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Senior Bowl Evaluations

Posted Jan 22, 2014

Two dozen Buccaneer coaches and scouts are among the mass of NFL personnel pros in Mobile, Alabama this week...NFL Network analysts are also on hand to break down the action

Twenty-three of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaches, scouts and personnel men traveled to Mobile, Alabama this week to get an up-close look at the draft prospects taking part in this year's Senior Bowl.  Tuesday's hiring of Jason Licht, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals and another NFL personnel pro on hand in Mobile this week, as Tampa Bay's new general manager gave the Bucs an even two dozen pairs of scouting eyes on the practice fields in Mobile.

That's typical of any of the NFL teams, as the Senior Bowl is a valuable opportunity to see some of the draft's top prospects in direct comparison to each other, and to gather the all-important one-on-one interviews during the evening hours.  Also typical: The Bucs' coaches and scouts will be back in Tampa by the end of the week, before the actual game is played on Saturday.  The midweek practices, in which NFL coaches can put the players in pro systems and create whatever matchups they want, are seen as the most important part of the Senior Bowl experience, in terms of draft scouting.

-- Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews goes one-on-one with Florida CB Jaylen Watkins
So what have Buccaneer scouts and their NFL peers seen so far this week?  According to the NFL Network analysts on the scene, there has been an intriguing competition among the six quarterbacks in attendance, which includes Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Fresno State's Derek Carr but not – rather notably – Alabama's A.J. McCarron.  While Carr is considered the most likely of this year's Senior Bowl quarterbacks to be a high pick, there is also a lot of interest in Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo.

Here, Charles Davis and Mike Mayock discuss the work of the North Team quarterbacks on Tuesday, noting that Boyd seemed to handle the windy conditions better than Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas.  The South passers had to deal with strong winds, too, with gusts up to 30 miles per hour during practice, but Mayock was impressed with the footwork and accurate passing of Carr.  A combination of McCarron's decision to stay away and Garoppolo's own strong work during last week's East-West Shrine Game week in St. Petersburg got the EIU passer a Senior Bowl invite, and he apparently made the most of it with a good performance on Tuesday.

Not all of the talk was about quarterbacks.  While giving his own take on Garoppolo, NFLN analyst Daniel Jeremiah (a former NFL scout) also noted some standouts among the wide receivers, including Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Oklahoma's small but effective Jalen Saunders.  Moving on from the skill-position players, Davis noted some especially good work from Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas and Missouri pass-rusher Michael Sam.

There are approximately 110 NFL draft hopefuls working out this week in Mobile under the watchful eyes of the NFL's assembled scouts.  They'll wrap up the all-important practice week on Thursday, followed by a walk-through and a meet-the-fans event on Friday.  The 2014 Senior Bowl will take place on Saturday, January 25, with kickoff scheduled for 3:00 p.m.  The game will be broadcast nationally by the NFL Network.