Archive for the ‘2013 Senior Bowl’ Category

This past week has been fun, starting a new aspect of my life and writing about something I love. I had a great time putting insight into this topic and scouting the players of this great all star event. That’s what it is too, an event. No other all star game in the country is so highly televised and scouted. None. Why? College football is the crown jewel of American sports… and the NFL is the king. We want to see who is the next hot prospect to come out of college. Fans want to see who the players are that Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are saying that their favorite team will draft in April. The media feeds the beast, and it isn’t their fault. The lowest ranking NFL team, financial value wise, is still worth $750 million plus. All NFL teams rank in the top 50 most valuable franchises, all 32. Coverage of a lack luster Pro Bowl still compares to coverage of the NHL and MLB Finals! So we stay glued to the NFL network and the internet sites that update us each hour on these prospects that we see coming into the league. It is a natural, yearly occurrence for so many NFL and college fans.

Now, to recap the week, here is a list of players that had a solid overall performance… and a list of guys who walk away with more questions.

Stock Up- Winner- Guys that “Made Money”-However you want to put it, here is who impressed.

QB’s Mike Glennon, NC State and E.J. Manuel, Florida State- Hard to argue with the MVP of the game, Manuel’s performance. He showed he is a solid leader. Will rise with good combine. Glennon solidified his “top senior QB” prospect tag and a likely 1st round handshake with Roger Goodell.

Running back Johnathan Franklin, UCLA- While I was extremely impressed with Stepfan Taylor and Mike Gillislee, I love how Franklin plays the game. He did well at so many aspects of the running back position and he had a great game, showing explosiveness and speed.

The Wide Receivers – OK  not all of them. But most of them.This was a solid group from day 1. The guys that really stood out to me were Marquise Goodwin of Texas and Markus Wheaton of Oregon State. Both guys are burners who have return skills. Look for both to rise as the draft process continues.

Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher, Central Michigan– Fisher cam in with buzz, but really did well the whole week and probably pushed himself into the 2nd overall offensive lineman spot behind TAMU’s Luke Joeckel. Fisher is an elite talent who could end up in the top 10 before it is all said and done.

UNC's Sylvester Williams

UNC’s Sylvester Williams

Defensive Lineman Sylvester Williams of UNC and Cornelius Washington of Georgia- These are two guys that came into the week with some good solid credentials. But both players used non stop motors and a great show of athleticism to prove that they are worthy of top 2 round consideration. Williams is on track to be on of the first DL taken with his scheme versatility and great agility for a big man. Washington also shows that versatility and I am sure he will show a lot of teams how he plays from a two and three point stance, and also in coverage.

Linebacker Vince Williams of Florida State- Williams is not the tallest guy out there, but he plays with such ferociousness and ability. He laid out Clemson’s Dalton Freeman on a trap play and he is great at play recognition  I think his best fit is in the middle of a 3-4 or the Will backer in a 4-3. He has speed to cover but also strength to hold up.

Marc Anthony of Cal

Marc Anthony of Cal

Defensive Back Marc Anthony of California- Some guys who came in with first round grades, like Marcus Trufant of Washington, did a great job all week. Some other guys proved they need to be mentioned. That player is Marc Anthony of Cal. He had a great week and was real competitive in every drill he had. Anthony showed great recognition skills and good coverage ability. Possesses solid closing speed.

Stock Down- In my opinion, these guys lost draft position this week

QB Zac Dysert, Miami OH.- Needed a strong performance, but was mediocre all week. Throwing mechanics and descison making need work

RB Robbie Rouse, Fresno State- Small and speedy is ok in the NFL at certain levels, but Rosue will struggle in MOST aspects of NFL play. Purely a role player in NFL

WR Denard Robinson, Michigan- This is kind of harsh, but Robinson proved little to scouts this week. He just needs more coaching and time. Someone will fall in love with his potential

Syracuse OL Justin Pugh

Syracuse OL Justin Pugh

OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse- Pugh didn’t have the best game and he also has some physical limitations that were exposed (see arm length) but he has a future in the NFL and some team will have to see if it is inside or at RT.

DL Margus Hunt, SMU- The Eastern Block, as he is called due to his excellent field goal disruption skills, had a very mediocre week. He flashed at times, but just not enough. He has such great physical skills, however his age, 26, and his lack of suddenness will hurt his stock as we continue on with this process.

DB Robert Lester, Alabama- I have spoken and been critical of Lester all week. He really struggles in coverage and made some recognition mistakes. He will fall in this process but he is a SEC battle tested player who will play on special teams or anywhere that is needed.

Tomorrow and throughout the week I will be working on my first NFL 1st Round Mock Draft. But, I had the thought to make a list of players who I think will be the first one drafted at their position, from this Senior Bowl Game. It is early, but here is a look at the first player drafted from each position.

QB- Mike Glennon, NC State

RB- Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

WR- Terrence Williams, Baylor

TE- Vance McDonald, Rice

OL- Eric Fisher, CMU

DE- Ezekial Ansah, BYU

DT- Sylvester Williams, UNC

LB- Chase Thomas, Stanford

S- Shawn Williams, Georgia

CB- Desmond Trufant, Washington

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The best part of the Senior Bowl is really two fold. The first thing is seeing some of the big headliners and draft question marks answered for the players that we see every week on TV, i.e. Mike Glennon, Kenjon Barner, and Denard Robinson. The other great intricacy of the Senior Bowl is seeing the smaller school guys get to finally compete on a national stage with other elite competiton. If you are a casual fan, you don’t get to see the Harvard Crimson play every week. The people who tune into College Gameday will not see much coverage on the Elon Phoenix or the Chadron State Eagles. The Senior Bowl does an outstanding job of finding the talented players from lower divisions and putting them in a position to make a living in the NFL. This past week, 11 players were on either the North or South rosters that played at the FCS level or lower. It is not a large number of players, but the ones who came and competed all had a chance to put their face to the name they made for themselves throughout their careers. Scouts got to see first hand what they could or couldn’t do against talented players every day. Below is a list of players who competed in the Senior Bowl from Non- FBS schools broken down by where I project that they will be drafted.

2nd to 3rd Round

Robert Alford of Southeastern La.

Robert Alford of Southeastern La.

CB, Robert Alford (5’10” 186 lbs.) Southeastern La.- Alford is a player who really used the whole week, including the game, to rise in many scout’s eyes. He showed great coverage skills and play making ability throughout the week. One added bonus with Alford, he is an excellent return man. He showed that by taking the opening kickoff 88 yards to set up a score. His combine and pro days will be huge and if he runs in the 4.4’s I feel he gets into 1st round conversations. Right now, he is a solid round 2 pick.

CB, B.W. Webb (5’10” 183 lbs.) William and Mary- Another example of a guy who capitalized on his invite, Webb flashed signs of an elite prospect all week. He was consistent and steady during practice. He did make a lot of great plays, while still giving up a few, but for the most part he showed that he belongs in the conversation to get picked in the top 100 draft choices. I think with a great combine effort to solidify his game and all star film, he will jump into the late 2nd/ early 3rd round.

DL, Brandon Williams (6’2″ 341 lbs.) Missouri Southern- By far the most dominent of this class of non FBS players. Williams is a load at 341 lbs. and is exceptionally quick for this size. He makes a ton of tackles for loss and is constantly in the back field. He is big enough to play the nose in a 3-4 but I think he could play the shade Nose in a 4-3 and possibly a 3 technique if needed. He is a Dontari Poe (1st rounder, KC Chiefs 2012)  type player. As with the two names above, if he runs well and shows great strength in the combines, he is a solid round 2 pick. This is a need position for so many NFL teams, and he adds value to the group. First Division II player off the board, mark it down.

4th to 5th Round

OL, Terron Armstead (6’5″ 305 lbs.) Arkansas- Pine Bluff- Late add to the Senior Bowl game, Armstead used a great East West Shrine game performance and carried that momentum to this game. He came in on Wednesday so I didn’t get a great look at him, but he flashed some skills in one on ones and had a real nasty disposition about him in team and drills. I like his ability and his upside. He is a raw talent and needs the fundamental work that an NFL coach will bring. Has the versatility and strength to play the guard spots but could also kick out to the RT spot.

Tenn. Martin's Montori Hughes

Tenn. Martin’s Montori Hughes

DL, Montori Hughes (6’5″ 328 lbs.) Tennessee-Martin- Here is our first example of a player who left an FBS school and went down a level for whatever reason. Hughes was kicked off the Tennessee Volunteer football team by Coach Derek Dooley. He landed at UT Martin and has had  a very productive and “drama free” career there. Hughes had a very successful start to his college career before the dismissal, though, and has shown production at the SEC level. He will no doubt have to answer character questions from every team he meets with. But there is no coaching his size and strength combo. I don’t think he had the best week but he was a very strong presence in the game itself and looks to be able to make an impact fairly early for a team next season.

WR, Aaron Mellette (6’2″ 216 lbs.) Elon- The first Southern Conference player off the board will be Mellette who used some great end of the week practices to spark that interest from NFL personnel people. He is a big body receiver who does a great job with his body control and making the deep ball catches. He has a long stride and separates late in routes. He needs work, but his upside is enormous if given the right opportunity.

6th to 7th Round

Safety, B.J. Scott (5’11” 205 lbs.) South Alabama- Scott is an interesting story. He is a former 5 star recruit who signed with Alabama out of high school and played early on for the Crimson Tide. Scott decided to leave Alabama when it was obvious his playing time might be diminishing, no red flag per say, but teams will definitely dive into this with him in interviews. I did not get a great look at him, as he was added on Wednesday and only had one practice. He does show great skill in the return game and good vision on the field.

Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk

Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk

FB, Kyle Juszczyk (6’1″ 248 lbs.) Harvard- The first, and possibly only, Ivy leaguer to come off the boards will be Harvards Juszcyk. He is a “do it all” type player and some team will find the best way to utilize him. Juszcyk isn’t the Vontae Leach-type Iso lead blocker, but he is very serviceable in that department. He adds great value as a pass catcher out of the back field and good smarts (obviously) in the protection game. His will play on every special teams and NFL teams out there love guys like this.

Safety, J.J. Wilcox (5’11” 214 lbs.) Georgia Southern- Only been a safety for one season, as he played running back for the Eagles for his first three years. Wilcox is an interesting prospect and it was good to see him move around against great competition. He is a little stiff in my opinion and could use some help on the fundamentals, but he has only played the spot for one year. He is competitive and will give all he has got to a team. Someone will take a shot at him in the later rounds and if he runs well (4.45 to 4.5) he will solidify his draft stock.

Priority Free Agents

OLB, Ty Powell (6’2″ 245 lbs.) Harding- Another D2 prospect who was very productive throughout his career. Powell flashed some great pass rush skills at times during the week but really struggled in coverage. I think he has the tools to make a squad if someone used him right, but as of now I don’t see many teams putting a pick on him. He could show a little more during combine and pro day workouts, but right now he doesn’t show enough in all areas of playing linebacker to garner a pick.

OL, Garrett Gilkey (6’6″ 314 lbs.) Chadron State- Gilkey has size and strength (reported 32 reps in bench press) to hold up at the NFL level. I just have to question his skill set as a pass blocker as of right now. He was overwhelmed at times in one on ones and he had some troubles in the game with some of the premier defensive lineman. He could slip into the 6th or 7th rounds with a good combine and workout, but I see a free agent status for him right now.

Today marks the day when all the week’s hard work comes to a conclusion and it is time for the players and coaches to go out and try to win a football game. Hard to believe that this, in some eyes, is the least evaluated factor in a player’s week but as you hear around the league and through the media, coaches want to see practice. Some players, however, need to either solidify a good week or go out and show that they are “gamers” and to evaluate them off of their film. Listed below are five players from each squad who need to cap off the week with a solid performance.

North Team

1. QB Mike Glennon, NC State– I am more critical of Glennon then some people and I think he really has to show today he can command a huddle and make the right reads and checks. He has to shake of a horrible Music City Bowl performance and show that he is deserving of his first round grades.

Michigan's Denard Robinson

Michigan’s Denard Robinson

2. WR/Ret. Denard Robinson, Michigan– Robinson shed his “yellow” jersey on Wednesday and practiced full go to finish his week out strong. He needs to show scouts that he can play the slot and show special teams contributions in order to be deserving of a higher draft pick. Watch his route running and blocking and see if the improvement is there.

3. RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA– Watch very closely how Franklin finishes his runs and the way he carries himself through his reps. Running backs in all star games don’t get tackled all week so to see how he handles playing against elite competition all game, full contact,will be worth scouts time to review.

4. DL Margus Hunt, SMU– Here is a guy that just needs to get his momentum back after a lackluster week. He isn’t the only guy to under perform in the all star week practices, but he is the one in my eyes with the most to prove in order to slip into the top 2 rounds. Hunt needs to play behind his enormous strength and leverage he possess.

5. DB’s Johnathan Cyprien and Desmond Trufant, FIU and Washington, respectively– I know I said top 5 but these guys have me watching for the same reason. Here are two guys who play with a physicality that was unmatched in the group and who possess that swagger that draws you into watching them more and more. What I want to see the most? What happens to that physical play when the men in striped shirts are calling the shots? Both players were very much teetering the pass interference line all week.

South Team

Robert Lester of Alabama

Robert Lester of Alabama

1. DB Robert Lester, Alabama– Perhaps no player that went through the entire week of practice had a more criticized performance then Lester. He was over matched by tight ends and wide receivers the majority of the time in one on one drills. Lester is a highly productive collegiate player that needs to put a happy ending on this week by showing people that he is a someone who plays better then practices. Otherwise, draft stock will slide far down.

2. TE Vance McDonald, Rice- McDonald had a good week, but he needs to cap it off with the game performance to back it up. This is not a deep senior tight end class, far from it in fact. But he has a chance to solidify himself as the top senior and a top 3-5 player in the entire tight end draft class when it is all said and done.

3. DL Ezekial Ansah, BYU– The rawest player at this all star game, and perhaps in the draft. Ansah needs a great game to show that flash ans spark that got him here in the first place. He did not do great in the practice drills but flashed enough to keep you coming back. Ansah will show today, or wont for that matter, if a player with his skill set can thrive in a well coached defense that gives him limited responsibility at first and turns him loose on the QB.

4. The quarterback group– Again, I am sorry, I know I said top 5 guys. However, with such an unknown on how many teams will really be coveting a signal caller in the first round, this group has the most money to earn in the draft preparation process. Manual of FSU, Wilson of Arkansas, and Jones of Oklahoma all flash that first round pedigree. However, I don’t think more then one of them will see that happen. My money is on Jones but I would not be surprised to fall in love with Manuel’s skill set. Either way, all have a lot to prove today in leading their huddles.

5. LB Chase Thomas, Stanford– Thomas is another Stanford player who coaches, scouts, and personnel people will fall in love with as they see him practice and talk to him. He is always carrying out his assignments and rarely makes mental mistakes. He makes a ton of tackles and is always around the ball. He wont “test” well I imagine as he has looked a little stiff and upright in the one on ones this week. But again, he is another guy that when you watch him play a game you fall in love with the effort and what he brings to your team.

Senior Bowl Day 3- South Team

Posted: January 25, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

After catching up on some film study, I wanted to share a player from each position group that really stood out on the last real physical day of the week.

Backs

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

There is a solid group of skilled quarterbacks and running backs for the South team. One player that I really love is Stanford’s Stephan Taylor. He will not run a “fast” time at the combine and doesn’t jump off the screen with highlight reel runs. What he does is everything you ask of him and he does them all above average. He shows no real weakness, unless you talk straight line speed. Taylor has a thick build, thought only standing 5’9″, he weighs 216 pounds and it looks like he has tree trunks for thighs. As a coach and personnel guy, you really appreciate what he offers to your team as far as intangibles He is a “pick and plug guy”, meaning you never have to worry about him in the off season or not knowing assignments. Also, how many games did you see where he was losing yardage? He always finishes with power and he gets the hard yards. Add to that, he can catch out of the backfield and he is one of the best pass protecting running backs in this draft. He won’t go first round, maybe not even 2nd round, but he will end up being a tremendous value pick.

Tight Ends and Wide Receivers 

I will finally write about a tight end for once! Not that I am bias against them, far from it. As a former tight end I LOVE the position and jump to give them the publicity that they deserve. However, this year’s class is not loaded at the senior level. Ertz of Stanford and Eifert of Notre Dame will get all the credit and early round consideration, but there is some solid value in this group, especially with Vance McDonald of Rice. McDonald physically looks the part at 6’4″ 260 lbs. but he is also the tight end in this whole all star game that looks natural in both the blocking and receiving game. Other tight ends I have noticed this week are one or the other (hello blocking tight end Michael Williams of Alabama and receiver Mychal Rivera of UT). McDonald has the length to stretch the seam and did so on a few occasions in practice and one on one. He will also run behind his pads after the catch and he shows great toughness. McDonald will have to spend a lot of extra work on his hands, as he fights the ball a little bit, but for the most part I think he is the first one of these seniors taken come Draft time.

Quinton Patton of Louisiana Tech is a flat out baller. No way to get around it, he led the group for the third straight day really. I haven’t talked on Patton much because what he does he makes it look so easy. The speed is there and so is the play making ability. He repeatedly used his body to separate from press man and from off coverage. Route running looks natural to him and he shows elite athleticism. Size is adequate at 6′ 202 lbs. and he will shoot up the boards even more with a sterling pro day and combine 40 times. His season film and his Senior bowl tape are all great, but it will put that stamp on it to see a 4.40 to 4.49 40 times.

Offensive Line

All around I think this group is not as solid as the North OL but it does have its headliners in Johnson and Warford, sprinkled in with a few other smaller school standouts that I will talk about in a later blog. The two I got a great impression from yesterday both fall into the center position. Clemson’s Dalton Freeman and California’s Brian Schwenke may not be the more imposing figures out on the field, but both just time and time again get the job done. Both players use great technique and leverage to make up for a lack of brute strength and both are very intelligent players, which is a must at the center position  Schwenke is the bigger of the two and plays with a little more knee bend. Freeman didn’t have a great day the day before (and was on the receiving end of the biggest hit you will see all week) but he came back and fought. Schwenke can play guard and is more versatile, while Freeman needs to add bulk. However, both players deserve a look in an NFL camp next year and I think both will go rounds 5 to 7 come April.

Defensive Line

BYU's Ezekial Ansah

BYU’s Ezekial Ansah

This next player is running on “what if” with me and a lot of other analysts. Ezekial Ansah of BYU is as green as they come. Ansah is extremely new to the game and does not have a veteran savvy like a Washington of Georgia or an Edwards of LSU. When a team takes Ansah they obviously don’t plan on using him in an every down situation. He is long and lean but carries a very powerful frame. When he went against the OL in one on ones he shows flashes of brilliance but he is so new to the game it is like he goes into each rep with no game plan. He doesn’t know how to set up his pass rush moves that well and he doesn’t really understand his movements on the field that well. He needs plenty of polish but it is so hard not to fall in love with the upside. I know it is risky, but he is a top 50 talent either way.

Linebacker

I am not real impressed with this group and haven’t gotten much film work on many of them during the week. But I have got to say I love what Vince Williams (6’1″ 247) from Florida State brings to the field. Talk about physical like I mention with Freeman above, he was on the other end of that massive hit during team drills that sent Freeman parallel to the ground and scouts and media folk to their Twitter accounts. It was a great show of power and he plays with that Florida swagger that I am so used to seeing when I turn on those school’s games and watch them play. He has some work to do in pass coverage and tackling, but the hit alone warrants a further look into just what Williams is all about in games.

Defensive Backs

Shawn Williams of Georgia

Shawn Williams of Georgia

If you are casually watching practice as most people do, it would be easy to think that there is the entire Georgia Bulldog defensive backfield at the Senior Bowl. You would be 75% right. 3 of the 4 starters in Georgia’s secondary are participating this week and the one I come away the most impressed with is Shawn Williams. He is a 6′ 210 pound play making machine this week  Williams has used great range and coverage skills on the bigger bodies he has face and isn’t afraid to mix it up with the speed guys as well. He played well today in Team and in one on one drills. He plays with a linebacker’s toughness and will not be the best guy in coverage. But he isn’t an “in the box” safety which is really a dreaded term these days. Williams has range and can cover well. Steal if he goes later then round 4.

Day 3 Wrap Up- North Team

Posted: January 25, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

When you get to this level of practice in the Senior Bowl you start to see the guys that have been “one day wonders” and guys that have been steady forces all week. When all is said and done, there are going to be some guys that scouts and GM’s walk out of this week saying that they moved up or they moved down in their eyes. The week is not everything, and it is to be pointed out that not one of these players practiced and played every rep in a prefect fashion. But the beauty of it is that each player that did go through each rep and each practice got NFL coaching and NFL evaluation for the biggest job interview of their lives. Some shined and some were below average. But they all competed and in the end the players will be better for it.

At the end of this week I will be breaking the group down into more specific categories, for example, small school guys, sleepers, first round talents, etc. But until then, I will break down practice by practice for the North and South squads and what I saw from each. Wednesday was the final day that the practice would be “full go” and the players would really show their physical skills. After that, Thursday and Friday are more mental and special team’s days. So a lot of scouts and GM’s will be gone by Friday afternoon. All the work and study is really done. They will get the game tape of the Senior Bowl and watch it later. Today was the last day to really impress the pro scouting departments.

North Team

Top Senior QB Mike Glennon

Top Senior QB Mike Glennon

-Mike Glennon of NC State (6’6.5″ 220 lbs.) continues to progress as the week goes on. He has one of the prettiest deep balls in the entire country and that showed when he threw an absolute gem of a fade route to Elon’s Aaron Mellette (who finally showed flashes of all star status consistently). Glennon’s arm strength is above average and he can make all the throws. He comes from a pro style system (not that I really think that elevates on higher then another in a radical way) and he has a steady demeanor that players like to gravitate to. He is rail skinny but has the frame to carry 20 more pounds and not lose a thing. This isn’t some bold statement, but after it is all said and done, he is a top 25 pick in my eyes.

-Fresno State’s record setting running back, Robbie Rouse, finally showed the flashes that make him an all star. He had some great blocks and some fantastic ruins in 9 on 7 drills and in team. Rouse’s vision and patience is excellent. However, I hate to be that guy, but with Rouse (all 5’5″ of him) “it is what it is.” You are going to be drafting a game changing speed guy who can make big plays on passing downs and most likely can add a dimension in the return game. He isn’t going to be an every down back and he won’t hold up to more than 12 to 15 touches a game. He could be a great find the 6th to 7th rounds for a team looking to add solid depth.

Marquise Goodwin of Texas

Marquise Goodwin of Texas

-There are really two guys who stood out to me in the wide receiver group, and it is a loaded group.I was a little hard on Texas’s Marquise Goodwin for his route running. I have to say that it is a really small problem for him, he makes such great cuts and uses his speed and body control so well that it is not a red flag in my eyes. Goodwin is world class speed in every way. He was blowing by people and really separating from a great corner back group on the North team. He is small (5’9″) but that isn’t a knock down in my opinion. He i a player who will add Steve Smith-like presence to your team and is worth a 1st round pick. Another 1st round talent is Kansas State’s Chris Harper. He has #1 receiver presence written all over him. He blocks and catches the ball away fro his body with the best of them in this Senior Bowl class. He will literally make millions of dollars, in long term money I mean, if he runs a 40 time in the 4.45 to 4.5 range. When all is said and done, Harper and Goodwin wont last past pick 40, if that.

-This is an exceptional offensive line group that is coming through the draft process and I have highlighted a lot of the players throughout the week who have caught the eyes of almost everyone. One guy who I really focused on today was Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner. He is a tall (6’6″) player with great punch skills and ling arms. He comes from a long line of great offensive line talent that has come out of Wisconsin  He has limitations as a tackle, I feel, and is very vulnerable to speed rushers. But he looks like he has the strength to play on the inside for power running teams and add value as a possible right tackle. I think he carries about a 3rd to 4th round grade right now, and is a player that makes a 53 man squad as the 6th or 7th lineman in his rookie year. He has that much versatility in the right scheme.

Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner

Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner

-If there is a player who you can tag with the “non stop motor” label, it is Jordan Hill, defensive tackle from Penn State. He is 6’1″ and 295 pounds, so size comes into question at the next level. He plays with such great technique and effort, though, that he looks as if he is much stouter then his measurables indicates. Listen, I cannot say he is the best one out there, but his effort is to be noticed. He doesn’t get pushed around a lot and he gets good pocket pressure on his pass rush. He will not be a guy at the next level who gets a lot of stats. But he is a Shaun Cody type defensive tackle who could be serviceable as an end in a 3-4 system.

-The Rutgers linebacker duo of Steve Beauharnais and Khaseem Greene has quietly been an impressive thing to watch. They are not the flashiest pair, but they are just physical and smart football players who make other players around them better. Greene is a little more athletic and has more upside and versatility I believe. He was very productive at the collegiate level. Beauharnais is the bigger linebacker of the two and is more of a thump-er then Greene. Both are vulnerable to man coverage this week, but that is not the big concern. Both players need to add but the skills are there. Both will be gone by round 5.

-Like most people with a pulse at the Senior Bowl, I became a big Jonathan Cyprien fan this week. Cyprien of Florida International has that swagger and physical demeanor you look for in a safety  He really played all over the field for the North team this week and at times was seen in one on one drills covering wide receivers  tight ends, and running backs. He won a lot of his reps and uses his big body (6’1″ 210) to really get his hands on receivers and re route them as well as any DB here. Cyprien will have to work on his 5 yard window at the next level because some of his reps would be a PI in the NFL, but that is easily fixed and he is a gamer. He made a lot of plays in team as well.

Jonathan Cyprien of FIU

Jonathan Cyprien of FIU

After a heavy dose of the North team and their practice results and analysis, I finally got a first hand look at the South Team. As you would probably expect, it is a loaded group with 22 players from SEC teams. This does not help dispel all the doubters of the SEC being he power conference in collegiate football. The South squad is also the highlight of the Quarterback class in this game. The three signal callers from the South squad are much more highly touted guys then the South. Mike Glennon front he North team may get the nod as the first QB taken in the draft, the three players on the South team have had much more “career success” and are used to the limelight.

Oklahoma's record setting quarter back Landry Jones

Oklahoma’s record setting quarter back Landry Jones

I will get into the quarterbacks a little later in the blog this week, but at quick glance I would have to give the most pro ready nod to Landry Jones, 6’3.5″ 221 lbs., of Oklahoma. He is the BIG 12 career passing yards leader and throws a great deep ball, also showing above average arm strength on his intermediate throws. The knock on him is that he is a “shotgun guy” and that he will have trouble with the footwork and center exchanges that the NFL playbooks will bring. That myth has been dispelled time and time again as of late with the innovation of offensive coaches really throwing that out of the window. Now it comes down to how many throws in college did he make that are NFL throws, i.e. the deep outs and the opposite hash throws that so many systems require now. Shotgun or not, I think he can play at a high level in the NFL and he WILL be a Day 1 pick by some of the QB needy teams in the league (hello Buffalo and Jacksonville).

– Again, the other two QB’s will get much more coverage from me in the later days and weeks, but they are no slouches either. Tyler Wilson or Arkansas and E.J. Manuel of Florida State are the other signal callers for the South Team and each player has big game experience Wilson has good arm strength but I see a little hitch in his throwing motion that could lead to more sack fumble situations then other QB’s. Manuel is a big, mobile guy, but don’t think that he is a Cam Newton look-a-like. He lacks Newton’s elusiveness and I don’t think his arm is as good as Newton’s. He has great upside and has played a lot of football. I need to do more work on him in the coming months but he is a guy that is going to be able to make a lot of money if he kills it during the week and the Combine.

The South Team is loaded with talent and intriguing prospects and here are some notes from the Day 2 practice and some standout players from the drills and team periods.

-B.W. Webb of William and Mary had a good day and did not show any tepidness towards playing against elite competition. He is 5’10” and 183 pounds and had great instincts at corner. He did a great job jumping a Terrence Williams route (who is a burner!) and did a good job breaking up a few passes some of the better receivers  He worked out wide and in the slot, proving today that he could be a great addition to a team as a nickel or dime corner. He can use this week and the Combine to sneak up a round or two.

B.W. Webb of William and Mary

B.W. Webb of William and Mary

-Two other corner backs that stood out are Robert Alford of Southeastern La. and Leon McFadden from San Diego State. Both are in the 5’10” range and about 190 pounds so size isn’t a huge issue but they might scare away some teams who are now coveting the more physical, big corners for press and cover 2 man schemes. What both Alford and McFadden have is closing speed and instincts There were a few times that both players got beat with a deep ball move or a quick slant and had the hip flexibility and quick twitch to adjust and close the gap on the receiver Corners are a premium position and I think both guys will be gone by the end of Day 2.

– As far as the receivers are concerned, it seemed that throughout the draft-buzz process that Quinton Patton of Louisiana Tech was getting a lot of publicity, as he should. But the two players that jump off the screen to me are Tavarres King of Georgia and Terrence Williams of Baylor. Both players are a shade over 6′ and carry a playing weight around 200 pounds. King showed amazing route running ability and really knows how to use momentum in his breaks to get the DB’s second guessing what he will be running. He made a lot of great plays on crossing routes and corner routes and he has great footwork and release ability. The play that really stood out for Williams is when he absolutely made Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo look pedestrian in one rep. Rambo had no chance to catch up with a Williams’s corner route and Rambo showed that he isn’t the best deep ball defender. Both receivers are speed guys who can play on the outside in the NFL.

Lane Johnson of Oklahoma

Lane Johnson of Oklahoma

-As far as the offensive linemen are concerned, the headliner is Lane Johnson of Oklahoma. He is 6’6” 300 pounds and has some of the longest arms in the all star game. The thing that really jumps out about Johnson is that he uses his great length to set the edge of the pocket much further out then most tackle prospects. His kick step is continuously setting back and not turning perpendicular and forcing the QB to have to step up in the pocket. He has the feet and punch to be a prototype left tackle in the NFL. He has the makeup of a first round pick and he will fight with the North team’s Eric Fisher for the second tackle taken behind Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel.

-One of the more versatile prospects of the OL group on the South is Florida’s Xavier Nixon. He is 6’5” and 310 pounds and has a tremendous anchor. Nixon moved around a lot and looks more natural at guard; however, he does show the footwork and athleticism to play right tackle in the NFL. He showed one of the most violent punches of any lineman and did a great job of showing patience in his sets. He still needs work with his feet, as most of these prospects do, but he looks like a great OL prospect for a power running team.

-The defensive linemen that stole the show both hail from the University of Georgia. John Jenkins and Cornelius Washington have the most NFL ready skills on the South team. I am not saying that these two will go first, but the skill set is there to be elite. Washington is a 6’4” pass rushing machine who has tremendously long arms and a nasty disposition. He shows the elite balance and hand fight skills that you covet in a speed rusher, and like Datone Jones of the North team, he will more than likely show how he can play as a 3-4 linebacker at the combine and in his workouts throughout this draft process. Now to Jenkins, the heaviest guy in this game at 359 pounds. Jenkins is a disruptive force who flashes the Vince Wilfork like ability for spurts, but is definitely in need of an off season program that is structured and will help him lose and keep the weight off. Jenkins has great bull rush skills and is surprisingly nimble and that is what makes him such a force inside. Both are first round talents that will need to continue to impress in this draft process in order to capitalize with their rise up peoples draft boards.               Georgia's John Jenkins

Georgia’s John Jenkins
UCLA's Datone Jones

UCLA’s Datone Jones

The battles that always seem to captivate the scouts, general managers and coaches of NFL teams that are in attendance here at the senior bowl usually fall in the offensive line and defensive line drills. Putting an offensive lineman and defensive lineman one-on-one really shows the competitive spirit and the technique of each individual player. These guys are usually the best of the best from the biggest conferences in the country and for the most part it has shown throughout the week with the North squads. I’ve already talked about Central Michigan’s OT Eric Fisher and how he has dominated his competition throughout the week. He finally showed that he is human, at least in one rep, by losing on an up and in move by UCLA’s Datone Jones. But he has dominated everywhere else and he continues to show he is the top offense lineman at this game.

-The top defensive lineman from the past two days, on a consistent standpoint, is Datone Jones from UCLA. He continues to show the most violent hand movement and constant motor that has made him an absolute thorn in every offensive lineman’s side. I’m not saying he wins every rep but he proves every time that he will not stop until that whistle blows. He stands 6 foot four and weighs 280 pounds and shows the strength and stability to hold up as a five technique in 3-4 defense. However I do not believe that he’s just scheme specific to that particular defense and could potentially play the strong side end in a 4-3 defense. I guarantee he will be one of the guys at the combine that they asked to show what they can do in space with his hand off the ground.
– One offensive lineman that caught my eye today was West Virginia’s Joe Madson at center. He’s a squatty player who is still a stout 6 foot three and 300 pounds. He often lets defensive lineman get into his body but he had one of the best re-anchor moves of the entire group and can really withstand a good bull rusher. He showed today that he could hold up one-on-one with the bigger nose guards in this All-Star game.
– There’s usually one player that a person will fall in love with after only watching them in an event like the Senior Bowl. For me, and for a lot of the TV analysts, that person has been David Quessenberry of San Jose State. He has continuously beat every opponent that they put against him. It might not be pretty but he does a fantastic job at his craft. He has patience and the precise technique to really protect against most of the North defensive line pass rush moves that have been thrown at him. He showed versatility by moving the right tackle spot taking on some of the bigger and faster ends at practice. He did get beat once on an up and in move that got him over set and off-balance. However, for the most part he consistently won every single rep. Quessenberry plays with a great respect for his craft and you can see that he is a technician when it comes to his pass blocking abilities.
David Quessenberry of San Jose State

David Quessenberry of San Jose State

Some other observations from the drills and team periods… Notre Dame’s Braxton Cave and Hugh Thornton of Illinois continued to struggle against elite competition. Both Thornton and Cave got badly beaten on occasion. However both players showed tenacity and competitive spirit by continuing to compete in each rep… Purdue’s Kawann Short showed possibly the slowest spin move I’ve ever seen, thoroughly televising it to the entire country and to David Thornton who easily redirected and posted inside… The DL for the North team must have gotten together and decided that Brian Winters of Kent State had quite possibly the worst post step of the entire group. Therefore almost every single defensive lineman that went against Winters used the up and in move and won the majority of the reps… Michael Buchanan of Illinois is a speed rusher and that is all he tried to show and do in every rep that he took . He did not try to do any sort of counter move to his speed rush and was consistently locked up by the tackle group. He is not really flashing that play making ability that I’m sure some teams were hoping to see for a possible 3-4 rush LB… Margus Hunt lived by the motto today of “look like Tarzan play like Jane.” It’s not that he got physically beat it’s just that he really was shut down almost every time and he really did not show any counter moves to get pressure on the QB. He plays high, which is a given, but he does not seem to be using his leverage well.