MOBILE, AL --- It's the position many Colts fans will be tracking in the upcoming draft, and the Senior Bowl offers one of the early glimpses into some of the crop of offensive linemen available.
Chuck Pagano and new offensive line coach Joe Philbin are at the Senior Bowl, among various other members of the Colts organization.
If you're looking for Ohio State offensive lineman Taylor Decker, you won't find him here. The popular pick for the Colts at #18 in some early mock drafts was a surprise absence from final Senior Bowl rosters.
Here's who has stood out among the offensive linemen participating in the Senior Bowl among those reporting on the Senior Bowl for NFL.com:
Western Michigan OG Willie Beavers (6'4", 324 lbs) - Joe Reitz will like this one. The fellow Western Michigan product was moved to left tackle at the end of his freshman season and started 40 straight games as a 1st-Team All-MAC selection. NFL.com College Football Writer Chase Goodbread tabbed Beavers as one of the small school products at the Senior Bowl that could be selected in the first round. He's basing that off of the opinion of a legend in the business.
NFL.com Writer (and more notably former Cowboys Vice President of player personnel from 1960 to 1988) Gil Brandt mentioned Beavers as his potential Senior Bowl splash among unheralded prospects.
"I think Western Michigan offensive lineman Willie Beavers is going to be the next surprise to come from the (MAC)," wrote Brandt. "Don't judge him by his tape from the 2015 season -- he had an injured ankle and played at less than 100 percent. He has long arms, good agility and is very competitive. I think he has chance to be an NFL regular.
LSU OG Vadal Alexander (6'5", 336 pounds) - Alexander is being projected by most to go in the 2nd round but is impressing at Senior Bowl practice. Look at these two reps against Virginia Tech LB Dadi Nicolas:
Virginia Tech LB Dadi Nicolas v. LSU OL Vadal Alexander. #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/mKfYq11JBY — Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 26, 2016
Nicolas v. Alexander, part II pic.twitter.com/ZsDHqD0A4m — Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 26, 2016
Alexander started two years next to La'el Collins, playing both left guard and right tackle during his time at LSU. He's lost 30 pounds since the start of college and is still over 330 pounds, making him potentially a powerful inside blocker. He's going to have a size advantage against most of the players that line up across from him in the NFL. The challenge for him though is if he can utilize that size until the whistle blows. Mike Mayock said Alexander had an "impressive" practice Wednesday.
Stanford OT Kyle Murphy (6'6", 300 lbs) - Murphy moved from right tackle to left tackle his senior season to finish college as a 2nd-Team All-Pac-12 selection. Zierlein says his feet need to get quicker but has good awareness in in pass protection with recognition of blitzes and twists. He's being projected as a 3rd round pick. In Senior Bowl practice, he was both beaten around the edge and strong on another one-on-one rep:
Texas Tech OL Le'Raven Clark (6'6", 313 lbs) - NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter didn't include Clark in his top-15 senior prospects for the 2016 draft but did include him in his next 20 worth watching. Clark started two years at left tackle and his freshman season at right guard, but Reuter writes it's unclear where Clark will play in the NFL. Mike Mayock said on NFL Network Wednesday he has the longest arms in the draft. Clark is currently being projected in the 4th round.
"He flashes the lateral agility and recovery speed to play on the edge against college pass rushers, but he might be best inside where he can lock on and create creases for the running game," said Reuter.
Against the absolute giant of a man at this year's Senior Bowl, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Clark held up well in this one-on-one drill:
Missouri C Evan Boehm (6'2", 309 lbs) - NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein describes this four-year starter as a thick interior lineman with outstanding power at the point of attack, featuring an ability to use brute force in run blocking. He was one of the top OL recruits coming out of high school and broke the Missouri school record for consecutive starts.
However, Zierlein also points out his height and arm length (31 ⅝") could make him undraftable for some teams. At Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice, Zierlein was surprised to see Boehm get beat by Clemson DT D.J. Reader but also saw many offensive lineman get beat by Reader on Tuesday with Reader's 340-pound body. Boehm is being projected around the 5th round.
Washington State OG Joe Dahl (6'4", 299 lbs) - Which potential sleeper stood out to former Colts General Manager and Hall of Famer Bill Polian? This sleeper, projected to go in the 6th or 7th round.
"Big balance, he's got big punch," said Polian on ESPN Wednesday. "He's technically really sound, and he's got pretty good movement. He's a guy I hadn't seen a lot of during the season, plays in a pure spread, 'air raid' offense. So, he's got a little bit of an advantage in the pass protection, but in terms of run game, he was fine."
Michigan State C Jack Allen (6'2", 297 lbs) - Allen is being projected as a day two pick, and on Wednesday he impressed Mike Mayock, describing him as "very quick" and "tough." The former state champion high school wrestler in Illinois was a two-time All-American at Michigan State by USA Today.
"I don't know what round he's going in," said Mayock. "I just know he's going to make somebody's team, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he ends up starting somewhere."
Kansas State OG Cody Whitehair (6'3", 300 lbs) - Whitehair played both tackle positions and left guard in college, earning 1st-Team All-Big 12 honors at left tackle as a senior. Mayock said he put on the tape of Whitehair and immediately thought of Cowboys guard Zack Martin who moved to guard in the NFL and became Pro Bowl-level players. "Whitehair is the next one of those guys," said Mayock. "I thought he had a really good day (on Wednesday), especially in the line drills." Whitehair is being projected as a 2nd round pick.