College players who must excel in Senior Bowl week
Posted: Friday January 19, 2007 12:54PM; Updated: Friday January 19, 2007 2:11PM
Ohio State QB Troy Smith has plenty to prove to NFL scouts after his poor performance in the national title game.
By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com
While the NFL starts to gear up for the Super Bowl, scouts around the league are preparing themselves for something totally different. One of the most important events in the scouting process kicks off Monday, when hundreds of scouts, coaches and GMs descend upon Mobile, Ala., for the start of Senior Bowl week.
The three days of intense practice and ensuing game will provide an opportunity for the nation's top 100 senior prospects to move up on draft boards, particularly the quarterbacks. Passers such as Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, David Carr and Carson Palmer improved their draft stock significantly after a big week in Mobile.
Due to a minor knee injury, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn won't partake in the week's action. So when it comes to quarterbacks, all eyes will be on Ohio State's Troy Smith, last year's Heisman Trophy winner. Smith answered many of the criticisms about his game in the 2006 campaign, but his poor performance against Florida created some doubt. He's seen as an early second-round choice, but he could move up or down boards based on his showing next week.
Here's the skinny on some other players of note:
Alabama running back Kenneth Darby needs to quickly resuscitate his sagging draft ranking and the Senior Bowl may be his final chance. His senior season did not meet expectations, causing scouts to lower him from a potential first-day selection to deep into the middle rounds.
Washington State's Jason Hill is another skill player who must improve after a disappointing senior campaign. The game-breaking wideout struggled with injuries all year long. Originally slotted as a possible late first-round choice, he heads to Mobile with a third-round grade.