I’m down in Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl. I was on the same plane in with Jimmy Bama and Sheil Kapadia. It truly is a wonder that the plane wasn’t struck down with a lightning bolt. One chance to take out 3 hooligans.
So let’s talk about the game.
I’ll start by emphasizing that I’m looking for the best players. I’ll certainly focus on areas of need, but any impact players will be of interest. Take ILB for example. Mychal Kendricks is a good young ILB. He was erratic this year, but is good enough that you want to see what he can do with some stability. He might actually have a chance to grow as a player. DeMeco Ryans had a good year. He was more up and down than some may realize. I’m not looking to get rid of Ryans, but what if a player like Christian Jones has a great week in Mobile and looks like he’d be ideal for the Eagles defense? ILB isn’t technically a need, but the thought of adding a young, speedy, talented ILB to play beside Kendricks is pretty darn tempting.
The 2 positions I’ll focus on the most are OLB and S. Here are some quick thoughts on the guys I’ll be watching.
Jeremiah Attaochu – 6-3, 242 – My favorite OLB prospect here. Has played LB and DE. Has some violence to his game. Tough, physical player, but also athletic. Curious to see how he measures in.
Dee Ford – 6-2, 240 – The weigh-in is critical for him. Better not be smaller than he’s listed or that may push him into a situational rusher role. Had a great showing in the title game so I’m excited to see him in the 1-on-1 drills.
Marcus Smith – 6-3, 252 – Natural pass rusher. That’s key for me. I think the Eagles need a ROLB who can get to the QB. Smith is listed as an OLB this week so we’ll get to see him play some in space.
Michael Sam – 6-2, 255 – Might not be 6-2. But he was highly productive for Mizzou. Feels like a Ravens player to me, which is the ultimate compliment you can give a defensive prospect. Can he be effective in coverage? Also excited to see him go against some good OL.
James Gayle – 6-4, 255 – I’m sure the Eagles love his frame. Gayle is a strong, physical player. Solid pass rusher. Not sure if he’s athletic enough to be effective in space.
Chris Smith – 6-3, 268 – Arkansas has some sneaky good athletes. I’m curious to see how athletic Smith really is. He had more than 20 sacks in his career so he’s a proven pass rusher.
Adrian Hubbard – 6-6, 248 – I was down on him last summer, but after watching more tape Hubbard has grown on me. I’d be very interested if the Eagles needed a LOLB. Might be an excellent player to develop behind Barwin. I’m just not sure Hubbard is a good enough pass rusher to play the ROLB spot.
Kyle Van Noy – 6-3, 245 – Some fans love KVN, but I don’t. I love his effort, but I see a very good college player more than I do a terrific pro prospect. The weigh-in will be important for him. I wonder if his best spot might be 3-4 ILB or 4-3 SAM. I’d love him to light it up as a pass rusher this week and prove me wrong, but I don’t see him as a top notch 3-4 OLB prospect.
This isn’t a great group of S prospects.
Deone Bucannon – 6-1, 198 – Can be a big time hitter. Also had a good number of INTs for his career. Best when attacking downfield. Not as good when he’s in space and dealing with athletes.
Kenny Ladler – 6-1, 205 – Size. Experience. Production. Good in all areas. Great in none. Had 11 career TFLs and 9 INTs. Curious to see his cover skills this week.
Isaiah Lewis – 5-11, 210 – I think Lewis might be a good fit for the Eagles. He is a downhill S that can really fly to the ball. Good tackler. Think of all the plays where receivers caught underneath passes and had time to run. Lewis would help clean some of that up. Not a big guy or great athlete, but could help the Eagles.
Craig Loston – 6-2, 209 – Big S who can hit. Real interested to see how he does in coverage. 2-year starter. Had 3 picks in each of those years so he can make some plays. Not sure how instinctive he is. Also curious to see what kind of range he has.
Ahmad Dixon – 6-0, 205 – You can see his potential on tape, but doesn’t jump out at me. Has some burst when he attacks the ball, but I didn’t see him as an impact hitter. Only had 4 picks in 3 years as a starter. Curious to see his hands this week.
Terrence Brooks – 5-11, 200 – Not his biggest fan. Good college player, but it really felt like he benefited from the great players around him. Will try to hit and tackle, but doesn’t pack much pop. Worked fine against college players, but I’m not sure how he’ll do against NFL guys. I might change my mind on Brooks after seeing him up close and personal this week.
Jimmie Ward – 5-11, 192 – Feels like a #3 Safety or even a Nickelback. Has solid man cover skills. Plays hard and will attack the ball. Just doesn’t look like a starting NFL Safety to me. I’d be fine with taking him for depth.
* * * * *
Keep in mind that underclassmen will have a huge impact on these positions. I’ll write about Calvin Pryor and Anthony Barr after the Senior Bowl. I would love to get Pryor at 22. No way I see Barr getting anywhere close to that. Terrific prospect.