Posted: Friday January 19, 2007 12:54PM; Updated: Friday January 19, 2007 2:11PM
By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com
Skeptics say Cal CB Daymeion Hughes lacks the speed necessary in the NFL, but nobody doubts his ball-hawking skills.
USC center Ryan Kallil had a great senior campaign and is now considered the nation's top center. While most feel he is second-round talent, some think he could move into the first round with a knockout week, much the same way Nick Mangold did last year.
The sleeper of the week could be Mansfield Wrotto of Georgia Tech. A former defensive lineman, Wrotto started every game at right tackle last season and showed a lot of ability. There's a good chance the 6-foot-3 prospect, who was graded as a non-prospect coming into the season, will be tried at guard for much of the week. If he continues to impress as he did during the season, Wrotto will solidify himself as a middle-round choice. .
Florida defensive lineman Ray McDonald will draw significant interest, especially after the terrific campaign he put in last year. McDonald has size limitations and injury issues, and league personnel are not sure whether he'll be used at defensive tackle or defensive end at the next level. His play at the Senior Bowl will offer a definite measuring stick.
McDonald's not the only SEC defender who needs a major showing at the Senior Bowl. Georgia's Quentin Moses was rated by one NFL scouting service as the top senior prospect in the nation before the season started. Yet Moses was invisible most of the year and has watched his draft stock plummet. Considered a potential top-five choice, Moses is struggling to stay in the draft's initial 20 selections.
Amobi Okoye is sure to draw a lot of interest. The dominant defensive tackle out of Louisville has all the intangibles scouts want in a player. Just 19 , Okoye must prove his body can withstand the wear and tear that are a trademark of the Senior Bowl. Defensive and offensive linemen slug it out all week in an area affectionately knows as "The Pit", the spot where scouts flock to in the greatest numbers in Mobile.
California cornerback Daymeion Hughes comes off a brilliant senior campaign in which he collected eight interceptions and made 72 tackles. Yet many are concerned about his lack of foot speed. He's projected as a third rounder, but like the other players on hand, next week is the chance for him to prove his critics wrong.