MOBILE, Ala. – Practices haven't yet started yet, but the Senior Bowl is well underway this week.
This event always gets off to an early start, as scouts and coaches were on hand for the team weigh-ins on Tuesday morning. With the competition set to get underway, we now have a clearer idea of what we're working with – as each player from both teams has now been weighed and measured.
We'll be sure to have plenty of coverage from practice, but for now here are some of my initial thoughts from the weigh-in – as well as an idea of what I'm looking for from these two teams.
- It is likely that both teams will start the week in shells -- so we will not see full pads until Wednesday. There will be some competitive drills, but not like we would see unless they were wearing pads. These are the types of practices where scouts can see more of the athletic ability than physical.
- I am interested to see how comfortable North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz looks throwing the ball today. This is a big stage for him, and with the wet conditions there might be a couple that get away from him. How he bounces back if things go poorly will tell these coaches plenty. I think he needs to start fast this week and build on his momentum from there.
- Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman measured in at 6-7, 269 pounds and looks every bit the part physically, but there are questions about his desire to always play at a high level. This is a week where you will get exposed if you have those types of issues. His final game against North Carolina was outstanding and more in line with the type of player he can be. The light might have come on for him and he could work his way back up some draft boards.
- Eastern Kentucky defensive end is the best pure pass rusher in this draft. Zack Martin made a name for himself in these Senior Bowl practices two years ago blocking Aaron Donald. I am not sure there is an offensive tackle on either side that can handle Spence one-on-one, but if that does happen some scouts will be scrambling back on their notes and tape for a second view.
- I'll be keeping an eye on UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe this week on the North side. His hands were measured last week under eight inches, but a re-measure on Tuesday morning has them at that exact size. I expect that he and Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller to shine -- not only in these practices, but in the game. Sharpe earned an invite to this game due to several teams thinking he deserved a chance to compete. Sharpe has the size and catch radius to put on a show.
- Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady measured in at 6-1, 191 which is how he looks on tape. He might not be a burner, but his length and ability to maintain position in-route are what scouts are looking for. He will likely be challenged more in practice than in the game. He can struggle against the double-move due to how aggressively he plays the position.
- There could be a nice battle in this game between who the Cowboys might like better as a potential player for them at one-technique. They are coaching Austin Johnson from Penn State, but on the other side of the field is Jarran Reed from Alabama. Johnson has more bulk (323 pounds compared to 311), but both are outstanding against the run and are factors rushing the passer.
- My pet cat this week is Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers. I promise he will try to make every single tackle while he is on the field. He measured in at 6-0, 249 which is outstanding because I thought he was going to be under 5-11. At his size he packs a punch.