As the Senior Bowl practices build up to Saturday’s game, I figured we could have some fun and try matching one participant with each NFC North team. I did my best to consider where each team is drafting, but this is mostly about filling needs -- and enjoying ourselves in the dark days of the early NFL offseason.
Remember, our friends at Scouts Inc. are putting together a daily blog of practice evaluation over on our draft page. Here goes nothing:
Player: Nebraska safety Larry Asante
Comment: Safety might be the Bears’ top need, and we all know they don’t have a pick in either the first or second rounds of the 2010 draft. So it’s worth noting that Asante has impressed Todd McShay and Co. with his across-the-board skills. He might not be an elite cover safety, but you don’t have to be in a Cover-2 scheme like the Bears’.
Player: Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount
Comment: I know I’ve advocated the Lions focus on improving both of their lines, but that doesn’t mean they should ignore a pretty significant need at running back. Kevin Smith’s torn anterior cruciate ligament makes him a question mark for next season. We all know Blount has some serious character issues, but the Lions’ coaching staff is getting an up-close look at him as one of their players this week on the North squad. If nothing else, the Lions should leave Mobile, Ala., with a good idea of whether his reputation is valid. If they are comfortable with him, he could be a draft value. If they’re not, the Lions are also getting long looks at offensive linemen like Idaho’s Mike Iupati. Here is McShay’s running evaluation of Blount, available to Insider subscribers.
Player: UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse
Comment: Ducasse comes from a smaller program, but he fits the profile of many lineman the Packers have drafted: Players who could potentially develop into a tackle or guard depending on need. The draft’s best offensive linemen aren’t at the Senior Bowl, but Ducasse is scouts have paid attention to during practices. Here is McShay’s evaluation.
Player: Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike
Comment: The Vikings need to identify a long-term answer at quarterback, whether or not Brett Favre returns in 2010. The top arms don’t attend the Senior Bowl, but Pike is a mid-round draft pick with the size (6-foot-6) and arm strength to develop into an NFL starter. Here is what McShay thinks of him. Pike’s biggest obstacle is transitioning from a spread offense to more of a pro style.