Quarterbacks are key at NFLPA game

CARSON, Calif. -- After four days of practice at the Home Depot Center, we're ready for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (Jan. 19, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2). With experienced head coaches such as Dick Vermeil leading the National team and Herm Edwards leading the American squad, the game should be a good stage for these seniors to showcase their skills.

We want to see what the players can do in pads and in a game-type situation.

Here are the three things to watch in:

1. Quarterback play: In these types of games, you want to see which quarterback takes charge and steps up. The quarterbacks are usually set up for a good day. There are restrictions on coverages and very vanilla defenses. So it's their day to show their stuff. You want to see which quarterback could have a big day in a game-like atmosphere.

QBs to watch: Vanderbilt's Jordan Rodgers (American Team), Alabama State's Greg Jenkins (National Team), Kansas' Dayne Crist (NT), Southern Utah's Bradley Sorensen (AT)

Judging the pass-rushers: There have been a few guys who have played well or "flashed" in one-on-one drills during practice this week. A lot of the pass-rushers are undersized and you want to see how they use their hands. The offensive tackle group has been subpar and you want to see which pass-rusher can take advantage of that and get to the quarterback and make the sack. I want to see their body control and how they bend the edge. I want to see if anyone can stand out there.

Pass-rushers to watch: Penn State's Pete Massaro (NT), SMU's Aaron Davis (AT), Illinois State's Nathan Palmer (AT)

Wide receivers making a difference: Which wide receiver will step up? They've been a very average group. There have been guys who have flashed this week, but there's been no one who distanced himself from the pack. And couple of things you want to watch is how the wide receivers gain separation from defensive backs and how they run their routes.

Wide receivers to watch: Sam Houston State's Alfred Diller (NT), Louisiana Tech's Myles White (NT), Central Florida's Quincy McDuffie (AT),

Keep a close eye on ...

Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt QB, 6-1, 212: He's been the best quarterback here. He's undersized but with above-average arm strength and a good skill set. He's tough and throws the ball with anticipation. He's looked the most fluid and natural, and he's separated himself from the pack.

Greg Jenkins, Alabama State, QB/WR, 6-0.5, 211: He's a dual threat and one of the better athletes at this game. Although he's a quarterback, he has been the best wide receiver during this week of practice. He's played QB, but he doesn't look natural there. His accuracy and touch have been a problem. When he does play receiver though, he's made a big impact. He took over one practice, looks natural running his routes and has very strong hands. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the game's MVP.

Mike James, Miami (Fla.) RB, 5-10 5/8, 220: He caught the ball extremely well this week and showed versatility out of the backfield in the passing game. He doesn't have elite pop or burst, but he's been the most consistent in terms of vision and running between the tackles.

Herman Lathers, Tennessee, LB, 5-11 5/8, 224: He's an undersized guy, but he has a chip on his shoulder. He plays well in space and is instinctive. He has above-average range in coverage. He's the best linebacker here.

Jakar Hamilton, South Carolina State, S, 5-11, 196: He's a transfer from Georgia and a very good athlete and well put together. He's got a good burst, and you should watch for him in the return game. He's been good in the run game, where he's been able to cut-and strike, and has shown good range in coverage.