The Senior Bowl is being played this weekend in Mobile, Alabama, serving as a sort of unofficial launching of the 2011 NFL Draft process. NFL coaches, GMs, scouts, and beat writers will be there all week to watch the practices and the game itself, getting an up close look at players they might want to draft in April.
49er GM Trent Baalke is attending the game, along with the Niner scouts. But Jim Harbaugh is not, choosing to stay home and concentrate on up to snuffing himself on the players he will be coaching this coming year and introducing the page that his new set of coaches must all get onto in order to be synced up with him.
This choice is perfectly understandable, but since it was a choice, it also became the first opportunity for Harbaugh’s leadership to be hauled into question by the hungry blogomob that always knows what a coach should and shouldn’t do. By not attending, the Niners’ Draft clearly became the sole responsibility of Baalke, who has yet to generate as much fan applause as has Harbaugh.
There is no doubt that the Niners will draft a QB at some point in the April draft, and that Harbaugh will be the one who picks this QB. The rest of the draft, however, will be Baalke being Baalke. Last year, Baalke was presumed to be heavily influenced by Mike Singletary in choosing players, so this draft will provide a purer example of just how good or bad Baalke is going to be as the new GM.
In a side note, since all the college bowl games have been played, the Senior Bowl represents the first time that the college players can take money and gifts from the top of the table in plain sight, rather than under it in the Reggie Bush room. So this is an exciting week, if not for the players, then certainly for their kin and entourages. Many homes, cars, and babes will be dreamt of in the upcoming weeks and months.
Monday was Weigh In day at the Senior Bowl, a sort of mini-preview of the annual Combine show coming up later on. This is the first event where weight and height exaggerations are exposed to the harsh reality of scales. Several players who had been 6′ 4″ all year, were suddenly only 6′ 1″. And OLB prospects that were 250 pounders ended up being only 230 pounders. The rationale for lying all year about these measurements eludes me.
When I was growing up and not paying much, if any, attention to the NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl was known more as the North vs South game. This harmonized with the East vs West game, but it made the Blue vs Grey game a bit of a redundancy. Mercifully, for nerds bothered by such things, the Blue/Grey game went out of business in 2003.
The only game now missing from the roundness of things is an Up vs Down game. Perhaps Tim Tebow can get this game launched when his playing days are done. Unless DelMar Dennis launches it first and calls it the Over vs Under game. Or maybe I’ll launch it and just call it the Beetlejuice Game.