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NFL Draft: Senior Bowl Players to Watch - Wide Receivers

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.

Wide Receivers:

Titus Young:  WR  Boise St.    5'11"  174 lbs.   No. 2  North Team

Don’t you wish you could go back and draft DeSean Jackson? Titus Young might be your second chance. Young proved that his height and weight wont be a factor in the NFL if nobody can touch him. This week in practice, Young made some of the corners look silly with neck breaking cuts and zero to 60 starts that would make a Mitsubishi Evolution jealous. Yeah, it was like that. Scouts are raving about this guy’s week in Mobile, Ala.. Young does have some character question to answer for (so did Jackson), and until he can, I see him as a mid to late second-round pick.

Vincent Brown:  WR  San Diego St.   5'11"  184 lbs.   No. 80 North Team

Brown was the first receiver at practice to jump out at me. To be honest, I have never seen him play until this point. He looked tall and lean, much like Reggie Wayne of the Colts. So I looked him up and was shocked to see him listed at 5’11". He looked and played like he was well over six feet. His routes were crisp and precise. He caught anything that came near him with his long arms, plucking the ball away from his body and shielding the defenders at the same time. National scouts were right with me, calling Vincent Brown a guy on the rise. If he can show up and play the way he’s been practicing, I could see Brown being drafted in the top of round three. If that stage becomes too big or maybe the quality of the opponent becomes too much, I could see Brown being a steal in the fourth round.

Leonard Hankerson:  WR  Miami  6'2"  205 lbs.  No. 86  South Team

Hankerson’s size fits the mold of recently drafted Bengals receivers. He really came on towards the end of the week’s practices. To me, Hankerson looked like the most pro ready wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. His routes are crisp and clean. His speed might be questioned, but his agility and quickness created enough separation. He dropped a couple balls one day, we’ll see if that trend continues in the game. If the Bengals don’t draft a receiver with their fourth overall pick, I could see them going wide out in round two.

With a good game, Hankerson could be picked late in the first round.

With a bad game, Hankerson might get passed up until the early third round.

Go here for Senior Bowl frequently asked questions.