Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
On day two of the Senior Bowl, the North and South teams practiced at separate times, allowing scouts and media to get a closer look at both squads. Ladd-Peebles Stadium was much busier today as intensity and speed finally kicked off some rust from the all-star teams. As a whole, many scouts in attendance thought the North's morning practice -- run by the Cincinnati Bengals coaches -- was much more "on point" and moved along nicely. The Buffalo Bills coaches ran a more relaxed practice and focused more on special teams than onlookers enjoyed.
Here's five up and five down from today's practices:
1) No one has more buzz right now than the North's Vincent Brown (WR San Diego State). Once considered a low/mid-round prospect with decent speed and good overall talent, Brown is the shining star of practices and has caught everything thrown his way. He's also shown good athleticism on deep routes and quickness on screens and reverses.
2) Cameron Jordan (DE Cal) and Christian Ballard (DT/DE Iowa) were both unblockable in today's morning practice. Jordan seems to be a step faster and a bit more talented than anyone else here. His ability to set up blockers one way, and break through laterally is outstanding. Ballard is outworking many of his counterparts and has a real shot to start as a 3-technique in a 4-3, but has the versatility to kick to 3-4 end.
3) Shareece Wright (CB USC) was the talk of South practices Monday, and much of that carried over to today. He is a tough, physical cornerback who has the ability to play off-coverage and close quickly on receivers. He isn't the best when asked to turn and run with faster opponents, but certainly wouldn't kill a team who asked him to learn. He has a good deal of raw physical talent and is quickly asserting himself in a deep cornerback class.
4) DeMarco Murray (RB Oklahoma) and Bilal Powell (RB Louisville) both silenced a lot of critics today, or at least should have. Murray is an extremely sudden runner who springs through holes and weaves through traffic. The former Sooner has the rare ability to make multiple cuts quickly without losing overall linear speed. Powell is a strong runner who displays a ton of body control, leaning in and out of breaks to minimize contact and bounce off defenders.
5) Luke Stocker (TE Tennessee) had the catch of the day, plucking an errant pass out of the air and absorbing a tremendous hit drawing a ton of "oohs" and a smattering of "ahhs" from the crowd. When he got up, Stocker held the ball out for the crowd -- and the defender -- to see. With Kyle Rudolph's (TE Notre Dame) hamstring injury, Stocker could be the top tight end in the draft. Lee Smith (TE Marshall) has had a great couple of days and is showcasing himself as a blocker.
1) Andy Dalton (QB Texas Christian) has had a lot of good publicity since his Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, but struggled during today's practice. He has the ability to make big plays and has decent athleticism and arm strength, but just doesn't look like a natural passer and spent most of his day locked on to his former teammate, Jeremy Kerley. Unless Dalton plans on his NFL team drafting his entire TCU receiving corps, he'll need to showcase natural timing and accuracy.
2) Christian Ponder (QB Florida State) and Greg McElroy (QB Alabama) are the other two South quarterbacks, and, as a whole, that team did not seem to have overwhelming talent passing the ball. Ponder and McElroy (along with Dalton) appear to be mid-round prospects that are leaders, guys you want on your team, but never want to have the game in their hands. Ponder had a weak arm before multiple arm surgeries and doesn't look as accurate as his hype. McElroy is a smart kid but doesn't seem in his element in an all-star atmosphere.
3) Noel Devine (RB West Virginia) actually looked good in practice today and he'll certainly get a spot on an NFL roster. The problem is, he looks so small next to a number of smaller backs like Derrick Locke (RB Kentucky) and Kendall Hunter (RB Oklahoma State). Devine's speed is negated at an all-star game like it will in the NFL and he needs plenty of space to do what he does best. He'll make an impact, but it is hard to see him as anything more than a deep niche player at the next level.
4) Kevin Kowalski (C Toledo) made a lot of the North defensive linemen look really good today and didn't move well enough for a guy who also lacks ideal size. He'll be a deep reserve on an NFL team and is reportedly very smart as well as a leader. He just can't block this caliber of talent. Marcus Gilbert (OT Florida) doesn't move well, either, and plays too high to be a consistent factor in the run game.
5) When you're a punter at the all-star game, you shouldn't have to throw the ball just so the return team can get a good rep. Chas Henry (P Florida) just shouldn't be drafted.
Michael Schottey is an NFL Featured Columnist at BleacherReport.com and an Analyst at DraftTek.com. He will be covering the Senior Bowl practices all week in Mobile. Follow him on Twitter @Schottey
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
You know Andy Daltan from TCU is really impressing me... think he could possibly get in the top 15.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
I doubt it. With a solid Senior Bowl week though, he may secure a selection on Day Two (Rds 2-3).
Originally Posted by ZiaRam
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Senior Bowl notebook: Wednesday
Posted Jan. 26, 2011 @ 2:27 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening
MOBILE, Ala. — The following are Mike Wilkening's observations from Wednesday's North practice:
• Oregon ILB Casey Matthews got two pass-rush reps against Colorado OT Nate Solder, who has a 7½-inch height advantage and 82 pounds on the Ducks star. This was a mismatch. Solder was simply too big and strong for Matthews.
• Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo stood out in one-on-one pass-rush drills. He simply did not give up a lot of ground. He fared well in individual matchups against Notre Dame DL Ian Williams and Nebraska DL Pierre Allen.
• Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan's speed off the edge is very apparent. He was simply too fast for Indiana OT James Brewer in one drill and also gave Solder, expected to be a first-round pick, a lot of trouble.
• For his part, Brewer did much better against California DL Cameron Jordan in one-on-one drills.
• Michigan OL Stephen Schilling quietly had a nice practice, I thought. Of note: He did a nice job against well-regarded Iowa DL Christian Ballard.
• I wrote at length about Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick for a ProFootballWeekly.com story that went up earlier today, so I didn't watch the quarterbacks as closely as I did Tuesday, but I did notice Kaepernick make a tough, skilled play against pressure, throwing with someone in his face but with power and with accuracy to his intended target. If a plays breaks down, he has the natural talent to make something out of nothing.
• Easily the most entertaining player I've interviewed here was Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, who oozes confidence and chided me for asking him for his impression of the defensive linemen he's faced this week. On the field, Carimi has had a solid week, too.
Here are some observations from associate editor Kevin Fishbain:
• I wanted to keep a closer eye on Kaepernick's release today, because it's clearly the most unique one of the six quarterbacks here. His arm slot is higher and his release takes longer. He cocks his arm as if he is throwing a baseball (he was a pitcher in high school). With that said, when you watch his form, you don't expect the tight spiral to come out with good velocity and accuracy; I'm sure NFL teams are going to be skeptical about it.
• Boise State WR Titus Young has been getting some attention this week, and he made a great leaping grab over the middle today, as well as showing a great burst of speed.
• Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter could be the best prospect here at his position, and he was really impressing Bengals coaches in a blocking drill. In one of the first plays of 11-on-11, Hunter took a handoff and made a great cutback in the backfield for a big gain.
• Kerrigan and Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal both took part in linebacker drills, as some project them to be 3-4 OLBs in the pros. Kerrigan's speed might work on the line, but he'll need more of it in coverage as a linebacker. When both of them returned to the line drills, they each had a shot at Solder. Kerrigan used a quick first step and got right around Solder into the backfield. Beal tried to go into Solder, and that plan backfired, resulting in Beal on his back.
• Carimi continues to impress me. One play I noticed came on an off-tackle run to his side. He pushed Jordan, who was the talk of Tuesday's practice, back with ease, then picked up Michigan State LB Greg Jones on the second level, staying engaged with Jordan.
• Carimi, Solder and Castonzo are three of the best OT prospects here, with the next one being Georgia OT Clint Boling. The Bengals' staff has been rotating them, with Castonzo and Carimi taking some shots at guard. Solder has seen a lot of time at right tackle.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Kaepernick, Locker make different last impressions
By Rob Rang
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Jan. 26, 2011
NFL scouts leave Mobile en masse Wednesday night and Thursday morning, making Wednesday's practice impressions incredibly important.
The focus of the morning practice was again the North team quarterbacks: Jake Locker (Washington), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) and Ricky Stanzi (Iowa).
The best passer on the field was Kaepernick, who threw tight spirals to either side of the field, had an exceptional touch throw into the back right corner of the end zone, and looked smooth and fluid running out of the pocket when his primary receiver was covered. When he sets his feet and throws a tight ball, Kaepernick's velocity is more than what's needed to make every NFL throw.
His delivery is still an issue -- he winds up a bit and sometimes stops at the top of the delivery before unleashing. One of his passes to the far side of the field was knocked down by a linebacker dropped into coverage -- partially because of the pause, and partially because Kaepernick didn't read the linebacker. The elongation is not as bad as that shown by Tim Tebow and Byron Leftwich in recent years, but will need to be addressed once in an NFL camp.
Tuesday's practice seemed to be a step forward for Locker, who needed to make a solid impression all week to become more than a fantastic athlete with potential. Wednesday he struggled again to connect consistently with receivers while standing in the pocket, coming up short on multiple throws to the wide side of the field. It is clear the Pac-10 star passer is aiming or pressing, trying to be perfect on every throw instead of allowing his athleticism and arm strength to shine through.
If Locker cannot exhibit NFL-caliber accuracy on seam or out routes when playing against air in one-on-one drills, or even against a half-effort pass rush in team scrimmages, it is hard to project him doing it during his NFL career.
Stanzi's practice was very similar to Locker's. He came up short on multiple passes when his receiver was in perfect position to receive the throw and sailed the ball on seam passes. He is able to stand tall and deliver a tight ball from the pocket, which will entice teams who like his 6-foot-4, 221-pound frame and starting experience.
• California defensive end Cameron Jordan consistently looks strong as a pass rusher, swimming over the top of guards and ripping them to the side to attack the quarterback. If allowed to hit passers in the pocket during team drills, Jordan might have had 10 sacks this week.
• Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter impressed Wednesday with a burst out of traffic on run drills, good hands out of the backfield, and by standing up to defenders in pass protection drills.
• Indiana tackle James Brewer fought through foot injuries in college. He moved his 6-foot-6, 323-pound frame well Wednesday lining up at right tackle or guard. Most of the talk has been about top-50 picks Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi, but Brewer's long arms and upside give him a chance to be selected in the top 100 if he checks out medically at the Combine.
• Boise State receiver Titus Young again looked like the best pass-catcher on the North roster, running crisp, smooth routes and snagging every pass thrown in his direction. Though not as sudden and explosive as DeSean Jackson, Young's a close enough replica to earn top-75 consideration.
• Toledo center Kevin Kowalski lacks the athleticism to stay with the talented defensive line prospects on the North team, including bullish Stanford nose tackle Sione Fua. He is durable and tough, but he's shown poor quickness and only average strength.
• Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard is the North squad's version of South team standout Allen Bailey (Miami, Fla.), an exceptional athlete who looks great in one-on-one drills by using a quick first step to blow by lineman -- but whose game film screams third-round pick. Both will put up great numbers at the combine, but just don't make enough plays between the lines.
• Oklahoma RB Demarco Murray runs like he is 6 feet tall but puts his head down in traffic, which limits his ability to see cutback lanes. He did show the hands everyone knows he has as a receiver, but again failed to wow with explosive after-the-catch ability.
• Linebackers Mason Foster (Washington) and Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut) display instincts and agility to avoid blockers on stretch plays evident in Wednesday's practice, which only confirmed what teams had seen from the ultra-productive duo on film.
• Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is one of the best stories of the draft, making a great comeback from bone cancer, but he did not look fluid in coverage Wednesday. He was stood up by running backs in pass protection drills, an area you'd think the 6-foot-4, 250-pound linebacker should dominate.
• Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan dropped into coverage as a linebacker on a couple of plays in Wednesday's practice. He didn't make any plays and looked a bit raw, but flashed enough athleticism to have 3-4 teams like the Jets talk with him after practice.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Senior Bowl quarterback report
By Wes Bunting
January 26, 2011, 03:00 PM EST
It’s a really interesting group of quarterback prospects on the North roster this year as not only do all three have some legit NFL talent, but each are really unique/different in their own right. Therefore, today I'll take a look at each QB on the roster and break down what I’ve seen from each of their games so far this week.
Colin Kaepernick: Nevada (6-5, 225)
In all honesty Kaepernick had his strongest performance of the week today, showcasing his strong arm cleanly spinning the football down the field and making some big throws vertically. He exhibited solid touch on the deep ball today, as well, and when the guy has time to get back in his drop and hitch into throws, he sees the field well, anticipates routes and exhibits the ability to be accurate down the field.
However, he’s a bit of an awkward quarterback prospect and despite his above-average straight-line speed, he allows himself to lose his base and get a bit upright in the pocket, causing his passes to sail on him. Plus, when you look at the guy's overall release, he’s got a real wind-up, taking him too long to get the ball out on time and will struggle with his timing/accuracy in the underneath pass game.
Overall, I think he’s an intriguing later-round prospect in more of a vertical pass game. He can make all the throws and when he has time to set his feet he can be very effective. However, his throwing mechanics and footwork leave a lot to be desired when working from under center and despite his physical skill set, the guy is going to need plenty of work and he’s just a real wildcard who I don’t see maturing into an effective starter in the NFL.
Ricky Stanzi: Iowa (6-4, 221)
Over the course of the first three days of practice, Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi has been the most consistent quarterback on the North roster in my view. He seems to be throwing the football with as much confidence –maybe even more- as I have ever seen from him on tape. He’s doing a much better job maintaining his balance in the pocket, even when forced to move his feet and just seems to be handling the offense the best of any QB on the roster.
He displays good poise in the pocket, feels defenders around him and consistently has been able to find soft spots in the defense all week and throw receivers open on all levels of the field. He doesn’t have the biggest of arms, but he’s a guy who can cleanly spin the football and his arm strength will improve as his wrist gets stronger and he continues to bulk up.
Overall, he’s the one quarterback on the North roster who seems to always be in control of his surroundings, does a nice job of deciphering information quickly and has the kind of ball placement and arm strength needed to make him one of the more intriguing QB prospects in this year’s draft. Looks like a guy with starting potential at the next level that could be had for a bargain in the mid rounds. It’s been a very good week for Stanzi in Mobile.
Jake Locker: Washington (6-2, 228)
Physically, Locker is the most gifted quarterback down here. He’s a talented athlete who is quick to get away from center his drop, looks natural on the move and has the quickest release of the bunch. He possesses a strong arm, can make all the throws and when he has time to set himself and can see the throw, the guy looks like a top-tier pick.
However, even vs. seeing exclusively cover one and cover three looks the past three days he just doesn’t seem to trust his eyes. The game seems to be moving too fast for him at times, he’s not overly decisive with the football and his eye level too often drops at the first sign of pressure. Plus, his balance in his base is really poor when asked to set and throw from center, causing him to struggle to properly drive off his back foot and accurately deliver the football. But, that can be fixed.
The biggest concern I have for him at this stage is how he struggles to deliver football through the seams of a defense against looks he knows he going to get. He struggled on tape to go through his progressions and consistently would get comfortable locking onto his initial read.
In all honesty he seems like a reps guy, someone who is going to take a lot of time to learn and develop in an NFL offense and your going to need to bring along slowly. The tools are there; there is no doubt about that. But from the shoulders up, I would have severe reservations about selecting this guy high pick (first round) and hitching my wagon to him as my franchise quarterback.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Senior Bowl Day 3 practice blog
January, 26, 2011
By Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl
Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl are blogging from the Senior Bowl. Keep checking in to see who is playing well and who's struggling during the third Senior Bowl practice.
On the offensive
Georgia's Clint Boling and Alabama's James Carpenter are standing out on the offensive line. Both are strong at the point of attack and doing a good job against a big group of defensive tackles like Clemson's Jarvis Jenkins and Baylor's Phil Taylor.
USC WR Ronald Johnson had a real up-and-down day. He looked quick working the middle of the field, caught the ball in stride and did a nice job of tracking the ball in individual drills, but had some drops. He tried to run a double-move at the end of team drills and was far too slow and mechanical getting in and out of the break.
Looking at Allen
Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen displayed good burst, straight line speed, however we question his lateral quickness and vision. He's more of a straight ahead runner and is not going to make a lot of people miss.
Mississippi State LB Chris White didn't have the best day today. He doesn't have great range and is limited in space. He had issues getting off blocks and his angles were a bit inconsistent in pursuit. But we like his fight and effort.
Got you covered
Miami CB DeMarcus Van Dyke is blanketing South Alabama WR Courtney Smith and USC WR Ronald Johnson. He is reading routes and looking quick.
USC WR Ronald Johnson dropped one pass early but bounced back. He tracked the ball well during individual drills and opened up and made a nice adjustment on a pass thrown slightly behind him.
Alabama TE Preston Dial make some nice grabs early, including two one-handed grabs. He's not a flashy player, but may be great value as a late round pick.
Clemson CB DeAndre McDaniel tracked the ball well and showed he can highpoint the ball during individual drills, but he also had a pass pop off his hands.
Off and running
Louisville RB Bilal Powell's is running well today. He is displaying a natural feel for the cutback lanes and doing a great job of running north and south.
Go get it
Hawaii WR Gregory Salas is stiff in and out of his routes, but we like the way he is attacking the ball. He's not waiting for it and he can snatch it out of the air.
Freak of nature
Texas A&M LB Von Miller's movement skills are ridiculous during drills.
Tough day so far
South Alabama WR Courtney Smith continues to have problem extending and fielding the ball with his hands. He also dropped a pass after getting popped, his second drop of the day.
Good and bad
TCU WR Jeremy Kerley not as explosive as we thought coming into the week, but he does a good job with tempo in his routes.
Jordan rules, again
Cal's Cameron Jordan had another good day. It's all hands, hands, hands with him. He split double teams and was making plays.
We were surprised how well Notre Dame DT Ian Williams played today. He's not a great athlete but had a quick first step, used good leverage, showed good initial power and the ability to hold his position against the run. One of the most effective linemen during the 2-on-1 (two offensive linemen) drills.
Oklahoma DL Jeremy Beal plays hard, has a great motor and is a little stronger than expected. He has good initial pop, but he's not nearly as quick or athletic as his sack production indicates.
Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi did not have his A-game today. He was beat Iowa DT Christian Ballard in 1-on-1 drills and was tossed to the ground by Notre Dame's Ian Williams at the end of a play in drills. He didn't look as sharp as he normally does.
Feel the need for speed
We love WR Vincent Brown's hands and his ability to make plays in traffic. But the one reason he's making plays in traffic is he doesn't have great burst. You see it when he's trying to separate from corners. He had a chance to make a play coming out of his break but could not close on the ball while it was in the air.
There's a lot to like about Stanford CB Richard Sherman's size and how physical he can be. He made a great read on a five-yard out by Ohio State's Dane Sanzenbacher, but he couldn't get to the ball. He just doesn't have the closing speed.
Michigan State LB Greg Jones showed tightness and lack of athleticism throughout the day, especially playing in space. He was exposed in 1-on-1 coverage drills with RBs. He struggled when he had to quickly change momentum off cuts and was often trailing the RBs and out of position. He has a good motor and shows good instincts. When he can quickly recognize and find the ball between tackles, he does not have a problem getting in position to make the stop. We question if he can consistently get off blocks and make plays outside the tackle box.
Picking up blitzers
Roy Helu had a solid day. We liked him in blitz pickup and 1-on-1 pass protection drills. He did a good job of getting in position, sliding his feet and showed great technique and strength to anchor in, stay low and absorb when LBs bull rushed him. But it wasn't all gravy for Helu as he was overpowered by Purdue DT Ryan Kerrigan.
Getting it done
Boise State WR Austin Pettis had some problems getting off the line working against Stanford's Richard Sherman, but he got enough separation to make the catch.
Find the ball
Colorado CB Jalil Brown did a good job of mirroring Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher underneath, but he never turned to pick up the ball.
Love Stanford RB Owen Marecic's fight, strength and competitiveness in 1-on-1 blitz pickups. On the downside, he really fought the ball in pass catching drills.
Power of the Irish
Notre Dame DT Ian Williams is having a good day. He's showing good first-step quickness, leverage and power.
Michigan State LB Greg Jones' lack of change of direction skills are really exposed in man-to-man cover drills versus the running backs.
Washington LB Mason Foster is having a good day finding the ball and he's showing some explosiveness.
Good and bad
East Carolina WR Dwayne Harris is inconsistent with his hands today. He made a great one-handed catch down the left sideline, but dropped two passes and trapped others.
Young shines again
Boise State WR Titus Young looks quick and is snatching the ball out of the air.
Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher is having some problems separating from the defensive backs, but he's a great competitor when the ball is in the air.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Originally Published: January 27, 2011
MOBILE, Ala. -- Light day of practice with players in just shorts and helmets, so we're cleaning out the scouting notebook.
It was a very good week for the offensive line group, and a lot of players really helped their stock. Colorado OT Nate Solder was the best lineman here this week. He showed a good combination of size, feet and lateral agility, but the thing that stuck out was his toughness. He was playing with a chip on his shoulder and mixing it up. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi also had a solid week. He is limited in terms of athletic ability but showed great inline power as a run-blocker and solidified himself as a first-round prospect at right tackle.
Solder and Carimi were the headliners, but a few others had good showings as well. We don't feel Boston College's Anthony Castonzo is an elite prospect, but he has enough foot quickness and strength and showed enough ability in the pass and running games that he will come off the board in the late first round. He has limitations in terms of lateral quickness and playing with the right pad level, but because of the value of offensive tackles, he likely will go on Day 1. A couple of other players who helped their stock this week were Georgia's Clint Boling, Baylor's Danny Watkins, TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick and Slippery Rock's Brandon Fusco.
It's an interesting tight end group. Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks was one of the bigger names, but at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, he wasn't physically impressive, and the concerns about his ball skills were reinforced this week. He flashes athletic ability and will make an acrobatic catch but drop the next ball on a routine play. On the other hand, Nebraska's Mike McNeill wasn't as hyped and looked small at just 6-3, 232 pounds, but he was far more consistent catching the ball. They also lined him up at fullback, and he did a good job attacking second-level blockers. Outside of Tennessee's Luke Stocker and Marshall's Lee Smith, all the tight ends here were more H-back type of players.
What happened to the DBs?
One position group that really failed to make a mark this week was the defensive backs. Where were they? In recent years, we've seen standout performances from players like Chris Cook, Devin McCourtey and Alphonso Smith, but this year has seen a very average group. There are no safeties like Taylor Mays, who wowed you with his size, speed and freakish natural athleticism. And looking at the cornerbacks, we don't know whether we saw anyone who will go in the first two rounds. No one rose to the top of the class and took advantage of the opportunity.
Eyes on a Hawkeye
Iowa's Christian Ballard looked more comfortable at defensive end than defensive tackle. Even though he weighed in at 288 pounds, we think he seems more like a left defensive end in a base four-man front. He certainly didn't light the world on fire, but he flashed and moved well for his size. He needs to learn to use his hands better and can get stronger at the point of attack.
Don't forget about Pettis
While there was buzz about San Diego State's Vincent Brown, Miami's Leonard Hankerson and Boise State's Titus Young, a guy who flew under the radar and had a solid week was Boise State WR Austin Pettis. He's not the most explosive athlete and there's not a lot of suddenness in his routes, he is a savvy route runner, finds the soft spots, sets up defenders well, and does a good job getting off press coverage and getting a clean release. He's very polished. At 6-2, 205 pounds, he's also a good red zone target. He has a large strike zone, uses his body to shield defenders, plays the ball well and catches everything. He might never be more than a third receiver, but he can make plays. He'll bring value in the fifth-round range.
Here come the Irish
Notre Dame DT Ian Williams is a fairly one-dimensional player, but he held his own against double-teams this week and showed signs of being an effective nose tackle in a base four-man front. He'll never be a great pass-rusher, but he is 6-1 and plays with a natural leverage that makes him stronger than his 311 pounds suggest. He's not wide enough to be a 3-4 anchor, but he can occupy two blockers in a four-man front and free up the three-technique and help free up the middle linebacker.
Louisville RB Bilal Powell has excellent vision. He also is a good blend of patience and decisiveness. He sets up his blocks and has a natural feel for cutback lanes. He does a good job of putting his foot in the ground, making one cut and getting vertical when he sees the hole. He lacks the power you'd expect from a 215-pound back, but he shows good balance. Powell is a pretty good route runner, and shows natural hands catching the ball and getting upfield. He's also good in blitz pickup in pass protection, which adds value. He has helped himself this week, and we could see him moving into the fourth-round range.
We were disappointed in the burst NC State LB Nate Irving showed when they brought him up with the D-linemen in pass-rushing drills. We wanted to see more of him as a pass-rusher, something he did at NC State, but he didn't show great burst and wasn't violent or quick enough working back inside when he tried to redirect. Also, he was stiff in space, and had a hard time moving around and changing directions. He's not a player teams should feel comfortable asking to match up with quicker running backs because he'll get exposed in coverage.
A pair on the rise
Two linebackers who helped themselves this week are LSU ILB Kelvin Sheppard and and Washington OLB Mason Foster. Foster showed why he was second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 163 tackles displaying natural instincts. He finds the ball quickly, reacts quickly and gets into position to make the tackle. He's not the best athlete, but he is a reliable tackler and has enough power, strength and explosiveness in his hips when taking on blockers. He has good coverage awareness and is a big contributor on special teams. At the start of the season, he was a late-round prospect, but after a good campaign and a good week here, he's in the mid-fourth-round range now.
Sheppard, at 250 pounds, is noticeably stronger now. He is quick to diagnose plays, gets downhill in a hurry and is instinctive. He doesn't have as much range as Foster, but his range is adequate. Still have concerns about his ability to take on and shed blockers, but his added weight and strength will help there. He's helped himself climb into the third-round range with a good week here.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Five players that stood out at the Senior Bowl
by Matt Bowen
January 28, 02011
After watching practice this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile there is some talent in this class on both sides of the ball. Here are five players stood out from my perspective on the field—along with others who consistently showed up in my notes.
Cameron Jordan, DL, Cal: He’s explosive off of the line of scrimmage and unlike Miami’s Allen Bailey (a straight line pass rusher), Jordan had enough counter moves in his game to consistently win at the point of attack. Everyday when I watched one-on-ones and team drills, Jordan stood out. He can penetrate the offensive line and I see him as a DE that can align outside in a 4-3 front or as a 5 technique in a 3-4 scheme. As one scout said this week, there is always a player down in Mobile who punches that cash register. This week—it was Jordan. The D-Lineman from Cal made himself some money at the Senior Bowl.
Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: He doesn’t have the size that is going to jump off of the page (5-7, 199), but he has big lower body strength and an ability to accelerate once he hits the hole. Stood his ground in the one-on-one blitz pickup drills vs. the linebackers, looked good in the screen game and has a nice first step in the downhill running game. With Hunter I see a back that can carry the ball in the NFL and produce. Compared to Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray, there is no doubt that Hunter looked like the more NFL-ready player at this point.
Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: It might be too easy to put Miller on this list, but with all of the hype leading up to this week in Mobile, the A&M linebacker still had to show up and play. He did get a chance to display his ability to rush off of the edge in one-on-ones and you can see his natural speed and athletic ability when he is playing in space—because he can close on the ball carrier. That’s very noticeable. However, what stood out even more was watching Miller drop into coverage. He moves like a strong safety playing the curl-to-flat reads in Cover 3. How high does he go? It is still early in this process, but the talk down in Mobile had Miller pegged as a legit top ten pick after this week. If he tests well in Indy, we should see that happen.
Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech: The guy will compete. In one-on-ones, and during team drills, the Virginia Tech cornerback played football. You can tell when a DB can move his feet, change direction and come downhill from an off-man position to close on the ball. Carmichael isn’t a first round talent—and injured an ankle this week—but if I am a coach, I want my corners to line up and challenge wide receivers throughout the entire practice. That is what I saw. Plus it is hard to pass up on a defensive back from Virginia Tech, because they are coached hard and produce in the league for a reason. Carmichael is a solid player that will stick on a roster, have an immediate impact on special teams and could compete with veteran talent for some early playing time in defensive sub packages.
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: Big body (6-7, 315). That’s the first thing you notice when you see him in full gear and off of the field. Strength at the point of attack—can take on a bull rush—and good enough feet to get back and attack speed off of the edge because of his reach. There is no doubt Carimi can win up front in the run game and I think the tape from these practice sessions will answer some questions about his pass protection skills against good competition. With Carimi, you are drafting a physical offensive tackle that has the tools to play a long time at both tackle positions in the NFL. We talked to him during the week, and the NFP’s Greg Gabriel (who has over 20-plus years of scouting experience in the NFL) said that the Wisconsin O-Lineman is the type of player you want in the locker room.
Some other prospects that we routinely in my notes…
Titus Young, WR, Boise St.
Christian Ballard, DL, Iowa
Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St.
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego St.
DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson
Mason Foster, LB, Washington
Kendric Burney, CB, UNC
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Senior Bowl impressions
by Wes Bunting
January 27, 02011
Breaking down some of the positional groupings in Mobile and taking a look at who stood out and who struggled this week during Senior Bowl practice.
A deep OT class
There may not be that blue-chip, top-ten offensive tackle prospect in this year’s draft, but there is a group of intriguing guys who could all come off the board in the first round and quickly mature into starting-caliber tackles in the NFL. Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod did a nice job this week reaching speed off the edge and redirecting cleanly in space. He still gets a bit high with his hand placement and isn’t as compact as you would like with his punch, but he's a gifted athlete with natural movement skills in pass protection.
Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi on the other hand isn’t quite the athlete Sherrod is, but he’s good enough to hold his own on the left side, possesses an impressive anchor and can really get after it in the run game. Add in the fact that Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo and Colorado’s Nate Solder could also find their way into the first round and overall it’s a very solid tackle class.
Wideouts aren’t far behind
Speaking of a talented class, the senior wide receiver group down here also has a unique and deep plethora of prospects who could make their way onto the field early during their rookie years and improve an NFL offense. If you want a vertical threat, look no further than Boise State’s Titus Young, who has shown the ability to not only routinely get behind corners deep, but has the suddenness/balance to his game to really snap his way out of his breaks and separate underneath.
If you’re looking for a bigger, possession-type wideout then Miami’s Leonard Hankerson and Boise State’s Austin Pettis both fit the bill. They do a nice job working the three-step game, they use their big bodies well to shield defenders from the football and know how to pluck the throw off their frame.
And finally one guy who deserves a mention is Nebraska’s Niles Paul, who at 6-0, 225 pounds accelerates really well for a guy his size. He is physical when asked to beat press, can create with the ball in his hands and looks capable of making plays from both the inside and out. The biggest question with him this week was his ability to consistently catch the football, which he has done well for the most part.
Some lackluster performances at linebacker
It was a pretty “blah” week for the North linebacking squad as Boston College’s Mark Herzlich looked stiff and struggled in coverage for the most part. He also wasn’t real effective as a pass rusher in blitz pick-up drills and overall didn’t do much to write home about in my view.
Oregon’s Casey Matthews and Ohio State’s Ross Homan both struggled to hold up at the point of attack throughout the week when asked to anchor vs. tight ends during run drills. However, the one guy who did do a nice job was Washington LB Mason Foster. He’s a natural striker who finds the football quickly and runs well in pursuit. He isn’t elite physically in any area of the game, but he’s just a solid football player who showed well for himself this week and looks like a solid 2nd-3rd round pick who can mature into a starter early in his NFL career.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
Don't overrate the Senior Bowl
by Jack Bechta
January 27, 02011
For any NFL draft prospect, being at the Senior Bowl, or not being at the Senior Bowl won’t make or break a players’ career. The Senior Bowl is getting a lot of attention this week but it’s not the Holy Grail of the evaluation process. It is however just one small, but important component of the evaluation process. All in all there may be a total of about 10 to 12 players that the Senior Bowl helps, or hurts. Furthermore, what does get affected is a players’ draft value not his overall opportunity.
Who does it help the most?
The players who benefit the most are usually small school players who get to compete against the big school boys. It’s their chance to show scouts that they can do it against the best of the best. It’s an opportunity for evaluators to see how those players can compete against a higher level of competition. The Senior Bowl provides a stage for these players to show that they may belong.
Quarterbacks are also big benefactors as it’s a chance to make a good first impression on coaches who never may have seen them before. The coaches will tend to judge players without bias because they have not yet scouted the players. Many head coaches and offensive coordinators have a big say as to who they would prefer come draft day.
Many general managers have told me that by this point in the evaluation process they use the Senior Bowl as a confirmation tool of their current opinion. It’s also part of the discovery process to start collecting personal data on players through a one on one meeting/interview.
There’s no doubt that there are usually a handful of players who “jump out” at the evaluators by flashing superior speed, quickness or by making several noticeable plays. However, when it’s all said and done, there are only 5 or 6 players who rise significantly and 5 or 6 who may fall just a bit. The rest of the pack may get reshuffled a bit as the Senior Bowl helps evaluators rank prospects against one another and thus an order start to take shape.
This is the time of year that everyone is a draft expert. And I do mean everyone. I have had several NFL reporters come up to me to tell me their opinion on where my clients’ stock is headed based on his performance here in Mobile. The irony is that those same reporters are walking around the practices talking the whole time without really watching practice. Furthermore, many of them have never seen many of the players ever play before until this week, but they are firing off opinions for mass public consumption.
The bottom line is this, don’t believe everything you read or hear coming out of Mobile this week. For the most part, 80% of the play here will be forgotten by NFL evaluators and the focus will shift to the Combine. I actually I had one NFC GM tell me that he has never watched a Senior Bowl game live or via tape in 25 years of scouting. His reasoning is that he doesn’t want to judge a player based off of one week of practice where players are playing with each other for the first time. He said he does want to gather more intel on players but he tells his staff not to kill or glorify players based on one week of an all-star practice.
So as the sensationalist opinions start pouring through the internet and TV outlets, please remember that the process will flatten out and the majority of players here did not jump or fall two or three rounds.
Re: The Official 2011 Senior Bowl Thread
North has trio of good offensive tackle prospects
By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Published: Jan. 25, 2011 at 07:24 p.m.
The Senior Bowl is the last opportunity to see draft-eligible seniors in pads playing real football as opposed to workouts in shorts, which will consume the rest of the evaluation process leading up to the draft.
It is also the first opportunity for NFL coaches to study the new talent. Bengals and North team coach Marvin Lewis told me, "This is my real first look at this year's crop of players and I like what I see so far."
The Senior Bowl group this year will probably produce 8-10 first-round selections, 12-15 second-round players and close to 17 third-round picks.
The first thing to jump out at me after watching the North squad practice twice was the quality of the offensive tackles. Three North tackles came into the week with a first-round grade and so far, and they are passing the eye-ball test. The Bengals' coaches are moving them around from the right side to the left side and even giving them a little work at guard.
Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is close to 6-foot-7 and will play in the 325-pound range in the NFL, and the first trait that surfaced was his competitive attitude. He served notice in the first practice that he will play to the whistle on every play and you are in for a rough day if you line up opposite him. He is very capable of establishing the point of attack in a power running game and could be more of a right tackle than a left tackle. He has the technique to play the left side, but after two practices I like the mauler part of his game the most. During the Tuesday practice he also showed the feet to pull and fold block.
Boston College's Anthony Castonzo impressed me with his feet and pass protection skills. He has patient hands and a timely punch. He was beat in a one-on-one session by California's Cameron Jordan, but quickly recovered and dominated the next opportunity. Castonzo has natural knee and ankle bend, and looks better suited for the left side. He will have to do a good job against the bull rush the rest of the week to erase some doubts about his lower body strength. He demonstrated enough bend, however, to win with leverage. He also flashed the athletic ability to handle athletic rushers like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. I also really liked how he sustained his run blocks. He's not a power type, but has the feet to lock on and stay on the defender. He is quick out of his stance and gains leverage and position on the defender. He made the defensive tackle look slow out of his stance with his initial quickness a few times during Tuesday's team drills. The former tight end has above average athletic ability for his position.
Colorado's Nate Solder is a massive man close to 6-9 and more than 300 pounds, but he could stand to add some bulk as he matures. On Monday, he struggled a little with rushers getting to his chest and knocking his hands down, but he quickly recovered and finished a few blocks it appeared he might lose. That is what NFL line play is all about. The ability to recover is a necessary trait for pro offensive linemen. Solder impresses me with his mobility and athleticism for a big man. Often guys this tall struggle with their ankle and knee bend, but he has it. He is advertised as an NFL left tackle, but after two practices I'm not so sure that's his best position. I will report back on him later in the week. He had a few waist-bend situations when the defender used a spin move or converted speed to power. I would like to see some more explosive pop from him, especially when they ask him to pull and trap.
There might not be enough quality pass rushers on the North squad to evaluate these three fine tackles well enough during Senior Bowl week. Two rushers that did catch my attention, however, were Kerrigan and Jordan. Kerrigan has pass-rush technique and very good quickness, but he could be undersized as a down lineman, which could affect his status as a first-round hopeful.
Jordan is a 280-pounder working outside and inside and he knows how to knock the blockers' hands down and get the edge. Cameron is a one-gap penetrator, who is stout enough to two-gap and appears ideal in a 3-4 move front. He has been around the football constantly in the team, nine-on-nine and seven-on-seven periods this week. On Tuesday morning, I was impressed with his discipline to read the bootleg, rather than play recklessly in pursuit of the ball.
I have spent the first two North practices evaluating players who play with their hand on the ground. That's always a good place to start at the Senior Bowl. The centers and guards will be next, but they don't appear to be as good as the tackles.
South roster shows there's quality depth on offensive line
By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Published: Jan. 26, 2011 at 04:12 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 26, 2011 at 05:49 p.m.
MOBILE, Ala. -- As I pointed out Tuesday, the North team is blessed with several good offensive tackle prospects. In looking at the South squad, I see several more promising offensive linemen. Teams in need of help up front are going to be happy they came to the Senior Bowl.
I spent some time with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland discussing the offensive line situation at the Senior Bowl practices and it was clear that they liked what they saw. Dimitroff is here looking for versatile linemen to give Atlanta some depth. Ireland is pleased with his current group of linemen, but admitted that the talent level here is so intriguing that it's hard to take his eye off the guys in the trenches.
The most acclaimed South tackle is Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, but what made the South practices so interesting was the quality of players not rated as highly. That depth will lead some front office executives and coaches to believe they can land a good lineman in the second or third round.
Here's a look at the South linemen having a solid week.
Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State -- Sherrod is a left tackle candidate with excellent athletic ability. He makes pass blocking look easy and his double-kick to set for a wide speed rusher is effortless. Sometimes it appears like he is being lazy, but he's really just so gifted and smooth. His run blocking is not at the same level, but this won't be a big concern for several teams, especially those looking to throw 40-plus times a game. He was advertised by some as the top tackle in the draft, but the competition from the North squad leaves me thinking he's going to wind up down a few spots in the final evaluations. He's still a likely first-round pick, though.
Marcus Gilbert, Florida -- Gilbert is a guy that came to Mobile viewed as a third- or early fourth-round pick by some but his work on Tuesday had some line coaches telling me he's better than that and I agree. Coming here was a very positive decision for Gilbert. The first thing that jumped out came when he lined up at right tackle in the "team" period of practice. A toss run to his side was called and he exploded out of his stance, went out to a wide defensive end, and hooked him before he even had a chance to make a play. His balance and initial quickness showed up many times during the drills. He told me he feels comfortable at either tackle spot and that is the versatility Dimitroff craves. Gilbert moves well enough for offensive line coaches to use him in the trap and pull game, but like many young players, he does get caught in a waist-bend position at times. He clearly has the feet to recover, however.
James Carpenter, Alabama -- Carpenter had the same kind of practice Gilbert had on Tuesday. Expectations coming in were that of a fourth-round-type player, but his execution and athletic ability were better than anticipated. Guys like Carpenter and Gilbert need to put back-to-back days together to keep pushing their stock up. Carpenter has an athletic body and the feet to play on the left side. He also shows effort and results as a run blocker. One GM I was standing with called him "impressive" with a smile on his face, which told me Carpenter's moving up. While he does not appear to be able to pull and trap like Gilbert, Carpenter plays with enough effort to make it in the NFL.
DeMarcus Love, Arkansas -- Love is a guy I watched more than most during the college season. He came here hoping to move from a second-round to a first-round grade. He lined up at left and right tackle as well as at guard. He is accustomed to doing so after playing multiple positions in college because Arkansas used strongside/weakside principles with the offensive line. With that, Love can get in any stance and play. He struggled a bit with a defensive end that used a tug technique that got him off balance and looked better at guard than tackle. I couldn't help but think he would be a perfect fit for the Steelers and their aging, banged-up line.
Rodney Hudson, Florida State -- Hudson came here with a big reputation and an undersized body. As my radio partner Tim Ryan, who played for the Chicago Bears, said "Rodney reminds me of Guy McIntyre," who played for years for the *****. He compensates for his lack of bulk (6-foot-2, 282 pounds) with leverage, technique and effort. He might not be the first guard taken and is probably a second-round talent at this point. If he can play center the way he plays guard, his stock goes up. Not many inside prospects have his quickness to recover when getting beat.
Kristofer O'Dowd, USC -- O'Dowd is an interesting candidate at a weak position here and probably the draft (center). If your favorite NFL team needs a center, it might have to find a stop-gap and wait until next year. After watching all the center candidates in Mobile, I don't think we will see one picked before the fourth round. O'Dowd is a strong, experienced center, but is not as athletic as former Trojan and current Panther Ryan Kalil. He can function on a pro field, though. He competes against nose tackles with power, but struggles a bit with speed. He got caught waist-bending a few times during the drills.
Boise State's Young among prospects helping draft stock
By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Published: Jan. 27, 2011 at 02:49 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 27, 2011 at 09:29 p.m.
MOBILE, Ala. -- After taking an extended look at the talented crop of offensive linemen for the North and South the first few days here, it's time to see what other prospects are making a name for themselves at the Senior Bowl.
There's no question Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller looks like the best prospect this week and will go high in the first round, but let's dig a little deeper into these rosters.
Here are 10 guys who jumped out as interesting prospects and clearly helped their draft stock during Senior Bowl practices.
Boise State WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young: The pair can really snatch the ball out of the air and I would label them as hand-catchers. Pettis' hands are so good that he doubles as the holder on field goals. He's also the bigger of the two (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) and looks suited for the X-receiver spot. He is sudden in his release and was good against press coverage in practice all week. Young is explosive and dangerous as a deep threat. On two occasions, I watched him line up against cover 3 with a corner off at 9 yards and back pedaling at the snap. Both times, Young got by him on a go route. He has shake, separation and can stop on a dime.
North Carolina CB Kendric Burney: He was suspended for part of the season and really needed the Senior Bowl to show NFL people just where he is at in his development. He might not run the fastest 40-yard dash, but he is as quick as anyone out here and can mirror any short route. He has a real knack for getting his hand on the ball and would be ideal as a slot corner. He excelled at jamming receivers in press man-on-man drills and forcing the outside release. He also has some return skills.
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick: An athlete and someone who can really run. Although his throwing motion is a bit unorthodox, the ball comes out of his hand with a lot of spin. I spent some time with him after practice Tuesday and found him to be a bright young man, who is certainly ready to take on the challenges of the NFL. He performed better in the team segment of the practices than he did in the drills, which leads me to believe his game tapes will tell us more about him than anything he does in shorts over the next few months. Don't be surprised if this 6-6, 225-pound athlete runs a sub 4.5-second 40 at the combine. There's a lot to work with here. A few years in a system, learning on the bench, and some team is going to have a good QB.
Oklahoma S Quinton Carter: He looks like the most complete safety here. He can play up in the box as well as in the deep middle or half field. He is smooth in his change of direction and covers a lot of ground when he has to. The Senior Bowl offense he is facing is not complicated and he has had no trouble with his key and diagnose. He's also a solid open-field tackler that understands angles of pursuit. NFL coaches I spoke with really liked what they saw from Carter.
Connecticut LB Lawrence Wilson: At 6-1, 226 pounds, he is slightly undersized, but will fit as a 4-3 Will (weak-side) linebacker. He really shined in the blitz drills Wednesday. He came off the edge against a running back and won with an edge rush, a spin move and even a speed-to-power move. He is smooth in his zone drops and athletic enough to run with a back out of the backfield.
Clemson DL Jarvis Jenkins: At 309 pounds, he moves like a guy in the 280-pound range. He has a good first step, and possesses the quickness to be a one-gap penetrator. He is also stout enough to hold the point of attack. He came here as a late third-round talent and clearly caught the eye of a number of defensive line coaches. He fits in any front and could play tackle or end. He told me he blocked four kicks in college, which tells you a little about his quickness.
Nebraska WR Niles Paul: He regularly demonstrated good extension on catches in practice, grabbing the ball with his hands instead of his body. He is sudden enough to work in the slot or outside. I liked his route running and separation in his breaks. He also has return skills.
Stanford CB Richard Sherman: The late addition to the Senior Bowl roster picked up everything the Bengals' staff was teaching in a day. He is really smart, and the former wide receiver knows how to back pedal, stick his foot in the ground and close. He has size (6-2, 193 pounds) and plays like a guy who has been at corner his whole college career, despite catching 81 passes as a wide receiver. There is no doubt he knows what routes are coming at him because of his days on offense. He has great size for the position.
LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard: He measured in at 6-2, 250 pounds, which got my attention. Then he went on the field and destroyed running backs in a blitz drill. He bull rushed the undersized backs, but he also used a speed rush and a spin move to win. He looks like a solid pick for any 3-4 team in need of a pass rusher at outside linebacker or a stout inside guy over a guard. He has the physical strength to play the run and demonstrated that in nine-on-seven drills. He was around the ball a lot when I watched him work.