Senior Bowl notebook: Monday

Posted Jan. 25, 2011 @ 1:31 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

MOBILE, Ala. — The first day of the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl is in the books, and the PFW staff is settled in. Here are some of the sights and sounds from the game's annual Media Night at the USS Alabama.


McElroy tries to improve technique, add flair 

Asked what he was focusing on improving in his pre-draft workouts, Alabama QB Greg McElroy unveiled a to-do list notable for its length — and for the measured way it was delivered.

"Well, I really need to improve my footwork," said McElroy, one of the South's three quarterbacks. "I think just playing the game. I'm a little bit deliberate in the way I play the game. I'm very much a rhythmic passer. I throw on rhythm. I'm not the best creator and things like that.

"Just trying to thrive in unnatural situations, those are things I'm going to try and work on. Just trying to showcase arm strength, as well. A lot of times, that's a criticism of me, which is fine, and I'm understanding."

McElroy, who helped lead Alabama to the BCS title in 2009, had his best season as a senior, throwing for more yards and touchdowns than he did the previous year and completing 10 percent more of his pass attempts. For the next week, he'll perform for NFL evaluators seeking to properly stack him on their draft boards.

McElroy believes his passion for the game is an asset.

"I'm very, very competitive, and I think all of my intangibles are probably my biggest strength," he said.


Kerrigan prepares for possible switch

Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan, a first-round prospect who notched 13 sacks as a senior, has worked on the skills he would need to employ as an outside linebacker if he were drafted by a team employing a 3-4 front.

"I think with practice, I could be very effective at it." Kerrigan said. "I've been working at it already with my training in California. I feel 100 times better than I did three weeks ago. I'm making strides."
Among the techniques Kerrigan has worked on: rushing from a two-point stance and dropping into coverage.

"It's really been a cool process," he said. "I really like it, and I want to make myself as versatile as possible."

Kerrigan noted the impressive quality of the tackles on the North team, with Colorado's Nate Solder, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and Boston College's Anthony Castonzo all potential first-round picks.

"I just want to show scouts I can stack up against the better players from around the country," he said.


Media Night observations from PFW's Kevin Fishbain

• It seemed the most sought-after player by reporters was Washington QB Jake Locker, and who could blame them? Here's a guy who, before the season, looked like the surefire No. 1 pick for April's draft. Heck, he would have been a high pick last year, but he chose to return to the Huskies. His 2010 season did not meet the scouts' expectations, dropping him behind a few underclassmen signalcallers (Andrew Luck, Blaine Gabbert), and here he is in Mobile, fighting to gain some respect. Looking forward to talking to him later this week about that pressure. (I wasn't going to wait in line for him tonight.)

• Another guy whom the cameras were itching for was Oregon LB Casey Matthews, from the famed Matthews family and brother of Clay. I overheard him say that he didn't like doing television interviews. Well, Casey, it looks like you'll be doing a lot this week. With the success of his team this season, and the rising profile of his brother in the NFL, Casey is on the map, and it's hard to ignore his football pedigree and work ethic on the field.

• I talked to Wisconsin offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt, and they had an interesting reaction to me asking, "What was it like to block for a trio of great backs in Madison?" Well, they said they are pretty sick of that question, noting that anyone could run for 1,000 yards behind that line. I don't disagree, but good thing they got that out of the way before an NFL coach tells them that statements like that are a no-no in the league. (Don't worry, they did chime in that the backs were very athletic and great players.) More on them later this week.

• Just from the size of Nate Solder, I'm very excited to watch him in action tomorrow against the likes of Ryan Kerrigan. He talked to us about the transition from tight end — he put on 80 pounds. He's a giant and clearly has the athleticism to match it.


Follow our weeklong coverage of the Senior Bowl, with daily reports on practices, analysis, features and columns from our reporters in Mobile, Ala., along with videos, and concluding with a game story Saturday evening.