By Chad Reuter, Senior Analyst, NFLDraftScout.com
MOBILE, Ala. -- The Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. this week boasts the top talent in the all-star game circuit, and provides prospects with their best opportunity to impress scouts on the field before next month's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Players must enter Senior Bowl week with the knowledge that scouts and personnel men will watch their every move during drills, scrimmages and even just walking around the Renaissance Riverview Hotel. It's a weeklong job interview during which draft slots - and money-making potential - can change dramatically.
Although the Combine is considered the top pre-draft event, the Senior Bowl has one major advantage: there's actual football played here. Teams like to see 40-yard dash times, but they really want to see a player's practice habits, football skills and physicality when the pads are on.
Some players have more to prove than others. Prospects from schools outside the Football Bowl Subdivision must show they can compete against those from major programs. Others might have to change positions because their body type or speed necessitates it. And a few have less production than potential, which might cost them come draft day.
The following players have the most to gain - or lose - in Mobile this week: William Beatty, OT, Connecticut:
Flying under the radar most of 2008, people are really starting to catch on to the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Beatty's athleticism. This year's offensive tackle class might not take up one of every four slots in the first round like last year's crop, but Beatty's potential certainly makes a six-pack of first-round tackle prospects a great likelihood. However, he has to perform as expected as a pass protector and effective run blocker this week. Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois:
English isn't greatly undersized at 6-3 and 254 pounds, so 4-3 teams might look at him as an end. But given the chance to play standing up in Mobile would give English an opportunity to show enough versatility to challenge for first-round consideration, especially considering teams noticed his ability to cover running backs out of the backfield during the Huskies' bowl game. With Arizona, New England and Pittsburgh all picking late in the initial stanza, English and other ends versatile to move to outside linebacker will be working hard to get their attention. Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty:
Underclassmen dominate the top of the running back class. Jennings, who transferred from Pittsburgh after a successful freshman season to be closer to his ill father, could challenge for a late first or early second-round pick if his foot work and strength are appreciated by scouts in Mobile. The current NFL trend of having dynamic ball-carrying duos means many teams would love to see a 6-1, 235-pound, 4.5 40 guy like Jennings in their backfield. Domonique Johnson, CB, Jackson State:
Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl last year, and in combination with a stellar Combine he ended up as the 16th overall pick by Arizona and is already a playmaking starter. Johnson might not have quite the same talent as "DRC," but his practices this week are no less important to his draft stock. The Missouri transfer has the size (6-2, 190) and 4.4 speed teams like, but must show he can be physical and disciplined enough in coverage to earn a first-day pick. Pat White, QB, West Virginia:
All quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl will be under the microscope this week, in what is basically a playoff for the second-tier spots behind juniors Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Graham Harrell and Sam Houston State's (and Oklahoma transfer) Rhett Bomar are the front-runners going into the week, but White clearly has the most to gain (or lose). His future as an NFL quarterback has been a major question since he burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman. Some scouts like his leadership and say he can make all of the throws, others believe his lack of size limits his ability to see the field among NFL-sized linemen. There's no questioning his toughness or vision as a runner, however. It will be interesting to see if White gets some reps at receiver; displaying good hands could lead to his being drafted in a "slash" role if teams aren't satisfied with his passing ability. Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State:
Scouts know Williams has all the tools to be a playmaker in the NFL. He flashed that ability as a receiver, runner and returner during his career in Happy Valley, but he was never really that go-to receiver everyone expected him to become as a top high school recruit. Williams' ability to run crisp routes, display strong hands and continue to excel on special teams could, along with a good Combine workout, push him ahead of a few underclassmen into the first round.TV Schedule
NFL Network’s exclusive high-definition coverage of the league’s next generation of talent begins Monday, January 19 at 4:00 PM ET from Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL with the Under Armour Senior Bowl and the week-long events leading up to Saturday’s game. Practice coverage runs Monday through Thursday, January 22 with live two-hour telecasts from North and South team practices. Each night at 8:00 PM ET a 30-minute Path to the Draft Senior Bowl Recap Show airs providing interviews and analysis. The week culminates Saturday, January 24 with the 60th annual Under Armour Senior Bowl at 7:00 PM ET, beginning with a special Under Armour Senior Bowl Pregame Show at 6:30 PM ET. The network’s on-air talent roster from Mobile includes Paul Burmeister, Mike Mayock, Charles Davis and Lindsay Soto. Bob Papa calls Saturday’s game alongside Mayock and Davis in the booth, with Soto and Burmeister on the sidelines...
The Senior Bowl features 100 of the country’s best senior collegiate football players and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South. This year, the North team will be coached by Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals staff, while Jack Del Rio and the Jacksonville Jaguars coaches lead the South.
The Senior Bowl is attended annually by more than 800 NFL coaches, scouts and front office personnel searching for the next NFL superstars. NFL Network will be there for the entire week with 17.5 original hours of programming from Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Fans will have an open window to the action all week, including practices and the game, giving them the same view every team uses to help determine its draft.
In 2008, the Senior Bowl produced 11 first-round picks in the NFL Draft and a total of 82 selections overall. 2008 Senior Bowl participant Chris Johnson is one of 25 former Senior Bowl participants to be named to the 2009 Pro Bowl.
Among players who have accepted invitations to participate: quarterbacks Pat White (West Virginia), John Parker Wilson (Alabama) and Graham Harrell (Texas Tech); receivers Derrick Williams (Penn State) and Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia); tight end Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State); running backs Javon Ringer (Michigan State) and James Davis (Clemson); cornerback Mike Mickens (Cincinnati); and USC linebackers Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.
This is the third year NFL Network has had the exclusive rights to the Under Armour Senior Bowl. The 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl is part of NFL Network’s college football and Path to the Draft programming which includes College Football Now, the Insight Bowl, the Texas Bowl and the 2009 Scouting Combine. Live pick-by-pick coverage of the 2009 NFL Draft airs April 25-26 on NFL Network. 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl on NFL Network Programming Schedule:Monday, Jan. 19
4:00 ET – Day 1: North Team Practice (HD)
8:00 ET – Day 1: Under Armour Senior Bowl Recap Show (HD) Tuesday, Jan. 20
10:30 ET – Day 2: North Team Practice (HD)
5:00 ET – Day 2: South Team Practice (HD)
8:00 ET – Day 2: Under Armour Senior Bowl Recap Show (HD) Wednesday, Jan. 21
10:30 ET – Day 3: North Team Practice (HD)
5:00 ET – Day 3: South Team Practice (HD)
8:00 ET – Day 3: Under Armour Senior Bowl Recap Show (HD) Thursday, Jan. 22
10:30 ET – Day 4: North Team Practice (HD)
5:00 ET – Day 4: South Team Practice (HD)
8:00 ET – Day 4: Under Armour Senior Bowl Recap Show (HD) Saturday, Jan. 24
6:30 ET – Under Armour Senior Bowl Pregame Show (HD)
7:00 ET – 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl (HD)
10:00 ET – NFL Total Access
NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the only television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football. For more information, log on to www.nfl.com/nflnetwork. NFL.com is the exclusive Internet home of NFL videos and NFL Network.CO: NFL Media, NFL NetworkRelated Links:* 2009 Senior Bowl: Practice Review* 2009 Senior Bowl: Wednesday Practice Reports* 2009 Senior Bowl: Tuesday Practice Reports* 2009 Senior Bowl: Monday Practice Reports* Senior Bowl Journal: Oregon State OG/OT Andy Levitre* 2009 Senior Bowl Measurements, Excel Spreadsheet: Height, Weight, Hand, Arm, Plus/Minus notes from listed* Senior Bowl Rosters* Senior Bowl Preview* Senior Bowl TV Schedule