MOBILE, Ala. — The NFL prospects at the Senior Bowl began Tuesday morning with a methodical walk across the stage for measurements of heights and weights.
A cavernous room in a convention center was crowded with scouts and personnel executives whose eyes shifted from the stage to notes and back time and again.
Hundreds of people virtually silent for more than an hour-and-a-half, save for a quick break between the teams.
By the afternoon, the more-than-100 players donned helmets and shoulder pads, allowing them to thump above the low murmur at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, particularly during the North’s practice.
Here are three observations from the first of three days of practices:
1) Tinged with Maize and Blue, Crimson and Orange
A total of 13 players are here from teams that were in the College Football Playoff games. Michigan has the most of any team with a whopping six players. Alabama has four players, and National Champion Clemson has three.
The Crimson Tide and Tigers have met in the past two title games and split results. Alabama won the first meeting, and tight end O.J. Howard was named Offensive MVP in 2016. Clemson claimed revenge in the rematch with a last-second score on Jan. 9. Ben Boulware, the Defensive MVP of the 2017, and Howard are on the scene in Mobile this week.
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney attended Tuesday’s practice.
LSU and Miami also have four former players; Iowa, Texas A&M and San Diego State each have three former players.
2) Smaller schools represented too
While there’s a considerable amount of attention on players from the power schools, the Senior Bowl has gone to great lengths to bring in players from smaller programs as well.
One such player is Lindenwood Lions linebacker Connor Harris, who led Division II with 16.7 tackles per game in 2015. Harris also totaled six interceptions in 49 games for the program in St. Charles, Missouri.
Harris, who measured at 5-foot-11 and 241 pounds made a nice interception of Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau during the North’s practice.
3) Seamless transition
While there are some former college teammates here, as well as several players who are training for the NFL Combine and the same locations around the country, it’s impressive that the practices were run so smoothly on the first day.
The Browns coaching staff is working with the South squad, and the Bears coaching staff is working with the North squad.
The practices had a few stylistic differences, but both staffs smoothly integrated a swath of players that had never taken the field together before. They’ll continue that approach this week to prepare for Saturday’s game, but more important, to give themselves and the other 30 NFL teams the best possible evaluation of the prospects.