Senior Bowl is a proving ground for NFL prospects

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow headlines a group of more than 80 college all-stars who will open practice today for the 60th annual Senior Bowl in Mobile.

The game will be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and televised by the NFL Network.

Some of the other top players in the game include Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas, Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike and Southern California running back Stafon Johnson.

Georgia defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens will play for the South team. Also, South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood, a North Cobb High product, is on the South squad.

Tebow will be heavily scrutinized as he attempts to show NFL teams that he can play quarterback in the league. Some scouts project Tebow as a NFL tight end or a running Wildcat quarterback.

"You've got mechanical issues," NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "You've got philosophical issues, if you are going to draft him, as far as what offense you are going to run. You've got some major issues here."

Hot corner

Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson is considered a first-round draft pick and could be available when the Atlanta Falcons pick with the 19th or 20th pick.

But there are some questions about Robinson, who's 5-foot-11, 193-pounds.

"I want to see what he's going to run," Mayock said. "He's more comfortable as a press corner than he is with anything else. ... I have some concerns about how consistent he plays."

Mayock believes that Robinson can get sloppy with his techniques. He noted, in his film study, that Robinson let some receivers get off the line of scrimmage when he would get lazy with his hands.

"People are going to look very closely at him because he has the ability, but he didn’t always demonstrate it on a game-by-game and snap-by-snap basis," Mayock said.

Small school corner

In 2008, Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl and was drafted in the first round.

The game is annually a testing ground for players from smaller colleges.

This season a couple of tackles, Massachusetts' Valdimir Ducasse and Idaho's Mike Iupati, are two small-school prospects to watch.

Both are massive. Ducasse is 6-5, 330 pounds and Iputai is 6-6, 325.

"The first time I put the tape on, I thought he was definitely a first-round pick," Mayock said of Ducasse. "He's got to show that he can play with the big boys."

Both Ducasse and Iupati came to America at age 14.

Ducasse is a native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, and Iupati is a native of American Samoa.

Other small school players in the Senior Bowl include Wayne State running back Joique Bell and The Citadel wide receiver Andre Roberts.

Pro coaching

Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions coaching staff will direct the North squad. Tony Sparano and the Miami Dolphins coaching staff will work with the South players.

Practices on television

The NFL Network will televise the practices and hold a nightly 30-minute recap show at 8 p.m.