|(Senior Bowl MVP Dee Ford manhandles QB Logan Thomas. Photo: GM Andrews/AP)|
The Pro Bowl, the NFL's version of an all-star game, finished a few days ago to some slightly improved but still non-important results. However, what the fans at home should have been watching instead was the game being played the day before the Pro Bowl and the two games that played the week prior to the Pro Bowl.
I'm talking about the college football all-star games.
Unlike the Pro Bowl, these games have meaning because the players in these games are hoping to do a few different things.
One, is to solidify their current draft status (if it's good) since it usually during East/West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl week that NFL coaches start to look towards the draft and get their first looks at players that may be of interest to them (granted the team's scouts have been following most of these players for years now).
Second, is to make a name for themselves. Where there will be questions if a player dominates at The Combine, there is little question when a player excels against some of the better college talent on the field. Ziggy Ansah is a perfect example. Many had him pegged as a 2nd-3rd rounder prior to his dominating performance at the Senior Bowl. He was drafted 5th overall by the Lions in lat year's draft.
Third is to network. These all-star games are generally the first times that scouts and coaches are allowed to talk to players. An early impression means everything and while this is a game that these young men are playing, its not much different than a job fair that most people would attend.
So the college all-star games mean something to the coaches, organizations and players but the real question you obviously are asking yourself is why should I care?
Well, this may be your first opportunity to see some of the top seniors play against similar talent. This is the first time you start to see the experts (ESPN/NFL Network) start telling you who the top prospects are (although I don't always agree with their analysis) and this is the time you can determine who really are the standouts of the early phase of the draft experience (plus you can watch these players in game situations and full pad drills).
For the next few weeks on IIWII, I'm going to do some write ups on the players that participated in these games. It's still a little early to really start going gung-ho on free agency and the Redskins seem to have fully solidified their coaching staff so now I have a general idea what the team may be running on offense in 2014 and know what the Redskins may be looking for in drafting talent.
But first here's a brief primer on the all-star games. In previous years, there have been many all-star games with the two most important being the East/West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. Nowadays, there are three main games to keep an eye on for various reasons. Here's a quick breakdown of each game.