January 29, 2003
The Senior Circuit
by Warren DeLuca
Dick LeBeau’s loss was Dom Capers’ gain. While Capers no doubt felt sympathy for his former assistant when Cincinnati fired LeBeau, the move opened up an opportunity for the Texans down in Mobile, Alabama. The coaching staffs from the two teams with the worst records were to coach some of the top prospects for the draft in this year’s Senior Bowl, but since the Bengals no longer had any coaches on the payroll, Capers and his assistants got the nod. Capers’ North squad dominated now-former Lion coach Marty Morhinweg’s South team to the tune of 17-0.
Independent scout Matt Gambill of All Pro Scouting Services spent the week in Mobile and has taken the time to answer our questions.
HPF: How big of an advantage is it for the Texans that their staff was able to coach in this game?
MG: I don’t think it’s that big of an advantage. Everyone who was in attendance in Mobile got access to the players on and off the field. The one benefit may be the fact that they were between the sidelines with the players.
HPF: Are there any players that the team seemed particularly interested in?
MG: All of the Texans scouts were spread at a number of different positions. Taylor Jacobs really drew a lot of praise for his play. With the Texans in the market for a #1 WR, I have to think their attention was really focused on that position. Also, with the nagging shoulder injury to Boselli, the OT’s were heavily scouted, especially [Eric] Steinbach (Iowa).
HPF: The Texans tried Steinbach, who played guard for Iowa, at left tackle. Was this experiment a success?
MG: That was the best thing for Steinbach because he was able to display how talented he is. He was a stud guard prospect prior to Mobile, but now, he has elevated himself into being one of the top two tackles in the draft. He’s surely worth a top 12-15 pick and I think he may slide into the top 10 depending on where [Jordan] Gross (Utah) is drafted. Great size, footwork, strength, athleticism and upside.
HPF: Last year at the Senior Bowl, David Carr solidified his status as the top player in the draft. Did Carson Palmer do that this year, and how will that impact what happens with the first few picks in the draft?
MG: I thought Carson Palmer was the top player in this draft two months before the Senior Bowl. I think he was clearly the best QB in the game and he should have solidified the top spot of the ’03 draft. The biggest question is, where will he end up? I don’t know what the Bengals will do. They have no clue about anything as it is. Chicago needs to win NOW, so I expect them to bring in a guy like Shaun King from Tampa to run their offense and draft a CB or DT at #4. A lot of things are up in the air right now. In January of 2002, we all knew Carr was the #1 pick.
HPF: Texas A&M DT Ty Warren had a strong week by all accounts. How much ground can he make up in an all-star game, since the biggest questions about him have been his consistency and his ability to stay healthy?
MG: Ty surely improved his status across the boards. He had been such an underachiever at A&M. Everyone knew how much talent he has, but we just didn’t see it on a consistent basis. If he can stay focused, stay healthy, and develop mentally, he can be a very good player.
HPF: What do you think of a couple undersized players who showed well in Mobile: Penn State’s 5’11" DT Anthony Adams and 209-lb. LB LaMarcus McDonald of TCU?
MG: Anthony Adams has the heart of a lion. He knows he’s at a disadvantage with his size, but he was clearly the hungriest player in Mobile. He wants this more than anyone else. I think he is a tremendous player and a wonderful person. He may even be a first day pick. There aren’t many 5’11 DT’s. He’ll play a long time with his attitude. LaMarcus McDonald came in a little lighter than expected (209), but he is extremely talented. McDonald worried people weighing in at just 209, but he was very vocal and intense and seemed to fly around and make plays all over the field. He was extremely impressive with his instincts and just had a natural feel for the position. He’ll weigh in at 220 at the combine.
HPF: Another guy who really seemed to impress is Oklahoma State DT Kevin Williams. How much did he help himself last week?
MG: Kevin Williams may have been the most impressive player at any position. Williams came in at 6’4 2/8", 301 and was a dominating force on the inside. He’s a very aggressive player who showed very good quickness off the ball and used his hands very well. He’s a strong player shows the ability to collapse the pocket and the athleticism and burst to close. Very impressive. He may have played himself into being a top 15 pick.
HPF: What other players created the most buzz?
MG: A few other players of note were Clemson DT Nick Eason, Hawaii LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, Cal QB Kyle Boller, Arizona WR Bobby Wade, Michigan TE Bennie Joppru, Washington State CB Marcus Trufant, Notre Dame CB Shane Walton, USC RB Justin Fargas, North Carolina WR Sam Aiken, Florida State OG Montrae Holland, Georgia OT Jon Stinchcomb, Illinois OT Tony Pashos, and SMU CB Kevin Garrett. All of these players stood out for their superior play all week.
HPF: We always hear that "a player can’t hurt his stock in an all-star game, he can only help himself." Is that true, and if not, who hurt their standing?
MG: I have always believed that you can never hurt your status at an all-star game unless you are absolutely pathetic in practice and stand out like a sore thumb. Having said that, Marshall OT/OG Steve Sciullo, Tennessee CB/FS Julian Battle, Utah FS Antwoine Sanders, and Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury all looked horrible all week long. Battle has a ton of ability, but was hampered by a slightly pulled hamstring and didn’t understand that he was there to work and not play. He’s a very easy going kid, but to a fault. Sanders, Sciullo, and Kingsbury didn’t even belong there. The way they played, they didn’t even belong at the Paradise Bowl. They were all God-awful.
HPF: He obviously wasn’t in the Senior Bowl, but junior DT Rien Long, the 2002 Outland Trophy winner, has declared for the draft after previously saying that he would stay at Washington State. What do you think of him and where does he fit into the draft?
MG: I think Long is a very gifted player, but he plays a bit high and will struggle winning leverage. That worries me. There is no denying his quickness and strength at the point of attack. He certainly has a lot of physical abilities, but I don’t see him as an elite DT prospect. Solid player, but not in the same class as Kennedy, Williams, and Robertson.
HPF: The all-star season wraps up with the Hula Bowl this weekend. Who are the players to watch in this game?
MG: The Hula Bowl has some talent with ULL DB’s Ivan Taylor and Charles Tillman, Michigan S Charles Drake, Tuskegee CB Frank Walker, Harvard WR Carl Morris, TCU CB Jason Goss, Washington State WR Jerome Riley, West Virginia DT David Upchurch, San Diego State WR Kassim Osgood, LSU DB Norman LeJeune, and North Carolina TE Zach Hilton.
Matt Gambill interned two years with an NFL scouting department before setting out on his own. He created All-Pro Scouting Services, LLC and now works as an independent scout. He talks with players, coaches, scouts, etc. on a daily basis and reviews game film all year. He’s also made numerous contacts throughout the NFL, which has helped him build one of the best, most respected draft sites on the Internet. We thank him for taking time to speak with us. Taylor Jacobs Return to Houston Pro Football