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Players showing position versatility at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. – Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had a good line to describe Detroit's come-from-behind victories this past season. He said his team was comfortable being in uncomfortable situations.

That line also applies to the 110 prospects down here at the Senior Bowl. NFL personnel folks and coaches are going to put these players in unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable situations to see how they respond.

Versatility is one of the best assets in the NFL, and prospects who can show position versatility during practice this week are likely to see their draft stock rise.

Take Western Kentucky tackle Forrest Lamp (6-3, 305) for example. He played three games at right guard as a redshirt freshman, and the final 48 at left tackle. But Lamp is projected to play guard in the NFL as one of the position's top prospects.

It's similar to Cowboys All-Pro guard Zach Martin, who started 52 games at Notre Dame, none at guard.

Lamp played both tackle and guard at Tuesday's South Team practice, and will also see some snaps at center this week.

"Obviously, I like playing tackle, that's where I've played, that's where I'm comfortable," Lamp said. "But I'll play anything.

"Obviously, (guard) has been in the discussion between me and my agent. So I've paid attention to it. It doesn't matter to me. Wherever I can be a starter on an NFL team is where I want to go."

Cornerbacks who can play both outside and inside have greater value to teams in the draft process. Teams will play a number of senior prospects in both spots this week.

Michigan's Jourdan Lewis was one of the best outside cornerbacks in the collegiate game over the past few seasons. Opponents completed less than 30 percent of their passes throwing his way this past season.

Lewis checked in at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-in. He's out to prove this week he can match up on the outside against bigger receivers at the NFL level, but he'll also work in the slot to see if he's a fit there.

"I can play inside," Lewis said after Tuesday's practice. "I won't be limited to one side. I can play slot and outside, I believe. That's pretty much what I bring to the table – versatility."

If he can prove that to be the case this week, Lewis will see his draft stock rise.

Defensive tackles will play all sorts of different techniques this week. Tight ends will stand up and play some in the slot. Linebackers will play on the line of scrimmage and in space.

Alabama outside linebacker Ryan Anderson played mostly as an on-the-line-of-scrimmage linebacker during Tuesday's practice, but is likely to get some reps with his hand in the dirt to see if he can play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.

"I'm open to anything, man," Anderson said. "I'm most comfortable on the edge, but I can play inside. It doesn't really matter. It's just about me getting here, learning it, and getting a feel for everything."

Anderson was picked on a bit during one-on-one cover drills against tight ends and running backs at Tuesday's practice, but that's the point of this week -- See what players can and can't do.

Top defensive tackle prospect Carlos Watkins is already trying to show he can play a number of different spots in a number of different schemes at the next level.

"I can play the shade or the three technique," Watkins said. "I just do what the coaches tell me."

There will be a lot of that this week as players trying to highlight their versatility.

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