I have to say I love doing what I am doing, scouting for the Senior Bowl and representing the best football site on the Internet, but this is really exhausting. Not only that, but I have never had any lunch since I have been down here simply because there isn't any time between practice. I hope my malnourishment hasn't affected my scouting abilities (or lack thereof depending on how the draft goes).
You hear about the prospects, the hype, and the scouts, but what you don't know is the Senior Bowl is in a lot of ways is just as much a social trip as it is a football trip for everyone involved. Trainers are here watching their clients before they prepare for the Senior Bowl, and agents are tending to their clients' every need.
I was speaking with founder of TEST sports clubs in New Jersey, Brian Martin. TEST is a facility that trains athletes and teaches football skills. I asked Martin what he felt like the most underrated physical aspect of football is, and he preached to me about flexibility. He says everyone talks about strength and bulk, but the best athletes in the league are the most flexible ones. One of his clients in Mobile is corner Morgan Trent of Michigan. He really works with Martin on hip flexibility, and they do a lot of special stretching. At TEST, everyone does yoga at least once a week. Martin told me Joe Flacco was a client of his last year and was really blown away by his speed. I was told Flacco ran the fastest 3-cone drill of any quarterback in the last five years at the Combine, and we are all believers after his phenomenal rookie season, displaying a lot of athleticism running the ball.
One of my most favorite reporters in the country is NFL Network's Adam Schefter - up there as well is ESPN's Michael Smith. Fortunately, I talked with Mike for a few minutes today at the beginning of the afternoon practice. Smith's sources are very legitimate and he is extremely credible around Draft Day when he releases information on teams' draft picks. He was the guy last year who reported the Rams were taking Chris Long No. 2. He gave me around five handshakes for all the high praise. Then I gave him my business card and he said he was definitely going to check out the site. By the way, ESPN must be paying him very well because he was rocking Armani glasses.
I had a conversation with an NFC South scout and he gave me a lot of unique views on what he was looking for on the field. When I asked him how much he valued technique in these practices, he told me he was really focusing on the physical aspects of the prospects. The South scout also said he wasn't worried about technique too much this week if he feels like the player is capable of learning it. The entire South all made bank in the first round last year, but let me just say this scout was extremely instrumental in his team's first-round selection and he knows what he is talking about.
There was a conference call around noon today with Mike Mayock and Charles Davis. I had to get back to my hotel room ASAP to get the password to access the conference call. Mike made a few interesting comments, notably that he wouldn't take Mark Sanchez or Matt Stafford in the top 10; he feels like James Laurinaitis can play weakside linebacker in the pros; and he thinks Clay Matthews is one of the more underrated linebackers in the draft. I was too late to the call to ask Mike a question, so I am going to try to catch up with him tomorrow. Mr. Positive (aka Davis) mentioned he felt Laurinaitis was getting undeserved hate because he performed so well as a sophomore.
I caught up with Cincinnati guard Trevor Canfield at the end of practice because he was looking like one of the better guards on the day:
MM: Trevor, who do you have this year in the Super Bowl? Why?
TC: Pittsburgh. I like their O-Line. That's why I am picking them.
MM: You played with a lot of aggression out on the field today. What fires you up so much?
TC: I don't know; it's my passion for the game. A lot of stuff my coaches have taught me has carried over.
MM: How would you say you did in practice today?
TC: I would have to say this is one of my better practices. I'm improving every day; getting after it every day. I am showing everyone my physical, hard-nosed style of play.
Days like these are what have made the Senior Bowl a life-changing experience for me. I have gotten a ton of great comments on the forums and in e-mails, and I just wanted to thank everyone for visiting the site. I appreciate all the positive words, and that really keeps me motivated to be one of the best draft analysts on the Internet.
McDowell is a great pick by the Seahawks. He has tons of talent and upside. McDowell is very fast, naturally strong, and extremely athletic. If Pete Carroll can get the best out of him then Seattle could have a massive steal.