MOBILE, Ala. – The two Senior Bowl teams have weighed in, and the first practice of the week starts shortly. Here's what I'll be watching as we open our Senior Bowl coverage here at Lad-Peebles Stadium.
- It appears that Senior Bowl Director Phil Savage and his staff did a nice job of dividing the defensive line so that both sides will have an equal chance in the game. Danny Shelton, the defensive tackle from Washington, is the one player that scouts were talking about at the weigh in this morning. Shelton will be paired with Kentucky's Za'Darius Smith and Utah's Nate Orchard. On the South squad, Owamagbe Odighizuwa of UCLA and Markus Golden of Missouri will join Arkansas' Trey Flowers and Mississippi State's Preston Smith. Orchard might have the best numbers of the group sack-wise, but Odighizuwa and Golden show the ability to capture that edge when you watch them on tape.
- The Cowboys could be in the market for an offensive tackle in this draft if both Doug Free and Jermey Parnell depart in free agency. I am already hearing that I need to keep an eye on T.J. Clemmings of Pittsburgh. Clemmings will get plenty of opportunities to work against some quality edge rushers. If you remember this time last season, it was Zack Martin handling of Aaron Donald during Senior Bowl week that opened more than a few eyes, helping his draft stock.
- I haven't had the opportunity to study these running backs so this is my first exposure of them. On the North squad, I am looking forward to seeing Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska and his explosiveness. Abdullah measured in at 5-8, 198 pounds, which might be a little short -- but physically he looks rock solid. Scouts wanted me to also take a look at David Cobb of Minnesota. Cobb might not have the home run of ability of Abdullah, but at 5-11, 229, his measureables appear good. How these guys are able to pass protect will be huge to these scouts, who are looking for those complete backs that never come off the field.
- This will be a huge week for Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. With these squads working with NFL coaches, it will be interesting to see how many times he has to play from underneath center. In college, the majority of his snaps were played in the shotgun, so how he takes a snap, reads on the move and delivers the ball will be a major step in how these NFL teams view him. There are plenty of scouts that believe that Petty is a system quarterback and will struggle in a pro-style offense. I happen to believe that he can be an outstanding NFL quarterback, so I will be studying his every move in these practices.