Whew! Just got back from a rainy four days in Mobile, Ala., for the 2022 Senior Bowl. It’s the best week of the year for an old-timer like me whose first one was in 2000. Here are a few thoughts.

  • I know I come across as the old guy shouting at the clouds, but the Senior Bowl has made a lot of changes that I hope aren’t long-lasting. In the old days, the week was the best secret in the business due to its level of access. The second floor of the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza was the place to be all week as players, agents, scouts, media, financial planners, sponsors and football professionals of every stripe swarmed in one massive, homogeneous group. This year, the second floor was restricted to players and NFL personnel alone. The first floor bar and restaurant were still open, but it wasn’t the same. I recognize that this is a nod to Covid, that this is probably all from the league, and that any game is better than no game, but it’s disappointing. I sure hope we see a return to previous policies in the coming years.
  • Hats off to five of the 21 members of the CGSU internship program who came to Mobile to network and connect with as many NFL scouts and executives as possible. Though I might have missed some, Sales Pinckney, Britton Mann, Joe Caulfield, Jack Halperin and Blake Moore all came to town on their own dime and followed up with the teams they worked with in Fort Worth. How do you get a job in scouting? I don’t really know. But I do know that proving you work hard and networking are two key elements, and all five of them are doing both. 
  • I’m really excited for Champ Kelly, the new Assistant GM of the Raiders. Champ has been paying dues for years, and is a worthy and deserving person who’s not only respected for his professional work but for his character off the field (he runs an annual football camp for underprivileged youth in Panama City, Fla.). Though he’s interviewed for the GM job in New York, Denver and Chicago, he has never gotten bitter, lashed out, or blamed others. He’s a strong believer in Christ, which matters to me, and I have been rooting for him for years. It’s good to see him continue his advance, and to me, it’s just a matter of time until he’s not Assistant GM but GM.
  • You won’t read a lot of negative feedback on the new NIL rules, but I didn’t talk to any agents this week who weren’t fed up with this new era. There are very few rules that can’t be gotten around now, as long as you say the dollars you’re spending, the unlicensed members of agencies meeting with players and their parents, etc., are NIL-related. 
  • If you’ve been weighing whether or not to register for this summer’s NFLPA exam, today is the last day to do that. We regularly get questions in May and June about the deadline to register for July’s exam. However, the NFLPA does extensive background checks on all applicants, and that takes time. If you’re in, and you’ve got your $2,500 exam fee ready go go, click here.

By the way, we don’t do a lot of draft prognostication and “who’s rising?” kind of content at ITL, but this week, we asked former Falcons area scout Rodrik David to gather comments from scouts on how the quarterbacks looked at this week’s Senior Bowl. It will be in today’s Friday Wrap, and you can register for it here