Front Office Insider: Winston, Mariota aren’t only QBs teams have an eye on

 

We all know Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but there are two players at the Senior Bowl jockeying to become the third quarterback selected in the NFL Draft. (That, of course, comes with the caveat that potential No. 3 QB Brett Hundley of UCLA is banged up and not participating in this week’s action.)

If you haven’t heard of Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, you will soon. Though he’s shown some inconsistency, one AFC scout on Tuesday praised the quarterback’s footwork, rhythm and timing with the receivers.

Mannion, a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder, looks the part. Like everyone, he still has questions to answer this week — even after connecting on a couple pretty long balls. Mannion struggled with decision-making and accuracy Tuesday during the first North team practice.

Meanwhile, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty wants to dispel the notion he’s simply a product of Art Briles’ spread offense.

Although he surely wasn’t satisfied with his Tuesday performance, Petty showed command and a veteran sense — looking off defenders before making his completions.

"I’m not going to be perfect," Petty said. "I’m still going to have fun while I am out here knowing there are a lot of people who don’t get this opportunity."

With former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall surprisingly making the switch to cornerback, one other name was added to the mix.

Former Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Brandon Bennett was a late add; his arrival, however, won’t relieve the sting of Heisman-winner Mariota not making the trip for the many teams that wanted to get a look at him.

"It would’ve been great if [Mariota] was here," Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters after practice. "He still has a couple of days [to change his mind]. As long as he gets here by the game, we’d be set. Listen, when he had the season that he’s had with a lot of demands on him it would be great, but I understand."

Whisenhunt, whose team holds the No. 2 draft pick, noted he has been in touch with Mariota.

Wide receivers ‘a strength’ in Mobile

East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy measured in at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but his performance even bigger during Tuesday’s one-on-ones.

The all-time Bowl Subdivision receptions leader flashed sticky hands, making tough receptions look easy.

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Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson said Hardy was the most difficult matchup of the day for him.

"I feel like he was a good matchup for me," Nelson told FOXSports.com. "He’s gets up on you very quick and has good hands."

Some project Hardy to play in the slot because of his size, but one NFC coach noted Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is the same size. The same coach said that cornerback and wide receiver are deep at the Senior Bowl.

Hardy, of course, will also benefit this week when quarterback Shane Carden, his college teammate, throws him passes.

‘It’s Danny Shelton’s week’

No player can increase his draft stock more in Mobile than Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

With LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins and Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings garnering the most interest, the 6-foot-1, 343-pound Shelton has the best chance to make a meaningful jump on draft boards with a solid showing against the two.

"It’s Danny Shelton’s week," one personnel exec told FOXSports.com. "He can cement himself as an early first-rounder with a solid performance."

Shelton, who has drawn comparisons to Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata, had a productive senior season, racking up 93 tackles, nine sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and five fumble recoveries.

Colts in the linebacker market?

After getting pounded for 177 yards on the ground in last weekend’s AFC championship game, the Indianapolis Colts are expected to bolster their linebacker corps this offseason.

One intriguing option could be former University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman. Though some are concerned about Perryman’s 5-foot-10 height he’s a ferocious tackler with great instincts. One personnel man pointed to the success of 49ers linebacker Chris Borland when asked about Perryman’s size limitations.

Deep RB class crystallizes

Take your pick among the running backs in this draft class and you’re sure to find a productive player.

Headlined by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley, the Senior Bowl also is stocked with depth at the position.

Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah is a dynamic playmaker. Minnesota’s David Cobb looks to be a complete back, hauling in passes out of the backfield. But the eyes of FOX Sports 1 NFL Draft analyst Joel Klatt are set on another Big 10 ballcarrier.

As strong as this rookie crop is, another interesting wrinkle is how it could affect the veteran free agents (Demarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller, etc.) who may become available in the spring.