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Senior Bowl prospects to watch closely for the Los Angeles Chargers

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Today is a very happy day.

It is the first day of practices at the Reese’s Senior Bowl which marks the beginning of an important string of days for NFL scouts to start filling out their preliminary draft reports for potential prospects and getting ever-so closer to the NFL Draft.

This is the first time in the last three years that I haven’t been able to attend the event in person (damn you adult responsibilities) and I couldn’t be more up upset about missing this great opportunity to be around the likes of NFL and media personnel who are all there for the same reason: to have fun and check out the best crop of talent in the country.

It’s going to be a great week. Today is practice one of three before a walk-through on Friday with the actual game to be played on Saturday afternoon. So kick back, relax, and stay tuned for some more Senior Bowl content as the week goes on.

QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

Height: 6-foot-6 1/8
Weight: 227
Hand: 10 inches
Arm: 33 3/8 inches
Wingspan: 78 7/8 inches

Up to this point in the offseason for the Chargers, Herbert has been the most-mocked prospect to LA through the majority of mock drafts done so far by the media. Whether it’s the fine people from ESPN, CBS Sports, The Athletic, etc., Herbert is more likely than not the pick for the Bolts at #6.

Herbert is arguably the top quarterback prospect at the Senior Bowl this week and scouts are chomping at the bit to see the monolithic passer compete with and against the best senior prospects in the entire country. The supporting cast that Herbert will be playing with are going to be the best he has had in college and that means this week is going to answer a lot of questions about the Pac-12 signal-caller.

He’s been dogged by consistency issues and a lack of an “alpha male” personality that many scouts believe will be a turn-off for most NFL clubs but you can’t help but marvel at his physical capabilities and the “wow” plays that are sprinkled throughout his tape.\

Many Charger fans will fall in love with Herbert’s mobility simply because of how much it contrasts with Rivers’ athletic profile. After years of watching Rivers give up the second pressure arrives in his face, a quarterback who runs for three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl is a sure-fire way of get the juices flowing.

RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State

Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 195
Hand: 8 3/8 inches
Arm: 30 6/8 inches
Wingspan: 75 inches

Once committed to the University of Iowa as a former four-star recruit, Benjamin eventually flipped to the Sun Devils of Arizona State where he enjoyed a productive career as one of the top backs in the Pac-12 over the last few seasons.

While he came in smaller than noted on the ASU roster (5-10, 210), Benjamin’s lack of size is immediately squashed when you turn on the tape. He isn’t the most explosive athlete on the field but he has this uncanny ability to know when to make cuts and jukes at the perfect time to make someone miss.

Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network had some glowing remarks in reference to Benjamin’s power as a small back, saying “Is a little too small to be truly considered a power back, but golly if he doesn’t finish every run falling forward. Ideal short-yardage back due to no-nonsense vision and running style, but his low-riding frame and thick lower half help him deliver shots in the hole to win in 50/50 fill situations and finish runs. Has good leg drive to carry secondary defenders for an extra couple of yards and rarely loses to leverage or to a big hit.

The Chargers aren’t likely to take a running back during the first two days of the draft but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them grab another complementary back to pair with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. That would give the Chargers a trio of running backs that all excel in making defenders miss en route to some valuable YAC.

CB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa

Height: 6-foot-0 2/8
Weight: 199
Hand: 9 inches
Arm: 32 1/8 inches
Wingspan: 77 1/8 inches

Ojemudia was one of the later additions to the Senior Bowl roster and is likely a name not many outside of Iowa City would probably recognize.

At 6-foot-0 and about 200 pounds, Ojemudia has adequate size to go along with the second-longest wingspan at the Senior Bowl amongst the quarterbacks. Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley loves himself some length at the cornerback position, plus the Chargers have found success with their other defensive back taken from the University of Iowa in Desmond King.

Like King, Ojemudia is not afraid of getting his hands dirty and sticking his shoulder into the body of a ball-carrier. He is a sure-tackler and has exemplified some real play-recognition ability to get ahead of plays and snuff them out before they begin.

Ojemuida had six total interceptions while a Iowa, all coming in his final two seasons after taking over the starting role from former All-American cornerback Josh Jackson. He finished his senior year with a career-high 52 tackles and nine passes defended with three picks.

Unless Ojemudia impresses at the Senior Bowl, I’d expect Ojemudia to be available in the final two rounds of the NFL Draft.

OT Josh Jones, Houston

Height: 6-foot-5 1/8
Weight: 311
Hand: 10 1/8 inches
Arm: 33 5/8 inches
Wingspan: 80 4/8 inches

Jones is this year’s “high-upside, raw talent” prospect at offensive tackle and that’s always a captivating cocktail for NFL teams who are looking for and willing to take a chance for a cornerstone piece of the offense.

With Auburn’s Prince Tego Wanogho having failed his medical testing and now having to sit-out the all-star event, Jones is now likely viewed as the top offensive tackle in Mobile and that means many more eyes will be on the stud from athletic blocker from Houston.

Jones checks all the boxes you want: Length, check. Height, check. The type of footwork that garners the description of “basketball feet”, check.

Make no mistake, however, Jones is really raw. He truly as all the upside in the world but is that something the Chargers would be willing to take a chance on one year after they just took a “project” in Trey Pipkins? I highly doubt it.

If I’m the Chargers, and I believe we need to take a tackle with our first or second pick, I’d rather invest a selection into someone closer to a technician than someone who can run and jump a little better than most offensive linemen.

DT Davon Hamilton, Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-3 6/8
Weight: 327
Hand: 9 7/8 inches
Arm: 32 7/8 inches
Wingspan: 79 6/8 inches

Hamilton was another late addition to the Senior Bowl and I’m actually really glad he is there. The Chargers could potentially add to the interior of their defensive line and he is someone who, while being a good player in his own right, isn’t going to be taken in the top-tier of his position due to a lack of production and that could mean the Chargers have a chance to draft him in the later rounds.

At roughly 6-foot-4 and just under 330 pounds, he is a sizable defender with the mass and power to plug up inside running lanes. He was often double-teamed, which plays into his lack of production, but he understands leverage and can shuck opposing blockers at a moment’s notice to bring down runners for little to no yardage.

After spending the last few year’s with defensive tackles ranging between 6-foot-0 and 6-foot-1, Chargers went out and grabbed Jerry Tillery who stands at a whopping 6-foot-7. I loved the pick regardless of Tillery’s shortcomings during his regular season. I also think they need to double-down on the size of their interior defenders by grabbing someone of Hamilton’s stature who will only make the jobs of the linebackers easier by gobbling up double teams and opening up fill lanes for second level defenders.