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An important part of the process

MOBILE, Ala. – Joe Cullen leaned against a chain link fence, his focus 30 yards away.

This was Wednesday morning at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, and for the Jaguars' defensive line coach, this was one of his primary purposes at the Senior Bowl:

Defensive line versus offensive line, one-on-one pass rush.

This isn't the entire scouting process. Far from it. But while anyone associated with the Jaguars in Mobile this week is quick to tell you Senior Bowl week is part of a large, detailed picture leading to the 2012 NFL Draft, they're just as quick to note it's not an unimportant part.

And yes, Cullen said, there are things you can learn from a late-January drill in an aging stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

"You can get a good gauge," Cullen said Wednesday during the North practice for the Senior Bowl, which will be held at Ladd-Peebles Stadium Saturday at 4 p.m.

"If you can beat them in the one-on-one, you're going to be good in a team setting as well."

Cullen, like all team officials this week, didn't comment on specific players, but some at the Senior Bowl – Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith included – believe the defensive talent is slightly ahead of the offensive talent.

Several scouts around the NFL said this week that while defensive tackle appears a strong group here, the senior class overall does not seem overly strong at pass-rushing defensive end.

Individually, Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw has stood out, as has South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram and Marshall defensive end Vinny Marshall. Louisiana Lafayette cornerback Dwight Bentley also has been strong.

At wide receiver, Marvin Jones of Cal, Chris Rainey of Florida and Juron Criner of Arizona have stood out at times, though many of the receivers generally believed likely to be selected early in the NFL Draft are not attending the game.

Smith has said several times since the end of the season that receiver will be an off-season priority – in free agency and/or the draft – and Jaguars Assistant Director College Personnel Tim Mingey said when it comes to scouting wide receivers "what I always look for is explosion and separation."

"Those would be the key attributes I'd look for in this game," he said. "You want size and explosive ability and the ability to get away from someone."

Mingey said the Senior Bowl is an important evaluation point for the receiver position.

"You'll see them against some defensive backs here you have a pretty good grade on," Mingey said. "Are they quick? Do they get out of a break quick and close? You can measure that a little bit, too. They're not going against the scout team in practice. You can study them against some of the better defensive backs in the country."

Each Jaguars scout at the Senior Bowl focuses on a different position group, watching those players and interviewing them. Each evening, the scouts meet to "talk in generalities about what they've seen."

"Any time you can evaluate a player, it's a great opportunity," said Mingey, who is evaluating defensive backs and who says overall, "It's a pretty good group."

Andy Dengler, the Jaguars' Director of College Personnel, said the Senior Bowl remains a key point in the evaluation process because once the game is over, evaluation opportunities change.

"It's a chance to see them against measurable competition," Dengler said. "It's a chance to meet them and when they're out here, it's really the last time they get a true football exposure. From then on, it's testing.

"Here, you want to see them with NFL coaching and what they can assimilate, what they can pick up."

Underclassmen can't play in the Senior Bowl, and therefore many of the projected first-round players don't attend the game. Still, Dengler said the game still features a significant segment of the draft.

"Overall, you're going to see good players here," Dengler said. "Most of these guys are going to be on teams. It's a select group of people who don't play in this game. It's really the best of the best."

Also at the Senior Bowl:

*Washington Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, the head coach in Tampa Bay the past three seasons, spoke to about Greg Olsen, who was hired last week to be the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach. Olsen served under Morris as the Buccaneers' quarterbacks coach in 2009 and as offensive coordinator the past two seasons. "He's a great hire," Morris said of Olsen. "He did a great job for me, and he was one of the reasons we had the success we had our year (2010). We asked him to develop young guys, and he did a great job getting those guys to play well. He's one of the better minds in football, in my opinion." Olsen will work with Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and of Olsen's ability to work with young players, Morris said, "He has a unique dynamic of how he looks at it. He develops core beliefs in how they play the game and how they approach the game. Having those types of things with the background he has, and add that with (Head) Coach (Mike) Mularkey, it's going to work great. In my opinion, you have two of the best offensive minds in football working together right now."

*Cullen talked about what he looks for in a defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl: "One of the things I look for is motor and intensity. Are they the hardest worker on the field? Are they competing? To me, the best part of practice is one-on-one competition in the run and pass."

*Dengler also talked about what the team looks for in a pass-rushing defensive end, saying, "If you look for a guy who can run to the passer and can change the game, we look for a fluid player who can bend and move and dip and do that regularly. There are other guys who are effective players who are tight and upright. Sometimes, you can see it on tape. Sometimes, you see it here."

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