NFL Network's broadcast of the Senior Bowl's opening day of practice brought a different perspective, with limited action in the first day and different opinions. Here is what they were saying and what we observed.
The NFL Network's lead draft analyst, Mike Mayock, called Senior Bowl week his favorite week of the year. This is the first time for most analysts to see this many draftable players up close in and in action – or at least in practice.
NFL Network's hour and a half of coverage of the Senior Bowl practice Monday was interrupted for about half of their time to cover the Tony Dungy press conference with the Indianapolis Colts
, a media event held to say that nothing is really changing with his status.
But even with the restricted Senior Bowl coverage, it was a time to gauge how a few players looked in limited repetitions and what Mayock and others thought of them from their film study and while watching them practice on Monday.
University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan led a successful senior campaign up until their bowl game, but his stock continued to dip a bit at Senior Bowl weigh-ins when his vitals came up as 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. That isn't ideal size for an NFL quarterback, with potential concerns about his height and being able to see over offensive linemen.
Michigan's Chad Henne, who was hurt for part of his senior season and therefore didn't get a full season of himself on tape for scout, is moving up Mayock's list.
"The more I saw of Chad Henne when he was healthy, the more I was convinced he was the No. 2 quarterback in the country behind Matt Ryan from Boston College," Mayock said.
One of the questions about Delaware's Joe Flacco was that he played for a Division I-AA program and didn't face top-caliber talent from week to week during his college career. He started his collegiate career at the University of Pittsburgh, and the coaching staff there didn't want to let him out of his scholarship, according to the NFL Network, and his measurables alone would give some indication of why. Flacco is 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, prototypical NFL quarterback size.
"He looks like a first-round draft pick," Mayock said, and we agree with that assessment from the limited work we saw Monday. "Where he really stands out is the hip work and the deep in route. … I worry about his feet a little bit. When I look at Joe Flacco, I see a big arm; I see a young man who's got to improve his feet."
The footwork comments have to do with the fact that Flacco spent his Delaware days running a spread offense from the shotgun formation. He didn't spend much time under center and taking three-, five- and seven-step drops like an NFL quarterback is asked to do for most of the plays. According to the TV coverage team, Flacco ended up dropping a couple of snaps.
California's Lavelle Hawkins doesn't have big size (5-11, 175), but he made one great catch that showed very solid body control and good hands in the air, jumping high and turning around to grab an underthrown deep pass with coverage at his side.
Virginia Tech's Eddie Royal has similar size to Hawkins, but on one play he showed good quickness with a double move that got the cornerback to bite and the wide receiver free deep during one-on-one drills.
Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman is a big target (6-3, 220), but the Vikings might want to steer clear of him after their Troy Williamson experience. NFL Network analysts pointed out that there have been questions about his eyesight and depth perception and that might have been an issue with one very catchable pass that he dropped going across the middle.
Kansas State's Jordy Nelson has good size as well (6-2 ½, 217), but he doesn't have great deep speed. He has to show suddenness and quickness this week and, according to Mayock, is not a sharp route-runner.
The question about Iowa's Charles Godfrey is whether he is a cornerback or safety. He is listed as a cornerback in Scout.com's draft rankings, but he is one of the heaviest players at that position among the draftable guys at 207 pounds.
Oklahoma's Reggie Smith is one of only two five-star safeties, according to Scout.com's rankings, and he showed why in one Senior Bowl drill. He has good hands and located the ball quickly.
USC's Terrell Thomas, one of only four five-star cornerbacks in Scout.com's rankings, showed a good stop-and-go and change of direction.
Mayock's top five inside linebackers: Oklahoma's Curtis Lofton, Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, Arizona's Spencer Larsen, Boston College's JoLonn Dunbar, Georgia Tech's Philip Wheeler.
His top five outside linebackers: Penn State's Dan Connor, USC's Keith Rivers, Maryland's Erin Henderson, LSU's Ali Highsmith, Florida State's Geno Hayes.
Connor was drawing comparisons to last year's high draft pick from Penn State, Paul Posluszny. Mayock said he believes Connor can play all three linebacker positions and expects him to be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer appeared to have quick hands, but didn't get great separation from the offensive line in the televised one-on-one portion of drills between the offensive and defensive linemen.
Balmer and LSU's Glenn Dorsey are two of the three five-star defensive tackles, according to Scout.com. The other is USC's Sedrick Ellis, who showed very solid quickness off the snap and looked like a prototypical three-technique (under tackle, Kevin Williams' position) player. Mayock made comparisons to NFL star Warren Sapp but said that Ellis hasn't quite passed Dorsey as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the draft.
Oregon State guard Roy Schuening is only the ninth-ranked guard on Scout.com's list, but he showed good balance in the one-on-one drills we saw.
Boston College offensive tackle Godser Cherilus has long arms and great size (6-6 1/2 , 313), but his tall frame means he needs to be careful to keep his leverage. He seems to be a scrappy player for a big man, but he can be caught off-balance and bull-rushed.
USC guard Drew Radovich looked solid in locking onto defensive lineman within the framework of their torso.
Mayock's top five offensive tackles: Michigan's Jake Long, Boise State's Ryan Clady, Pittsburgh's Jeff Otah, Boston College's Gosder Cherilus and Vanderbilt's Chris Williams.