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Senior Bowl is a place for high energy

It's a place for scouting the old-fashioned way


Dustin from Louisville, KY

Between Kawann Short and Sylvester Williams, which defensive tackle looked better this week? Also, where do you think Datone Jones fits?

Short and Williams were each impressive in their own way. Short struck me as a mauler. He has a great motor and he never lets up. Power and effort appear to be his game. Williams is more athletic. He's got a great first step for a defensive tackle. He's got power and wiggle. I think Williams possesses more upside, but you know what you're getting with Short, and I like what he's got. Jones is more of an unknown. Tony Pauline thinks he can put on weight and play end in a 3-4, or stay light and possibly play rush-backer in a 3-4. I see hand-on-the-ground, 4-3 end. It's funny how first impressions stick with you. One of the first things I saw at the Senior Bowl was No. 57 flashing on a pass rush. Who's that, I asked Tony? Datone Jones, he said, and then Tony proceeded to tell me Jones' life story. I can still see that No. 57. It's the kind of thing that sticks with scouts.

Josh from Delano, MN

You say last year's rookies could make the difference, so my question is who on defense would that be? Will Perry come back and make a difference, or could Moses be that other pass rusher; do you think Worthy or Daniels can become the next run stuffer?

They're all going to be better. Think about that: All of last year's draft picks are going to be better players in 2013. What does that mean?

Matt from Melbourne, Australia

What can you tell me about what you've seen from Mike Gillislee this week? I watched a Florida game during the year and he seems to have that home run potential. He passed the eye test.

I see him as a third-down back. He's best in space. He caught the ball well.

Calvin from Seattle, WA

Vic, how much do you think GMs and head coaches factor in the strength of future draft classes when trading up or down in present NFL drafts?

I think it matters when you need a quarterback. It's the position that's treated differently from the others. It often requires that you step outside your process because quarterbacks are overdrafted. This is a bad year to need a quarterback. That's what I'm hearing, and the six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl didn't do anything to make me believe otherwise. If I'm a GM and I know that next year's draft is likely to be loaded with quarterbacks, then I'm going to be less apt to overdraft one this year. I'm going to try to find a way to get to next year, either with what I have or finding a stop-gap veteran. You can't make chicken soup out of chicken feathers, especially at quarterback.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

The NFL has morphed from a sport into big business. That means customers have to be satisfied. Just how influential is fan appeal when it comes to things like rule changes and the way the game is played?

The fan has a very loud voice and that voice is getting louder because it's not just about ticket sales anymore, it's also about other streams of revenue, such as jersey sales. We are in the revenue era of the NFL. Revenue has always been important, but never more than now and that's because the league and the players are partners, and the players are going to make sure the league reaches the full potential of its quest to drive revenue. The fans are in control. The league gives the fans what sales say the fans want.

Matthew from Maffra, Australia

Wouldn't the laser yellow line help out the players who aren't aware enough to know where the first down is, and hence change the game?

As opposed to finding players who have a nose for the sticks? Charming.

Sean from Menominee, MI

Interesting that due to Shouldergate Pittsburgh missed out on the opportunity to draft Montana. Imagine that dynasty if they had drafted Montana, going from Bradshaw to him.

I don't think Chuck Noll ever forgave Clayton.

Jamie from Sydney, NSW

What are your thoughts on Ted Thompson taking two big defensive linemen in the draft, Jesse Williams and John Jenkins, two late first-rounders who could make the Packers defensive line one to fear?

I don't think either player will be available when the Packers select. Williams skipped the Senior Bowl; he doesn't need it. Jenkins was thought to be a late first-round prospect when the week began, but I guarantee that ship has sailed. Jenkins was the most impressive defensive lineman in Mobile this week and he won't make it past teams in the middle of the first round needing a nose tackle.

Conor from Glen Mills, PA

Vic, why was the cap placed in the ballpark of $120 million? I feel like an extra $20 million would do wonders for the average team in terms of keeping players they wanted to keep. I worry that this will ultimately result in too much parity.

The salary cap is not an arbitrary number. It is determined by the players' percentage of the league's gross revenue divided by 32. Want teams to have another $20 million in cap money to spend? Go buy some team apparel.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, seriously, why does the commish want to put an NFL team in Europe?

Back in 1993 I covered a preseason game in Barcelona. Flew all night and went right from landing to the practice field, which is how they say you beat the time change; skip a day. Well, I asked an NFL guy I knew why I was there. He said the team you cover has a very hot jersey, and he smiled. There are a lot of people that live in Europe and people mean jersey sales. The NFL has been very good at making NFL jerseys fashionable. People that don't even like football wear them because it's fashionable to do so. Imagine what would happen to revenue if NFL jerseys became the talk of Paris. That plane ride to Europe sure would get a lot shorter.

Jack from Milwaukee, WI

Given the top high school recruits go to the major colleges, why is that so many NFL starters come from midlevel schools, such as a Central/Eastern/Western Michigan?

It's for the same reason that Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick. Colleges make mistakes in identifying talent, just as the NFL does. You find football players where you find football players. That's why you have to look everywhere for them. You don't draft the school, you draft the player.

Patrick from Fort Dodge, IA

Would you rather have the league's top two shutdown corners on your team or the league's top quarterback and why?

Quarterback, because it always starts with him. The league's top two corners won't keep you in the playoffs without a top quarterback, but the league's top quarterback will keep a team in the playoffs without having top cornerbacks. Brady has been doing it for years.

Todd from Fitchburg, WI

I am seriously considering a vacation to the Senior Bowl next year. Can the average Joe watch practice?

It's open to everyone. In a lot of ways, the Senior Bowl is a social event. It's also a job fair for out-of-work coaches and scouts. I can't walk 10 feet without seeing someone I know, and I love it. At Wednesday's practice, a few busloads of local students were dropped off at practice, and the kids moved into the same seating areas with the scouts. It didn't take long for the kids to lose interest, of course, and now the scouts had to deal with being surrounded by a lot of annoying kids horsing around and paying no attention to the practice. It started to get a little loud and I could tell some of the scouts were getting irritated and they began heading for higher ground. Scouts tend to sit as teams and talk as they make their observations. I thought to myself, this is the way it used to be. Scouts in the "Old South" looking for players in old stadiums and among the people, not in the castles we now call press boxes. Mobile is the "Old South" and the Senior Bowl is a scouting relic from how it used to be. Players go there with a look-at-me attitude, and they hit each other. It's real football, and the shrimp is out of this world.

Joe from Clio, MI

Vic, did you see anything in Denard Robinson that makes you think he would be worth a pick as a developmental player?

I don't think he helped himself this week. He wore a yellow jersey, which meant he was playing with an injury, and I don't think you can play that way. You're either in or out, and I think Robinson got stuck between the two. That field is a stage and the seats are full of people judging you, and they watch for everything. In Tuesday's practice, the special teams coach mistakenly called for "Desmond Robinson." He yelled it several times. Robinson made a "me?" gesture with his arms, then kind of half-hearted it in fielding punts, letting them bounce in front of him. The scouts took note. You don't ever want to give the appearance that you're above this. Everything must be done with a heightened awareness and energy. I think John Jenkins' agent or coaches got that across to him. Jenkins came to the Senior Bowl with a reputation for taking plays off. He didn't take any plays off in the practice I watched. He was high energy all the time. Robinson dropped some balls on Tuesday and didn't appear to have his heart into practice. He improved on Wednesday.

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