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Senior Bowl 2012 Primer: What And Who To Watch For

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Now that the Colts now have their new General Manager, and their new Head Coach, it's time to transition fully into draft mode. What better way to do that then with the annual Senior Bowl, which is Saturday afternoon at 4:00 ET on the NFL Network. It's the premiere draft-prep game for seniors to make an impression on actual NFL coaches and scouts, playing against one another. A good number of top prospects will be there, and if you're into the draft even a little bit, you should make a point of watching Saturday afternoon.

The Colts obviously have a boat-load of holes to fill going into 2012, so there are a lot of positions to watch Saturday. In fact, when I sat down to start going through players to watch, I had 61 guys. That's a few too many, but when there are seven positions that I think the Colts will target (not including QB), it's a lot of guys. I narrowed that list down to 25 players that I think we as Colts fans should keep our eye on, and a set of 7 that I feel will definitely be looked at by the Colts.

The positions I initially pulled, in no particular order, are C, OG, WR, DT/NT, DE, OLB, CB, SS. There may be more once we learn about Coordinators, what kinds of schemes they'll run, etc. There's also the uncertainty of several big-name free agents that we don't know about right now, but we will know about before the draft. I made the list broad, with the assumption it'll probably shrink as we get close to the draft.

After the jump I have a table of all guys to take a look at, as well as a quick blurb on the top guys for the Colts, at least in my opinion...

No. Name Position HT WT School Team
74 Blake, Philip C 6'2" 3/8 312 Baylor South
60 Jones, Ben C 6'2" 5/8 304 Georgia South
50 Brewster, Mike C 6'4 1/4 310 Ohio State North
2 Boykin, Brandon CB 5'9" 1/4 183 Georgia South
19 Hayward, Casey CB 5'11" 188 Vanderbilt South
24 Menzie, DeQuan CB 5'10" 1/2 195 Alabama South
15 Dennard, Alfonzo CB 5'10" 203 Nebraska North
24 Fletcher, Donnie CB 6'0" 1/4 201 Boston College North
23 Johnson, Leonard CB 5'9" 7/8 198 Iowa State North
94 Jerod-Eddie, Tony DT 6'4" 303 Texas A&M South
92 Powell, Tydreke DT 6'2" 3/8 297 North Carolina South
98 Thompson, Brandon DT 6'2" 311 Clemson South
74 Ta'amu, Alameda DT 6'2" 1/2 341 Washington North
61 Blackwell, Will OG 6'3" 1/2 314 LSU South
70 Zeitler, Kevin OG 6'3" 7/8 315 Wisconsin North
13 Bradham, Nigel OLB 6'1" 5/8 237 Florida State South
47 Brown, Zach OLB 6'1" 3/8 236 North Carolina South
51 Robinson, Keenan OLB 6'3" 1/8 240 Texas South
31 Spence, Sean OLB 5'11" 3/8 228 Miami South
4 David, Lavonte OLB 6'0" 1/2 225 Nebraska North
28 Davis, Demario OLB 6'3" 230 Arkansas State North
18 Taylor, Brandon SS 5'11" 1/8 202 LSU South
22 Smith, Harrison SS 6'1" 3/4 212 Notre Dame North
85 Jones, Dwight WR 6'3" 1/8 226 North Carolina South
7 McNutt, Marvin WR 6'2" 1/2 216 Iowa North

Some key players to watch:

  • CB Alfonzo Dennard - Unfortunately Dennard got hurt, so he won't be playing Saturday, but he's a guy the Colts could definitely look at for pick #34. Largely overshadowed by Prince Amukamara at Nebraska, and wasn't having the greatest week of practice before he was shut down with a hip flexor muscle. Also looks to be a Cover-2 CB, so might not be the right scheme-fit any more. Just a name to watch going forward.
  • CB Brandon Boykin - As well as impressing at corner this week, Boykin was arguably one of the best kick/punt returners in the country, returning a combined five kicks and punts for a TD, including one in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. He's going to move up draft boards fast with how impressive he's been, but he's caught everyone's eye this week.
  • CB DeQuan Menzie - Playing in the shadow of first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick, Menzie will be a guy that's in the 4th-6th round, prime territory to get depth. Alabama seems to have half of their defense in this year's draft, and they were clearly very good last season.
  • DT Brandon Thompson - I'll let Football Outsiders and Shutdown Corner's Mike Tanier explain Thompson's week so far:
    Thompson made so many plays in the backfield during 11-on-11 drills that it might be easier to list the times he didn't make a play. He stopped ball carriers. He flushed quarterbacks. He is explosive, strong, and very competitive.
    Why is the Ravens defense as strong as it is? Haloti Ngata. Love Thompson here.
  • DT Alameda Ta'amu - He looks to be a proto-typical 3-4 NT, and since we're used to just igoring these guys, we should take a look at him. He's a huge dude at 341 pounds, and has improved over the week. Interested to see him in a game situation.
  • OLB Demario Davis - A rush OLB, which again we've largely ignored around here. He stood out on both Day 2 and Day 3 of practice this week. Can't have too many of these guys. He'll be a later round guy too.
  • WR Dwight Jones - He actually hasn't been that great in practice this week, but I'm hoping the pedigree of recent North Carolina WRs (Hakeem Nicks, Greg Little, Brandon Tate). He had a secondary violation before their bowl game this year, putting his name and picture on a party advertisement thrown by a family member. I'm so glad the NCAA is so busy with these kind of things. I'm hoping Jones plays a little better than he's shown this week.
  • WR Marvin McNutt - We all know Bill Polian's love for all Hawkeyes, and even though he's gone, McNutt is a guy we should get behind. He's turning some heads this week, so he'll probably move up some draft boards, but he's a talented receiver. He's projected around the 4th-5th round, same spot that Austin Collie was taken.

You can check out the full team rosters on the Senior Bowl website: North and South

For coverage, I highly recommend Wes Bunting of National Football Post, James Christensen of (I know, but trust me, great source), and of course our NFL Draft site here on SB Nation Mocking the Draft, where they have tons of content from this week.

I think I'm going to be downtown during the game Saturday, but I'll have an open thread up for people to chat about the game. Anyone else you definitely want to watch for?