MOBILE, Ala. -- As the coaches for the 2013 Senior Bowl, Oakland’s Dennis Allen and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz have been in meetings, at practices and in training drills with players for four days.
They are charged with teaching the players an NFL system within a week in preparation for Saturday’s all-star game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
While coaching in the game comes with the responsibilities of helping college prospects showcase their talents for the NFL, the coaches also get to evaluate them as potential professionals.
“We get to see all the behind-the-scenes things,” Allen said. “That’s really the important part of coaching this game. We all can look at the tape of practice and see what they can do from an athletic standpoint. Obviously, we get a leg up because we’re right there, but really, it’s all the behind-the-scenes things, whether it be their demeanor on the practice field, the way they carry themselves on the practice field, their demeanor in the meetings, their focus, their drive. One of the things we’re looking for is seeing if this is a guy that really loves football. Those are the kinds of things we see being with them for the whole week.”
When looking at the players to see if they would be a good fit for the Raiders, Allen pointed out one characteristic as being the most important of all.
“We’re looking for guys that love football, that are willing to work and guys that put the team first,” Allen said. “Those are the qualities that we’re looking for in football players. We’re looking for these guys to demonstrate those qualities to us and those are the types of people we want. We want football players first, and guys that love football. They generally find a way to get it done.”
Allen is also looking for players that can lead, specifically when it comes to the quarterback position.
“We want to be able to evaluate the quarterbacks and see what they do both on the field and see how they carry themselves behind the scenes,” Allen said. “We’re looking for leadership qualities. The quarterback position, that’s the leader of the football team. You look at the teams in the National Football League that do it on a consistent basis, a lot of times, they have a quarterback in place and that quarterback’s the figurehead of the team.”
Having coached in four previous Senior Bowl games, Schwartz has seen players have bad practices and struggle during the game, but rebound well in the other parts of the week.
“I don’t want to get into names, but there was a guy a few years ago who had a poor week of practice, looked out of place,” Schwartz said. “He was a linebacker and didn’t look good in space. He was a guy that was making the adjustment from being a 3-4 outside linebacker to playing off the ball. He didn’t look real good in drills and I didn’t think played well in the game.“He really made a good impression with his work ethic, the way he interviewed, the way he handled himself the whole week. The guy has gone on to be a good pro. He found a way to make a positive impression, and in the end, his skill won out. It’s not just about what happens at practice one day or the next day or how you play in the game. It’s your whole body of work and these guys are evaluated on pretty much everything they do.”