2011 Senior Bowl: 10 Offensive Players Washington Redskins Fans Should Watch
Since 1950, the Senior Bowl has invited a special group of college football seniors every year to participate in one of the most respected contests in the game. Since its inception, the Senior Bowl has hosted 30 future NFL Hall of Famers including names like Walter Payton, Dan Marino, and Joe Greene.
Although hosting a select bunch of seniors, the Senior Bowl is usually an honest and telling event of a legitimate NFL prospect's weaknesses and strengths.
For the Washington Redskins, the 2011 Senior Bowl will play a vital role in the team's Draft this April. Realistically speaking, the Redskins could have a close eye on at least 20 participants. Here's my prediction of the top-10 offensive players on their radar. I will publish a separate slideshow for the top-10 defensive players.
1.) Gabe Carimi (OT / 6'7 / 315)
Since weighing it at the Senior Bowl with immense size and more athletic ability than expected, many NFL scouts strongly believe that Carimi is capable of playing either offensive tackle position - for a very long time.
The Redskins should have a shot at selecting Carimi with the No. 10 pick but their left tackle position is solidified with last year's top-pick Trent Williams. The Redskins may like the great run-blocking ability of Carimi and choose him for the right side, but a more athletic lineman seems more probable if they elect to address the guys up front.
2.) Derek Sherrod (OL / 6'5 / 317)
Back again with a favorite of mine in this Draft. Of course I've been wrong before, but I think Sherrod has tremendous upside and I think he can become a starter along an NFL front line for many years to come.
As far as a Redskins prospect, Sherrod is definitely a possibility. While I don't see the team selecting Sherrod unless they trade back from ten, I do believe that head coach Mike Shanahan will like his hands, athleticism, versatility, and ability to get to the second-level.
3.) Leonard Hankerson (WR / 6'1 / 205)
According to reports, Hankerson showed up to the Senior Bowl in great shape and demonstrated his speed early-on.
Because of Michael Floyd's recent decision to return to Notre Dame for his senior season, Hankerson appears to be a lock for the second-round. However, some scouts have suggested that he could work his way into the first-round with good workouts.
The Redskins are in need of a big receiver and no one really knows what Malcolm Kelly can bring to the table. Hankerson is big, strong, and fast - a perfect fit in the Shanahan offense. Assuming that the team also addresses the quarterback position in this Draft, it's always a plus to grab a receiver at the same time so that the two can build their chemistry early.
Jake Locker (QB / 6'2 / 228)
Yet again, and this won't stop anytime soon, Locker appears on an article based on the Washington Redskins.
Locker arrived at the Senior Bowl just barely standing 6-foot-2. According to scouts, Locker was impressive early but ended Day 1 on the down side after throwing two interceptions to Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael (a guy you'll see on my defense list).
Shanahan still seems to be in favor of a player like Locker - a quarterback with mobility, intangibles, and experience in a pro-style offense. And while many of the rants and raves surrounding Locker are based on his intangibles, his performance will definitely need to improve to keep him in the first-round.
Christian Ponder (QB / 6'2 / 221)
Ponder was another quarterback prospect that arrived at the Senior Bowl and measured-in right at 6-foot-2. Ponder is still an attractive pick between the second and third rounds but his stock will rely heavily on his workouts.
While playing in a pro-style offense for four years is a bonus for Ponder, his injury history is not. Shanahan would find Ponder's ability to escape the pocket as a positive to his game, in addition to his accuracy to put passes on the numbers. The question is whether he likes Ponder early enough, as some teams may select him as a backup before Shanahan feels it's worth it to take him on as a project.
Jake Kirkpatrick (C / 6'3 / 301)
Kirkpatrick is going to be an interesting prospect moving forward in the Draft process. After playing for the champion TCU Horned Frogs and gaining respectful experience, Kirkpatrick seems to be rising on team's Draft Boards.
With Casey Rabach at the end of his career for the Redskins and the offensive line in desperate need of some upgrades, Kirkpatrick would serve as a great center root in the trenches. Shanahan likes his blockers with the ability to move and get their feet churning - this young fella is that kind of guy. Personally, I'd love to get this guy in the middle rounds but he'll get hotter as we approach April.
Andy Dalton (QB / 6'2 / 213)
As the last quarterback to come to the Senior Bowl without overly impressive height for a passer, Dalton really made his name apparent after an incredible senior season at TCU.
Dalton seems to have good decision-making abilities, the arm to make the throws at the next level and decent mobility. Shanahan will like the fact that Dalton is intelligent and a proven leader as TCU's all-time leader in career victories, but he won't be all that fond of his height and/or competition as an underclassman.
Nonetheless, Dalton seems like a quarterback prospect that would be well-received in Washington and great coaches can do great things.
Noel Devine (RB / 5'7 / 160)
As crazy as it may sound, I've heard some people say that Devine will need to fight in order to keep his name on team's radars at all - in any round.
With blazing speed and a toughness to him that leaves you puzzled, Devine's size may be the sole reason why NFL teams do not believe he's cut-out for the pros. The coaches in Washington, however, don't apparently pay too much attention to size seeing as how they employ a guy named Brandon Banks.
When you look at offenses across the league that choose to implement a scat-back, they seem to be pretty effective players. That's what Devine is at the next level.
Devine is a very questionable prospect for a Redskins team with an already crowded young backfield, but his speed and surprising strength is something that cannot go unnoticed.
Colin Kaepernick (QB / 6'4 / 225)
And the plot thickens.
Coming into this Draft, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick appeared to be a late-round selection with a lot of work to do. But after taking into account Kaepernick's unbelievable numbers in college and his size, teams are going to think about this kid a little earlier than before.
Kaepernick is a big quarterback with a great feel for the run and the speed to go with it. His arm isn't really going to blow you away with accuracy or strength, but he appears to be able to make most of the throws at the next level.
Shanahan is looking at all quarterback prospects in this Draft and Kaepernick may raise the coach's brow a bit. However, with other prospects having better arms and working in offenses other than the scheme-oriented Pistol offense, Kaepernick may only be a name on the chart by the time the Redskins' draft is complete.
Ricky Stanzi (QB / 6'4 / 221)
Scouts at the Senior Bowl were happy to see Stanzi stand-in at the height listed in his college program and that actually helped his stock already on Day 1.
Stanzi is a game manager with no real attributes to blow away NFL scouts. He has a decent arm, a little bit of mobility, and he seems to limit his mistakes. Unfortunately, Stanzi has some issues involving his mechanics and that will need to be corrected if he's going to succeed in the NFL.
Shanahan will look at Stanzi but it won't be for long. With so many other prospects that better fit Shanahan's system and Stanzi playing under a ton of pressure to boost his stock, the Redskins will likely look elsewhere before taking on the Stanzi Project.