We’re about three weeks away from the first all-star game of the 2023 NFL Draft season, the College Gridiron Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s a critical time of year if you follow the draft. We thought we’d discuss a few points of interest with each of the games that you may not have known.
- For the first time at least since ITL launched in 2002, the NFL will not send team staffs to the Senior Bowl to coach. Instead, they’ll send those staffs to the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas. The teams are not yet determined, and will be the two who pick highest in the ’23 draft and that have intact coaching staffs (i.e., they didn’t fire their head coach).
- Of the top six games (Senior Bowl, Shrine Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Hula Bowl, College Gridiron Showcase and Tropical Bowl), two are led by former NFL scouts. Jim Nagy, who runs the Senior Bowl, spent almost two decades with the Redskins, Chiefs, Patriots and Seahawks. Dane Vandernat, who leads the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, spent almost 10 years with the Raiders.
- Meanwhile, two former NFL agents founded all-star games. CGS co-founder Craig Redd was NFLPA-certified from 1999-2015, while Tropical Bowl founder Michael Quartey got certified in 2007 and spend three years representing players.
- There have been at least two all-star games in Florida since 2016, when the Tropical Bowl launched in Miami alongside the Shrine Game, which was in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Shrine Bowl has since moved west to Las Vegas, but the Hula Bowl has settled in Orlando.
- Between its Small-School Showcase, specialists workout and two full rosters (Wranglers and Desperadoes), the CGS hosts about 320 draft-eligible players across its five-day schedule. That’s only about 30-40 fewer than is invited to the NFL Combine each year.
- The Senior Bowl, CGS and Tropical Bowl are the only three games played continuously since 2019, with the Shrine Bowl, NFLPA Bowl and Hula Bowl suspending play for Covid in 2021.
- It’s not just football luminaries that show up at all-star games. In 2016, with Charlie Weis coaching the Shrine Game, his friend, Jon Bon Jovi, showed up for game week and hung around the lobby of the Tradewinds Island Resort, the host hotel.
All-star season is a great time to build your network and make key contacts. Travel always has costs, but if you’re smart and you book in advance, you can hit a lot of these stops without breaking the bank. I hope to see you out on the trail.
Make sure you’re reading our newsletter, the Friday Wrap, for more tips on scouting, all-star games, coaching hiring (and firing), player representation, NIL and everything else associated with the business of the game. Register here.