The upcoming Senior Bowl will give all teams the opportunity to take a closer look at the best upperclassmen in college football. The practices and games are run by NFL coaches, with each non-playoff team nominating assistant coaches, and for the Raiders, that coach was defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
Graham is one of the more promising young assistants in the NFL due to his time with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. His first season with the Raiders did not go the way they had hoped, as the defense did not take a huge leap, but there is still plenty of optimism surrounding Graham overall.
Now with the offseason here, the Raiders can begin focusing on the draft, and that starts with the Senior Bowl, where Graham will serve as one of the two head coaches, along with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy spoke about the excitement surrounding this new format and spoke highly of both Graham and Nagy via ESPN.com:
“Everyone at the Senior Bowl is excited about this new coaching format since it connects our players to half the league’s teams behind the scenes during the week,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said. “Both Luke Getsy and Patrick Graham have tremendous reputations around the league and the young men in our game will undoubtedly leave Mobile as better football players after spending the week with these excellent staffs.”
As opposed to previous years, where an entire coaching staff would run each of the two teams, this year, the NFL has implemented a “coach up” format. This is intended to promote professional development for coordinators and other assistants. Each of the 16 non-playoff teams will have at least one assistant involved in the Senior Bowl, with the Raiders having three coaches selected.
One of the coordinators under Graham is a familiar face to Raiders fans as well. Former Raiders wide receiver Ronald Curry, who currently serves as passing game coordinator and quarterback’s coach for the New Orleans Saints, will be one of the assistants for Graham’s national team along with Steelers defensive backs coach Grady Brown.
Overall this experience allows Graham to grow as a coach overall, and also the opportunity to get up-close looks at a number of great college players. While the senior bowl doesn’t always feature the absolute top prospects, it can unearth some diamonds which the Raiders have found in the draft in recent years, most notably defensive end Maxx Crosby, a fourth-round pick.
The Senior Bowl will take place on February 4 in Mobile, Alabama.