With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl, there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from the rumormill.
Scouts have told WalterFootball.com that they feel none of the quarterback prospects are worthy of a high first-round pick, but that won't stop desperate teams from reaching and taking quarterbacks in the top 10. One quarterback who could rise above the rest is Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
A year ago, the quarterback who rose in a weak class was the signal-caller who possessed the best physical skill set, Buffalo's E.J. Manuel. The Bills' view was, if we have to reach for a quarterback, we may as well do it with the guy that has the size, passing ability and mobility to be a starter in the NFL. Bortles matches that description, while Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel come up short in at least one of those areas. Thus, if one quarterback ends up climbing to the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, Bortles could be the most likely candidate.
Sources say that Bortles has a good skill set and is smart, but they have some doubts about his game. These sources continued that Bortles has a decent arm, but his ball flutters some. He throws passes late and needs to improve his anticipation. They also said that he didn't throw every route in college and enters the NFL having played in a limited offensive scheme. Bortles has the intelligence to overcome that, but he will be a work in progress.
In speaking to some staffers from quarterback-needy teams, they are more concerned about Teddy Bridgewater's weight than his height. Bridgewater is listed at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, but everybody believes those numbers are exaggerated. Many believe he'll check in the 6-2 to 6-3 range, but the talk that Bridgewater could be under 200 pounds has some teams nervous. That makes them wonder if he's too slight of build to stay healthy once the hits start piling up during a 16-game season. Bridgewater's weigh-in at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is going to be very important.
WalterFootball.com has learned that are a few teams that have taken a liking to Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. He has proven himself this week to be draftable on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft. One of the teams interested in Taliaferro is the Seattle Seahawks.
Don't be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons draft Miami offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson in the mid rounds. Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice has been giving Henderson a lot of extra attention in practice this week. Henderson and Tice both hail from Minnesota, and as one contact from Minnesota said, "there are so few of us guys from Minnesota in this industry, we kind of stick together and look out for another."
Henderson needs a firm hand to give him some guidance and discipline. Tice, a big man who commands respect with the experience of being a player and head coach, is the perfect mentor to straighten out the gifted Henderson. The Falcons have stated that they want to get bigger and more physical on the offensive line. Henderson would provide a lot of upside to develop. Tice and Atlanta would be a perfect landing spot for Henderson, and those stars could be aligning.
The Falcons were able to bring in former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, and his close relationship with Thomas Dimitroff seems to be the reason. Other teams told WalterFootball.com that they were interested in adding Pioli to their front office, but he was telling them he was happy working with NBC. It turns out that working with Dimitroff was too good for Pioli to pass up. Considering Atlanta has lost senior scouts to general manager jobs the past two offseasons, adding Pioli makes a lot of sense for the Falcons.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Colorado State center Weston Richburg has impressed them at the Senior Bowl. He combines good technique with athleticism and enough size to start in the NFL. Richburg is challenging Arkansas' Travis Swanson to be the first center selected. Sources also said that Utah State center Tyler Larsen has held his own this week.
WalterFootball.com will have more practice reports, post-practice interview observations and rumormill entries this week live from Mobile. Follow me or Walt (@walterfootball) for updates.