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2017 Senior Bowl weigh-in: 10 things to know about top North, South team prospects

By
Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange

While the action on the practice field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is clearly most important, scouts place a great deal of value on the measurables conducted prior to the action beginning Tuesday at the annual Senior Bowl.

Each player involved is paraded on stage in front of hundreds of NFL scouts with his shirt and shoes off, wearing only skin-tight athletic pants. Players' heights are recorded to the eighth of an inch with their weight, arm-length, wingspan and hand size (measured from the out-stretched thumb to pinkie) all announced to the crowd.

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Each NFL team has its own size requirements for certain positions. The "bigger the better" is generally a good rule to go by, with long arms being especially valued among edge rushers, offensive tackles and defensive backs. Large hands are especially important among skill-position players, as this theoretically helps with ball security.

With a combined 22 years of experience evaluating the measurables that matter in the Senior Bowl "catwalk," here is what you need to know about this year's prospects.

North Team

1. Jourdan Lewis' size is above average

Usually weighing in at 5-10 and 188 pounds would be discouraging for a NFL prospect. But for Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis, those numbers represent a win for him during the Senior Bowl weigh-ins. Anyone who watches the talented cornerback can obviously tell he's a smaller player -- there is no disputing that. But just how small? Certain teams have certain thresholds for the cornerback position and hitting the 5-10 mark as opposed to coming in at 5-9 3/4-inches or smaller is important, especially in a loaded cornerback class. Lewis also measured 31-inch arms, which is much better than expected and above average for the position.

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{b:2. Michigan's intense strength and conditioning program has paid off]

Sticking with the Wolverines, defensive lineman Chris Wormley is no stranger to the weight room. He showed off his developed physique during weigh-ins with his thick, muscular build in his upper and lower halves. Wide receiver Amara Darboh didn't appear to have an ounce of fat on him with his lean, but shredded muscle tone, including a defined six pack. At 6-1 3/4 and 215 pounds with 32 5/8-inch arms, his measurements and body type are what scouts are looking for at the position. Linebacker Ben Gedeon also impressed at 6-1 5/8 and 243 pounds of muscle. His frame sported minimal bad weight with well-developed muscle tone throughout. Bottom line, the Michigan strength and conditioning program prepared these players extremely well.

3. Larry Ogunjobi is prepared to make history

Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is trying to become the first player in program history to hear his name called at the NFL Draft. And Tuesday's Senior Bowl weigh-ins were another positive step in that direction. Ogunjobi measured at 6-2 1/2 and 304 pounds with 32 3/8-inch arms and 10-inch hands. And it was all good weight, properly distributed throughout with meaty hips and a thick lower body. For a player who tipped the scales at 350+ pounds in high school, Ogunjobi has clearly developed an improved work ethic to take care of himself.

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4. This year's senior bowl boasts a few of the largest prospects in the 2017 draft class.

USC offensive lineman Zach Banner was the heaviest at 361 pounds, also measuring at 6-8 3/8 with 33 5/8-inch arms and 10 3/4-inch hands. Bucknell offensive tackle Julien Davenport has a massive wingspan (87 1/2-inches) with the longest arms in Mobile (36-inches). And Western Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Moton deserves a mention as well for his impressive 6-5 3/8 and 330-pound frame, distributing that weight evenly throughout with minimal bad weight.

5. Tight Ends in the spotlight

On film it appears Toledo tight end Michael Roberts swallows the ball as a pass-catcher. So it makes sense that his hands would measure at 11 5/8-inches, easily the biggest on the roster. At 6-4 3/8 and 261 pounds, his upper body was average, but it is clear Roberts doesn't skip leg day with powerful legs. Another tight end from the north roster who deserves mention is Florida International's Jonnu Smith who doesn't have prototypical size at 6-2 7/8 and 245 pounds, but his shredded physique showed his work ethic and dedication to taking care of himself.

South Team

6. Tough weigh-in for Hilltoppers

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Offensive tackles Antonio "Tony" Garcia (Troy) and Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) stand out on tape as two of the better blockers on this year's roster but the weigh-in process was not kind to either. The 6-foot-6 (and 3/8"), 293 pound Garcia possesses a relatively narrow waist for offensive linemen, which raises questions about his ability to add and maintain "good" weight, as well as hold up to the powerful bull-rushers he will face in the NFL. The compactly-built Lamp is the polar opposite at 6-foot-3 (and 3/4"), 305 pounds but he possesses the shortest arms of any offensive lineman in Mobile at just 31 1/8," virtually guaranteeing that he will be projected inside to guard or center for most teams.

7. Gerald Everett, potential early rounder?

Another potential early round pick who, unfortunately, did not measure up as well as expected was South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett, who came in at "just" 6-foot-2 (and 3/4") and 227 pounds after being listed at a more traditional 6-foot-4, 240 pounds for the Jaguars. Even worse, Everett tied with the smallest hands of any pass-catcher invited to this year's game with his mitts measuring just 8 1/4" -- the same as San Diego State running back Donnell Pumphrey, who is just over 5-foot-8 and 169 pounds.

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8. Three standouts emerge in size, strength

Sporting a Mr. Universe-type build does not necessarily equate to being a top NFL draft pick but it does speak to a player's work ethic. Among the more physically imposing players on the South's roster were Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (6-foot-2 and a 1/2" and 244 pounds), Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (a shade under 6-7, 280 pounds) and Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis (6-foot-3 and 3/4" and 255 pounds), each of whom looked like they might pay rent at their team's weight rooms.

9. 10 players opting out

Prior to the start of the weigh-ins Senior Bowl executive Phil Savage announced that a number of players turned down invitations to the game, with several opting out due to injuries. The 10 players who declined the invitation were DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama), Taco Charlton (Michigan), OC Pat Elflein (Ohio State), RB Wayne Gallman (Clemson), CB Kevin King (Washington), TE Jordan Leggett (Clemson), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson), QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson), WR Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma) and WR Mike Williams (Clemson). Savage noted that each of these players declined in a courteous manner.

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10. 13 players unable to participate

Savage also mentioned that 13 players suffered injuries since the end of the season or were in the process of rehabbing them and therefore were unable to participate this week. They include Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie (toe), LSU LB Kendall Beckwith (knee), Michigan TE Jake Butt (knee), Western Michigan WR Corey Davis (shoulder), Florida LB Jarrad Davis (ankle), Alabama LB Reuben Foster (hand), Louisville S Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring), Louisville TE Cole Hikutini (knee), Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges (undisclosed), Pittsburgh OG Dorian Johnson (ankle), UCLA edge rusher Takk McKinley (shoulder), Florida State DL Demarcus Walker (foot) and Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams (elbow). This is in addition to four other players who had previously accepted an invite and will be here to participate in interviews with clubs and the media but suffered season-ending injuries earlier in the year and will not play this week. They include Alabama safety Eddie Jackson (leg), Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly (knee), Florida safety Marcus Maye (arm) and Baylor quarterback Seth Russell (ankle).

--Rob Rang and Dane Brugler, senior analysts at NFLDraftScout.com, co-authored this report from Mobile, Ala., site of the 2017 Senior Bowl. NFLDraftScout.com is owned and operated by The Sports Xchange, in cooperation with CBSSports.com.

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