You've read (or heard) us say how much more important the week of practice at the Senior Bowl is than the game, itself.
And while it is true that 90% of the scouts, coaches and front office excecutives that were in Mobile this week have now left, don't think that many of them will miss tuning in to the game (4 pm EST, NFL Network).
All players have an opportunity to help themselves with a strong performance today, but quarterbacks, running backs, and linebackers have historically gained the most.
Tim Tebow , of course, will get most of the attention, but be sure to check out the other South passers. West Virginia's Jarrett Brown could put a emphatic end to the week with a strong performance today and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson has certainly flashed.
Because I promised myself I wouldn't write two consecutive sentences about #15, here's my final one -- don't pay so much attention to his elongated release (which remains the same it has always been), but instead to his ability to take the snap from center and accuracy downfield, as these were the two elements in which Tebow made consistent strides over the week.
It will be interesting, as well, to see if any sort of consistency comes from the North passers. Due to his mobility, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour might be able to shake free some of the rust that hindered him this week. Cincinnati's Tony Pike has the arm to dazzle, but hasn't been able to string together more than a few completions in a row. Oregon State's Sean Canfield has struggled to get passes on a line outside the hashes due to a marginal arm strength, but throws a pretty ball down the seam and deep. If he can connect on a big one, he could leave Mobile with a positive.
The most dynamic running back this week of practice has clearly been Ole Miss' Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster . I haven't written about him, however, as the week of practice -- in which defenders were clearly instructed not to wrap up -- is perfectly suited to the elusive speedster's game. Now, don't get me wrong, McCluster showed remarkable strength and balance throughout his monster season in the SEC and may have a strong game today, but it will be tougher for him to break free for the 70 yarders that he was routinely zipping through in practice.
With defenders able to actually tackle backs, it will be interesting to see how the power backs Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State) and LaGarrette Blount (Oregon) fare. Be sure to watch for Wayne State's Joique Bell , who quietly helped himself this week and I wrote about as a one of the "honorable mention " risers from the week of practices.
Attempting to make the tackle on this blend of size, speed and power and shiftiness is a solid, but unspectacular class of linebackers. I'm particularly interested to see how effectively Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon , TCU's Daryl Washington , Florida State's Dekoda Watson and Washington's Donald Butler are able to fight through blocks and make open field stops close to the line of scrimmage, rather than downfield.
One final to note -- watch out for USC safety Taylor Mays to make an impact as a hitter in this game. As the opposite of McCluster, Mays' game is in the ferocity of his hitting, not the mobility he shows in coverage. Considering that he wasn't allowed to hit much over the week of practice, it isn't the least bit surprising that some feel he's struggled. The reality, is that Mays has been the same player this week as he's always been - the preeminent intimidator over the middle of at least the past ten years.
Players to watch in Senior Bowl
Posted on: January 30, 2010 12:42 pm