Senior Bowl continues to play key role in Packers draft evaluation process

In recent years, there has not only been a strong connection between Reese’s Senior Bowl participants and being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, but at this point, we should have our eyes glued to that event because there likely isn’t just one or two potential future Packers participating but likely several.

The Senior Bowl is an invitation-only All-Star college football event held annually in Mobile, Alabama. Before the All-Star game takes place, there is a week of highly competitive practices, where the best of the best are able to showcase their talents against top-level competition.

Naturally, this event attracts GMs and scouts from across the NFL and gives personnel departments the opportunity to meet with these prospects as well.

Traditionally, and as the name of the event suggests, only seniors or fourth-year juniors who had graduated were able to participate in the event, but for the first time in 2024, underclass were eligible to participate.

If we look back at the Packers 2022 and 2023 draft classes, where Brian Gutekunst made a total of 24 selections, 10 of those picks participated in the Senior Bowl. Some of the players include Devonte Wyatt, Christian Watson, Tomeo Doubs, Karl Brooks, and Dontayvion Wicks.

That in itself is already a high percentage of draft picks who participated in the event, but the 2024 draft blew those ratios out of the water, with eight of the Packers’ 11 draft picks having received an invite to the Senior Bowl:

Kalen King, CB
Travis Glover, OT
Jordan Morgan, OT
Ty’Ron Hopper, LB
Javon Bullard, S
Evan Williams, S
Marshawn Lloyd, RB
Michael Pratt, QB
Kitan Oladapo, S

“Not by design,” said Gutekunst about selecting so many Senior Bowl participants, “but I will say that Jim Nagy and his staff do such an amazing job of access and allowing us to scout those guys that go there. And it’s a such a really positive experience for the players. Not only the competition on the field, seeing really good players go against really good players in drills, but our ability to talk to them, interview them and be around them in that competitive environment, there’s really not a much better evaluation phase for us.”

The fact that the Senior Bowl is an All-Star event, I’m sure, increases the likelihood that participants are going to end up as Packers, since it is many of the top prospects in the upcoming draft class who are competing.

But Gutekunst’s affinity for this event goes beyond just that aspect of it. Prospects who participate showcase a willingness to compete and do so in an unscripted environment, where the practices aren’t about implementing a game plan; rather, it’s a lot of one-on-one opportunities. And those who stand out are doing so against high level competition and with a lot of eyes on them.

“Absolutely,” said Gutekunst about the unscripted nature of the event, “and I also think the willingness to compete and put themselves in that environment. That’s not an easy thing to walk out onto that Senior Bowl practice field with all these NFL people judging you. That’s not an easy thing to a) choose to do that and b) compete at a high level when you’re out there. None of that’s going to phase you, that says something to me.”

Glover, the Packers’ sixth-round pick, played five-years at Georgia State and participated at the Senior Bowl. When asked, Gutekunst acknowledged that it was his performance there against Power-5 opponents that put him more so on the Packers’ radar.

Packers VP of Player Personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan mentioned when discussing safety Evan Williams that his performance at the Senior Bowl, specifically how he moved in space, gives the Packers the confidence that he can handle nickel duties at the NFL.

Williams was also voted the Defensive Specialist of the Week for the American Team, while Bullard received the same honor for the National Team.

When it comes to the Packers evaluation process as they prepare for the NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl absolutely matters.

“It’s very important for us,” added Gutekunst. “We put a lot of time into it, and like I said, their staff down there in Mobile, they do such a good job getting us to spots where we can really evaluate these guys. We’re very appreciative of that. It’s certainly not by design, but I know we’ve taken a lot of Senior Bowl guys over the years.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire