David Syvertsen will be bringing you LIVE updates from Mobile, Alabama this week. Here is his look at the topics surrounding the 2010 Senior Bowl.
As the 2010 Draft is bearing down on the NFL, some of the top seniors in the nation will compete in front of scouts, coaches, and general managers on the same playing field. This is a great opportunity to see these prospects under the tutelage of NFL coaches and their schemes. A lot of money will be made and lost throughout the course of the next six days, and here are the 5 story lines I’ll be focusing on up close and personal this week.
5. OL Mike Iupati’s Level of Competition
Dominating the WAC is pretty much a pretty much a prerequisite for any player in the conference that wants to be a first round pick. Iupati certainly followed through on that requirement, as he consistently was the top player in the trenches with each game he played. The freakish strength and power will be up against some of the best competition he has ever seen. He will need to show the quickness and leverage off the snap against the likes of Geno Atkins (Georgia) and Lamarr Houston (Texas). But perhaps the most intriguing matchups in there all week will be when the 330 pound Iupati faces off against the 350 pounder Terrence Cody from Alabama and the 330 pounder fom Tennessee Dan Williams. Gone are the days of Iupati bating down on a bunch of players that will not even sniff the NFL.
4. Myron Rolle has Returned to Football
After a 2008 performance in which the Florida State safety Myron Rolle earned his way on to the third team All-American squad, he opted to forgo his senior season. However it was not to make money as an NFL defensive back, but because he earned one of the most prestigious scholarships a college student can acquire, the Rhodes Scholarship, which landed him a year of studying at the Oxford University in England. His intangibles are top notch, but the talent evaluators need to make sure he can still play at a high speed. While I expect Rolle to be rusty with certain techniques and mechanics of the position, I will be most interested to see how fluid he is in making reads and directing traffic from that middle of the field. He has all the talent in the world, but this is going to be a huge week for him because nobody has seen him play in over a year.
3. Which Power Running Back Shows Every Down Ability
Looking up and down both rosters, one thing caught my eye in regard to the running backs down here in Mobile. They are absolutely massive and most possess the NFL body already. Just take a look:
Stafon Johnson – USC – 5’11 – 210
Montario Hardesty – Tennessee – 6’0 – 215
Joique Bell – Wayne State – 6’1 – 223
Anthony Dixon – Mississippi State – 6’1 – 235
Charles Scott – LSU – 6’0 – 235
Ben Tate – Auburn – 5’11 – 218
LaGarette Blount – 6’2 – 240
Those guys are all big runners, even according to the NFL standards. They can all run downhill and they will give linebackers and safeties a lot to deal with, but the backs need to prove they can do more than just run with the football in their hands. Can they catch the ball out of the backfield? Can they diagnose a pass rusher and stick their hat on their numbers? What they do this week can go a long way in the eyes of the evaluators. A few bad days can put them in to the fullback row for some teams, decreasing their grade by at least a couple rounds. However on the contrary, a strong and balanced performance could put them in to the every down category among running backs which is sure to increase the final grade.
2. Small School Sleepers
Every year the Senior Bowl provides the opportunity to some of the best players in the nation that do not play for the big time programs. One of the NFLs top young cornerbacks, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie had arguably the best week of any player in the 2008 game, and it was a huge reason why he ended up in the first round of the draft that year. There will be a lot of guys here this week that I have never seen, but could break their way in to the top two rounds. The two that intrigue me the most are OT Vladimir Ducasse of Massachusetts RB Joique Bell of Wayne State. Bell was the winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy n 2009, Division II’s Heisman. He led all four NCAA divisions scoring, rushing yards per game, and all purpose yards per game. At 6’1 – 223 pounds, Bell has the frame to handle every down duties and his 4.45 speed is more than fast enough to break off big plays at the next level. Ducasse has the body that NFL scouts drool over when looking for the next big thing at left tackle. At 6’5 – 330 pounds, Ducasse has the feet to play the blind side in the NFL, but he needs to prove he can play with his knees bent against the faster competition that he has ever been up against. If he can put forth a strong performance in Mobile, he can start to think of himself as a potential top 45 selection.
1. Tim Tebow in an NFL Offense
Everyone that follows the draft will be giving this one a massive amount of attention. Tebow, one of the most decorated collegiate football players in history, is going to receive the opportunity to play in an NFL style offense for the first time in his life. How he responds to taking snaps under center, dropping back while going through multiple progressions, and making more than one read is going to be completely foreign to him. While I do no expect him to look smooth, Tebow needs to prove he is capable if he wants to play quarterback in the NFL.