Standards and measures
The roster that the Senior Bowl released Sunday included heights and weights that are considered relatively accurate. But there were some marked discrepancies between the release and what happened when the players stood shirtless and in shorts at the weigh-in on Monday morning.
North Carolina offensive lineman Jason Brown, listed at 332 pounds, came in at 306. On the other hand, Troy defensive end/linebacker Demarcus Ware, advertised at 6-4, 232, came in at 6-3 1/2, 247, although he certainly didn't look fat.
If there's a rule of thumb, it's that defensive backs want to weigh more and can't. Five of the eight backs on the South roster came in under their announced weight. On the entire South team, only Auburn corner Carlos Rogers came in exactly as predicted: 6-0, 195.
The big buzz coming from the weigh-ins on Monday was Darren Sproles' recorded height of 5-5. Everyone has known that Sproles is one of the diminutive running back prospects in this year's draft class, but he is actually two inches shorted than he is listed, which could make teams even more hesitant to use a late-first day pick on him.
In terms of other weigh-in extremes, Syracuse OT Adam Terry and Alabama OT Wesley Britt are the tallest players in this game at 6-7. Pittsburgh OT Rob Petitti tipped the scales the most at 361 pounds -- the next largest player was Alabama DT Anthony Bryant at 345 pounds. While Sproles was the shortest at 5-5, the lightest player at this year's Senior Bowl is Oklahoma State DC Darrent Williams at 170 pounds.
Louisville linebacker Robert McCune, the Mobile native and one-time power lifter, elicited a lot of murmurs from the coaches with his sculpted upper body.
Cadillac rolls into town
The biggest surprise heading into the week was Carnell "Cadillac" Williams' decision to participate. Most top-rated seniors would elect to sit it out for fear of suffering an injury that could negatively affect their stock. Instead of heading tradition advice, Williams wanted to prove to NFL officials that he isn't afraid to compete. So far, his decision is paying off. Jon Gruden, who is coaching the South team this week, is glowing about Williams as an athlete, running back and competitor. Gruden said today that he "was excited that he (Williams) was on his squad" and that so far Williams has "shined". With the Bucs owning the fifth overall pick and having a need at running back, this could be the perfect marriage.
Orton starts fast
It's still extremely early and teams haven't even broken out full pads yet, but the early results have Purdue QB Kyle Orton putting on the most impressive showing of any of the quarterbacks at this year's Senior Bowl. One advantage Orton has over the other quarterbacks is that he participated in the East-West Shrine game just two weeks ago. Just like every other quarterback, it takes reps to get his timing down with the receivers on his team, but Orton isn't nearly as rusty as the others.
Orton's arm looked to be the strongest of the bunch today and he seemed to have a much better rhythm going in drills. The thing to guard against, however, is getting too excited about his performance on Monday. Orton has always been a strong-armed and streaky quarterback, who can get into a rhythm (like he was early in the season) and look like a first round pick. He also is the type that can get into a funk (like he was in the second half of this season) and can lose the strike zone easily.
Finally, Orton is the type that can look extremely good in 7-on-7 drills because he has such good zip, timing and touch. But when he gets into more game situations when he's under pressure, flushed out of the pocket and taking hits, things tend to fall apart quickly. It will be interesting to see if Orton can keep the momentum rolling when things get more physical later in the week.
Marlin Jackson is trying to restake his claim as a first round cornerback prospect after two lackluster seasons at Michigan. If today is any indication, he has a strong argument. In what is a loaded group of cornerbacks at this year's Senior Bowl (including Auburn's Carlos Rogers, LSU's Corey Webster and Florida State's Bryant McFadden), Jackson looked like the most complete package in today's drills. Jackson has always been a physical cover corner and he used his size and strength to out-muscle opposing receivers in man-to-man situations. More impressive, though, was how fluid Jackson looked as an athlete. Jackson is one of the bigger cornerbacks at this game but he also looked like one of the smoothest in today's practice.
Draft sleeper makes some noise
Northern Colorado WR Vincent Jackson is a physical specimen that dominated the small school collegiate level. At 6-5, 223 with an estimated 40-time of 4.55, Jackson is considered one of the real "sleepers" of the 2005 draft class. The big test for small school players is always how they play against better competition in these all-star games.
After just one day of practice, it's clear that Jackson can play at the next level. His size makes him an immediate mismatch for smaller corners, but most impressive is how athletic his is and how sharp his breaks are for such a bigger athlete. He's the type of big receiver that doesn't need to gear down much before getting into his breaks. That typically is a great indication that he will be able to separate at the next level.
Who needs Monster.com?
The Senior Bowl also serves as an informal job market for coaches and scouts looking for work. Among the candidates strolling through the Riverview Hotel lobby and on the sidelines Monday were longtime Nebraska assistant Turner Gill; Bob Simmons, most recently on Ty Willingham's staff at Notre Dame; Washington defensive coordinator Phil Snow, let go with the rest of Keith Gilbertson's staff; and former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who has turned down several job offers since his firing two years ago.
Slocum interviewed a few weeks ago at LSU, which hired Les Miles from Oklahoma State. Slocum decided to pursue work in the NFL.
"One of the guys who interviewed me there was 60, 61 like me," said Slocum, who is the former. "I told him, 'I bet you feel like you're at the top of your game.' I feel the same way. Whoever hires me is going to get the best years of my career. Look at (Bill) Belichick. He was fired for not winning. Somebody decided, 'We need to give this guy another chance.'"
Field of dreams
One positive about this year's week of Senior Bowl practice is that all the practices are held at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, which also hosts Saturday's game. With new field-turf put in prior to the GMAC Bowl, all the practices can be held at one venue with no worries regarding the maintenance of the field. For NFL personnel, media and agents that had to travel almost 40 miles between the two venues in past years, this is a real time-saver. Unfortunately, however, game officials are not letting any fans, media, agents, scouts or coaches that are not coaching the game (Raiders and Buccaneers) near the field. Evidently there was a bystander that broke his leg on the sidelines during last year's practice, so Senior Bowl officials are taking all the precautions they can.
News and notes
The biggest experiment at the Senior Bowl is the switch by Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones to wide receiver. Jones looked good late in practice Monday, catching a deep fade in double coverage by Corey Webster of LSU and James Butler of Georgia Tech ... New Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage, a Mobile native, took his top staff to lunch Monday at The Dew Drop Inn, a local institution known for its hot dogs and its gumbo, serve on plastic plates on formica tables. Whether this constitutes belt-tightening depends upon whether you looked at the check or the food ... Jerry Jones, perennially one of the few owners to come to Mobile, appeared on the sideline at South practice Monday ... USC defensive lineman Shaun Cody arrived over the weekend and by Monday morning had already been interviewed by four teams, attended meetings, and continued deliberating over which of three agents he would hire. "Crazy," Cody said, with a shake of the head.
January 24, 2005
Senior Bowl Week Begins
President, NFL Draft Countdown
And we are off! Senior Bowl week is now officially in full swing and the first day began with the official weigh-in. I have posted the full list HERE. Some of the highlights include:
* Sleeper wideout Vincent Jackson came in at an amazing 6-4 and 238.
* Rob Petitti was the heaviest player in attendence at 361 pounds
* Darren Sproles was so short at 5-5 1/2 that they had to find new equipment to measure him.
There was a chill in the air as the North practiced at Ladd-Peebles Satdium in the afternoon but the turnout from scouts and league personnel was impressive. Akron QB Charlie Frye carried himself well and looked like he belonged while Kyle Orton of Purdue looked to be trying to show off his arm strength and still has some trouble working under center. Some consider Vincent Jackson as a potential tight end prospect but from what I saw he looks like a wide receiver. He is raw, he dropped some balls and he needs to work on paying more attention to the details but he certainly has the tools and will be a nice developmental prospect. Mark Clayton of Oklahoma was very impressive, running excellent routes and showing good feet. Northwestern RB Alex Herron showed some speed to get around the corner while TE/H-Back Joel Dreessen looked like a natural pass catcher. Along the offensive line Michael Roos of Eastern Washington looked like he belonged and impressed while Rob Petitti was slow to react and struggled.
On the defensive side of the ball Trent Cole worked out with the linebackers and really struggled. In fact, he looked exactly like what he was: A defensive lineman trying to play linebacker. Two Iowa Hawkeyes did a nice job along the line with Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux both impressing. One guy who stood out physically was DT Attiyah Ellison of Missouri, who certainly looked the part and was very athletic.
The most impressive player of the day in my opinion however was OG / C David Baas of Michigan, who routinely handled his man in One-on-One drills and also looked physically imposing. This guy is going to step in and make an impact right away in the NFL and I see great things in his future.
On another note there are some top underclassmen here as well with Troy Williamson, Larry Brackins and Justin Tuck among the attendees. They aren't playing in the game but they are working the rooms and getting their names out there like Ben Roethlisberger did a year ago in Mobile. This is never a bad idea and could really turn out to be a benefit for the players who go out of their way to make their presence known.
WRs Clayton, Jackson turning scouts' heads
By Trent Modglin & Nolan Nawrocki
Jan. 25, 2005
Notes from Monday's practices
Oklahoma WR Mark Clayton, at a shade under 5-10, looks smaller in person than he does on tape, but he is the quickest and smoothest receiver the North has in terms of getting into and out of his breaks. He also showed good focus while hauling in a pass across the middle despite getting smacked in the head by the arm of Miami (Ohio)’s Alphonso Hodge.
Clayton’s teammate, Brandon Jones is a different receiver at 6-2 and 215 pounds. He made some good catches in traffic but looks a bit slow afoot in routes.
At 6-5, 223 with loads of athleticism, Vincent Jackson of Northern Colorado looks like he has all the tools necessary to be a pro wide receiver. He made a nice adjustment to dive and haul in a wobbly, underthrown bomb. Howard CB Ronald Bartell, when asked who the best receiver he faced in practice on the first day, quickly mentioned Jackson and said a man his size should not be so swift afoot.
In an effort to stress the recent five-yard chuck rule, Raiders secondary coaches preached for defensive backs to quit with the contact 10 yards downfield, which was plenty prevalent early on. “Stop it now!” they yelled. “That’s not gonna work up here.”
Notre Dame junior DE Justin Tuck sat in the stands for the North practice and later interviewed with a number of teams Monday evening, including a contingent of scouts from the Jaguars, who desperately need some help on the edge.
After Kansas State RB Darren Sproles measured in at a shade less than 5-foot-6 during weigh-ins, one scout whispered, “But he’s quick as a cat.”
Scouts were gawking at Louisville LB Robert McCune the same way they were with former Florida State RB Greg Jones a year ago — both possess physiques that are chiseled like Adonis.
Auburn RB Carnell Williams impressed scouts with his exceptional quicks, and was the only back on the South roster who stood out.
Scouts were very impressed with the WR group as a whole at the South practice, with Georgia’s Reggie Brown and UAB’s Roddy White particularly opening eyes.
Georgia QB David Greene had the worst mechanics of the quarterbacks on the South roster — all arm with no torque. Miami (Fla.) QB Brock Berlin showed a quick, compact release. Auburn’s Jason Campbell clearly has the most pro potential of the group.
Virginia OG Elton Brown showed up to Mobile for weigh-ins, ringing in at a sloppy 6-4 3/8, 331 pounds but decided not to participate in the week’s activities due to tendinitis in his knee. Florida State’s Ray Willis replaced him in the lineup and was wearing Brown’s No. 61 jersey at the South practice.
Scouts were impressed with the quickness of both USC DTs Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, as they were with the athletic ability of Iowa DT Jonathan Babineaux.