit them. We rely heavily on social media to connect with these players and that makes a difference."
It was recently announced that Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts and Oregon QB Justin Herbert will attend the Senior Bowl. Are players still being added to the roster?
"We're waiting on one more player – LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. There's a lot of people that don't think we'll get Joe here, but I'm a pretty optimistic guy. I'm still holding out hope that Joe will want to come here for the week and spend a week with the Bengals staff. If that's going to be the number one pick, if that's who the Bengals are going to go with, I think it makes sense for Joe to be here and start that relationship as early as possible here in the Mobile. Just so the Bengals can get a feel for him and he can get a feel for the organization and the coaching staff, I think it would be great. That would be the last guy. Other than that, the rosters are completely set."
Fans may not realize that there is a lot that goes on leading up to the game.
"The really unique part of our week is in a small town environment like Mobile, the entire NFL descends on our city. You can walk up and down Dauphin Street, which is our main street in downtown Mobile, and pop in and out of restaurants and bars and see just about every general manager and head coach. You can go to practice and stand 10 feet away from the drills and watch players that are going to be first round picks three months from now. On Friday, you can go to a Mardi Gras parade with the players and a free outdoor concert with The Revivalists, a New Orleans based rock band who won the Billboard Music 2017 new rock band of the year. We're trying to create something if you're a football fan, you're going to have an awesome three or four days in Mobile."
What are you most looking forward to with this year's Senior Bowl?
"I'm looking forward to the players getting here. That's the most exciting day. There's so much work that goes in over the course of the year. This process started last March. We started looking at this year's class of players before last year's draft even happened. It will be a culmination of a year's worth of work, so when the players start arriving on arrival day, it's a lot of fun."