JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Coaching in the Senior Bowl is not something an NFL team wants to do because it means they had one of the worst records the previous season.
It can be beneficial, though, because it allows teams to get a hands-on look at the players. That’s valuable additional scouting and the Jacksonville Jaguars took advantage of that in the NFL draft.
General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley drafted four players who were in the Senior Bowl and signed four more as undrafted free agents. Six of those players were ones the Jaguars' coaching staff worked with as part of the South team.
"We took a little bit of chance. We opened ourselves up at the Senior Bowl," Bradley said. "We let them into our world. We talked to them about our philosophy, how our approach is.
"... We didn’t want to miss that opportunity to compete. We went in there, we competed, we shared with them and hopefully it gets them a step ahead."
The Jaguars drafted guard Brandon Linder, who played for the North team despite attending Miami, in the third round and followed that with three consecutive players from the South team: cornerback Aaron Colvin (fourth), linebacker Telvin Smith (fifth) and defensive end Chris Smith (fifth).
The Jaguars signed three former South team players as undrafted free agents on Monday: defensive tackle Deandre Coleman, tight end Marcel Jensen and safety Craig Loston. They also signed quarterback Stephen Morris, who played for the North team.
It’s not just the Jaguars who benefit from getting players they’ve already coached. The players head into this week’s rookie minicamp with a head start on the offensive and defensive systems that the other rookies don’t have. In trying to learn the system, adjust to the speed of the game and adapt to a new life in a new city, the week these players spent with the Jaguars in late January was a huge benefit.
"I feel like I’m kind of lucky because I got a head start at the Senior Bowl, kind of got a jump on the system," Chris Smith said. "I’m kind of already ahead of everybody on the playbook. I’m just going to keep on building on that."