Senior Bowl through Orange Colored Glasses
The NFL season is not even wrapped up and before anyone blinks, the offseason for most teams are already in full swing. The Senior Bowl, a collection of the nation's top senior talent, is upon us. For the Cleveland Browns, this offseason in particular appears to be crucial if they ever plan on making the next step from bottom feeder to
probable playoff contender. The only way for this seemingly impossible upswing to occur is by continuing to add as much talent to the roster imaginable at every position on the field. To accomplish this task General Manager, Phil Savage, will take long hard looks at all the top prospects in this upcoming week. The question is… "What prospects should get long hard looks and are the most likely to entice the Cleveland Browns?"
Let us concentrate on those positions which appear to be the most glaring areas of need. Here are some names which would seem to be the most likely candidates/targets…
Arron Sears OT/OG Tennessee – Sears just might be the best player in the country no one ever seems to mention. Entering and during the season, names like Joe Thomas, Levi Brown, even underclassmen Jake Long and Sam Baker were receiving most the attention as the top offensive line prospects in the country. Sears can lay a legit claim to that throne, or at very least be mentioned in the same breath. The hope for some team is Sears falls to round two and they will land a steal and immediate starter. Sears has the versatility to play four out of the five positions up front. At 6'4" 330 lbs., his best position at the next level will likely be guard; but that does not mean he could not be a starting strongside tackle. Sears brings the size, power, and mean streak to be a dominant inside presence for whomever selects him. Names like Logan Mankins and Davin Joseph had solid Senior Bowl weeks and found their way on playoff caliber rosters at the end of round one when everything was said and done. It would be no surprise whatsoever if this was to happen to Sears as well.
Josh Beekman OG/C Boston College – It has been stated by some Josh Beekman was the most consistent offensive line prospect in the country. The scary part of this statement is he could be both the top pure guard and center prospect in this draft. Certainly he is the top overall interior prospect in the country. It will be interesting this week to see which position the coaches have Beekman devote more time toward. The one area offensive line coaches will love outside of his versatility is his obvious mean streak. One play in particular which is emblazoned in my mind from this season was watching tape of Beekman literally spear a pile to clean it off for his running back. He dove head first, body completely parallel to the ground, and flew two or three yards to blast a guy standing over his tackled running back. The one area of concern for Beekman is his overall size. He is *listed* at 6'1". The Senior Bowl's annual meat market will tell the truth when he steps up to the line as we will find out whether or not his stock will rise or drop.
Joe Staley OT C.Michigan – A little birdie once told me Mr. Savage had his eye on Staley. Even personally visiting the MAC championship game to watch Staley closely. The question becomes, does that trend continue this week? Staley is another former tight end that has just begun to hone his craft as a left tackle prospect. His strength is his athleticism and footwork, but appears to lack some upper body strength which negates any type of punch he shows. Standing 6'6" tall and hovering around that Mendoza line for lineman, 300 lbs., and hailing from a smaller conference, Staley has plenty of upside but his play this week will show whether or not he can handle the top talent around the country.
Adam Carriker DE Nebraska – Carriker is an enigma at this point in the whole process of offseason evaluation. Based purely on talent, he would appear to be a slamdunk first round prospect. Watching him play closely this year, one would think Carriker is closer to a late second/early third round prospect. At 6'6" 295 lbs. and playing defensive end one thing is for certain, teams which employ the 34 defensive fronts will be greatly intrigued by what he does bring to the table. Though never putting up the pass rush numbers many scouts expected this season; Carriker is still a very disciplined end prospect who is stout against the run and does have the overall talent to get to the quarterback and make plays in the backfield. A strong performance this particular week could easily sway scouts and push his stock into the first round and never look back.
Ray McDonald DE/DT Florida – A good indication of a possible 34 defensive end prospect is when a prospect shows the ability to rush from the a traditional end as well play some defensive tackle and prove to be stout enough. McDonald is this type of prospect. A former starter for the Gators as both a defensive tackle and end in their four man front; McDonald does have a few concerns which could be cleared up this week. First is his weight. McDonald is listed anywhere from 275 to 285 lbs. Most 34 defensive ends hover around the 300 mark. Also there are injury concerns. Overall McDonald was a rock this year on a National Championship defense and sometimes scouts have to overlook the knocks when they see a football player.
David Patterson DT Ohio St. – As Browns' fans, most watch the Buckeyes religiously and have their own favorites as to who they would love to have on their favorite professional football team as well. Names like Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, the speedster Ted Ginn Jr., and the disruptive Quinn Pitcock are those prospects whom are the most often brought up in conversation. But even with all that talent just mentioned, the other senior defensive tackle prospect, David Patterson, may be the best fit for what the Browns organization on defense. Already unbelievably thin and old up along the defensive front, Patterson brings the size and techniques needed to be a 34 defensive end at the next level. He excels at using his hands to shed blocks and making the proper reads up front. Patterson is exactly the unheralded prospect needed to play and excel at the position and can be had as a possible mid round pick.
Josh Wilson CB Maryland – Two names immediately pop to mind when discussing Wilson, Tye Hill and the late Darrent Williams. Both were considered undersized coming into their Senior Bowl week by scouts, but after having very good weeks in coverage this knock on both slowly faded away. Hill became a first rounder and Williams was Denver's starter until his untimely death. Wilson is very much in the same mold, a physical specimen in a 5'9" frame. In his Terrapin career, Wilson has shown top speed, recovery, and a physicality not always seen out on the island. It is not unrealistic for Josh Wilson to end up as a first day pick when everything is all said and done.
Aaron Ross CB Texas – Recently awarded the Thorpe Award as the best secondary player in the country; Ross' stock has risen all season. Ross possesses blazing speed, nice size for the position, and the added bonus of top kick returning ability. The area which really continues to improve his overall stock as mentioned above is his consistency this season. Ross has always had the talent, but he played to his talent level for most of this season. With the top corner prospect still in doubt overall for this particular draft, do not be surprised if Ross' name comes up as a legit first rounder (bare minimum first day pick) as late April closes in.
Eric Weddle CB/S Utah – Mr.Everything for the Utes. Weddle is the type of player every coach wants on his team. He can hit like a safety, but has the speed to play corner at the next level. He has even played some running back, receiver, and quarterback in Utah's system this season. Literally a coach's dream to have this type of versatility, leadership, and talent in one player.
Other prospects to keep a close eye on this weekend: LaMarr Woodley DE Michigan, Tony Hunt RB Penn St., Ryan Kahlil C USC, Justin Blalock OT/OG Texas, Kareem Brown DT Miami, Mansfield Wrotto OT Georgia Tech, David Irons CB Auburn, and Quentin Moses DE Georgia,