The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and with our 49ers involved, it is a busy two weeks of Super Bowl content. However, the Senior Bowl is also set for this Saturday, and the NFL Draft process never sleeps!
Although the game is not until Saturday, scouts have been lining up to poke and prod the nearly 100 college seniors trying to make a career in professional football. Practices got underway Tuesday and a lot can be gained (and lost) from them leading up to Saturday’s kickoff. This week Trevor Woods and I will cover the North and South rosters respectively and provide practice notes later in the week, along with an open game thread on Saturday.
I’ll get things started by checking out some names to keep an eye on for the South.
RB Stefan Taylor, Stanford – Reminds me of Frank Gore with 5-9 212lbs size. He needs to show effectiveness with less than ideal speed.
TE Vance McDonald, Rice – McDonald is a big tight end with lots of upside. He’s an above average receiver but will need to work on blocking.
TE Michael Williams, Alabama – Williams is the prototypical ‘blocking’ tight end. And at 6-8 he can be sneaking in play action close to the goal line (see BCS National Championship game.)
WR Quinton Patton, La. Tech – Caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns this season in one of nation’s most prolific offense. Great athleticism and precise route running should do him well this week.
OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma – Johnson is a true swing tackle with enormous athleticism to boot. The former quarterback turned tight end turned offensive lineman is screaming up draft boards.
OL Dallas Thomas, Tennessee – Thomas has experience at both guard and tackle in college and is a bit of a tweener, size-wise, for the NFL . Thomas will need to show ability to keep up with quick pass rushers if he wants to play tackle.
DE/OLB Ezekial Ansah – Big-time playmaking ability. Ansah is very versatile and can play a number of positions including DE in both a 4-3 and 3-4 and OLB in a 3-4
NT John Jenkins, Georgia – Jenkins might be the best pure nose tackle in the draft. Massive size (350+ lbs) but has off field concerns as he was ruled academically ineligible for Georgia’s bowl game.
CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana – Alford is 6-0, 185lbs and is deceptively quick. The Senior Bowl is known for unearthing talented defensive backs, this year Alford is at or near the top of that list.
S Shawn Williams, Georgia – Williams is one of the top safeties in this class and likely to be drafted in the first two rounds. If he can prove he can cover deep zones in NFL type defenses, he could even sneak into the first round.
S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia – A natural, ball-hawk, Rambo could climb draft boards with a consistent week of practice. Something he struggled with at Georgia.
S Robert Lester, Alabama – Lester had a storied career at ‘Bama. With his size and closing speed, he could make the middle of the field a dangerous place for receivers this week.
K Dustin Hopkins, Florida State – Hopkins is likely to be first kicker taken in the draft. I think we’ve all seen enough David Akers this season to warrant spending a draft pick on a kicker.
Keep an eye out for practice reports later this week to find out who’s impressing scouts and moving up draft boards. You can also follow all the SB Nation Senior Bowl coverage here.
For a complete list of the North and South rosters click here.
Follow me on Twitter to discuss more: @BigSwinginNick