MOBILE, Ala. – As the NFL universe converges for the 64th annual Senior Bowl – part tryout, part job fair, part rumor cauldron – we aim to highlight some of the players who will become household names over the next week and leading up to April's NFL Draft. Last year, the Eagles selected four Senior Bowl veterans during the draft (
As for the assembled talent in Mobile, who are the names to remember? Let's take a look …
BYU Defensive end DE Ezekial Ansah – One of the more intriguing prospects in this year's player pool, “Ziggy” Ansah has only been playing football for about three years. A native of Ghana, Ansah arrived at BYU hoping to walk on to the basketball team, to no avail. After a stint on the track team, he joined the football team, where he's been revelation ever since. Listed at 6-5, 270, Ansah played all along the Cougars' defensive line, exhibiting strong hands and superlative closing speed. If he shines in Mobile, the ceiling is as high as the top 10 come April.
Kansas State LB Arthur Brown – The older brother of Eagles rookie standout running back
Florida International S Jonathan Cyprien – Eagles fans should enjoy the depth of the safety position in this year's draft crop. The top-rated safety, Texas' Kenny Vaccaro, pulled out of the Senior Bowl at the last minute, which leaves the door open for Cyprien to win the week. Cyprien is as hard-hitting as any safety in this draft class, but don't pigeon-hole him into the role of box safety with limited mobility. Cyprien also has the range and instincts to play centerfield deep in the defensive backfield. Georgia's safety tandem of Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo will also be of interest.
Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher – Perhaps the most first- and second-round talent at this year's Senior Bowl comes at the tackle position, where several players will be on the borderline of first-round picks. Fisher, though, won't be on the borderline. At 6-7, 305, Fisher has the frame for left tackle, but he's also got the athleticism and requisite wherewithal for the position. He trails only Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel at the tackle position at this stage of the draft process. The odds on first Senior Bowl player selected come April likely favor either Fisher or Ansah, though beware the quarterbacks …
NC State QB Mike Glennon – A big, strong-armed quarterback who has drawn Matt Ryan comparisons, Glennon will have a lot to prove this week in practice. Considered by some to be the top quarterback prospect in the class, Glennon has a chance to separate himself, though he'll have some competition from a North roster teammate. At 6-5, 232, Glennon's footwork in the pocket has been a question as he tends to revert to statue form at times. Taking to the coaching this week, in addition to his performance in team interviews, will be just as important as how Glennon does on the field.
SMU DE Margus Hunt – Another defensive lineman with limited football experience, Hunt arrived at SMU to train with their track coach. Hunt, 6-7, 280, is something of a prodigy in that area, as he became the first person to win gold in both the discus and shot put in the World Junior Championships. But after joining the football team, Hunt has emerged as a handful for opposing offenses. His best position at the next level may be 3-4 defensive end, which means that he's drawn (lofty) J.J. Watt comparisons. A dominant week in practice against an impressive crew of offensive linemen could move Hunt into first-round consideration.
Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson – A former tight end and defensive end, Johnson, 6-6, 303, has the athleticism to become an impact left tackle at the next level. He moved to the left side as a senior after starting for the first time at right tackle during his junior season and the results were impressive. He's said to be able to "mirror" as well as any tackle in this draft class and his ability to get to the second level will go far to intrigue NFL teams.
Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib – After West Virginia's Geno Smith declined a Senior Bowl invite, Nassib was slotted into his place, creating an intriguing showdown between he and Glennon to take place all week. One draftnik even predicted that Nassib, 6-2, 228, could rise as high as No. 1 overall pick, which would certainly be quite the progression for the lightly recruited former Malvern Prep quarterback. Nassib is said to be a good decision maker after learning under new Bills head coach Doug Marrone, though he has a tendency to look impatient in the pocket.
Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton – Considered by some to be the top senior wide receiver in the draft class, Patton will have a chance to stake an official claim to that title this week. At 6-2, 195, Patton looks the part and he's one of the better collegiate receivers in making a play on the ball in the air. Watch for the measurement of his arms, as he's said to have as good a catch radius as any senior receiver. Baylor's Terrance Williams and Oregon State's Markus Wheaton are two more receivers to watch.
Michigan ??? Denard Robinson – Robinson, or "shoelace" as he came to be known in Ann Arbor, is one of the more intriguing storylines this week. The collegiate quarterback is said to be open to playing any position this week and moving forward. He's listed as a wide receiver this week, but the 5-11. 197-pound Robinson got looks as a running back late this season at Michigan and some believe his best pro position might end up being cornerback. The key for Robinson will be proving that he can be an elite playmaker with the ball in his hands. Robinson's ability to return will also come under the spotlight if he's to work his way into second-day conversation.
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