*As the 2009 Senior Bowl approaches, BaltimoreRavens.com offers a quick primer for viewers before kickoff to this all-star game. The Senior Bowl airs on the NFL Network at 7 p.m. Saturday. *
WHAT? Saturday night, the most promising senior prospects from all of NCAA football will square off in Mobile, Ala. The Ravens have sent their entire personnel department and many of their coaches to scrutinize the talent that will battle to catch their eyes. Remember, this game is only seniors - hence the name - so some of the more prominent college football players might not be on the gridiron. That should open the door for some less-heralded seniors to make an impact.
WHO?It's a safe bet to think that the Ravens will have a few draft picks come out of this group of 104 players. But, it's not just big-time schools that sent representatives. There are players from Liberty, Richmond, Jackson State and even Cal-Poly. In 2006, the Ravens decided to select cornerback David Pittman of tiny Northwestern State after he wowed them at the Senior Bowl.
WHY?Well, even though many - and probably most - of the first round picks sin this year's draft will be underclassmen, the Senior Bowl gives fans a look at those players that will fill the late rounds and provide depth to their favorite team. Sometimes, there is a rare gem worth noting. Need an example? Last year, Joe Flacco burst onto the national radar when he had a solid performance at the Senior Bowl.
WHEN?But, Flacco only completed 2 of 7 passes for 22 yards and one interception. How did the University of Delaware signal caller earn high marks from the scouts and coaches? His practice habits were what drew much of the attention. All week, the prospects work with an NFL coaching staff (this year, it is the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals running the squads), and the practices are the best way to evaluate talent.
RAVENS TAKE:Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome and his entire personnel staff has been down in Mobile all week scrutinizing the senior practices. They'll probably head back to Baltimore for the game, simply because not much can be gleaned from the action Saturday. That said, the Ravens have selected many players from the Senior Bowl over the years, most notably Flacco, who could turn out to be the quarterback of the future.
Click here for more information about the Senior Bowl.