Seldom do the elite talents of the draft play at the Senior Bowl. The fact that only seniors are allowed to play eliminates a host of underclassmen who declare early. On top of that, many top players elect to skip the Senior Bowl and wait to showcase their abilities at the combine and during pro days.
This year is no different. While some of the players will be high-profile picks in April, many others will be drafted in the second round or later. With this in mind, let's take a look at a few prospects the Cleveland Browns may be considering in the second and third rounds.
Tim Tebow, QB
OK, let's get this one out of the way first. Tebow is the highest profile player at the Senior Bowl, and fans, scouts, coaches, and personnel people want to see how he handles a pro-style offense and taking snaps under center. Early reports from the first practice have not gone well.
ESPN's Scouts, Inc. reported in their practice blog that Tebow has struggled with his footwork. They also commented that his "timing was off," and he is having trouble "reading the defense." All that said, Tebow doesn't lack arm strength and possesses all the intangibles.
New Cleveland President Mike Holmgren is known for his ability to pick quarterbacks. If he sees something in Tebow that suggests he can succeed, I do not think he would hesitate to pull the trigger in the second round.
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB
Forget allegiances and state boundaries. Brandon Graham is a talented defensive end who is disruptive in the backfield and pursues the quarterback relentlessly. He would have to transition to a linebacker in the 3-4 defense.
A few months ago the Browns certainly could have used an edge rusher opposite Kamerion Wimbley, but that need has been lessened by the discovery of Matt Roth. Still, you can never have enough talent at linebacker in a 3-4.
Mike Iupati, G
Iupati is a road-grader at the guard position. At 6'6", 330 pounds, he can anchor against nose tackles and interior lineman. He has also been noted as having excellent feet and good speed for a man his size.
The Browns may not have as strong a need for a guard as a tackle, but Iupati has the talent and size to strengthen the Browns' run game.
Vladimir Ducasse, G
See Mike Iupati.
Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB
Hughes dominated as a pass rusher against inferior competition at TCU. With a good Senior Bowl, he will probably go in the second round, but if he does not excel, he projects as a late-second or early-third rounder.
Sam Young, OT
While Young does not have the feet to play left tackle, he may be a prospect for the Browns' right tackle position.
Kurt Coleman, S
The Browns certainly need a safety, and if they can get Coleman, it would be an upgrade, especially if Brodney Pool is unable to play. Scouts think Coleman may have the athletic ability and coverage skills to switch to cornerback in the NFL if necessary.
Dennis Pitta, TE
After a great Shrine Game and showing early flashes in practice, Pitta has been shooting up draft boards. He catches everything and would certainly be an improvement.
Eric Norwood, LB
Norwood has experience as an outside linebacker in a hybrid 3-4 defense at South Carolina and has the skills and instincts necessary to be an impact player.