January 24, 2011

MOBILE, Ala. -- One of the biggest weeks of pre-draft scouting kicked off Monday as the largest single collection of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers gathered for the 2011 Senior Bowl. For the next week the top seniors in the nation hope to showcase their skills for future employers during full-pads practice. Besides the action on the field, there's plenty of draft related news coming out of Mobile as NFL decision-makers look to the future.

The hopes that defensive end Cameron Heyward of Ohio State would participate in the Senior Bowl were dashed last week when the first-round prospect underwent surgery to repair a hyper-extended elbow suffered late in the season. Speculation is the recovery process could take as long as three months.

With so many NFL teams in desperate need of a starting quarterback and just a few expected to come from April's draft, talk in Mobile has centered on veteran signal callers likely to be dealt. The belief is the trade value for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb will exceed his actual playing skills and some team will overpay for him. Word is the Seahawks could be in the bidding process for Carson Palmer if the Bengals deal the disgruntled veteran. Palmer was coached by Pete Carroll late in his college career, and most feel it is a natural fit.

Jake Locker stood in front of the media on Sunday night and answered a barrage of questions about his decision to stay at Washington for his senior season. He was steadfast, telling all who asked he feels he made the proper choice by pushing off his NFL dreams by a year. Locker pointed out he received his degree upon his return and feels he's now better prepared for the NFL.

A number of teams were relieved to hear Iowa receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos will only receive probation in conjunction with his arrest on drug charges from last December. Johnson-Koulianos pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in a plea-bargain deal. He was initially charged with keeping a drug house, a misdemeanor that carried up to two years in prison. The latest development means Johnson-Koulianos will likely be selected in the late round and can participate in camp this summer.

Here's a look at the most notable performance, both good and bad, from Monday's practice:

Jake Locker/QB/Washington: Locker struggled almost the entire first day in Mobile. He has an NFL arm, but the accuracy of his throws leaves much to be desired. Locker was constantly high of the mark, forcing receivers to leave their feet as they attempted to make the reception. His passes were also late as pass catchers were usually waiting for the ball to arrive.

Colin Kaepernick/QB/Nevada: Kaepernick entered the week with a lot of questions surrounding his game yet answered many of them in the early going. On Monday he displayed the ability to play in a disciplined NFL passing system after spending most of his college career in a spread offense which allowed him to carry the ball almost as much as he threw it. Kaepernick showed a strong arm and most importantly was on target with most of his throws. He was very accurate with his short and intermediate throws, and had the ball to receivers as they left their breaks. Kaepernick needs to improve his longer passes but it was a terrific initial practice for the senior.

James Brewer/T/Indiana: Brewer pulled off a dominant performance on the first day of Senior Bowl practice and quickly established himself as the best blocker at the event. He looked big and powerful during morning weigh-ins then played that way in the afternoon. Brewer moves well on his feet and also annihilates opponents once he got his hands on them. He was never beat today and drew praise from coaches on a number of occasions.

Cameron Jordan/DL/California: Jordan flashed brilliance today as well as a variety of skill. He showcased his terrific athleticism and easily moved about the field, quickly getting up the field to rush the passer or displaying speed chasing the action in pursuit. Jordan is not the strongest defensive lineman but his 6-foot, 4-inch, 287-pound frame has room to grow and add bulk. It was an impressive start for Jordan.

Leonard Hankerson/WR/Miami: Hankerson proved to be a handful for whomever attempted to cover him. He continually created separation and beat multiple cornerbacks deep to make the downfield catch. Hankerson did not drop a pass all day and made several difficult receptions in practice.

Gabe Carimi/T/Wisconsin: Carimi was better than advertised and looked effective as a run blocker and in pass protection. He played with good fundamentals and worked his blocks hard all afternoon. Carimi was stronger than most expected and also displayed solid footwork. He constantly showed the ability to knock pass rushers away from the action.

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