JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley is excited about next week and is glad to extoll the benefits – with one significant caveat.
“I don’t want to make it a habit,” the Jaguars head coach said with a laugh.
That’s because what Bradley and the rest of the Jaguars’ coaching staff will do next week is coach the South team in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and the way you get to coach the Senior Bowl is to be a returning coaching staff for a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
That’s not your ideal routine. But to get to do it once?
Yes, Bradley said, that is very cool – and doing it could benefit the Jaguars.
“It is good,” he said. “You’re with these guys the whole week. You see them in meetings and you see them on the field. It’s really important for us to take advantage of that.”
Bradley coached with the Tampa Bay staff under Jon Gruden when the Buccaneers’ staff coached the 2007 Senior Bowl, and he said there were clear benefits to getting a chance to work with some of college football’s top seniors for a week months before the draft.
“You have to be careful, because you can overanalyze, too,” Bradley said. “You try to make the players feel at ease, too, so they can be just normal and be themselves. That’s what you hope to get out of it during a week – that here’s not an agent speaking through them; they’re just real genuine. That’s what we have to get accomplished.
“I think for the most part if you’re there for a week and you’re genuine they’ll show you that same kind of realness to them.”
The Jaguars hold the No. 3 selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, and many speculate they will select a quarterback with that selection. Though they aren’t generally thought to be Top 5 selections, three quarterbacks are on the South roster: Derek Carr of Fresno State, David Fales of San Jose State and Jimmy Garropolo of Eastern Illinois, with Garrapolo one of seven players added to the game after playing in the East-West Shrine game Saturday.
The other six players added were West Virginia defensive end Will Clarke, Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir, Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Justin Ellis, Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard, Utah State cornerback Nevin Lawson and Georgia Tech safety Jemea Thomas.
Ikard and Thomas also were named to the South team.
Senior Bowl practices are scheduled to begin Monday, with the game scheduled to be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Saturday at 4 p.m. Jaguars coaches will work and meet with players during the day, with players meeting with scouts and officials from all NFL teams in the evenings.
“It’s not like training camp where we get them for night meetings and we can see them when they’re dead tired,” Bradley said. “We have them for meetings in the morning, then they practice and the practice is done, then it’s over. We just have to really capture that opportunity to see them in meetings and see them handle themselves.
“For us, the whole objective is to see them go out there and play fast. That’s what we’re trying to do, but at the same time you want to put enough install in to see, ‘Can they handle what a training camp session is like?’ So, it’s a little bit of a double-edge sword.”
The Senior Bowl is the major postseason college all-star game, and is one of the first steps of a long pre-draft process. That’s true for players participating, and it’s true for teams scouting players. Bradley said it’s also true that the game – even with the Jaguars coaching in the game – is a small part of the predraft process.
At the same time, if coaches can get a better idea of even one or two players – and therefore have a little more confidence come draft weekend – then Bradley said so much the better.
“If you can come out of there with a great feel for a guy, that’s great,” Bradley said. “We have to understand that in four or five days, we may not have a great feel – so hopefully, you get a good feel. I think the ones who really gravitate to our style and our style of coaching … it should be evident. And it can only help us.”
Here’s a look at players on the South team:
Quarterbacks: Derek Carr, Fresno State; David Fales, San Jose State; Jimmy Garropolo, Eastern Illinois.
Running backs: Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky; Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina; Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern.
Fullbacks: Jay Prosch, Auburn.
Wide receivers: Mike Davis, Texas; Cody Hoffman, Brigham Young; Ryan Grant, Tulane; Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma;Solomon Patton, Florida; Kevin Norwood, Alabama; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt.
Tight ends: Marcel Jensen, Fresno State; Arthur Lynch, Georgia.
Offensive Tackles: Billy Turner, North Dakota State; Morgan Moses, Virginia; Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee;
Guards: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt; Jon Halapio, Florida; Joel Bitonio, Nevada.
Centers: Bryan Stork, Florida State; Travis Swanson, Arkansas;Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma.
Defensive ends: Dee Ford, Auburn; Chris Smith, Arkansas; Ed Stinson, Alabama; Brent Urban, Virginia.
Defensive tackles: Will Sutton, Arizona State; Caraun Reid,Princeton; Deandre Coleman, California; Daniel McCullers, Tennessee.
Outside linebackers: Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young; TelvinSmith, Florida State; Jordan Tripp, Montana; JeremiahAttaochu, Georgia Tech; Adrian Hubbard, Alabama.
Inside linebackers: Christian Jones, Florida State; LaminBarrow, Louisiana State.
Cornerbacks: Chris Davis, Auburn; Keith McGill, Utah; Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma; Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern; WaltAikens, Liberty; Jaylen Watkins, Florida.
Safeties: Craig Loston, Louisiana State; Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech; Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt; Terrence Brooks, Florida State.
Kicker: Cody Parkey, Auburn.
Punter: Cody Mandell, Alabama.
Long snapper: Marcus Heit, Kansas State.