This week, I’m in Orlando, Fla., for the second half of the 2023 Trillion Tropical Bowl. The first part of the week was dedicated to players fighting to win spots on the roster for later in the week, when teams arrived to evaluate prospects. It’s a new dimension added this year by Michael Quartey and his team.
Here are a few things that happened this week that caught my attention.
- Per yesterday’s measurements, there are 16 players in Orlando with at least 10-inch hands. UNLV DT Tavis Malakius has the biggest mitts with at 10 7/8 inches. Hawaii WO Jordan Murray has 10 1/4-inch hands, biggest of all the non-linemen. Murray’s got 33-inch arms and a 80 1/2-inch wingspan, enormous for a receiver. Southeast Missouri St. WO Johnny King has quite a catch radius, as well, with 34 1/8-inch arms. Auburn DE Marcus Bragg has the longest arms on either roster at 36 inches.
- This is not a comprehensive list, but I’ve seen multiple scouts here from the 49ers, Bucs, Bears, Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, Jets, Packers, Saints, Steelers and Texans. As always, the Trop is a popular destination with NFL teams.
- There are 70 agencies (or advisors working on a less formal basis) representing the 139 players here. That number seems high. Many of the agencies that regularly send players to Orlando aren’t here this year. Not sure what that means, if anything, but it’s different.
- Here’s something I thought was interesting. Former Ravens DT John Urschel has his doctorate in mathematics, and though his playing days are behind him, he’s found a way to stay around the game. He tutors draft prospects on the Wonderlic via Zoom for combine prep trainees at EXOS Arizona.
- Like any game these days, the Tropical Bowl has had to deal with players who said they’d be here, but who pulled out quite late or just no-showed. We counted 16 players who weren’t around Thursday morning for meetings and measurements. Good for Boise St. DC Caleb Biggers, who showed up this morning in time for practice, and Florida St. TE Camren McDonald, who got an NFLPA Collegiate Bowl invite but decided to stay for practices before departing the day before the game to report to Los Angeles.
- Do these no-shows have an impact on players’ draft standing? Maybe not if handled well, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. I’ll never forget when I ran the 2008 Hula Bowl and I was approached mid-week by Jim Abrams, now the Senior Scout for the Dolphins but then in his time with the Bucs. Jim pointedly asked me if there were any players we’d had trouble with that week. Well, we had one lineman from a MAC school who started complaining on the first day and didn’t quit until he got on his plane home. Keep in mind he was on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. I mean, how bad could things be? I was happy to tell Jim about this friend. For more on this topic — one that strikes a nerve with me — check out today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can register for it here.
- I’m always approached about what it takes to become an agent. If you choose player representation, I’d keep in mind this expression from one established, successful, and maybe a little world-weary contract advisor who’s been a friend for a long time. When discussion today turned to when retirement might come, his response was maybe a little wry but accurate: “The only exit strategy is death.”