What to Take Away from Collegiate All-Star Games
The East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl completed a few weeks ago. They both featured tremendous athletes, and were scouted heavily by all NFL franchises. Each team will view these options differently and value them accordingly. All that said; let’s review what many should know after these competitions for future professionals.
#1 – Remember the Standouts Going Forward
Three guys who helped themselves tremendously after a solid week at Mobile were Danny Shelton, Clive Walford, and Jamison Crowder. The Browns have had their issues at stuffing the run last year (and will likely part ways with nose tackle veteran Ahtyba Rubin). Shelton will be a first rounder; the Browns must measure him against his competitors at the combine to make sure the University of Washington standout is worthy with one of their first two picks.
Walford and Crowder each fill needs for this offense. The Browns must add at least a pair of receivers, no matter if they are wide outs or tight ends. Walford is smooth route runner but is considered miles behind Maxx Williams at his position. Crowder is a burner and could develop into an Odell Beckham Jr. role, but should the Browns look for options that are at least six-feet two inches tall?
#2 – Temper Running Backs’ Performances
The Browns are deep and at the running back position. While Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West’s play dipped at the end of the year, they still have earned the right to be the leading carriers in 2015. Also, there are many solid options at this position – Ray Farmer shouldn’t focus primarily on those toting the ball during the Senior Bowl (West and Crowell didn’t attend last year).
#3 – Consider Mannion and Petty as Backups
As far as quarterbacks are concerned, I don’t see either the former Oregon State or Baylor University athlete as a starter in the NFL, but that could change over time. I would not be opposed to the front office choosing one in the middle rounds (third or fourth) and developing him for a year or two. After Manziel’s time is done with the orange and brown (and who knows how long that will be), this guy could be the next in line. Maybe, just maybe, the Browns can finally hit on the right athlete and have a franchise quarterback.
#4 – Don’t Over-Evaluate Defensive Backs
A few guys made some fantastic plays in the secondary during Senior Bowl week. Two that specifically came to mind were Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss and Kevin White of TCU – who both excelled during one-on-one drills and team practices. However, that is only part of the story for the evaluation of these athletes. There was very little physicality on display; something that Mike Pettine will want his defenders to possess. Can both be reliable in that area? It may come down to game film, as this does not occur during the NFL Combine. Simply put – the general manager must still keep many options open (provided look for that positional group).
#5 – Prioritizing the Offensive Linemen
I was really impressed by the production of linemen Shaq Mason, Laken Tomlinson, and Donovan Smith. Assuming the Browns feel the same way I do (any why shouldn’t they?) – they should both put these guys up on their list while still keeping in mind what they need. Mason is shorter, and some project Tomlinson to be either guard or tackle. Can the Browns afford to pass on a great prospect in early rounds in order to take a project later on?
Conclusion: The last few weeks of January is only a portion of what teams look for in potential options to join their roster. Some teams place more weight on the Senior Bowl, while other rely on Pro Days and the NFL Combine. I bet the Browns will take pieces and parts for certain players and positions, but hopefully they are astute in those assessments.