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Patrick Graham getting a good 'head start' evaluating the 2023 draft class at the Reese's Senior Bowl

There's a number of benefits that come with Patrick Graham being the National Team Head Coach for the Reese's Senior Bowl.

The Raiders defensive coordinator was nominated by the Silver and Black football staff for the position, and has been working vigorously scouting talent since arriving to Mobile, Alabama. This is Graham's first opportunity to delve more into the 2023 draft class, beyond what they've put on film as players.

"When you get a head start, that's always good," Graham said of being at the Senior Bowl. "Just getting time to spend with them one-on-one in the meeting room and out there on the field. ... Being able to say, 'Let me see if he can handle this adjustment right now.' I'll tell them to adjust something and see if he does it the next rep, to see how immediately they can do it. It's been a good process to see that live and in action."

Going into a second day of practice for the annual showcase, Graham said he's been satisfied with the work and attention to details he's seen players putting forth through the process. He's taken pleasure working this closely with collegiate talent for the first time since he was a defensive line coach at Toledo in 2009.

"Because the film is the film, we talk about the film is their resume. It gets them through the door," Graham said. "Then these all-star games and when you start meeting them, those become their interviews. So right now, I told the guys I met with the other day, I said, 'This is your first interview. You got in the door with your resume on film, but this is your first interview.'

"And thankfully I get to be a part of that first interview and get our hands on them. I'm cherishing the experience."

Last season, the Raiders drafted two players who participated in the Senior Bowl, one being Mobile native Neil Farrell Jr.  , who worked with Graham extensively in his rookie season. Farrell jumped out at Graham when he watched Senior Bowl film last year, identifying the DT as a "big guy who is hard to block" which Graham goes after for his defensive line unit. Farrell totaled 12 tackles, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss in his rookie campaign for the Silver and Black.

Graham is optimistic that he may find a few more players this year in Mobile that continue to fit his mold.

"I just want good players," Graham said with a grin. "Good players that can help stop the run and the pass. I think that's safe, hard to block and can tackle. If they can do all that, we're fine."

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