Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons and Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars picked to coach 2014 Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl coaches announement is good news for Falcons and Jags

1/2/14 in NFL   |   droth   |   127 respect

Earlier today, the NFL and the Senior Bowl announced that Atlanta's Mike Smith and Jacksonville's Gus Bradley will coach this year's event. Smith and his Falcons staff will coach the North while Bradley and his Jacksonville staff will coach the South team. The Reese's Senior Bowl, which will take place on January 25, is supposed to showcase the top seniors in college football -- and it does -- but it's also a chance for those coaching staffs to get a closer look at the top prospects.

Dec 5, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley applauds his team's defense in the first quarter against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY SportsSmith and Bradley get to bring their staffs and get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the players that will be joining the NFL ranks next season. Of course many of the top prospects aren't seniors and won't be in attendance, but history shows that getting extra scouting opportunities can't hurt.

In 2004, for example, Chargers head man Marty Schottenheimer coached the Senior Bowl and got a long look at Philip Rivers before their historical draft day trade with the New York Giants that brought Rivers to San Diego. 

In 2007, the 49ers selected Patrick Willis 11th after Mike Nolan coached the senior ball where Willis excelled.

In 2012, Mike Shanahan had the pleasure of coaching the Senior Bowl and liked what he saw from a late round running back named Alfred Morris. Morris says he recalls Shanahan telling him that he had a "heck of a game" despite not carrying the ball once during the actual game.

And last year, while many teams weren't quite sure if Ziggy Ansah was a real prospect, Lions coach Jim Schwartz, after watching him improve everyday in practice, said, "I think he went a long way to answering questions about his background and his aptitude in a setting like the Senior Bowl."

The list goes on and on. Clearly, giving talent evaluators more time to evaluate talent is a good thing and Atlanta and Jacksonville fans, despite their disappointing seasons, now officially have a reason to get excited.
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