MOBILE, Ala. — With the Super Bowl just over one week away, multiple teams still looking to fill head coach vacancies, and the rest of the league gearing up for the busiest parts of the offseason, there’s a flurry of activity taking place in the NFL this week. Much of that activity is concentrated at the Senior Bowl. Here are some of the latest NFL news and rumors out of Mobile.
NFL News and Rumors from the Senior Bowl
Cardinals Head Coach Search Moving Slowly
Why is the Arizona Cardinals head coach job taking so long to fill? If you are to believe what people in Mobile are saying, it’s due to Kyler Murray — and it’s not because the quarterback has a large say in the matter.
Rather, many of the desired candidates don’t want to take the job knowing they’ll be tied to the hip of Murray for the next four seasons. Murray signed a five-year, $230 million contract in late August, and anyone who takes the Cardinals job will have no options in the foreseeable future at quarterback.
DT Keeanu Benton Impressing Scouts
Scouts have been raving about Keeanu Benton for the past two days. For the most part, the former Wisconsin defensive tackle has been unstoppable, constantly beating opponents and penetrating the line of scrimmage.
Benton came in with high expectations last season but disappointed many scouts. So what happened? Those inside the scouting circle say the scheme in Wisconsin asked Benton to occupy gaps rather than make plays. He’s allowed to make plays here in Mobile, and it’s having a positive impact on his draft stock.
Will Elijah Higgins Play Wide Receiver or Tight End in the NFL?
Elijah Higgins has been on my tight end board since August, despite lining up at receiver during his Stanford career. Even after measuring 6-feet-2.5-inches and 228 pounds on Monday, Higgins has taken snaps solely at receiver the past two days at Senior Bowl practice.
Yet Higgins has admitted most of the teams here have spoken with him about moving to the tight end spot. Higgins mentioned the majority of teams project him as a move tight end (F tight end, if you like) on Sunday.
Sean Payton has been hired in Denver and now, the new ownership group will look to reset after a less-than-stellar 2022 season for the Broncos. In the transfer of new ownership, general manager George Paton was retained but was given less power in the coaching search.
Now, two league sources who spoke to Pro Football Network are wondering just how patient new ownership will be with Paton. In fact, another source — this one from Denver — agreed that Paton’s job could be affected with Payton now the head coach.
As was put to PFN by a source here at the Senior Bowl — in just over ten months, the Denver Broncos traded three first-round picks, three second-round picks, and agreed to contracts worth over $340 million for two people — Russell Wilson and Sean Payton.
Could Jaxson Smith-Njiba Be Ready for Scouting Combine?
For the first time since September, Jaxson Smith-Njiba’s hamstring is healthy. Smith-Njiba seriously injured his hamstring during Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame. He tried to play with the injury the next few weeks but struggled to move around.
If the situation continues in a positive direction, Smith-Njiba is expecting to work out at the Combine.
Warren McClendon Jr. A Feel-Good Story at Senior Bowl
Scouts are applauding and amazed Warren McClendon Jr. is participating in the Senior Bowl. The talented Georgia tackle weighed in at 290 pounds. That’s a little light, but scouts are not concerned.
McClendon escaped the car accident that killed his teammate Devin Wilock, who was also McClendon’s roommate. The accident also took the life of a member of the Georgia football staff, Chandler LeCroy.
McClendon is wearing jersey number 77 to honor his former teammate and roommate. Wilock wore 77 at Georgia. Expect McClendon to be over 300 pounds at the Combine.