Steve Hutchinson - Part 2

The Senior Bowl is essentially a full week of tryouts for college seniors in front of NFL coaches, front office personnel, and scouts. First, one must realize that the players have to be invited to participate, and thus, just receiving an invitation is testament to a player's perceived potential.

Unlike other bowl games, the two teams created for the Senior Bowl - the North and South, are coached for by NFL coaching staffs that were the closest to making the playoffs (teams that didn't make the post season). Last year the coaching staffs were from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

As a scout based in Seattle, I have easy access to most Pac-10 and Big Ten games. I'd heavily scouted Hutchinson and knew that he was a top talent. Frankly, I considered him to be one of the most "guaranteed" prospects of the entire draft and frequently compared him to consistent Pro Bowl guard Steve Wisniewski of the Oakland Raiders.

Thus, I spent the vast majority of my week in Mobile, Alabama scouting other players. I watched Seahawk scouts and coaches eyeing the cornerback and wide receiver units that included Ken Lucas and Alex Bannister. I watched LaDainian Tomlinson prove to everyone that he wasn't simply a product of the system. And, I watched Chad Johnson of Oregon State turn in one of the most dominating one-man efforts ever seen at a Senior Bowl practice by a receiver.

In an effort to cover all the prospects, I intentionally stayed away from those players I had watched over and over again throughout the season. However, while I had planned on staying away from prospects I was familiar with (such as Hutchinson), I couldn't help but notice how many people converged to the area reserved for the offensive line.

Despite being at risk of not being prepared in other areas, curiosity took over and I ventured into what was quickly becoming a pit of onlookers, akin to a Limp Bizkit concert. There was pushing and peering over shoulders as scouts and coaches, such as Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin and Indianapolis' Jim Mora all strained to watch the offensive and defensive linemen in several drills and line-to-line battles.

While there was plenty of talent to be evaluated, I had to literally focus on not diverting my eyes to Hutchinson and whatever defensive tackle-turned rag doll the coaches had placed in front of him. Hutchinson had the strength, both in his upper and lower body to compete with any of the men trying to rush, as well as the quickness and form to stop defenders in their tracks.

He was picture perfect in his passing and run-blocking technique - punching the defender with his incredibly quick hands, or pinching his man to the inside or outside to wedge open holes for running backs. The man never allowed an opponent to get past him. He was a walking, grunting, spitting videotape of textbook offensive line play.

After 20 to 30 minutes of individual drilling, the coaching staff held a full scrimmage. As was the case in the drills, Hutchinson dominated. On two different occasions, his play drew gasps from a crowd that isn't easily impressed.

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Boomer's Draft will provide frequent stories to SeahawksInisider this season, which will feature notes, news and information on last year's Seahawk draft class and the upcoming 2002 NFL Draft. Some of these will be free and others will be a feature of the SeahawksInsider Premium Ticket.

A former football coach, Rob "Boomer" Rang, has become one of the country's top draft experts. Thank goodness he lives in the Northwest and is a Hawks fan!

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