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2017 NFL Draft: Five prospects to watch during the Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl week is here, so let's take a look at some of the notable prospects the Denver Broncos will be keeping a close eye on.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl week officially kicked off on Monday with the prospects all showing up and visiting with some scouts. Today is when everything really kicks off.

First, they will all weigh in and get those official height/weight numbers to the team, and then the North and South will have the first practices of the week. The South will practice first at 1:15 pm – 3:00 pm ET and the North will follow them and practice from 3:30 pm – 5:15 pm ET. If you're interested in watching, NFL Network usually has live coverage and a wrap-up show that night talking about who stood out.

So let us take a look at the notable prospects at the Senior Bowl and which ones General Manager John Elway and the Broncos scouts will be paying close attention to this week.

1. Alabama tight end, OJ Howard:

Height: 6-6

Weight: 251lbs

Thoughts:

Howard is arguably the top tight end in this loaded tight end class and could be the best offensive skill position player at the Senior Bowl.

Howard can do it all. He has the size and athleticism to be a menace for defenses and has really improved his blocking skills. He might be a better blocker than he is a receiver, and he's a damn good receiver. Probably the most balanced tight end in the entire draft.

Now if Howard dominates in the one on one battles during the three practices this week, he could really make himself some money. He wasn't used a ton in the passing game in Alabama, so showing well in that area this week would be good for him. He only had 114 receptions for 1,726 yards and 7 touchdowns in four seasons at Alabama.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has Howard ranked as the 18th best prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Howard has ideal size, speed and toughness for the position. As a route runner, he is at his best on run-away routes. He uses his speed to create separation on seam routes, deep crossers and flat routes. He isn't used much on option routes and he will need to develop a feel for working in zones and adjusting his route on the move. He has strong hands and a big catch radius. He uses his speed to run away from defenders after the catch and he's capable of taking underneath throws and turning them into big gains. I love the way he competes in the run game. He can set the edge on the front side and consistently reach and seal on the backside of the play. Overall, Howard is a complete player and he should be an integral part of an NFL offense very early in his career.

The Broncos do have a bit of a need at the tight end position. They have Virgil Green, A.J. Derby, and Jeff Heuerman already on the roster, but neither has really stood out and took over the job during their time with the Broncos. Also, the tight end was rarely used in the passing game for the Broncos this past season so getting a weapon for Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch would be a good idea.

2. Troy Offensive Tackle, Antonio Garcia:

Height: 6-6

Weight: 302lbs

Thoughts:

One of the more intriguing prospects at Mobile this week is Troy Offensive Tackle, Antonio Garcia. He isn't a household name like Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk or Alabama's Cam Robinson, but he could be the first offensive tackle off the board this April if he has a strong week.

Garcia has your prototypical frame of an NFL offensive tackle. Good size, build and length for an offensive tackle as well. One of his biggest assets are his feet. He's smooth, quick, and has the foot speed to take on speedy edge rushers.


Draft expert Tony Pauline has talked to some NFL scouts and they believe he is the top senior tackle at the Senior Bowl and should go somewhere in the top 40 picks in the draft if he tests well. His tape alone has impressed scouts and should have him going in the first two rounds of the draft.

Relatively unknown entering the season, Garcia improved every aspect of his game and really jumped off the film in 2016.  As reported back in mid-December a number of teams grade Garcia as the top tackle from the senior class.  Strong showings throughout the week, especially during drills in the pit, could push Garcia into the initial 42 picks.

How Garcia does in the all important one on one drills this week will be key. By all accounts, he should dominate these drills, so I am anxious to see him.

The Broncos could use a right tackle and potentially a left tackle this offseason, so a prospect like Garcia could be high on their draft board.

3. Western Kentucky Tackle/Guard, Forrest Lamp:

Height: 6-3

Weight: 300lbs

Thoughts:

One prospect who might have the most to gain this week is Western Kentucky offensive lineman, Forrest Lamp. He played tackle in college, but because of size and arm length, he is likely moving inside to guard in the NFL, and he could be a damn good player too.

He is drawing comparisons to Dallas Cowboy's guard Zach Martin who like Lamp entered the draft process as a tackle but will move to guard in the NFL. Martin dominated the Senior Bowl while he was there and Lamp has a chance to do the same this week.

As Jeremiah notes below, Lamp is one of the more technically sound linemen in the draft which bodes well for him contributing early on in his career. He is also a very powerful and aggressive lineman who can dominate in the run game. He is a plug and play type prospect in the NFL.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Lamp as his 16th best prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Lamp carries weight well on his 6-foot-4 frame. He excelled at offensive tackle in college, but I believe it would be in his best interest to move inside to guard at the next level. This is one of the more technically sound linemen you'll see at the college level. He is quick out of his stance and he bends really well. He keeps his hands in tight and consistently stays on balance. He is always very patient and doesn't overextend. In the run game, he runs his feet on contact and generates movement at the point of attack. He was lights-out against Alabama. His lack of ideal height and length could be an issue in the NFL but that would be alleviated with a move to guard. Overall, Lamp is very strong, consistent and reliable, which should allow him to get on the field right away.

If the Broncos do not address the guard position during free agency, we all should jump aboard the Forrest Lamp bandwagon. He has instant All-Pro talent and would be a major upgrade to a Broncos offensive line that struggled the past few seasons. I wouldn't be totally against adding Lamp even if we added a guard in Free Agency. Let Garcia, McGovern, and Schofield battle it out for a backup job.

4. Clemson Defensive Tackle, Carlos Watkins

Height: 6-3

Weight: 305lbs

Thoughts:

One of my favorite defensive line prospects in this draft is Clemson Defensive Tackle, Carlos Watkins. He is a solidly built and has to skill set to be a solid contributor to an NFL team.

If you watched the National Championship game a few weeks back you may have noticed Watkins making a few impactful plays in the Alabama backfield and helped the Clemson Tigers defeat Alabama.

How he handles the one on one drills could help him rise up the draft boards. Right now I see him as a day two prospect, but a solid week could help him rise in the top 50 and possibly into the late first round.

5. Western Michigan Offensive Tackle, Taylor Moton

Height: 6-5

Weight: 328lbs

Thoughts:

One of the better right tackle prospects in this draft is the massive Taylor Moton. Some believe he has an "elite" NFL future ahead of him.

With the Broncos moving to a power scheme, Moton is a name to keep an eye on for the Broncos who have an opening at the right tackle position. So they will be looking for a big and powerful man, and that is exactly Moton. His max squat is 570 pounds and he throws up 400 pounds on the bench press with ease, so he is the definition of power.

Western Michigan's Offensive Line Coach Brian Callahan thinks Moton has an NFL future ahead of him.

"I think his versatility separates him from some of the other guys," Callahan said. "I think his intelligence, his durability and toughness makes him the type of guy who will thrive if he gets the opportunity to be at that level, and I think he will. He’s done a tremendous job of developing himself to being an elite football player."

He will be a fun guy to watch in the one on one drills this week. If he does well, he could slide into the early parts of day two of the NFL Draft.

I think he is a name to watch for the Broncos. If scouts/GM's do not believe he is a tackle in the NFL, you can slide him to right guard in the NFL and he might be able to play right away.

Bonus players to watch:

  • Iowa Cornerback, Desmond King
  • Michigan Defensive Lineman, Ryan Glasgow
  • Eastern Washington Receiver, Cooper Kupp
  • USC offensive lineman, Zach Banner(He's 6-9, 360lbs)
  • Michigan Defensive Lineman, Chris Wormley
  • Auburn Defensive Tackle, Montravius Adams
  • Alabama Defensive Tackle, Dalvin Tomlinson
  • LSU Cornerback, Tre'Davious White
  • Clemson Inside Linebacker, Ben Boulware
  • USC Nose Tackle, Steve Tu'ikolovatu
  • Indiana Guard, Dan Feeney
  • Ole Miss Tight End, Evan Engram
  • Iowa Defensive Lineman, Jaleel Johnson,
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