The Senior Bowl practices begin in Mobile, Ala., on Monday with the game set for Saturday, Jan. 26. College players with NFL aspirations will be put on audition in front of all the general managers and pro scouts from the National Football League.
Here are 10 names to watch for in Mobile next week.
Ezekiah Ansah -- DE, BYU
Ezekiah Ansah didn’t begin to play football until the 2010 season. He was cut from the BYU basketball team and was a walk-on to the Cougar track team. At one time he ran 10.91 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.89 seconds in the 200 meters. Now 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, he is this draft class’ version of Jason Pierre-Paul. He is long, athletic and very fast and just beginning to learn how to play the game. Some believe that he will be taken somewhere in the bottom half of the first round because of his sheer, enormous upside. But this next week will be the beginning of a huge draft process that could catapult Ansah into the top half of the draft.
Jamie Collins -- LB, Southern Miss
Jamie Collins is a big Conference USA outside linebacker from Southern Miss who was a high school quarterback. He’s over 6-foot-3 and almost 240 pounds with long arms and a frame to add another 15-20 pounds of bulk. This is a defender that can really run, jump through the gym (38-inch vertical jump) and who explodes to the ball. Collins can rush the passer, which is an added bonus. This is a versatile defender who will have a chance to show off his talents this week and over the coming month. He will test off the charts and is very smart on and off the field.
Aaron Dobson -- WR, Marshall
Aaron Dobson had a really good career for the Thundering Herd, finishing with 196 receptions for 2,396 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s a receiver that’s a long 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. Dobson has very good straight line speed and good quickness. He can get behind a secondary, is not afraid to go over the middle and can make something happen with the ball in his hands. There’s no question that he can work his way up the draft boards this week. This is a really talented kid.
Landry Jones -- QB, Oklahoma
Most figured that Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was a sure-fire first-round draft pick had he declared for the draft after his junior campaign. He didn’t and returned to Norman for his senior season. It’s not that he had a bad year. He had another solid season, throwing for 4,267 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But he just didn’t show the growth one would assume from a guy that has played as much as Jones has. There’s no question he has the size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and physical tools to work his way up the draft boards. This is a kid with a good resume. In a draft with no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, this is the week where guys like Jones can start building their cases to be picked higher, as there will be a few teams that "overdraft" at this position. If the draft were today, Jones would not be selected in the first round. That could change over the next four months, starting this week.
Denard Robinson -- WR, Michigan
I have to hand it to Denard Robinson. Coming out of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, I didn’t believe he had much upside as a college quarterback. But he picked Michigan and was an ideal spread quarterback for then-Wolverine coach Rich Rodriguez. Football fans everywhere got to see what a tremendous athlete this kid really is. The downside to that is that he had no opportunity to play what his future position will be in the NFL -- wide receiver. Next week will be a first-time audition. Certainly Robinson could score big points with a big week, showing he can be coachable and pick up the nuances of playing in the slot.
Jamar Taylor -- CB, Boise State
Jamar Taylor was a solid all-around defensive back for Boise State. Taylor has good size at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. This is a cornerback that has above-average speed and possesses good cover and ball skills. He can also play well in run support. But unless you do things extraordinary at Taylor’s size, you are just another guy with solid physical attributes and a good resume. This will be a week to prove himself.
Phillip Thomas -- S, Fresno State
Phillip Thomas is a good, all-around safety. He has a strong safety body at 6-foot and 210 pounds. Thomas has very good ball skills and plays well in coverage. He also brings a physical presence to the secondary. Thomas is good in run support, can play in the box and get after the quarterback. This is a guy not shy of contact who seems to run pretty well. I will be very curious to see how he does this week and the coming weeks leading up to the draft.
Markus Wheaton -- WR, Oregon State
Markus Wheaton is not the biggest wide receiver at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, but he’s very fast and very quick. This kid can really scoot and has big-play capability. How fast is he? He beat Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas at the Oregon Twilight track meet last spring. He will obviously have to play in the slot on Sundays. Wheaton is also very productive. He finished with 224 career receptions. That’s a Beaver’s record. He had 88 receptions during the 2012 season.
Brandon Williams -- DT, Missouri Southern
This could be Brandon Williams coming out party. This 6-foot-3, 325-pound beast was the D-II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association defensive player of the year after recording 68 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and five forced fumbles this past season. He also set a school record with 27 career sacks. He has size, speed, strength, is versatile and plays with a good motor. But that was against D-II competition and because of that he will have his skeptics. But a good showing next week against high-caliber competition will validate his draft status. Remember Dontari Poe last year? He blew up during the draft process and became the first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. Williams could be this year’s Poe.
Brian Winters -- OT, Kent State
Brian Winters is a four-year starter at right tackle for Kent State. That says a lot about him. This is a kid with great feet and balance, and he is equally adept at run blocking and in pass protection. The issue is his height. He stands a shade under 6-foot-4 and weighs 315 pounds. He has the body of an offensive guard. It will be interesting to see if he slides inside this week and plays that position or take snaps everywhere, showing his versatility.