What We Learned at the Senior Bowl

The Chicago Bears talked to a lot of players last week during preparations for the Senior Bowl, but only some of them looked like players in Saturday's game. Who's stock is rising? Who's stock is falling? What did the Bears learn overall? Bear Report wraps up the week down in Mobile.

Selecting a signal-caller early in this draft is not a good idea
The NFL Drafts of 1983 and 1999 were loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks, and while only a few of them turned out to be great ones – John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino in `83; Donovan McNabb and (arguably) Daunte Culpepper in `99 – at least there were half a dozen or so prospects getting a first-round grade. That's not the case this year, and the only QB on display at the Senior Bowl previously expected to be selected in Round 1, Andre Woodson of Kentucky, is currently tumbling down draft boards all across the league.

If there was ever a year to find a potential gem at the game's most important position in the second or third round, this could be it because the likes of Tennessee's Erik Ainge and USC's John David Booty looked much better than Woodson or the week-long darling of Mobile, Delaware's Joe Flacco.

Nobody helped himself more Saturday afternoon than Rodgers-Cromartie
Every player personnel department in the league is re-adjusting its draft board after last week's activity, and one name that is skyrocketing up every list is Tennessee State defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He had five solo tackles, broke up one pass, and intercepted another in an impressive display.

Although he's listed as a cornerback, he might be better suited to play free safety so he can use his athletic ability to roam the middle of the field.

Nobody hurt himself more Saturday afternoon than Brennan


QB Colt Brennan
Dave Martin/AP Images
Despite the freakish numbers he put up in three seasons at Hawaii, quarterback Colt Brennan had a lot of questions to answer in Mobile in terms of his pro potential. After a miserable Senior Bowl showing in which he only completed two of six passes, was intercepted once, and got sacked twice, it's quite possible that he'll slip all the way from Round 2 to having to sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent.

The Bears spent a lot of time last Sunday with Brennan before workouts began on Monday, but he could find himself a CFL backup very soon just like his paradise predecessor, Timmy Chang.

Ellis would be a dream come true at nose tackle next to Harris
Perhaps the most dominant player in the Senior Bowl was USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, who looked unblockable at times and pulled down Woodson in the end zone for a safety. He's a true nose guard and could pair with Tommie Harris to form the best interior D-line in the NFL as soon as next season, but there's no way he makes it out of the top five come April after Saturday's performance.

The Bears showed some interest in Marcus Harrison of Arkansas and DeMario Pressley of North Carolina State, although Harrison looked to be the better of the two on game day with three tackles and two pass breakups.

Laws is just a playmaker and will make some team very happy
Notre Dame defensive tackle Trevor Laws is only projected to be a middle-round pick, but this guy is simply a throwback football player and will be a success on Sundays. While he won't test well at the NFL Combine in terms of raw ability, he registered an incredible 112 tackles in South Bend this past season and was all over the place at the Senior Bowl.

With six tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery, Laws showed that he can compete with the big boys despite his limited physical tools.

Flacco will be a major project no matter which team drafts him
Despite coming from a small school, Flacco was pretty impressive during Senior Bowl workouts and might have made himself into a first-rounder. At 6-6 and 230 pounds, he has prototypical size and showed considerable arm strength Saturday even when throwing off his back foot.

The Bears had a one-on-one interview with Flacco in Mobile, although they should take a closer look at the game tape because the former Blue Hen apeared quite uncomfortable under center after a collegiate career in the shotgun running the spread option almost exclusively.

Washington is not the answer to complement Benson at tailback


RB Chauncey Washington
Dave Martin/AP Images
The Bears spent a lot of time with USC running back Chauncey Washington during the week, and while he comes from a school that has produced some of the greatest in history at his position, he's not even the next LenDale White let alone Marcus Allen. Despite 38 yards on five carries, he looked stiff, he looked slow, and he was completely lost when asked to line up at fullback for a few snaps.

Cedric Benson certainly didn't do much to win over the hearts of Bears fans this past season, but that competition GM Jerry Angelo wants in the backfield next season will not come from Washington.

Williams is a name worth considering with the 14th-overall pick
It's no secret that the Midway Monsters were nothing short of dreadful along the offensive line this past season, which only made the skill-position players look even worse. Vanderbilt offensive tackle Chris Williams has everything teams need on the left side, and he started to show a mean streak Saturday that some scouts were afraid he didn't possess.

There's no way that Jake Long of Michigan will be available once the Bears are on the clock in the first round, but Williams is now in the conversation along with Boise State junior Ryan Clady.

Henne did not look nearly as good as his numbers would suggest
Michigan quarterback Chad Henne was one of the top performers on the stat sheet in Saturday's game, but his accuracy was erratic at best and his 36-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins of California was in reality a poorly thrown ball. If you take away that play, the former Wolverine averaged just 3.5 yards on his other eight pass attempts.

While Henne might have moved up from Round 3 to Round 2 in the eyes of many player personnel departments, this observer was not overly impressed despite his high intangible grades.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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