Final thoughts from Mobile

As coaches and scouts flew back to their respective NFL ports Thursday morning, two things were for sure. One, there will definitely be big-time talent on the field tomorrow. Two, if anyone thought the NFL's good ol' boy network was a thing of the past, you can forget it.

My first trip to the Senior Bowl featured a great guide in Tom Marino, a 35-year scouting veteran and a regular contributor to Scout.com. The man knows everyone. I met over 100 people in Mobile, and every hand I shook brought with it another good ol' boy story.

What I learned this week is that scouting isn't an exact science. It's extremely subjective. Some people look at size and speed while others look at the intelligence or heart of a player. Few care if a player went to USC or Dartmouth.

As the week progressed from Monday to Thursday, it became clear the scouts at the Senior Bowl varied in their opinions on many players. Monday night, when the agents came into town and started recruiting, things got really interesting.

Even the big shots like Tom Condon and Drew Rosenhaus have no idea where some of their clients will land on draft day. They work the scouts and try to figure out which NFL team, or teams, might have interest in their clients. Every slot translates into more dollars for the player and richer earnings for the agent.

At the other end of the spectrum is the player who begins the week parading around in his underwear before shedding the stage fright and heading for the practice field to show off his talent.

It's not easy because some players at the Senior Bowl are present merely to fill out the roster. Some have little shot at being drafted and their lot may be determined after April, when teams begin to look for undrafted free agents.

There were several feel-good stories circulating this week, focusing on players who have overcome long odds. Some of the last-minute fill-ins might be drafted in the seventh round, but could be starters in the big show come September. And there could be first-round guys who may never be active for a single game next season.

As the Senior Bowl winds down, the game for the most part will be anti-climatic, because teams like the Chiefs generally get a feel for players from Monday through Wednesday on the practice field and in the hotel rooms, where interviews are conducted. What players do in the game won't really sway decisions on a player.

Can I tell you which guys the Chiefs are going to draft? At this point I'd just be guessing, and I can't say which free agents might be on Kansas City's radar at the moment. But ask me in a week or so, and I might have something after I analyze everything I learned in Mobile this week.

What I can tell you is a source inside the Chiefs' organization related some shocking news. This team has plans that might surprise the fan base. Of all the things I learned this week, that might be the most exciting.

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