January marks not only the NFL playoffs, but also the beginning of the season we'll call "Draft Season." Before any of these college juniors and seniors can be drafted, they have to be poked, prodded and tested in a whole manner of ways to determine if they're "NFL-ready." Given the failure rate of some high profile players, maybe some folks should be fired.
Although bowl season is arguably the beginning of this analysis period, this week is when things really kick off. This coming Saturday is the annual East-West Shrine game. I believe it used to be in San Francisco fairly frequently, but recently the game moved to the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The game will be on ESPN2 this Saturday at Noon pacific. It's followed next week by the Senior Bowl.
Given that these games are "all-star" games, it's hard to get a particularly good read on the players performing. After all, they're dealing mostly with players they've worked with for no more than a few days. They've got a coaching staff they don't know. Really the most you're going to get out of this is some sense of the athleticism of given players. Not as much on their particular skills.
However, the true value of the Shrine game this week, and the Senior Bowl next week, is the week of practice leading up to the game. A couple years ago, Hawaii QB Colt Brennan saw his draft stock absolutely tank because of his inability to take snaps from under the center during practice that week. I don't know if we'll get something quite that dramatic, but the week of practice is important to consider anyways. The players reported to the facilities over the weekend and will begin practice later this afternoon. The teams mix in a variety of charitable visits to local hospitals and have a fairly busy schedule for the next five days.
I'm working on getting some info from Scout's Inc, and we'll have plenty of it as the week goes along. Also, Drew K will be putting together a game thread with players to watch on Saturday. For now, I came across some info over at CBSSports.com including some of the top prospects participating, and a variety of mid-level prospects in the game.
In semi-related news, I'm going to get working later this week on the mock draft database we've rolled out in the past. More than likely something will be up by the weekend.