To many, the Senior Bowl is just another game with college players. Maybe if you're a fan of one of the players because of your affiliation with a school, you tune in to see that guy play with his college team's helmet on one last time. For NFL scouts and internet draftniks it's a multi-day scouting process that starts with the weigh-ins on day 1, progresses to the practices and then culminates with the actual game (which many scouts don't even attend). In today's NFL draft news cycle every part of this process is televised in some fashion with NFL Network's Mike Mayock guiding you along the way.
It's sort of an odd scouting experience. Some of the best players choose to skip the whole thing (although this seems to have become rarer) and other top prospects can't be invited because they weren't seniors. So, you end up left with a hodgepodge of top talent mixed with players that could go anywhere from day 2 of the draft to potentially undrafted. Nevertheless, it's still the best collection of talent put together where players run real NFL drills, get coached by real NFL staffs (this year it was the Redskins and Vikings coaching staffs) and play in a somewhat competitive, slightly modified (some rules match the Pro Bowl), NFL-style (College-specific rules are not used) game.
Leading up to the game, those with boots on the ground in Mobile, Alabama keep an eye for which team's scouts are talking to which prospects. The great guys over at DraftCountdown.com track all this at the Senior Bowl Headquarters page. You can either click on those links to find out what they saw or check out the list here after the jump.
A lot of the media focus at the Senior Bowl is bestowed upon the quarterbacks. They are easy to watch and fun to project. However, this year a lot of the buzz was on a postion the Chargers need: Pass Rushers. The big three of Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram got a lot of attention at practices and in the game. They all seemed to impress enough that I'm pretty confident they will now all be gone by the time the Chargers pick barring a bunch of teams reaching for bigger needs. However, there still was some love thrown around for guys like Marshall's Vinny Curry and 3-4 experienced Cam Johnson from Virginia. Both could be targets for the Chargers on Day 2.
Getting back to 1st round possibilities, Ohio State's OT Mike Adams impressed many in practices. The buzz seems to be that he's now in the 1st round mix. That being said, the game tape from this season isn't all that impressive and makes you wonder how he can be so good in practice, but not as good in games. If there is something to be fixed, the Chargers are a good landing spot since he can apprentice Marcus McNeill and maybe play some OG as a rookie. Also, on the offensive line there is Georgia's Cordy Glenn who I talked about in this earlier article. He showed scouts that he can handle the LT position, but most still see his best work in the NFL coming at OG or RT.
Here's who DraftCountdown.com saw talking with Chargers Scouts:
- Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
- Lavonte David, OLB/ILB, Nebraska
- Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
- Alameda Ta'amu, NT, Washington
- Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
- Johnnie Troutman, OG, Penn St.
- Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa St.
- Matt McCants, OT, UAB
- Nigel Bradham, OLB/ILB, Florida St.
- Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
- Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego St.
- Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame
- Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise St.
- Emil Igwenagu, FB, Massachussetts
My thoughts on this list would be that the Chargers are looking closely at the right positions. There's a couple pass rushers and other LBs in the mix. CB and OL could use depth. FB and NT are positions with question marks. And I've always like the idea of developing a backup QB for Rivers and Ryan Lindley might fit that bill.
Some other notes I have is that I liked some of what I saw from Oklahoma St. S Markelle Martin. If the Chargers want a more rangey safety than an in-the-box bruiser, then he could draw interest. I listed him as a 3rd round pick before, but I think he could be in the 2nd round conversation. Some WRs looked good. Iowa WR Marvin McNutt caught almost everything in sight. He's a day 2 option as is Arkansas' Joe Adams who made some very difficult catches during the actual game. ILB Bobby Wagner played in a 3-4 at Utah State and could fit nicely in the mix in San Diego after getting good reviews in Mobile.