January 25, 2005 Senior Bowl Week Begins Scott Wright President, NFL Draft Countdown As if the prospects playing in the game weren't enough the stands have been littered with other top prospects who are working the NFL circles as well. I had a chance to speak with Arizona St. QB Andrew Walter who said his rehab is coming along fine and that he isn't ruling out being able to take part in the combine workouts but if nothing else he will definitely be able to show his wares before the Draft in late-April. Clemson CB Justin Miller was in attendance and while he may not have great height I can tell you from standing next to him he is solidly built. At this point he has not decided whether or not he will work out in Indy. Others in attendance were ILB's Channing Crowder of Florida and Odell Thurman of Georgia, RB Ciatrick Fason of Florida, athlete C.J. Leak of Tennessee, OT Trai Essex of Northwestern, WR Dante Ridgeway of Ball St. L.S.U. C Ben Wilkerson was also making the rounds and he told me that he is still about 1-1 1/2 months away in his rehab and won't be able to work out at the combine but he will be in attendance. Then there was also the smattering of others big names including "The Shark" himself, Drew Rosenhaus, making the rounds. Now, onto the football! The North squad practiced first this morning with K Mike Nugent of Ohio St. and P Cole Farden of Oklahoma St. the first two guys on the field about an hour early. Nugent looked very impressive and was showing off his leg strength with kick attempts in the high-50's and he even nailed a 63-yarder. DE / OLB Trent Cole of Cincinnati looked much better at his new position today which bodes well for his ability to make the move. Ronald Bartell, a sleeper CB prospect from Howard, looked big and smooth and worked at both corner as well as safety again. In my mind his best pro position might be at safety though because he really struggled in man-to-man coverage. CB Abraham Elimimian of Hawaii looked very small but he made some plays today and stood out among the cornerbacks and was especially impressive in coverage. U.N.L.V. S Jamaal Brimmer struggled in coverage and showed poor hands, unable to catch anything clean. On the other hand O.J. Atogwe of Stanford showed good ball skills and continued to make plays. On the offensive side of the ball Akron QB Charlie Frye continued to look sharp making all the throws and showing a nice touch on the deep ball. The standout of the day however may have been WR Mark Clayton of Oklahoma, who doesn't have ideal size at just a little over 5-9 but runs tremendous routes, has good hands, is quick and a terror after the catch and has the speed to separate. Some team is going to have a steal if they can overlook his stature. Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue also continued to impress at wideout doing everything well and just making the play every opportunity he got. Vincent Jackson of Northern Colorado has garnered serious praise from scouts for how well he moves at his size but he struggled to catch the ball a little again, although he did make a great play near the end of practice when he got seperation and caught a bomb. Finally, Craig Bragg of U.C.L.A. did a nice job on the short and intermediate routes and looks like a nice possession receiver. Along the offensive line Michael Roos of Eastern Washington continued to hold his own and did a nice job when matched up against Matt Roth in one-on-one drills. When the South took the practice field in the afternoon there was a noticeable difference in the attitude and intensity of the players and the team was much more spirited and feisty than their counterparts. Coach Jon Gruden was working with the quarterbacks on their cadence early and a guy who really stood out was David Greene of Georgia, who showed off his accuracy and was able to make most of the throws. Jason Campbell of Auburn showed nice touch and accuracy, dropping the ball down the chimney to Reggie Brown on one throw, but Brock Berlin of Miami seemed to have to put everything he had on his throws and it still took a while for them to get to their target. Cadillac Williams of Auburn, perhaps the biggest star in attendance, showed off his quickness and was absolutely explosive while Kay-Jay Harris of West Virginia drew oops and ahhs when he absolutely leveled Vincent Fuller on a running play. The two Georgia wideouts, Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown, made some plays with Gibson certainly looking the part but Brown had a little trouble holding onto the ball. TE Alex Holmes of USC is thick and physical but looked stiff and unathletic and didn't leave me all that impressed. One of the big stories of the week is Matt Jones, who is making the move to wide receiver and didn't embarrass himself at all. He is very tall and a little lumbering but he has the speed, quickness and athleticism to make it and even made a nice play where he held onto a ball over the middle despite getting laid out by a big hit. After practice Jones said he just needed reps and is more than willing to make the move from quarterback and appreciates all the top coaching he is getting this week. The secondary is a star studded group and while I hope to spend a lot more time focusing on them tomorrow but a couple of guys who stood out were Carlos Rogers of Auburn and Bryant McFadden of Florida St., while Corey Webster of L.S.U. was very disappointing. James Butler, the S from Georgia Tech was also very impressive in drills. After the practice I was able to speak with top defensive lineman Shaun Cody of USC and Marcus Spears of L.S.U. Cody is training with Athletes Performance in Los Angeles and hopes to stay inside at tackle while Spears said he is open to playing either end or tackle but feels he has made a lot of progress outside the last couple of years. Both players looked very impressive physically and carry their weight well and look like they would each be able to pack on some more pounds if necessary. And finally, you can take it for what it is worth but after practice scouts usually rush to talk with certain players and here is a list of some of the things I saw: DT Anttaj Hawthorne of Wisconsin was mobbed by Dallas scouts, Carolina talked with J.J. Arrington, Michael Roos and Manuel White, who they told he was a good fit for their system, Baltimore spoke with Adam Terry, Taylor Stubblefield talked with San Francisco and New Orleans, Cincinnati and New Orleans sought out OG Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss, Ben Wilkerson spoke with Kansas City and Corey Webster conversed with Carolina as well as former NFL safety Marcus Robertson, now working with the Titans. Could any of this be a sign of things to come? We shall see.