After a week of practicing in front of NFL scouts, the prospects down in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl finally have their chance to show their stuff in game conditions. The official Senior Bowl game kicks off at 4 p.m. EST on NFL Network, pitting the rosters of the North and South teams against each other.
Earlier in the week, Bloghead outlined some prospects in the Senior Bowl who could be potential fits for the Eagles in the first round, and some sleepers who could be attractive to the Eagles later on in the draft. Now, here's a primer on a player or two at each position to watch for in today's game. They may not all be perfect fits for the Eagles, but each one is someone to keep an eye on throughout the draft process leading up to first day of the NFL draft on April 22.
Quarterback: Jarrett Brown, West Virginia, 6-foot-3, 219 pounds- Brown is perhaps the most raw of the six quarterbacks in Mobile, but some scouts believe he could have the most upside of any quarterback in the draft after the first round. Brown only has one year of starting experience in college, having played behind Pat White for his first three years, but he has displayed an NFL-caliber arm in practice. "NFL personnel evaluators love when a young quarterback is willing to make tough throws," wrote Adam Caplan of Scout.com, "There was probably no quarterback that helped himself more this week in Mobile than Brown." Brown could hear his name called anywhere from the second to fourth round.
Running Back: Dexter McCluster, Mississippi, 5-foot-8, 165 pounds- Every person who watched the South team practice this week came out raving about the versatile McCluster. McCluster can play both running back and wide receiver, in addition to his return skills, and he showed that his body can handle rushing inside as well. "He is clearly the most explosive athlete (at the Senior Bowl)," said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. "I think you get the ball in his hands, in space and he's absolutely a difference-maker as a receiver, runner, and even in the return game ... I think McCluster may have moved up from a third round to second round this week."
Tight End: Ed Dickson, Oregon, 6-foot-4, 244 pounds- No tight end really ran away from the pack at the Senior Bowl. Some players like Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson showed NFL receiving ability but nowhere near the blocking proficiency. But Dickson may be the most NFL-ready tight end at the Senior Bowl. "He looked comfortable running routes, and his athleticism showed," McShay wrote. "He is undersized, though, and will have to add some bulk to his lean frame if he hopes to be more than a sub-package H-back in the NFL. Dickson played to his potential on Day 3, though, and showed that he is by far the best athlete among the North tight ends."
Wide Receiver: Taylor Price, Ohio, 6-foot-0, 198 pounds - Price displayed the best combination of size, speed and hands during the week of practice in the Senior Bowl, raising his stock enough to be considered in the second or third round. SportsIllustrated.com's draft analyst Tony Pauline singled out Price as his runner-up for offensive player of the week (behind McCluster), writing: "Scouts were aware of his underlying talent entering the week but few expected Price to be as polished as he was on the field. He displayed the ability to make all the catches in the short and deep field. Price is another who moved up draft boards almost a full round based on his performance this week."
Offensive Line: Mike Iupati, Idaho, 6-foot-5, 325 pounds - We highlighted Iupati earlier in the week, but he's been so dominant this week that he can't be avoided. Assuming he ends up at guard, Iupati is the only player in the Senior Bowl universally regarded as the best player in his position in the entire draft class. "There is not a weakness in Iupati's game when he's lined up at guard," McShay wrote. "His quick first step, lateral quickness, and long arms make him a dominant force inside, and he is a nasty finisher who is not satisfied until defenders are on their backs."
Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts, 6-foot-5, 326 pounds - Ducasse is one of the more physically impressive linemen in the draft, but he's very raw since he hasn't played football his whole life. Ducasse, a native of Haiti, played guard in college but is thought to have the agility to perhaps play left tackle in the NFL. "He's quick off the snap, has great strength and is able to maul the opposition on the line," said Scout.com's Chris Steuber. "He's surprisingly athletic and has long arms that help him in pass protection."
Defensive End: Alex Carrington, Arkansas State, 6-foot-5, 284 pounds - Scouts absolutely raved about the performance of Carrington, a small-school wonder. Despite playing his college ball in Arkansas, he's actually on the North roster, and the North's offensive linemen will be happy not to see him lining up against them anymore. Carrington was tabbed as the defensive player of the week by Pauline, who wrote: "Carrington came to Mobile with a complete game, which caught scouts off guard. He was fast and powerful, the latter which answered questions about his playing strength. Scouts loudly applauded Carrington each day at practice. Coming into the week he was a mid-round choice. As Senior Bowl practices end Carrington leaves a top-60 pick."
Defensive Tackle: Jared Odrick, Penn State, 6-foot-5, 301 pounds- Odrick is a swing defensive lineman, capable of playing either end or tackle. He'd likely be perfect as a 3-4 defensive end, but could provide value as a pass-rushing tackle in a 4-3 as well. "What stood out most for Odrick was his quick first step off the ball and his power and motor," wrote McShay. "He is still learning to use his hands and needs to keep them inside a bit more, but he is shooting gaps, finding the ball, and reacting well and disrupting the offense." Odrick is expected to come off the board at the tail end of round one or in the beginning of round two.
Linebacker: Daryl Washington, TCU, 6-foot-2, 226 pounds- There are some concerns about whether Washington can hold up consistently against the run at his size, but he showed a great nose for the ball in Mobile. Pauline gave Washington his runner-up as the most surprising player of the week, writing: "Expectations were high when Jerry Hughes, the All-America from TCU, was originally listed on the Senior Bowl roster. Hughes bypassed the event with a quad injury but the Horned Frogs program never missed a beat as his college teammate proved to be a star. By Wednesday scouts branded Washington as the top athlete of all the linebackers in Mobile and the only true three-down defender at the position."
A.J. Edds, Iowa, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds - Edds is a high-motor type linebacker, and NewEraScouting.com had an interesting nugget linking him to the Eagles. I saw Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott following (the North linebackers) around the field as if he were a kid looking for an autograph," the site said. "He had to like what he saw in A.J. Edds. (Edds) displayed some quick feet in the bag drills and showed outstanding coverage ability."
Cornerback: Patrick Robinson, Florida State, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds - Robinson might have fallen behind Boise State's Kyle Wilson, who was outstanding in practice, but he still looks to be a solid second-round prospect. Some reports said that Robinson lacked consistency during practice, but he has the athletic ability needed to plan man-to-man coverage in the NFL. "He has great agility, transitions well with receivers and closes fast on the ball," wrote Steuber. "He's instinctive and diagnoses the action well. He is a true playmaker and a player quarterbacks avoid throwing towards."
Safety: Myron Rolle, Florida State, 6-foot-1, 217 pounds - The Senior Bowl game will be Rolle's first football game action in over a year after the Rhodes Scholar spent his time studying at Oxford University. Rolle shook off the rust quickly in Mobile and showed that he had the physical tools to make it in the pro's. "Rolle certainly did not look like someone who has not played football in over a year," wrote Pauline. "He never embarrassed himself on the field. In fact by weeks end he was making plays and playing at a higher level than many of his teammates."
Taylor Mays, Southern Cal, 6-foot-3, 231 pounds - The book on Mays is out. By all accounts, he is the hardest-hitting safety in the draft and will provide an ability to make big plays like few other defensive backs in the draft. But at his size, Mays does not have elite coverage ability. "The week turned into a potpourri of skills he's likely to struggle with in the NFL," wrote Pauline. "He'll struggle handling man-to-man coverage assignments and struggle making plays sideline-to-sideline as a true NFL centerfielder. Mays is still a legitimate prospect for the next level but the limitations he displayed this week will reduce the number of teams wanting to acquire him in April."
Check back in at Bloghead tomorrow for an overview of what transpired on the field this afternoon.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:15 a.m., January 30