Although the 2016 NFL Draft is still three months away, preparations have already begun in earnest around the league. The unofficial kickoff to the evaluation period is the Senior Bowl, a showcase for the nation's top senior prospects with all 32 clubs in attendance and the Jacksonville Jaguars are once again coaching the South Team. The game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, and televised live by the NFL Network.
While the actual game is important, the real work often gets done in the practices leading up to Saturday, where players are put through full-speed, fully padded sessions with NFL coaching staffs. This year the Dallas Cowboys joined the Jacksonville Jaguars to lead the teams. In addition, scouts spend time after practices interviewing players to gather further information about how they might fit into the culture of the organization and address any potential character concerns.
There is obviously a boatload of talent on hand in Mobile and it is no surprise that the newly crowned national champions (Alabama) and Ohio State lead the way with five players apiece. Baylor and Georgia are the second-most represented schools, boasting four players each.
Among the position groups, the quarterbacks are the big draw here this week. The North team is headlined by potential top-10 pick Carson Wentz (North Dakota State), who has tremendous upside with the NFL-style skill set that teams covet but lacks experience against top competition. For the South, Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) is the top prospect under center. He has a high football IQ and intriguing tools as a dual-threat quarterback, though he is not seen as first-round talent.
Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller is another impressive offensive prospect to watch. Miller made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver this season and was a star all week during Senior Bowl practice. He is obviously still raw as a route runner, but he could help his draft stock with a big game on Saturday.
On the defensive side of the ball, there are several guys to keep your eye on, including defensive end Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky), defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Alabama) and defensive tackle Adolphus Washington (Ohio State).
How to watch the Senior Bowl
When: 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
TV: NFL Network
Online: NFL.com/watch or NFL.com/mobile. For more information, visit NFL.com/nflnetwork.
Satellite radio: Sirius XM 88, SIRI 88, Internet 88