Because the Detroit Lions finished with such a bad record in 2012 but decided to keep most of their coaching staff intact, they were selected to coach in the 2013 Senior Bowl. They ended up getting to coach the South team, which was loaded with talent.
This was actually the second time that the Lions got to coach in the Senior Bowl under Jim Schwartz. The first time around, in 2010, the Lions didn't end up drafting anybody from their team. This time around, however, the Lions ended up taking three players they coached: DE Ezekiel Ansah, OG Larry Warford and TE Michael Williams. What was the difference this time around? Lions general manager Martin Mayhew isn't really sure.
"I really can't explain it. I can just tell you, the last time that we went down there, we came back and went through this entire process. At the end of it, there just weren't a whole lot of guys that were on our team that really appealed to us. This time, we went through the same exact process, had a different roster of guys and it was littered with guys that really appealed to us. So, I can't really explain it. But we felt so much better about this class of guys than we did the last class."
Getting to coach in the Senior Bowl was especially important for the Ansah pick. Given his inexperience as a football player, the Lions might not have even picked Ansah had they not gotten a chance to get to know him at the Senior Bowl. Here's what Schwartz had to say about coaching Ansah in Mobile:
"I mean, he didn't know very much at all in the beginning of the week. But every practice you saw him get better, and then the game came and he dominated the game. It wasn't just his playing ability during the week. You saw what a serious guy he was. You saw how important it was for him to do well, how he wanted to please the coaches. That was all an important part of the evaluation. It was a week well spent in Mobile."
A week well spent indeed.