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NCAA Scouting
2013 Senior Bowl Review
by Paul Emery
February 6th 2013
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For the first time two junior prospects were invited to the Senior Bowl – both having already graduated. D.J. Fluker was measured with grape vine arms but was injured so could not play. Justin Pugh wished he had Fluker’s arm length, despite a good week of practice his 31.5” arm could well see him viewed as a guard by some teams.
Here’s a breakdown by position of the top performers and some bigger names who struggled a little more.
With Geno Smith electing not to attend the six QB’s in attendance had the chance to say “high first round” and make themselves some money, but no one took the chance. Mike Glennon was better as the week went on, but was poor in the first half of the game. He redeemed things with some top throws in the second half though.
EJ Manuel was the best QB on game day – showing his movement skills and throwing a pretty 20 yard TD to Michael Williams, touched right over T.J. McDonald.
Running Back
Much like the quarterback position, no one really stood out. UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin gave good effort for a smaller back in pass protection drills and helped himself. Kenjon Barner looked fast and caught the ball very well, but didn’t show too many “make you miss” moves which is my concern with him. It didn’t look a great group coming in and that was the case.
Wide Receiver
There were some really nice performances in this group, perhaps there isn’t a star, but there’s some good top 50 talent.
Markus Wheaton (Oregon State) had some fun battles with Desmond Trufant – one of the highlights of the practice week. He showed superb quickness in his routes to create separation and did not back down from the vocal Trufant.
Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech) also looked very good, making some nice high point catches. “The General” was highly productive in a spread offense and handled the step up very well. He could push for a first round slot.
Marshall’s Aaron Dobson didn’t dominate, but did enough to think he’ll be a top 75 prospect. His production was down a little this year, but he ran good routes and caught the ball smoothly.
Tavarres King (Georgia) made flash plays throughout his college career, but was far more consistent during the week and helped himself as much as any WR. He may never be able to handle being a number one WR (which was part of the problem at Georgia where he was tabbed to replace A.J. Green) but he can separate and has deep speed.
Olympic long jumper Marqise Goodwin (Texas) was not used much by the Longhorns this season and on this evidence that was a big mistake. He looked dangerous on deep routes with his speed, but surprisingly showed excellent sharpness with his routes. His hands are a little inconsistent, but I think he’s a top 100 level talent.
Conner Vernon (Duke) had a nice week – he’s been pegged as a possession receiver, so his key post season moment will be his 40 yard dash.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson worked solely at WR. He was still nursing the elbow injury that caused him to miss time this year. NFL Network reported he still has numbness in two of his fingers and that may have adversely affected his ability to catch the ball smoothly. He should be given great credit for turning up and playing a new position when not 100%.
Tight End
The senior TE class is very thin and with Travis Kelce pulling out due to injury this wasn’t a great group. Vance McDonald (Rice) showed athletic ability, but double caught some passes. Alabama’s Michael Williams beat T.J. McDonald for a 20 yard TD down the seam, a very popular score down in Mobile.
Offensive Line
Two tackles made some money and I think both can push Luke Joeckel to be the first taken. Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher showed a superb anchor in pass protection drills. He looked very comfortable locking up his man and dominated. Interestingly in the game his arms were flapping around and he looked heavy footed – not sure if he was hurt as I didn’t see him past the first quarter.
The other impressive tackle was Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. The former junior college QB is still learning the position, but from his hand use you would have never guessed. He’s not as big in his lower body and lacks Fisher’s anchor, but for a zone blocking scheme he may be number one on their board.
Xavier Nixon (Florida) worked at guard a little, but looked more comfortable in his college position of tackle. He showed he can sit in his stance and anchor. He isn’t the best athlete, but he helped himself.
Justin Pugh showed elite feet, but he needs to get stronger. In the game Cornelius Washington used his length advantage to get into him and give him major problems. Pugh is a good player and will appeal to zone blocking scheme teams.
Inside the star was Kentucky’s Larry Warford. The big man dominated John Jenkins much as he did in the Georgia game this year. Viewed as a riser by many, I had him as a 2nd round level talent before this week, so I guess strictly he doesn’t qualify for that category for me.
Brian Winters (Kent State) worked solely at guard (college left tackle) – he had some problems with Kawann Short’s quickness but showed his aggressive nature and I think should be a top 100 level talent.
The big surprise from the group was San Jose State’s David Quessenberry – working at guard and tackle he showed an ability to bend and anchor. He had some problems in the actual game, but overall will have seen his stock go up a round or two.
The center’s didn’t have a great week. Braxston Cave (Notre Dame) really struggled in the pit as did Joe Madsen (West Virginia). Dalton Freeman (Clemson) was dumped on his backside by Vince Williams coming downhill in team drills, but was probably the pick of a bunch of day three prospects.
Defensive Line
There were some good performances and a couple of bigger names that struggled.
Kawann Short (Purdue) was a little quiet in Wednesday’s practice but otherwise caused problems all week. He didn’t have great tape this year and has a reputation of running hot and cold. His impressive week here gives a slightly false impressed, but there’s no question he was tough to block showing impressive quickness for a big man.
Small school Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern) is 341 lbs, but moves very well for that size. He has a very solid build and was one of several small schoolers that showed they belonged.
Sylvester Williams (North Carolina) had some flash plays, but at times was quiet. I’ve struggled to get a real feel for him on tape and was hoping this week would help, but I’m still not sure about him which means a day three prospect.
Ziggy Ansah (BYU) has moved up Draft boards in a big way this season. He plays on the tackles inside shoulder in college – and lining up outside in a traditional 4-3 position he really struggled in one on one drills. Fortunately he redeemed himself with a dominant game. He’s been compared to JPP – but he’s a different kind of player – bigger and stronger.
Margus Hunt (SMU) is the former Estonian shot and discus athlete who like Ansah is relatively new to football. He was amazing in the Bowl game, but was dominated all week. Unlike Ansah he couldn’t deliver in the game either, so will now need an amazing Combine performance to rescue his stock – something which I have a feeling is on the way.
Alex Okafor (Texas) had some nice battles with Eric Fisher and indeed was the only one to really cause him problems. Using more power on Wednesday he looked better – it’s a very crowded pass rusher class, so he could be very good value.
Cornelius Washington played some OLB and DE in Georgia’s 3-4, so never had a home. Lined up at DE all week he took advantage with a good showing. In game he got into Justin Pugh and caused him big problems – getting sack/forced fumble and drawing a holding call.
The star of the week though was Datone Jones (UCLA). A college 3-4 DE he looked superb as a 4-3 DE and when given reps inside at DT he showed top quickness to give the interior lineman major problems. He followed up with a solid game performance and may now be viewed as a first rounder.
This group didn’t look great. Khaseem Greene (Rutgers) was the big name, but he was actually out performed by his team mate Steve Beauharnais. Greene was getting some mention as a first rounder, but may have cost himself a round or two.
Ohio State’s John Simon looked poor in space making a conversion from college DE – he got hurt and was replaced by Sio Moore (Connecticut) who took advantage with a good showing. He played DE in the nickel in college and continued doing that and looked good. He played well in the Shrine Game also and could be pushing for a top 100 placing.
Defensive Back
This was the strongest position in Mobile with some top performances.
robert alford Two small schoolers passed the test in a big way. Robert Alford (Southeastern Louisiana) shone all week in practice and returned a kick for 88 yards in the game (I saw him return a punt 75 yards for a TD against Lamar earlier in the season). He carried a day two grade coming in and solidified that.
B.W. Webb (William and Mary) is a prospect I wasn’t quite sure about – very tough to judge as no one threw at him. He’s not as a big as Alford, but should be perfect in the slot. He also stood out in the return game, having a nice 30 yard punt return.
If you look back on my articles this year, you’ll see I’ve had Desmond Trufant (Washington) ranked as a second rounder all year. I guess strictly then not a riser, but perhaps he might be a late first rounder now. He was vocal and physical – often blanketing his man. The word was out on him as he wasn’t really challenged in the game.
Jordan Poyer (Oregon State) might not have blazing speed, but he’s very quick and his transition from backpedal to the ball was first class. Like Trufant he didn’t back down from anyone all week and forced a turnover in the game, breaking up a pass which was tipped to Will Davis.
Boise State’s Jamar Taylor is another corner I liked this year and backed that up. He’s got the ability to press and also showed a nice break on the ball. He should be certain of a top 100 placing.
Leon McFadden (San Diego State) is a smaller corner, but I was very impressed with him in the Bowl game and he again showed well in practice. Unfortunately he missed the game due to injury, but he can be happy with his practice showing.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut) is another that I liked this year. He’s a taller/longer CB but he struggled a little and certainly didn’t help his stock.
Will Davis (Utah State) is a one year starter who has had a big rise up boards this season. Unfortunately he really struggled in practice and didn’t look like he belonged. He did get an interception in the game, but he looked a bit shell shocked at times.
The safety position also had some top performances.
My personal favourite Duke Williams (Nevada) was beaten by Goodwin in man coverage, but against others he did better and that will only help his stock. He was very active in the game and I like him as a poor man’s Kenny Vaccaro (who elected not to attend – likely a top 10 pick, so I guess had more to lose than gain).
I hadn’t seen FIU’s Johnathan Cyprien yet this year, but I will certainly be watching plenty of FIU tape between now and April! I watched him carefully in the game and came away extremely impressed. A secure wrap tackler who also matched up against the TE’s very well. Viewed as a late rounder in the pre-season lists I saw, he’s been vastly under rated.
Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas is a classic ball hawking free safety. I had a question of him in man coverage, but unfortunately didn’t see much of him in drills.
Alabama’s Robert Lester did get shown in man coverage drills and as in the Texas A&M; game he really struggled. He will appeal to a team that uses a single high free safety, but he’s looked more of a day three talent.
T.J. McDonald (USC) was beaten for a TD by Michael Williams in the game, he was in decent position but never got turned around for the ball and that’s his problem. A linear safety who can get downhill in a hurry – there aren’t many of these that are going to be drafted high with only two Cover-2 teams in the NFL (Vikings and now Cowboys – assuming the Bears will change post Lovie Smith).
Georgia’s Baccari Rambo is another ball hawking free safety, he was playing with a hamstring injury but still did OK – although like Thomas I wanted to see more of him in man coverage drills.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Georgia Southern’s J.J. Wilcox belonged at this game (and I’d seen him three times). The former RB took the coaching very well and improved dramatically as the week moved forward. I stand corrected – he did belong and should now be pushing for a mid round spot.
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