Senior Bowl Week – Winners and Losers

by Tommy Lawlor  –  http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

The Senior Bowl means different things to different players.  For top flight players, they don’t have to stand out.  Just having a solid week is good enough to keep a high grade.  Other players have questions to answer.  They must stand out.  Other players are looked at as projects.  They need to show talent, but aren’t expected to be polished products.

So when we assess players, we have to do so based on understanding what they needed to do this week.  Most players were what we expected and had solid weeks.

WINNERS

Christian Ballard — Played both DE and DT.  Disruptive from both spots.  Showed excellent quickness off the ball and looked very athletic.  Some teams will want him inside, others outside.  The key is that a bunch of teams will want him.  You are a bit bothered by the fact he’s so talented but didn’t play up to that level at Iowa.  Still, NFL coaches will see the potential and want a chance to coach him up.

Kendric Burney — Measured in at just 5’9, 181.  Guys with that size need to be playmakers.  After a slow start on Monday, Burney came alive.  He picked off passes.  He looked quick and athletic.  He covered well on short and intermediate throws.  Burney showed that his college production was no fluke.

Kendall Hunter — Only 5’7, 199.  Played bigger than that.  Really stood out in the pass pro drills.  Hunter gave up a lot of height and weight, but went after LBs aggressively.  Ran the ball well and had a solid overall week.

Cameron Jordan — Might have had the best week of any player.  Measured in at 6’4, 287.  Gave blockers fits all week long, whether at DT or DE.  Used his hands/arms really well.  Did a terrific job of getting off blocks.  3-4 teams are probably in love with him as a DE.  I could see 4-3 teams looking at him as a LDE.  He’s athletic enough to handle that role.

Colin Kaepernick — For my money Colin was the only QB to actually help his cause in Mobile.  He threw the ball very well at times.  His athleticism showed as well.  He seemed coachable and wasn’t completely lost in his transition to a pro style offense.  Could be go as high as the 2nd round now?  Maybe.

Ryan Kerrigan — Got to face top shelf OTs and won his share of battles.  That always helps a prospect in his bid to be a 1st round pick.  Kerrigan was a fringe 1st round target going in, but should have locked up a spot in the top 32.

Titus Young — If not Jordan, Young was the most impressive player in Mobile.  He was the fastest player on the field, and that is saying something when you’re at the Senior Bowl.  Looked like an explosive playmaker.  Made some dynamic moves and just looked the part of a star receiver.

James Carpenter — Showed LT potential.  ‘Bama isn’t a pass heavy team.  Greg McElroy averaged 24 pass attempts a game.  You can bet plenty of those were play-action passes.  Carpenter wasn’t going back in true pass pro all that much.  We got to see him do that in Mobile and he looked pretty natural.  He still needs plenty of coaching, but the size and raw ability are there.  Did look lost on the right side.

Rodney Hudson — I was worried about his size.  Measured in at 6’2, 291.  That was heavier than expected, which was a good thing.  Still looked very quick and fluid.  Fun to watch.  So many OL these days are huge that it is nice when you get to see a guy that moves like Hudson does.  Held his own against big DTs some of the time.  That was important to see.

Jake Kirkpatrick — I didn’t have a strong feeling about Jake coming into the week, but I was very impressed with what I saw.  He got beat at times, but also won some battles.  He was 6’2, 301, bigger than I expected.  Kirkpatrick showed the ability to re-set after initially getting pushed back.  That is a critical skill for Centers in the NFL.

Von Miller — We knew he was a gifted pass rusher.  The question was how he would fare as an OLB in a 4-3 defense.  Miller looked fine.  He played the run well.  He looked comfortable in space.  All 32 teams can now target him as a potential prospect.

Phil Taylor — Showed up at 6’4, 337, but wasn’t “fat”.  Some guys carry it well (right Andre Smith?).  Taylor was stout in the middle.  He used a good swim move a couple of times and showed the ability to get penetration and be disruptive.  You couldn’t help but think of Shaun Rogers or Pat Williams.  Could be a 3-4 NT, but also a 4-3 DT.

Danny Watkins — The Ancient Mariner.  He’s almost 26 1/2.  Cut him open and count the rings.  Still, he showed that he can play.  Had to make the transition from LT to OG.  Looked good, whether at RG or LG.  Showed good hand punch.  Moved well laterally.  Still finished his blocks and had the nasty edge that he blocked with at Baylor.  Can you take a guy this old in the 2nd round?    LOSERS

Allen Bailey — We knew he had a great body.  Measured in at 6’3, 278 and looked sculpted.  Went downhill from there.  Bailey never flashed.  Wasn’t relentless in trying to get upfield.  Stayed blocked too long when OL got hold of him.  Played like a workout warrior.  I could see him dropping to the 2nd round.

DeMarcus Love — More of a gamer than a practice guy, but still struggled more than you’d like.  Played too high and upright.

Kris O’Dowd — Looked slow and unathletic.  Played too high.  Got beaten off the ball and with counter moves.  Needs a good game.

Lee Ziemba — Played at RG, RT, and LT.  Had some good moments, but far too often he struggled.  Seemed to lose his confidence as they moved him around.

Noel Devine — Measured in at just 5’7, 160.  Think about that.  DeSean Jackson can bully this guy.  And he’s a RB.  Ummm…that’s not good.  Devine ran okay, but wasn’t so special that it eased concerns about his size.

Mark Herzlich — I hate to say this, but I think Mark is the kind of guy who would only respect me if I spoke the truth.  He looked more slow and stiff than I wanted to see.  I’m hoping he shines in the game.  Mark got better as the season went along so I was hoping he’d look good in Mobile.  I just never saw what I was looking for.

Jake Locker — I didn’t expect Jake to look significantly different in Mobile than he did during the year, but his erratic throwing is a problem.  In drills…we talkin bout practice, as AI would say…you can’t be that erratic.  With no rush you must throw the ball better than he did.  We’ll see what happens in the game and at the Combine, but I’m now thinking that Jake does slide into the 2nd round.  He had a chance to impress scouts and coaches and failed to do so.  We went into the week knowing he was big, tough, athletic, and had a good arm.  That’s all we knew at the end of the week.

Stephen Schilling — I loved Schilling all year when I watched Michigan play.  He failed to stand out at all this week.  That doesn’t erase his good year, but he struggled with athletic DTs and that does bother me.  A talented, veteran OG like him that wasn’t changing positions should have performed better.

I’ll write a full review of the game some time next week when I’m done with it.  Going over the Senior Bowl takes several days, at least.

I’ll post comments during the game on Twitter.  @lawlornfl

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