Detroit Lions scouts and coaches (and our own Tim Twentyman and Tori Petry) spent the week down in Mobile, Alabama for the 2016 Senior Bowl.
The Senior Bowl has become a very important part of the scouting process. The Lions have had luck in recent years drafting players who participated in the Senior Bowl.
"It's something I jumped at," Lions running back Ameer Abdullah said when asked near the end of the season about playing in the Senior Bowl.
"The Senior Bowl was a great opportunity for me. It's really important. It's one of the few chances the scouts are getting to have an eye-to-eye look at you. Up close, the whole week you get to put on a show for what you can do for these scouts."
This year, there were multiple players who stood out in practice at positions of need for the Lions.
Defensive tackle: Alabama's Jarran Reed dominated in one-on-one drills. He's looking to show off his versatility.
"I want to show them my pass rushing skills, too, and that I have versatility in my game," he said. "I want to show that I can play anywhere on the line."
Offensive line: One of the top tackle prospects, Jason Spriggs, talked about how all the offensive linemen in attendance were feeding off the friendly compeition.
"It's a huge opportunity," Spriggs said. "Not just for me, but for all the players to get that exposure with a lot of different teams.
"There's definitely competition within the offensive line. Friendly competition is good stuff. I just hope to show -- and I plan to show -- that I can play in the league and showcase myself against the top guys in the nation here."
The defensive linemen got the best of the offensive linemen for most of the week, but Spriggs certainly stood out.
Linebacker: One of the top prospects, Reggie Ragland, is considered a MIKE linebacker, but he got plenty of work in on the outside this week.
"It's going to take me another day to really get used to it and settled down, but I think for the first day I did a good job of it," Ragland said after practice.
If it goes well for him, it could be an added selling point for teams in need of depth at LB.
Safety: Duke's Jeremy Cash is another defensive player looking to show teams he has some versatility to his game. Labeled an "in-the-box" safety, he can improve his stock by continuing to show range.
"I think we have a great example of that on that sideline over there today," Cash said of a play in which he knocked a deep ball away from a receiver along the right sideline in team drills.
"That was the biggest question mark, whether I can do that, because of how close I played in the box (at Duke). Just coming out here and being able to fly around, coaches are taking that into consideration."
QUINN WEIGHS IN
General manager Bob Quinn spoke with beat reporters down at the Senior Bowl Wednesday afternoon.
It's been a busy few weeks for Quinn, but he enjoys the challenge.
"It's been really fun," he said. "It's a challenge every day. You know, I have a to-do list that's a mile long every morning and I just try to get as many things done as I can before the night falls, so it's been fun."
One thing on his to do list is reaching out to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who's contemplating retirement. Quinn said he's going to wait a little bit longer on that one, though.
"I haven't reached out to him. I haven't talked to Bus Cook (Johnson's agent)," Quinn said. "I'm letting (Johnson) do what he needs to do. I'm in no position here to ask Calvin for an answer anytime soon."
While he's waiting on that, Quinn has made many other moves including retaining head coach Jim Caldwell.
Quinn also started to get his scouting department set up to his liking.
"(Kyle O'Brien) is going to be our director of player personnel and he is going to oversee the scouting department, both the college and pro sides," Quinn said.
"He's a long-trusted friend and confidant. We started – he was an intern with the Patriots when I was in my first couple years full-time. He was going to Harvard and he would drive over and work nights doing the playbooks, helping us with scouting tapes and it was just really good.
"He was an easy guy to work with because he's so intelligent. I mean, how many guys in football actually go to Harvard and end up doing scouting? I mean, he could probably be doing bigger and better things in the world, but he loves his job and I love having him here with me."
The Lions continued to add to their front office and coaching staff this week.
The team hired former New England Patriots director of player development Kevin Anderson to be their new chief of staff and assistant to the general manager.
They also hired Matt Harriss as their new vice president of football administration.
PRO BOWL ZIGGY
Ziggy Ansah is set to play in his first Pro Bowl this Sunday.
The third-year defensive end is honored by his nomination and is bringing his defensive linemates and coaches along for the ride.
"You can fully see that we are a brotherhood," Ansah said last Friday. "It's not just about being teammates. We're a brotherhood on and off the field and I'm happy they're here to help and we'll be in Hawaii together, too."
Ansah will be playing for Team Irvin.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- Watch Lions rookies share the NFL player or coach they were most excited to meet in their first NFL season.
- Tim Twentyman wraps up his position breakdown series with tight ends and special teams.
- View photos of Lions alums Lomas Brown and Ron Rice pouring coffee at Always Brewing Detroit with Hatch Detroit.