MOBILE, Ala. — We've landed at the Senior Bowl, where it seems that half the NFL has descended to take a look at some of the NFL's top senior prospects for the 2014 draft.
Monday's activities kicked off with the meat-market-style weigh-in Monday, where players rolled across the Convention Center stage for the hundreds of eyes of scouts, coaches, general managers and media to ogle.
Tune into the Shutdown Corner all week for draft coverage, top to bottom, at all of the events. Later Monday, both teams — the Atlanta Falcons' staff will coach the North team, the Jacksonville Jaguars will coach the South club — will take the field at staggered times on different fields, and we'll do our best to cover both.
We also will check in on one player who is not here: Mobile native A.J. McCarron, the two-time national-champion quarterback from Alabama who chose to sit out the events this week. We have talked to a few people about his absence, and their answers have been interesting on a debatable player whose stock is not yet defined.
Meanwhile, here are a few observations from this morning's weigh-in:
• A few top players (besides McCarron) have opted out as healthy scratches: Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard, Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert, Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, Florida State CB Lamarcus Joyner, Buffalo LB Khalil Mack, Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews, Alabama LB C.J. Mosley and Stanford LB Shayne Skov.
You can see why some of the top guys are sitting this one out, even after initially committing to play. Others' decisions will face some scrutiny.
• Georgia QB Aaron Murray is here and will not play at all, having suffered a torn ACL in the team's final regular-season game. But he's joining the South team squad in meetings and will perform interviews. He measured in at a concerning 6-foot, 3/8 and 201 pounds, but one NFL quarterbacks coach said he was impressed by Murray's presence at the Senior Bowl. "Shows he's committed, shows he cares," the coach said.
• Fresno State QB Derek Carr looked well sculpted with big traps, and he just cleared the 6--2 mark (6-2 1/8) that some teams make the bottom cutoff for their quarterbacks. Carr weighed in at a solid 215 pounds.
• Louisiana Tech DT Justin Ellis was a late add a few days ago after a solid career, but he looked a little flabby at the weigh-in. (Folks, this is what scouts are looking at. It's how this event is.) At 6-1 3/8, Ellis did not seem to carry his 342 pounds that well. We'll see how he moves on the field this week.
• Iron Bowl hero (and national champion goat) CB-KR Chris Davis of Auburn is short at 5-9 3/4 but a solid 201. He's definitely someone we'll be watching this week.
• When I saw Florida OG Jon Halapio walk across the stage, I thought: classic-looking guard. His measurements back that up. Halapio checked in at 6-3 1/2 and 320.
• Vanderbilt OT Wesley Johnson looks like a zone-blocking tackle on paper (6-5 1/4, 290), but he didn't carry his weight all that well on stage. Looked a little underdeveloped to the naked eye.
• Florida State LB Christian Jones, meanwhile, followed Johnson and was a cut 6-3 3/8 and 233 pounds. If he shows off his athleticism, he'd fit into the new breed of linebacker the NFL is seeking these days.
• Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews had a "wow" physique: put together at 6-2 1/2 and 209 pounds. He might be the best wideout down here, too. Can't wait to see him run routes.
• One of the biggest players here, Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers, checked in at 6-6 7/8 and a whopping 348. We've known about his size for years, but can he play? He had an up and down career for the Vols. He also looked like he could sculpt up a bit, too.
• A fascinating body was that of Jerick McKinnon, who played quarterback (!) at Georgia Southern at 5-9 and 209 pounds. He looks like a running back, and that's the position he'll be working out at this week. Stocky little back.
• Virginia OT Morgan Moses might be a first-rounder when it's all said and done, and he looked the part at a nicely framed 6-6 1/8 and 325. If he moves well and can anchor, he'll go in the first 40 picks.
• Princeton DT Cauraun Reed is built like a fire hydrant: 6-2 1/8 and 301 pounds. I did not see any extra flab there. Looked compact and firm.
• Arkansas DE Chris Smith and Missouri DE Michael Sam both came in short: Smith at 6-1 1/8, and Sam at 6-1 5/8. Both are edge rushers, but can they be 3-4 outside linebackers? Smith is stockier at 266, and Sam was a tiny bit heavy at 260. Both those weights might come down by the Combine, depending on how they work here and what the coaches' and scouts' feedback is about their future positions.
• Arizona State DT Will Sutton is a divisive prospect, and he carried a big gut onto the stage at 6-0 3/4 and 315. He could tighten that up a bit, you'd think.
• North Dakota State OT Bill Turner is among the more intriguing players down here, and he has a chance to raise his stock considerably. But he looked fleshy on his chest and stomach and might be a little heavy at 316 pounds, despite a 6-5 frame. We're not making judgments on Turner yet at all, though.
• If there's a classic mold for a 3-4 defensive end, it's the body of Virginia DE Brent Urban, who measured at 6-6 3/4 and 298 pounds. Despite missing four games this season, he led the nation in passes defended. Urban looked good in his first two games of the season against BYU and Oregon before getting hurt, and he just looks like an anchor (Chris Canty-esque) as a 5-technique. You can bet the 3-4 teams were checking him out hard this morning.
• Not surprisingly, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd checked in looking like a running back at 6-0 3/4 and 222 pounds. He needs a big week of throwing to convince teams he's worth a higher pick as a QB.
• Washington State S Deone Bucannon is a nicely shaped 6-0 7/8 and 216, with massive traps. He passed the eye test for sure.
• Wake Forest WR Mike Campanaro was listed by the school at 5-11, but he checked in nearly two inches shorter at 5-9 3/8. At 191 pounds, Capanaro must show short-area quickness to impress scouts this week at that height.
• Northwestern's Kain Colter, attempting to make the move from QB to receiver, was short at 5-10 3/4. But strictly from a body standpoint, he had a little Randall Cobb look to him at 199 pounds.
• Pitt DT Aaron Donald actually measured slightly bigger than expected at 6-0 7/8 (he was listed by some at 6-0) and 288 pounds. Scouts either love him (for his effort and production) or hate him (for his size, depending on the scheme). Either way, he's a player.
• Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz is your classic, in-line tight end at 6-5 5/8 and 262 pounds. Want to see him run routes this week to see if he has a second gear.
• Jeff Janis looked like Jordy Nelson with huge traps and triceps when he strode on the stage at 6-2 1/4 and 212, but the Saginaw Valley State product has a lot to prove before he gets into the Nelson discussion for football ability. He's an intriguing one to watch this week.
• Some of these big corners — Utah's Keith McGill, N.C. State's Dontae Johnson and Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste — were actually bigger than a few of the outside linebackers, so it would not be shocking if some of them get moved to corner if they can't flip their hips in DB drills.
• Check out the arms on North Carolina DT Kareem Martin! The defensive end looked big and long at 6-5 7/8 and 272, not quite as stout as Urban, but in the same 3-4 5-tech mold.
• Notre Dame OL Zach Martin's goal this week is to prove he's a tackle. Although he looked more like a guard to me, Martin measured in at the tackle height-weight floor: 6-4 and 301 pounds. Big week for him to solidify a first-round slot.
• Stanford DE (that's the position he's listed at) Trent Murphy was 6-5 3/8 and 252 pounds, but it remains to be seen if his final destination is as a 4-3 end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker. It's a similar debate to what was going on with Boise State's Shea McClellin a few years ago.
• Wisconsin TE Jacob Pedersen had a big stomach for a 6-3, 242-pounder. That's what I thought, anyway.
• Want a rangy-looking outside linebacker? Louisville's Marcus Smith might be your guy at 6-3 1/2 and 258. Long arms for sure.
We're getting ready for the South team practice first, then the North, and we'll check back in later.
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