Saturday, January 29, 2011

Initial Thoughts: 2011 Senior Bowl

First and Foremost, I don't know what it is with Marvin Lewis coached teams in the Senior Bowl, but they never seem to play very well. This was a weird game in a sense because all week I've heard from the experts how much talent was on the North roster compared to the South (Mike Mayock said he saw 8 1st rounders on the North with 1 1st rounder) yet the South dominated the first half and played well enough in the 2nd half to win the game rather easily 24-10.

But you don't care that much about the final score as much as who stood out and did well.
I'll have a game recap eventually, but here's some initial thoughts on the game.

- Senior Bowl MVP Christian Ponder did look the best of the 6 QBs in the game. Had some good pocket presence and threw the ball in spots where the WRs could catch the ball and make a play (see Hankerson's TD catch and run). Ponder looks like he may have pushed himself back into the 1st round with so many question marks on the other 1st round caliber QBs (Gabbert, Locker, Newton and Mallett). My only concern based on this game would be arm strength. Mayock said he would be a good West Coast style QB and that makes sense.

- Jake Locker Watch. Everybody was there to see Jake Locker and sadly he struggled at times. While he did make some nice throws, the questions of accuracy and ball location aren't going away. There was a pass early in the 1st quarter to TE Lance Kendricks that just missed the open receiver. He also threw two passes that were high and did/would've put the WR in a position to be clocked by the defender. Locker himself said that he needs more repetition and snaps under center to get a better feel in the pocket. Mike Mayock also noted that Locker needs to fix his footwork and that the high balls may be because of his short stride that leads to a wider separation. The problem with Locker is that he's still inconsistent and won't be a starter at the beginning of the season like a Matt Stafford or a Sam Bradford. Locker also fumbled twice and was sacked. He's got time, but right now let's just say I don't know who the Skins should take at #10.

- Colin Kaepernick looks like an intriguing prospect. He has some great foot speed and would be excellent in a system that uses bootlegs and requires mobility. His arm looks strong and he can hit well open players with no problem. The main problem is that he's incredibly raw and needs time in a pro style offense to make better reads and work under center. I wonder if he'll be like a Drew Brees and really be a star on his 2nd team (or his 2nd contract with the team that drafted him). He's a long term project, but if you could draft him in the late 2nd or third round that project could pay dividends in his 2nd or 3rd year.

- The other QBs didn't look bad, they just didn't really stand out. I'm not sure where they will fall but right now it would be hard to separate them. There just wasn't a big "wow" factor to me.

- Von Miller looks like the real deal to me. Think Brian Orakpo but I think he may be a better run stopping and covering 3-4 OLB than 'Rak. I wouldn't be surprised if Buffalo takes him #3 overall since they had a whole week to coach him.

- There was a great deal of talk about the OT prospects on the North team. That said, I didn't see much initially. Gabe Carimi missed the game b/c of an ankle injury. During the week of practice, Carimi looked like he was the most versatile OT prospects as he was kicked inside to play guard. He also seemed to be the most nasty in his blocking. Nate Solder had a decent game, but was beat easily on one play by the South's Sam Acho that led to a sack and fumble on Jake Locker. At this point, I seriously doubt that there will be a OT taken in the top five and there may not be one taken in the top 10.

-  WR Leonard Hankerson should have been the Senior Bowl MVP in my opinion. On the opening play, Christian Ponder underthrows a deep pass to Hankerson. Hankerson then pulls a Santana Moss caliber adjustment and makes a nice 49 yard catch. I'm not a big fan of drafting wide receivers early (especially after the 2008 draft) but if the Redskins are going that way, I hope they consider him. The Skins have had some success with players from The U.

- Baylor's Phil Taylor looks like a prototypical NT to me. At 337 he's amazingly fast and can move both up field and laterally very well. He requires two blockers to really be stopped. I was impressed and I think he'll be an excellent NT in a 3-4 scheme. He could be a very good DT in a 4-3 as well.

- DEs Sam Acho, Cameron Jordan and Christian Ballard all made many plays and I think bumped their draft rankings higher.

- I was glad to see RB Da'rel Scott get some snaps in the Senior Bowl. He did not disappoint. Nobody is really saying much about him but I think he can be an excellent change of pace back and pass catcher out of the backfield. I'd love to see him in Shanahan's scheme splitting time with Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams.

- It's hard to determine how good interior lineman are playing when watching live plays and based on the camera angles. That said, I thought TCU C Jake Kirkpatrick looked good. I also kept an eye on G/C Rodney Hudson and I think he could be a very good interior lineman in the Shanahan scheme.

There were a few other standouts but I think I'll leave that for the recap after I watch the game a second time and get a good feel for what players did.

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