Although the finale to the 2010 NFL season is still over a week away, the long, strenuous draft scouting process has already kicked off with the week’s Senior Bowl. Hundreds of NFL scouts fled to Mobile, Alabama at the beginning of the week to begin the evaluation of some of the nation’s most outstanding seniors.
Senior Bowl week culminates with the game itself tomorrow, but most scouts actually consider the week of practice more revealing and some have already made the trip home. From the fans perspective, though, tomorrow’s game will give many a first impression of some of the prospects we are going to ramble on about and dissect until the draft in late April. More importantly, from the Dolphins’ perspective, there are several quarterbacks, including first round possibility Jake Locker, that have one final game as a collegiate athlete to make the type of statement that could significantly boost their draft stock.
1. Jake Locker, QB, Washington: There may not be a bigger high risk, high reward prospect in this year’s draft than Jake Locker. Many draft experts believed Locker would have been the first overall selection in last year’s draft if he would have chose to come out early. Instead, Locker returned for his senior season where he finished his degree and got one more valuable year of experience under his belt. However, he drastically hurt his draft stock as his passing numbers took a dip and Washington stumbled to a mediocre season. Still though, Locker’s superb athleticism and arm strength and the fact that he played in a pro style system at Washington have many draft experts projecting him as the second ranked quarterback in the draft.
2. Titus Young, WR, Boise State: We all know that the Dolphins need to get faster and more explosive on the offensive side of the football. Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline make up a pretty solid receiving core, but the lack of a true deep threat really hurt Miami’s ability to produce big plays. If the Dolphins are serious about addressing this issue, Titus Young would be the ideal selection in the second or third round. That is, if he doesn’t just play his way into the first round conversation this week. Young has consistently been getting separation on go-routes this week in practice and if he can run a sub 4.4 at the combine, comparisons to Desean Jackson would likely be soon to follow. The only problem is, when dealing with speedy receivers, you never know when you’ve got another Ted Ginn on your hands.
3. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada: Another player that has been improving his stock this week at practice is Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Several sources have also come out and said that the Dolphins are a team that has shown interest in Kaepernick. He’s a very intriguing prospect with a 6’6, 225 pound frame and the athleticism to potentially run under a 4.5 at the combine. He also possesses ideal arm strength and leadership. On the downside, his mechanics could use some work and his accuracy has taken a hit because of it. If the Dolphins don’t address quarterback in free agency and don’t feel compelled enough to take a shot on one of the big four (Gabbert, Locker, Newton, Mallet) in the first round, Kaepernick would be an enticing option in the third or fourth if he’s still around.
4. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St.: GM Jeff Ireland wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams when asked earlier in the week, but it’s fairly obvious that the Dolphins will be shopping for at least one starting caliber running back this offseason. Along with getting faster at receiver, the Dolphins could also use a speedster back to become more explosive in the running game. At 5’7, 199 pounds, Kendall Hunter shouldn’t be selected to be a an every down option, but if the Dolphins choose to address running back in free agency with a proven veteran, Hunter would be a solid mid-round investment as a change of pace back.
5. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: Like Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton is in the mix of likely third or fourth round options for the Dolphins. Dalton is a fine game manager who is accurate and avoids silly mistakes. If you’re looking for comparisons, Dalton would fall under the Chad Pennington mold, as a smart but limited passer.