On Monday, the NFL Draft Preseason officially starts. Start up the criticism and nitpicking by NFL front offices. Start up the media hype machine. Start up the media hate machine. Start up the mocking. Start up the 2010 NFL Draft - we're here!
I will be blogging and reporting what I see at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama live for WalterFootball.com - your stop for anything and everything NFL Draft.
On Monday, we will be the first site to update the official numbers from the weigh-in that takes place that morning.
Every day we will have two practice reports updated on the site - one for both the South and North practice. These are must reads, especially as the NFL Network has limited their broadcasting hours of Senior Bowl practice compared to past years.
I'll blog every day telling you about all of the nuances of my experience.
Let's preview the offensive side of the football for the prospects that have committed to play in Mobile (Note: some of these prospects might drop out).
We have to start with the Tim Tebow Show. All eyes will be on him. Everybody wants to see how Tebow will perform when he isn't protected by the zone read. Of course, it was "random" that Tebow ended up on the Miami coaching staff who implements the Wildcat in their offense.
Here is my problem if Miami uses Tebow in the Wildcat: We know what he can do running the football. We want to see Tebow play under center and throw the ball under pressure.
I personally think Tebow will flop. His release and mechanics won't get any better and thus this will hurt his accuracy (Exhibit A: Andre' Woodson).
I will also be paying close attention to Oregon State's Sean Canfield. He is a smart, accurate passer, and he needs to prove he can hold his own in a difficult environment. I want to gauge his arm strength in person as opposed to on tape. West Virginia's Jarrett Brown is a project at the next level, but has intriguing athleticism and size. Cincinnati's Tony Pike is the next hyped quarterback behind Tebow in Mobile. His stock could boom or bust this week.
There really isn't much to speak of with this class since Clemson's C.J. Spiller will not participate.
Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon is a workhorse, power back, and he is my top rated player of all the backs in Mobile. Montario Hardesty of Tennessee is a north-south runner who does not shy from contact.
We have an intriguing story with USC's Stafon Johnson, who nearly died in a weight-lifting accident. He will be participating in Mobile and everyone will be rooting him on. I was never intriguied by his talent because I have felt the USC offensive line simply dominated the competition. Johnson needs to show he can break tackles and play with heart.
I'm looking forward to seeing Wayne State's Joique Bell in action as the only small-school sleeper on the running back list thus far.
The star of this group has to be LSU's Brandon LaFell whom I have given a 4-star, first-round grade. He is a big, physical target with underrated speed after the catch. He has a chance to really separate himself from the pack this week.
Mardy Gilyard from Cincinnati needs to show me that he can maintain concentration and show soft hands. I personally feel he is a little overrated, but you never know what can happen in practice. Ole Miss's Dexter McCluster is a very fast player who finds ways to maximize yardage when you put the ball in his hands. He is a slot receiver at the next level. I feel like Tulane's Jeremy Williams is the sleeper of this group. He is a good route runner and has great body control.
Two more to watch are The Citadel's Andre Roberts and UAB's Joe Webb who will be making the conversion from quarterback to receiver.
Miami's Jimmy Graham is an athletic freak, but he needs to show consistency and make plays with the heat on. USC's Anthony McCoy and Alabama's Colin Peek round out the tight end class thus far.
We are all here to see four guys: Oklahoma's Trent Williams, Massachusetts' Vladimir Ducasse, USC's Charles Brown and Idaho's Mike Iupati.
Williams has a lot to ground to make up as he is on the outside looking in to be a top-10 pick next April. He struggled with the transition to left tackle and needs to show polished feet and hands in 1v1 drills.
Ducasse is a player I haven't seen yet, so I will definitely have my eyes on him to see what all the hype is about. Some people are talking that he could make a first-round push as a guard or tackle at the next level.
Iupati's is nearly everyone's top guard in the 2010 NFL Draft. If his feet look quicker in person I will consider giving him a first-round grade.
I was the only Draft analyst with USC's Charles Brown in my top-25 preseason Big Board, and doing my homework watching tape really paid off. He had a great senior year as an elite technician and tough run blocker, but the weigh-in is critical. He needs to show scouts he can (or has) bulked up in the 300-pound range.
Baylor's J.D. Walton needs to show scouts he can step in and be a Week 1 center. He has Florida's Maurkice Pouncey in his rearview mirror. West Virginia's Selvish Capers is a raw project who plays with a nasty demeanor. He has poor technique and awareness, but could see a big boost to his stock with a good week.
Mike Johnson of Alabama was dominant the last couple of games of the season and needs to continue to show a physical demeanor. He occasionally struggles with more athletic defensive linemen.