It may seem a little too early to really dive into the NFL Draft, held annually at the end of April. This year, it will be in Las Vegas and take place from Thursday, April 23 until Saturday, April 25. The process of evaluating potential draft picks begins way in advance, though. The Bucs' personnel department (and every team's personnel department) is made up of a plethora of scouts who scour the country year in and year out to identify talent.
After attending countless college games throughout the season and meeting with plenty of coaches to get their opinions on potential draft picks, it all starts to culminate with the arrival of all-star game season. You've probably head of the Senior Bowl, where top seniors and graduated underclassmen showcase their talent from Mobile, Alabama. You may have heard of the East-West Shrine Bowl, especially given that it's held in the Bucs' backyard at Tropicana Field in St. Pete. But how about the Tropical Bowl? Or the Gridiron Showcase?
Luckily for Tampa Bay, scouts and personnel representatives have not only heard of these games but are well-represented at each. Below find a list all-star games in which Tampa Bay will have a presence at, trying to find any and all talent to fill out their roster come April.
National Bowl – Held inside Daytona Beach Stadium in Daytona Beach, Florida on December 8, this game highlights the top non-FBS talent in the country. Bucs tight end Tanner Hudson was a past participant coming out of Southern Arkansas.
College Gridiron Showcase – Held outside Dallas, Texas, this game adopted an OTA-type schedule ahead of the game played on January 8. It also includes a small school invitational, meant to also highlight top talent from smaller schools.
Tropical Bowl – Held on January 12, the Tropical Bowl also takes place in Daytona Beach. The Bucs saw wide receiver Scotty Miller there last year. Buccaneer great Vincent Jackson is also a past participant.
East-West Shrine Bowl – Yours truly traversed the Howard Frankland bridge this week to bring you updates from the oldest collegiate all-star game in the nation. Held at Tropicana Field, it highlights top senior talent from a variety of college programs. Past participants that are now Buccaneers include kicker Matt Gay, running back Dare Ogunbowale and offensive lineman Earl Watford.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl – Held inside the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the Bucs have gotten quite a few players both on the practice squad and active roster from the game. Past participants include S John Battle, LB Noah Dawkins, RB Aca'Cedric Ware and OL Nate Trewyn, all from last year's roster.
Senior Bowl – The tagline for the historic all-star game is, 'The Draft starts in Mobile,' and while there are all-star games that come before it, the Senior Bowl manages to grab top-tier talent year in and year out. Played in Ladd-Peebles Stadium since its inception, teams are coached by two complete NFL coaching staffs. In 2020, it will be the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
Hula Bowl – Not a bad destination in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Bucs will be sending a couple scouts out to check out the Hula Bowl talent. It was established in 1946 and will take place on Sunday, January 26.