Senior Bowl: What We’re Watching
MOBILE, Ala. — Welcome to the Senior Bowl, where I’ll be stationed until Thursday. Here are three things we’ll be watching throughout the week.
1. Still searching for a personnel exec.
Last year, after one of the practices down here, Howie Roseman set up shop in the bleachers at Ladd-Peebles Stadium with a handful of reporters. He answered questions about the Eagles’ first season under Chip Kelly. He looked ahead to free agency and the draft. And he discussed the difficulty in scouting safety prospects. It was a casual sitdown with the GM, something that happened every year in Mobile.
But things have changed. Roseman is not even at the event this year, and Kelly is searching for his new personnel executive.
It’s been 18 days since the Eagles sent out a statement on behalf of Jeffrey Lurie, announcing that Kelly would hire his own right-hand man. But so far, the head coach has come up empty. Names of internal candidates like Ed Marynowitz have been floated out there. External candidates like Tampa Bay Bucs director of player personnel Jon Robinson have either been blocked or have declined to interview.
There is some ambiguity about what the new person will do. Kelly has final say on personnel, and Roseman is still expected to handle the cap/contracts.
As of Monday morning, there are no indications that Kelly is close to hiring someone.
But the Senior Bowl is unique in that coaches, scouts and personnel people are all in one confined space for a few days. This is a favorable setting for Kelly to continue his search, and don’t be surprised if some new names pop up in the coming days.
2. Looking for a QBs coach.
The Raiders announced yesterday that they’re bringing on Bill Musgrave as their offensive coordinator. That means for a fourth straight season, the Eagles will have a new quarterbacks coach.
In particular, this affects Nick Foles, who has yet to have the same position coach for more than one season. But it also affects the group as a whole. The truth is we have no idea what the Eagles’ quarterback situation will look like going into Week 1 of the 2015 season. Will they make a move in the draft? Will they bring back Mark Sanchez in a backup role? Really, anything is in play.
This is an important hire for Kelly. As mentioned in the first point, the Senior Bowl is in many ways an unofficial job fair. Kelly will be able to talk to potential candidates while down here. We’ll find out in the coming days and weeks who he comes up with.
3. Scouting the players.
For the first time in three years, Kelly will be running the draft without any assistance from Roseman or Tom Gamble. The Eagles have a team of scouts and assistant coaches down here, but Kelly is running the show.
There are plenty of positions to keep an eye on, the most obvious of which are cornerback and safety. The quarterback group here isn’t considered particularly strong, but there are some interesting names like Baylor’s Bryce Petty.
The Eagles need to get younger on the offensive line. They could look at an inside linebacker early, and given that Brandon Graham is a free agent and Trent Cole is 32, outside linebacker is another area to keep an eye on.
If you want specific names, below are some lists to check out. And if you’re curious about a specific prospect, e-mail or Tweet me.
In the meantime, here are some snippets from around the Web.
Jimmy Kempski of The Philly Voice has 10 players to watch, including Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond:
Drummond was part of Michigan State’s “No fly zone” defense. He is a cover safety with good size and ball-hawking skills. If the Eagles are looking for safeties who can handle slot receivers a la Malcolm Jenkins, a player like Drummond should be on their radar.
In a PhiladelphiaEagles.com piece, Tony Pauline offers thoughts on Petty:
Petty put up the passing yards in college faster than AJ Foyt raced around the Indianapolis Speedway back in the day. But is Petty a product of the Baylor system and does he possess the necessary arm strength to play on Sundays? His ability to drive deep throws in one-on-one drills and play within an NFL system during full scrimmage is critical.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com on USC DB Josh Shaw:
USC’s Josh Shaw probably has the most upside among Senior Bowl prospects as far as draft position goes. Everybody’s looking for tall defensive backs in today’s game, and at 6-foot-1 1/2, 205 pounds, Shaw has excellent size and reminds me a little of Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions because of his ability to play both cornerback and safety. Shaw came into last week’s East-West Shrine Game as a bit of a question mark because of the suspension he served this past season for fabricating a story about his ankle injury, but he really presented himself well at the Shrine Game, answering every question honestly, and I don’t think there should be any concerns about his character entering the draft. I’m most interested in finding out which position he’ll be best suited for in the NFL. Specifically, I want to see how he fares in man coverage against the kind of talent we’re going to see at the Senior Bowl. He’ll get plenty of work at it this week.
Josh Norris of Rotoworld on Miami (OH) CB Quinten Rollins:
Three corners will get plenty of run in 1 on 1s. First, Miami (OH)’s Quinten Rollins. The four year basketball player has one year of FBS football under his belt. His cross-sport movements skills are obvious at a position which the best display patience and footwork. Add on aggressive ball skills and you have a potential first-round pick.
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com on Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings:
My favorite prospect in Mobile this week, Clemmings has been climbing draft boards throughout the season and a positive week at the Senior Bowl could make him the consensus top senior at tackle. A former defensive end, Clemmings is a mauler who dominates in the run game, but his performance during pass protection drills will be closely scrutinized.