I haven’t had a chance to study the tape yet, but here are some initial thoughts on the Senior Bowl.
* Dee Ford was the MVP and he deserved it. Ford was explosive off the ball and disruptive all afternoon. He was clearly the best player in the game. That doesn’t mean he’ll be picked the highest, but he really stood out. Ford also batted down a pass. That play showed discipline and awareness. There are some plays where he’s a bit out of control and will get burned by fakes, but you can work on that.
* Telvin Smith has probably frustrated a few teams with his refusal to even discuss a move to Safety, but he certainly has impressed them with his play. Smith flew around the field on Saturday. He was active and aggressive. That is exactly what you want to see from a 218-pound LB.
* None of the North QBs were good. Logan Thomas, Stephen Morris and Tajh Boyd had a rough week. Boyd was the most disappointing since I actually had high hopes for him. Thomas was 4 for 5…but only for 9 yards. The man lives on short throws. And he was sacked 5 times. Some of that was blocking, but some on him.
* David Fales helped himself by going 6-7-104. He had a TD and INT. Fales didn’t have a great week so it was good to see him bounce back with a good showing in the game. His best pass early on was a throw down the middle to a TE. The ball was up high, but Fales gave his guy a chance to make a play. Later Fales hit WR Jordan Matthews for a good gain with a really good throw. His TD pass came when on the move. The WR was wide open, but it was still impressive to see Fales find the guy and get him the ball.
* The TE that Fales hit was Crockett Gilmore, who had a fantastic game. He was 5-61-1. Gilmore was a late add to the game who came in and made things happen right away. He has good hands and shows a knack for getting open. I’m looking forward to watching some tape on him.
* I wasn’t impressed with Safety Ahmad Dixon. He had a couple of quick screens thrown his way. He didn’t handle either one of them well. It would have been good to see him look better when playing in space.
* Marcus Smith did impress me. The stat sheet shows one tackle, but I thought he did a solid job as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He was aggressive and physical with blockers. Smith showed some cover skills as well. There was one play when he turned and ran with the TE down the seam. That’s impressive for a guy who is 6-4, 258. You know 3-4 teams are interested in Smith as an OLB.
* ILB Chris Borland had a good game. He only had 1 solo tackle, but was credited with 7 assists. He forced a fumble. Borland also had a TFL. He was active and flew around the field.
* A couple of big CBs flashed. Stanley Jean-Baptiste broke up a pass and almost picked it off. He read the play in front of him and got a good break on the ball. Just couldn’t pick it off. I thought he showed good instincts this year. Dontae Johnson also had a PBU. He also got in on a TFL. Both guys will appeal to teams who want tall, long press corners.
* How cool was it to see DT Caraun Reid play so well? The Princeton star came down to Mobile and showed he was for real. He had a pair of sacks in the game, which capped off a strong week. Reid is quick, athletic and strong. Typical Ivy Leaguer that has to rely on brawn instead of brains. 4-3 teams will love him. Some 3-4 teams could see him as a NT. Might fit better with one that runs the 1-gap system.
* Kyle Van Noy showed off his versatility in one sequence. He made a tackle out in coverage on one play and then on the next snap got a sack. Van Noy might not be great in any one area, but the guy is a complete LB.
* S Craig Loston had a pick when a deflected pass came his way and was there for the taking. Nothing fancy, but you do like to see guys show good hands and make those catches. How often do we watch a game and yell at the TV “How did he drop that?”
* S Jimmie Ward looked good. He played some in the slot and showed the good man cover skills we expected. He also had an impressive tackle when he totally upended a bigger player. Ward lacks ideal size, but he’s tough and he will tackle.
* OT Sentreal Henderson struggled all game. He was regularly beaten in pass pro. He also was sloppy in the run game. Not a good day for the big guy.
* CB Chris Davis had an impressive INT. He jumped a route and showed good hands in snatching the ball away. Davis didn’t have one pick this year, despite several PBUs. He isn’t a shutdown corner type so his ball skills must improve if he’s going to make it in the NFL. Davis showed good potential on Sunday. We need to see more of that.
* Michael Sam had a rough week since he played mostly LB and just doesn’t fit there. He got to rush the passer on Saturday and came up with a sack. He’s a limited pro prospect, but has some pass rush ability.
* RB James White used a good stiff-arm and quick burst to get into the end zone on a short TD run. He led both teams with 11 carries for 62 yards.