The 2011 Senior Bowl will take place this afternoon in Mobile, Alabama. Most of you are aware that Chan Gailey and the Buffalo Bills coaching staff are coaching the South team in that game, but in the first of two preview posts today, we're going to focus on the North team coached by Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are, in my estimation, the five North players that Bills fans should be watching most closely this afternoon (if you're lucky enough to get NFL Network).
Cameron Jordan, DE, California (6'4", 287). Jordan made the biggest early impression of the week, dominating in the practice setting throughout all three padded practices. He was already a likely Top 15 pick, and has, at the very least, solidified his status in that territory. Jordan is big, strong, and very versatile; that versatility will make him very appealing to teams like Buffalo, who use multiple fronts defensively - Jordan wouldn't have to leave the field.
Four more guys for your perusal after the jump - and then feel free to leave your short list of players to watch.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (6'8", 314). It was supposed to be a weak year at the top of the draft for offensive tackles, but Solder has headlined a strong week for the offensive linemen as a group in Mobile. No one questions Solder's physical abilities - he's an outstanding athlete for a man his size - but he hasn't been playing tackle long. He did, however, dominate in practice this week, according to the most glowing reports. It looks like Solder has a shot at being the first tackle off the board.
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue (6'4", 255). NFL scouts love Kerrigan - not necessarily for his raw physical ability, which is not elite, but because he's just a really excellent football player. 4-3 teams are looking at him as a defensive end, while 3-4 teams are looking at him as an outside linebacker. Kerrigan, like the two players listed ahead of him here, will likely go much higher in the 2011 NFL Draft than most believe.
Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa (6'4", 288). Ballard has flown under the radar a bit in a very strong year for defensive line prospects. That's no longer the case, as he was one of several standout performers up front this week. Teams still aren't completely sure that Ballard has the base power or length to play five technique, but Ballard is quick and explosive, and seems to be a lock for the second round, at the latest.
James Brewer, OT, Indiana (6'6", 323). I mentioned the fact that it was a strong week for the offensive linemen, and Ballard was part of that - he looked unexpectedly good this week, according to multiple reports, and was particularly impressive in pass protection. Brewer is one of the bigger tackles available this year, and has the look of an eventual starter at right tackle. Keep in mind that Bills assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson coached Brewer while both were at Indiana; this is a player that the Bills will be overly familiar with.