GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT
NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
2014 Senior Bowl Pracrice Wrap-up
by Colin Lindsay and Paul Guillemette
January 24, 2014
It is also important not to put too much emphasis on what happens at the Senior Bowl. With underclassmen not eligible to attend and several of the top-rated seniors passing on the event, only a fraction of the top prospects for the 2014 draft are actually in Mobile this week. Indeed, none of the players currently rated in the top 10 on the 'GBN 'Big Board' heading into Senior Bowl week, for example, was at this year's Senior Bowl, as were just 10 of the top-rated 50 prospects for the upcoming draft.
It is also worth noting that the all-star game setting have a number of limitations for particular positions. QBs, for example, are asked to work with unfamiliar receivers in often unfamiliar schemes which are designed to test as much their ability to learn and adapt rather than their actual passing skills. Same story for RBs who will never get enough touches in an all-star week to get into any kind of rhythm, as well as LBs and safeties, who are almost by definition limited by the lack of overall hitting in an all-star game format. In contrast, all-star settings are probably better suited to evaluating positions such as offensive and defensive linemen. Indeed, the one-on-one pass rush drills, for example, can provide some pretty useful data about offensive and defensive linemen, although even that drill can be misleading because the pass rushers tend to have more space to operate than they normally would in a full-line situation.
The bottom line is that the Senior Bowl is a useful part of the pre-draft process, but certainly not as important as the combine. And in the end neither is as important as the regular season tape evaluation. Indeed, few NFL teams will dramatically alter their grades on specific players based on what they see at the all-star games including the Senior Bowl. Instead, what most teams will do is head back to the game tapes when a player either exceeds expectations or disappoints at the Senior Bowl to check for what they may or may not have missed in their regular season evaluations.
All that said there were a couple of general observations that came ut of this week's Senior Bowl practices:
1) For the second year in a row, there was a solid group at QB as all 6 guys in Mobile this week showed at least some tools. In the end, though, there wasn't much change to the pecking order at the position. Fresno State's Derek Carr, fopr example, entered the week as arguably the top-rated player at any position at this year's Senior Bowl and did not nothing to hurt that grade. Carr consistently threw the ball with good zip and accuracy, even in the sometimes windy conditions, and was poised in the pocket. Same story for Jimmy Garopollo of Eastern Illinois who followed up on an impressive showing at last week's Shrine game to further solidify himself as a strong candidate to be best of the second-tier QBs at this year's draft. Meanwhile, pro personnel people continue to bve impressed with the off-the-charts physical skills of Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech, who is built like a TE and can throw the ball through a wall. The problem with Thomas, though, is he often couldn't hit the wall; indeed, there were sometimes questions whether he could even see it. Again, however, those physical tools only come along so often and there very wll may be a team, or teams, willing to take a chanceon Thomas with an early pick this coming May. At the same time, Clemson's Tajh Boyd had a quietly proficient week in which he was particualrly effective spinning the ballin the wind. On the other hand, its unlikely that either of David Fales of San Jose State or Miami's Stephon Morris did much to actually help their grades as neither was consistently accurate, but again showed some tools that pro teams will likely feel they can work with down the road.
2) With the success of the Super Bowl bound Seattle defense
all the rage in the NFL these days, all the big Seahawks' sized CBs in
Mobile this week had pro people flocking to their end of the field
during practices this week. In the end, the results were probably mixed
as guys like Stan Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska, Utah's Keith McGill, Dez
Southward of Wisconsin, NC State's Dontae Johnson, along with emerging
small-school standouts Pierre Desir of Lindenwood and Liberty's Walt
Aikens, each of whom measured in at at least 6-0 during Monday's
measurement session, all showed flashes, especially when working in
press coverage situations. However, there are still questions about the
quickness and fluidity of a number of these players that may not be
resolved until they actually hit trainingcamps next summer. Whatever,
this year's Senior Bowl CB crop lacked the polish, not to mention
feistiness, of last year's group that included Desmond Trufant, Jordan
McFadden, Jamar Taylor, B.W. Webb and Robert Alford among others.
3) Deepest position at the 2014 Senior Bowl appaers to have been the offensive line.Indeed, while the defensive linemmen are generally considered to have the advantage in the 1-on-1 pass rush drills with their OL counterparts, this year the offensive guys more than held their own and in total may actally have won the day. For strarters, the top-rated offensive linemen coming into Mobile such as Notre Dame G/T Zach Martin, Virginia OT Morgan Moses, Arkansas C Travis Swanson, and Mississppi State OG Gabe Jackson more than held their own, while a number of lesser known prospects up front including Michigan G/T Michael Schofield and Cs Weston Richburg of Colorado State and Utah State's Tyler Larsen also had very solid weeks. However, it wasn't all positive for the offensive linemen as several struggled especially Baylor's Cyril Richardson.Same story for big Miami OT Seantrel Henderson, who may have left as many questions unanswered after a career full of unanswered questions.
Here's C.L. and Pigskin Paul's Top ten guys who helped
themsleves at this year's Senior Bowl (in no particular order ...)
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
- Pro scouts still don't know where he'll play at the next level as
he's another guy who lacks prototype size at barely 6-0 and just 288
pounds. After this week, though, pro scouts know for sure that he's
plenty quick with a strong hands and a devastaing punch alsong with a
great motor and attitude. Indeed, Donald, the best defensive player in
college football this past season was in the backfield all week in
Mobile and has started to drawcomparisons to dynamic Cincinnati 4-3 DT
Auburn DE Dee Ford -
Another tweener sized guy (anyone starting to see a trend here!) at
6-2, 243 was unblockable at times playing DE although his pro future is
likely as a rush LB in a 3-4 scheme. Came to Mobile rated as an early
third day pick but could ultimately be an even better prospect at the
position than Seattle's Bruce Irvin or Shea McClellin of the Beras who
went 15th and 19th respectvely at the 2012 draft.
Michigan OT Micheal
Schofield - Didn't get much nationalpub at all playing opposite
top 15 prospect TaylorLewan, but nobody in Mobile improved more on a
day-to-day basis than Schofield. He's a rangy guy with long arms whose
always been good in a short-area, but showed surprising quick feet and
Florida State LB
Christian Jones - Was quick and explosive all week.
Virginia OT Morgan Moses -
Like Michigan's Schofield has prototype size and strength, but showed a
whole lot more foot speed and agility than pro teams were maybe
expecting coming into the week and may have established himself as the
next best thing at OT after the top 5 or so first-round guys.
Washingon State S Deone
Buchanon - Safeties seldom shine in the drills where quickness
is at a premium and instincts and physicalility aren't, but more than
held his own in coverage and always seemed to be around the ball in
Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland
- Another somewhat undersized guy made like the energizer bunny
all week although with an attitude as he showed ealnice instincts and
awareness. Same story for UCLA MLB
Jordan Zumwalt, who was dinged late in the week and may not play
in Saturday's game, but was always around the ball when it mattered in
team practice situations.
Utah CB Keith McGill
- Maybe the one long tall CB - and at 6-3 he is definitely long and
tall - in Mobile who also showed the kind of quick feet and fluid hips
to also be effective in off coverage.
Texas WR Mike Davis
- The receivers geneally struggled in Mobile this week, but Davis was
able to able to consistenly beat press coverage, did a nice job
catching the ball, and showed plenty of deep speed.
And a few honorable mentions include RBs Charles Sims of
West Virginia, arguably the best all-around back in Mobile this week,
along with unheralded Lorenzo Taliaferro of unheralded Coastal Carolina
and Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews who both excelled in the
pass-blocking drills; WRs Josh Huff of Oregon, Ryan Grant of Tulane and
Mike Campanero of Wake Forest, Arkansas DE Chris Smith, DTs Ra'shede
Hageman and Tennessee's DT Daniel McCullers, and safeties Jimmie Ward
of Northern Illinois and Florida State's Terrance Brooks.
On the other hand, guys who likely didn't do a whole to help their draft stock this week included Arizona State DT Will Sutton who just didn't show much quickness or explosion; Baylor OG Cyril Richardson, who did get off the snap with authority on most plays, but didn't show much in the way of lateral agility and tended to give upon plays way to early; Stanford DE Trent Murphy who neededto show pro scouts that at barely over 250 pounds had the strength for adown DE, but didn't, although he did show decent quickness and a good motor; UConn DT Shamar Stephen, Tennessee State G/T Kadeem Edwards, and LBs Adrian Hubbard of Alabama and Florida State's LB Telvin Smith, .
If you have comments or suggestions, e-mail the Editor, Great Blue North Draft Report. The GBN can also be reached by phone at (613) 692-1088 or regular mail at 320 Shadehill Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2J 0L6.
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