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For Redskins, All Eyes On the Senior Bowl


Once again, Redskins coaches and scouts are in Mobile, Ala., for a week of Senior Bowl practices.

This year, there's a decidedly different look to the Redskins' contingent than in years past.

New executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan has overhauled the coaching staff, bringing in 10 new assistants, many of them familiar faces from his tenure in Denver.

At the Senior Bowl practices, Shanahan, general manager Bruce Allen and director of player personnel Scott Campbell are the principle figures for the Redskins.

Team officials have not revealed much since Shanahan was introduced as the team's head coach on Jan. 6, but it's safe to say that the approach to player evaluation has changed with Shanahan and Allen in charge.

Coaches and scouts emphasize Senior Bowl practices because they get an up-close look at prospects in a setting where they are coached by NFL staffs.

They gauge everything from a quarterback's arm strength, an offensive lineman's footwork, a defensive lineman's hand placement and a cornerback's speed in one-on-one situations with wide receivers.

Who are some Senior Bowl prospects to keep an eye on from a Redskins perspective? It's safe to say that offensive line is a top priority, but team officials may also look closely at quarterback, defensive line and linebacker, among other positions.

Here are 10 to watch:


If the Redskins switch to a 3-4 base defense, then Cody would be a prototypical fit for nose tackle. Listed at 6-4 and 370 pounds, his nickname is "Mount Cody." He is regarded as a dominant force against the run, totaling 52 career tackles for the Crimson Tide, but his weight may need to be monitored closely.


Ducasse was a focus during Senior Bowl week since he was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He emigrated to the United States in 2002 when he was 14 years old. Ducasse, at 6-5 and 330 pounds, is a wide-bodied offensive lineman and could play either tackle or guard in the pros. Even though he was named first-team All-American, he did not play against elite competition in the Colonial Athletic Association.


Last time the Redskins looked to the University of Idaho for an offensive lineman, they selected Mark Schlereth in 1989. Iupati, 6-6 and 325 pounds, is considered one of the top interior offensive linemen in the draft and could go in the first round. Born in American Samoa, Iupati was a three-year starter, earned first-team All-American honors and a team captain as a senior.


Mays, a 2009 second-team All-American, is one of the higher profile players at the Senior Bowl. He started all four years for the Trojans and could be the next in a long line of great, hard-hitting safeties--Ronnie Lott, Mark Carrier, Troy Polamalu--to emerge from USC. As a senior, he posted 96 tackles and one interception. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, he has a similar frame as the late Sean Taylor.


Looking for some versatility for the Redskins' offense? McCluster is creating buzz with his blazing speed. He is just 5-8 and 165 pounds, which puts him in the mold of a Darren Sproles. He played wide receiver at Ole Miss, catching 44 passes each of the last two seasons, and can also be used as a running back and kick return specialist.



If the Redskins opt to draft a quarterback in the middle rounds, then Pike could be an intriguing prospect given his 6-6, 210-pound frame. Last year, Pike completed 62.4 percent of his passes last season for 2,520 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions in leading the Bearcats to an undefeated regular season. He started just two years for Cincinnati, so his lack of experience is a concern and his footwork may need to be refined before he's ready to start in the NFL.


Talk about super-smart. Last year, Rolle put his NFL prospects on hold to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Now it's back to football, which he excelled at for the Seminoles from 2006-08. Rolle, 6-2 and 223 pounds, posted 206 tackles, 12 pass break-ups and one interceptions as a three-year starter at Florida State.


The Redskins have struggled to find a long-term place kicker the last decade, so it's a possibility that team officials could look to the draft if they aren't sold on first-year kicker Graham Gano. Swenson converted 19-of-22 field goals last season, including a career-long 52-yarder. He is Michigan State's all-time leader in points scored and field goals.


Will the Redskins transition to a zone blocking scheme under Mike Shanahan? If so, then Tennant could be a quality pickup. At 6-4 and 291 pounds, he has good mobility and is regarded as sound in his technique. Tennant was a three-year starter at Boston College and was voted a team captain as a senior.


Weatherspoon, 6-2 and 250 pounds, projects as either an inside or outside linebacker in the pros and his versatility would fit in to the Redskins' defense whether they go to a 3-4 base defense or stay with a 4-3. Weatherspoon led the Tigers in tackles each of the last three years, including 155 tackles as a junior and 111 as a senior. He also logged 12.5 career sacks and four career interceptions.

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