Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts on the Senior Bowl

With nothing much going on in free agency and only speculation on who's going where in the draft (Ed. Note: Don't you love how the media, which then trickles down to the draftniks and fans, focus on the tiniest bit of news or decide that Player X is the hot player of the week and it radically shifts the mock drafts and speculation on where a player is headed? More on this later when I write about Okung and Clausen in another post) I thought I would take a look back at the Senior Bowl and who looked good and who didn't. While we didn't get to see some of the elite draft prospects (due to injury, deciding not to play or that they are juniors) there is a pretty decent amount of talent in this years Senior Bowl with many being mid to late first round draft prospects.

Here's my notes, broken up by quarter with some commentary afterwards on who shined and who didn't. Also, I linked each player to NFL Draft Countdown so if you want to read more on the player, you have a nice resource.

1st QTR
- Tim Tebow starting for the South, check downs look ok.
- RT Chris Scott gave up pressure
-Anthony McCoy open, Tebow not enough power on the ball. Ball short.
- Nice punt return by Mardy Gilyard.
-Tony Pike starting for the North, looks comfortable in shotgun (no surprises there)
- Taylor Mays lays a kill shot hit on a player, but he just bounces off the guy (ala LaRon Landry)
-Joique Bell looks patient, nice cuts. Tough.
-Pike is looking down receivers
-Nice penetration and tackle by Dan Williams, takes on double teams well.
-Mike Iupati is not wowing me as I thought he would. His hands are landing on the outside of the defender's shoulder pads....looks like he's blatantly holding.
- Hold, Iupati. Took away nice TD throw by Pike.
-Pike misses easy pass
- Geno Atkins makes a nice play on Bell despite being held by Iupati.
-Nice hard count by Pike to cause the D to jump, but throws the free play pass away (why?).
-Ben Tate turns what should have been a 3 yard loss into a 3 yard gain.
- Reverse. Nice block by center Jeff Byers.
-Tebow's timing seems off. He's been up and down so far. Tried to use his running ability to get a first down and it didn't work (I expect this for him in the NFL). Stopped well short by TCU's Daryl Washington.
-Score 3-3 at this point.
-Nice kick off return by Mardy Gilyard
-Pike on QB keeper. Can move around in the pocket and run decently especially for his tall frame, but it's not graceful (think how awkward Jason Campbell's run and slides look).
-Nice move by LeGarrette Blount made George Selvie miss
-Mike Iupati has been moved around at a few positions. He struggled as a RG but is now back at his natural position at LG and is looking much better.

2nd QTR
-TD LeGarrette Blount. Showed nice quickness for a bigger RB. Nice blocking by Iupati and Vladimir Ducasse to open a gaping hole. 10-3 North.
-Dexter McCluster runs the Wildcat, meh.
-Jarrett Brown has a very strong arm and looks like he can make all of the NFL throws
-Stafon Johnson with a decent 4 yard run, making a player miss in the process
-Dan Williams again with penetration and a deflection of a pass
- Nice cut by Lonyae Miller
- Nice pressure by Brandon Lang, Dan Williams recognized a screen and was able to shut it down.
-TD Austen Lane on bad snap/fumble, he was never touched. College players not realizing NFL rules are different. 17-3 North.
-Selvish Capers beat by Brandon Graham for a sack.
- Bell stripped, but recovers ball. Fumble generated by Terrence Cody, who then made the subsequent tackle on Bell.
-Cameron Sheffield beats Ed Wang for a sack/fumble
-Nice pass blocking by G John Jerry which gives Brown enough time to get the pass off.
- Great contain on outside run by Brandon Graham
- Nice, tight coverage on Dexter McCluster by Sean Witherspoon. Uses the end zone to his advantage on the pass play.
-FG South. 17-6 North.
-Nice bootleg by Sean Canfield to Ed Dickson. George Selvie loses contain.
-Blount fighting for extra yards and tends to get an additional 3-4 yards after each hit.
- Nice sack by Geno Atkins by beating Iupati, however Canfield held onto the ball too long.
-Taylor Mays with the INT. Nice ballhawk play.
-Deep pass thrown by Zac Robinson but the credit should be given to Jeremy Williams for making a nice grab on a jump ball.
-TD Robinson to Colin Peek. Safety was playing too deep in end zone (Larry Asante). 17-13 North.

3rd QTR
- Nice return by Devin McCourty.
-Nice open field tackle by Javier Arenas
- Nice tackle by Dekoda Watson to prevent a conversion on 3rd down.
-Fumble by Miller caused by Lamarr Houston
- More penetration by Dan Williams to disrupt a play
-McCluster stopped on a draw play by Graham and Witherspoon
-Another nice pass by Robinson to Andre Roberts
- Graham causes a sack/fumble on Robinson. Beat Ciron Black on the pass rush.
-Dan LeFevour almost throws an INT (dropped?)
- Robinson sacked by Cam Thomas
-Nice punt return by Jacoby Ford (although the punt was generally horrible, a line drive right to Ford). for a big gain.
-LeFevour: nice agility, quick feet
-Blount drives for another 3 yards after being hit.
- Fumble by Lefevour, picks it up and runs for the TD. 24-13 North.
-McCluster fumble generated by Larry Asante hit.
- Good pass from LeFevour to Gilyard (excellent blocking by O-line in particular Ducasse).

4th QTR
- Nice stop by South to prevent a Lefevour TD run
- Ben Tate with a nice 12 yard run. Started running north/south, then cuts to the outside and made a good stiff arm. Better speed than thought.
-Fumble by Tebow (Koa Misi)
-TD LeFevour to Gilyard. Great separation by Gilyard on the play. 31-13 North.
-Tebow stripped again (Tyson Alualu) recovered by Jeff Byers.
-Tebow stopped in open field by Koa Misi
-Graham putting more pressure on Robinson leads to a forced throw and a INT
- Fumble by Miller
-INT by AJ Edds on Brown pass.
-Game over 31-13 North, Brandon Graham MVP

A few guys had some really nice showings which should help solidify their chances as mid to late 1st rounders. I was really impressed with DT Dan Williams. He caused a great deal of disruption and seemed to force many double teams even when a good prospect like Iupati was blocking him. Brandon Graham probably put himself in a position to be the 2nd or 3rd DE taken off the board by the way he played. I liked LeGarrette Blount and Ben Tate's performances. I know the Skins are looking for a more reliable, explosive, home run hitting RB to compliment Portis/Johnson but one of these guys would be a nice pick up. Vladimir Ducasse also looks like he could be a legit LT in the NFL even though many think he's a better fit playing inside at guard. Finally, I thought C, Jeff Byers could be a nice late day three or UDFA prospect. Seemed to block pretty well when I watched him and made a nice fumble recovery at one point.

There were guys who struggled as well. Mike Iupati stood out to me the most, primarily b/c people were talking he was so good of a player that he might be able to convert to LT like Branden Albert. I still think Iupati is a very nice prospect and should be a very, very good LG for the team that drafts him. That said, he needs to work on his technique but I'd expect him to still be a late 1st rounder. Dexter McCluster also had a bad day. We never really got to see him get into the open field and wow us like I saw him do in the Ole Miss vs. OSU bowl game. Tim Tebow has a lot of work to do and most of the QBs seemed rather hit or miss. It's a weak QB class and I think it will be a few years before we see most of the QBs in the class try to make a name for themselves at the pro level.

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