Editor's Note: The Senior Bowl is Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. We at Cincy Jungle want to give you a heads up on which players you should keep an eye on because they could end up in stripes in 2011. The positions we chose to review were quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line and safety. These positions have some of the best players in this year's Senior Bowl. The rest of the posts will go up throughout the day.
The Bengals will be involved in meaningful football in January. So what if it’s the Senior Bowl? With the CBA in flux, this may be closest thing to Bengals football we might see for a while. While coaching the Senior Bowl three times in seven years isn’t anything to brag about, you can look at the previous stints (2004, 2009) to forecast who could be on the 2011 Bengals roster. After coaching the North team in 2004, the Bengals have since drafted or signed seven players from that game. Keiwan Ratliff, Madieu Williams, Kyle Larson, Greg Brooks, Ronnie Ghent, Alex Stepanovich, and Kirk Champbers. Four players on today’s roster played in the 2009 Senior Bowl where the Bengals coached the North team. Rey Maualuga, Kevin Huber, Quan Cosby, and Cedric Peerman. So what does this tell us? We will probably draft a punter again. OK not really, but it does show that watching the Senior Bowl can be a preview of future Bengals. With that said, here’s a few players that I think we could see in stripes next season.
|Jake Locker: QB Washington 6'2" 228 lbs No. 10 North Team|
Locker is regarded as the top QB in this year’s game. Great footwork, strong arm, and the ability to run with the ball have scouts intrigued about his ability at the pro game. His accuracy outside the pocket is uncanny, but inconsistent inside of the pocket. Locker needs to show he can keep his eyes down field when the pocket breaks down. He likes to take off and run at the first sign of danger, but NFL teams would like to see him stay in there, slide and make an accurate throw.
With a good game, Locker could get drafted top 10. With a bad game, he could slide into the top five picks in round two.
|Andy Dalton: QB TCU 6'2" 212 lbs. No. 14 South Team|
Everybody is jumping on the Dalton bandwagon. The quarterback that led TCU to an undefeated season in 2010 is now the "sleeper" quarterback most experts are calling "their guy." Dalton isn’t the biggest or most athletic quarterback in this game, but what he lacks in stature he more than makes up for it with his intangibles. Dalton isn’t great at any one particular attribute, but he does everything well. He is a natural leader with a penchant for winning since high school. Scouts want to see if Dalton can comprehend the pro style offense, take snaps under center, and make the reads necessary to move his team down field.
With a good game Dalton could find himself being picked in the early to mid second round.
|Colin Kaepernick QB Nevada 6'5" 225 lbs. No. 10 North Team|
Kaepernick may be the closest thing to a Cam Newton type of quarterback without spending a top 15 pick on the real thing. To go with his 4.5 speed, Kaepernick might have the strongest arm in the entire draft class. He’s a project for whatever NFL team drafts him. He will have to add 15 lbs to his skinny frame, learn the pro game, and take snaps from under center. What scouts will look for in Saturday’s game is if Kaepernick can make the touch passes. He struggled this week with knowing when to laser the ball into a receiver or just lob it out there for his guy to go get it.
With a good game, Kaepernick would add to the buzz that’s already surrounding him. He could make it into the middle of the second round.
With a bad game, He could fall deeper into the "project" category and be drafted as late as the sixth round. This game is big for Kaepernick.
Go here for Senior Bowl frequently asked questions.