MOBILE, Ala. — Senior Bowl Week is here, and with it our first major look at 2019's NFL Draft prospects. The well that is the Senior Bowl runs deep for the Indianapolis Colts, who have 20 players currently on the roster who appeared in the Senior Bowl within the last eight years.
The Senior Bowl is the first experience for seniors and graduation-eligible juniors to get directly in front of NFL scouts and coaches. Not only do teams further learn about these players on the field, but they finally get to know them as people.
Colts.com recently caught up with several Senior Bowl alumni currently on the Colts roster to get their thoughts on their Senior Bowl experiences:
Jacoby Brissett (2016):
"It's great exposure. It helps you further your game which is good, which is what you want, but it's a draining experience. You've got to be able to stick through it. It trains you for that long journey of the Combine or the business and things of that nature."
"I knew I wasn't 'Mel Kiper's top three quarterbacks,' but that stuff doesn't really matter. I don't think it boosted or hurt me, it was just an experience. Obviously to get to be face-to-face with the coaches that are there in the meetings and things like that, so that's the best part about it. You get that face-to-face time, you get to interact with others players, other teams, and I think that's good."
Joe Haeg (2016):
"The first practice, it was like the first one-on-one, I sprained an AC joint. I really wanted to (stick around despite being injured) just because it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially being an FCS guy, being able to be out there was huge. We stayed around, stayed with the team and went to all the practices. I was able to still meet a lot of scouts, coaches and everybody down there. Even just learning your first NFL playbook. It's a very simplified version of what you may have in the NFL, but being in one system for five years where everything's blocked a certain way and then you go somewhere else that has a new technique, it was a good kickstarter for getting ready for the draft and OTAs."
"When they interview you, they've already seen a lot of your film, so they're kind of getting to know you. I was able to show I understand playbooks well, I learn quickly and just the type of person I am. I think that's huge when scouts and coaches see your film but then can also see what kind of person you are off the field, that's huge. Like our team right now, culture's a big thing, being a good locker room guy's a big thing, I think that definitely helped me out."
Margus Hunt (2013):
"It was just a lot. Not just only getting ready for the game and practicing and doing all that stuff; you do meetings with teams already a little bit. The team that's coaching the Senior Bowl, they're evaluating you and they're getting their basic questions and interview in there. It's just very long days, and it's a grind."
"I knew what my limitations were as far as the knowledge of the game and the fact that I'd only played four years of actual competitive football. So, I knew for me it was all about being able to show I can be coachable and learn quickly and be able to adapt quickly to all these different situations that come up in pro football."
Darius Leonard (2018):
"It was great, coming from a small school and knowing that was gonna be my shot to actually play with all the big guys from big colleges. I looked forward to it, I prepared for it, and when I got there I just wanted to compete and show that I belonged. I really think that playing in the Senior Bowl helped my draft process and kind of went from there. I advise anybody who's playing it it, just play the hardest and just let them know that there's nothing that's gonna be unnoticed."
"I heard it (draft stock) was maybe a fourth-round draft pick, somewhere down there. But I knew going in that I could change that in the Senior Bowl because I knew what I needed to work on. They said I wasn't big enough, I wasn't strong enough to get off blocks and stuff like that. So that's one thing I worked on as I was training, and when I got to the Senior Bowl I put everything on display."
Tyquan Lewis (2018):
"It was a good experience, competing against other guys across the country. The only thing about it that was difficult — I wouldn't say difficult, but just trying to learn a playbook in a couple days. It was kinda like a full playbook, but other than that it was just learning on the fly. It was real fast, but other than that it's a good experience. I caught onto it really quick. I don't never have problems with that, so it was a good time."
Kemoko Turay (2018):
"Being at the Senior Bowl taught me how to prepare and to always stay on your toes. There's a lot of competition out there, so you've just got to go out there and give it your best. It was a short week, so you've got to take advantage of every opportunity that you get, and that's what I did. Just being with different scouts — seeing different scouts and meeting with different scouts prepared me for the Combine as well. Just seeing how structured the Combine was going to be, it was exactly similar, the same style how things were."
"People was telling me my stock and whatever, that I was projected as the seventh round or maybe undrafted. It was just every day talking to my agent and talking to my mentors who were telling me just everyday just keeping working out there and try to make money. That's the same mindset I had, just go out and there and outwork everybody as each day went by."