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How are the players of the Senior Bowl selected?

Selecting the players who participate in the annual showcase of college all-stars is not a simple task. Here’s how the Senior Bowl selection process works

Selecting the players who participate in the annual showcase of college all-stars is not a simple task. Here's how the Senior Bowl selection process works
Jonathan BachmanAFP

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an all-star game that showcases talents from across the country for top NFL prospects who have completed their college eligibility. While only one game occurs in the annual event after three days of practice, the selection of the players invited to the showcase is an extensive eight-month process.

Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage and several members of his staff develop a watch list over the summer immediately after the preceding draft during which they begin compiling names of returning starters and rising seniors who meet the physical requirements to play in the NFL. Savage and his staff study the prior season’s tapes and write “junior” reports on a crop of prospects that comprise the first 400-player Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List, which is announced in late August.

They then go out and scout the players in person by going to their school, visiting them at practices, and attending live games once pre-season training camps open for the colleges. From September through November, Savage will continue making these trips while evaluating the draft-eligible seniors and posting a list of prospects weekly on


Even though the Reese’s Senior Bowl does its own scouting work, Savage and officials consult with their contacts in the NFL to better assess the pool of talent available for the game. They vet the different candidates before they get to Nov. 1, the first deadline before sending out the initial invitations.

The first round of 20 “automatic” invitations goes out at the end of October with another group of 40 “priority” ones that follows a few weeks later. By December 1, 40 “in-season” invitations are sent out, allowing for the time window between the end of the regular season and the college bowl games to be spent on finalizing both 58-man rosters. Following the conclusion of the bowl games, the Senior Bowl uses “emergency” invitations to fill any holes on the roster that occur.

Senior Bowl: the link between college and pro football

Because Reese’s Senior Bowl is the ultimate link between college and pro football, the rosters are made up of a mix of college standouts and potential prospects that best fit the NFL. There is a specific interest in those who are rated above the 5th round as well.

To sum it all up, Reese’s Senior Bowl is a way to showcase the country’s best collegiate talent during a week of NFL exposure, connections, and enjoying putting on a show for over 40,000 fans in Mobile.


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