MOBILE, Ala.-- After a pair of Villanova prospects dropped out of the Senior Bowl - one (wide receiver Matt Szczur) because of a commitment to professional baseball and one (offensive lineman Ben Ijalana) because of injury - there was only one remaining Philadelphia area college representative in Mobile. That player is Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who is jockeying for position is what is considered a muddled and perhaps middling crop of safeties.
Jarrett, who proclaimed himself an Eagles fan even though he's originally from Brooklyn, NY, hasn't blown the doors off practice this week, but he's shown the necessary skills to succeed at the next level.
"He looks like the most fluid of athletes at the (safety) position, can cleanly open his hips and is smooth when asked to change directions," wrote Wes Bunting of the National Football Post. "Needs some work with his footwork, as he isn't the most compact of defender when asked to click and close and gets a bit overextended at times. However, in a very shabby safety class, Jarrett looks like an intriguing athlete who with some time could fight for playing time in an NFL secondary."
Jarrett has shown a steady learning curve this week, which is to be expected considering the relative jump in competition.
"It's been a really exciting week for me, just to be out here and compete with the best players in college football," Jarrett told Bloghead. "Everyone here can make plays, every play.
"I think I was well prepared, but every player here you line up against is a great player, so you have to make sure you bring you 'A' game every time."
Jarrett is the next in line of a recent string of NFL prospects from Temple that includes 2009 third-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars Terrance Knighton, who has emerged as one of the better young defensive tackles in the game. Jarrett has been talking with Knighton "almost every other day."
"He told me just to make sure you stay focused and stay determined and keep working," Jarrett said.
As for his what he thinks of his own prospects for April, Jarrett thinks he has an advantage because he "can play both strong and free" safety. But he also knows there's still a lot to work on.
"I'm working on basic man coverage drills, speed work, my hips and making sure I have the little techniques down," he said.
And who knows, with Quintin Mikell scheduled to be a free agent and Nate Allen recovering from a season-ending patella tendon injury, the Eagles could be in the market for a safety in the middle rounds. Perhaps Philadelphians should pay extra attention to the North secondary on Saturday afternoon.