While NFL scouts and teams will evaluate players again this weekend, the NFL will again use the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama to evaluate some of its officials in the Officiating Development Program. Kickoff is on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern and airs on the NFL Network.
Since the termination of NFL Europe in 2007, the NFL lacked a way to evaluate prospective officials. That all changed in 2013 with the creation of the development program. Officials in this program typically officiate games during the NFL preseason and then return to their respective collegiate conferences for the regular season. In 2016, this program expanded from 21 officials to 29 officials and added 6 in an agreement with the Canadian Football League.
This year’s officials for the Senior Bowl:
|Name||ODP Seasons||NCAA Conf.|
|DJ||Patrick Holt||Big Ten|
|LJ||Tripp Sutter||Big Ten|
|SJ||Joe Blubaugh||Big 12|
Last year, the game utilized the 8th official that the NFL has been experimenting with but they will not be using that this year.
In addition to the Senior Bowl, the NFL officiating department uses the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl for scouting and evaluation purposes.
Rules of the game
The rules of the game mirror the NFL Pro Bowl rules and are primarily aimed at player safety. There are only 2 kickoffs, one at the start of the game, and the other at the start of the 2nd half. All other possessions begin at the 25 yard line and at the start of the 2nd and 4th quarters. The end of each quarter terminates that possession. There is a 2-minute warning at the end of each quarter with NFL 2-minute rules in place. Point-after-try rules remain the same as the NFL as well.
Other notable rules:
- No fake punts.
- No fake field goals or fake PAT.
- Teams must attempt a two-point conversion following any touchdowns scored during the second quarter.
- Two-deep or Three-deep zone coverage only. (No “buzz” rotation allowed)
- Cover 1 man free is permitted but safeties may not rotate man coverages.
- Defense may only play a 4-3 or 3-4 under front.
- Only four rushers allowed, no 5-man pressures or blitzes from secondary permitted.
- Offensive personnel packages are limited to
- “21” personnel (2 Running Backs, 1 Tight End, 2 Wide Receivers)
- “12” personnel (1 Running Back, 2 Tight Ends, 2 Wide Receivers)
- “11” personnel (1 Running Back, 1 Tight End, 3 Wide Receivers)