Impressions from today’s Senior Bowl

Today’s Senior Bowl was not particularly exciting as the South team cruised to victory. I didn’t come away very impressed with any of the players either. The only prospect who suited up who looks anywhere close to being a pro-bowler was Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. He wasn’t all that dominant himself though, but definitely proved to me that he can play linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. It seems as though when everything is all set and done, Miller will either be a Buffalo Bill or Arizona Cardinal.

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder won the MVP award pretty much by default as the other two quarterbacks on his team went down with “injuries” at some point during the contest. That being said, he looked crisp out there and I think he can start in the right system. He doesn’t have a great arm, but is accurate, athletic, and smart. He’s an early third round pick. Once again, no running back established himself today, but undersized Kentucky product Derrick Locke rattled off a few crafty runs in a row. If he proves himself as a kick returner, he could be a nice third down back and special teamer at the next level. I came away quite impressed with Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson. He separated from defensive backs with ease and ran very precise routes. He was tough to cover and looks like a really solid complementary receiver at the next level like a Jordy Nelson. He should be taken in the later part of round 2 and can help a team in need of depth at receiver such as the Jets, Chiefs, or Falcons.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi did not play, but there were still plenty of intriguing prospects to watch on both offensive lines. Florida State’s Rodney Hudson played better than I expected him to, but he’s still a mid-round prospect who I doubt will do much in the NFL. Slippery Rock’s Brandon Fusco was invisible barring a poor penalty, so he really did not help himself. At offensive tackle, I was really disappointed with Arkansas’ DeMarcus Love, who I thought had a great practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He has terrible feet and is strictly a guard. Nate Solder still has proven nothing to me, and he gave up a sack fumble to Texas’ Sam Acho, who isn’t one of the game’s highly regarded defensive linemen. He will be drafted in the top 15, but I still give him a second round grade. Boston College’s Anthony Costanzo was average, but I liked how he played at guard and I’m viewing him as a little less soft and finesse now. However, Alabama’s James Carpenter stole the show in my opinion. He wasn’t on my radar at all heading into the game, but he stoned Ryan Kerrigan on almost every play and I’m starting to believe that he can be a starting tackle at the next level. If the Eagles can get him in the third or fourth round, I don’t think there’s even a discussion.

Defensively, a bunch of players had their moments, but none really took over. Texas’ Sam Acho is an edge rusher who can play any scheme who I believe is very underrated. He should be an early third round pick and will help his future team get to the passer. Arizona’s Brooks Reed was also impressive, playing a relentless style that will allow him to have success in the NFL. On the interior, I came away amazed with Stanford’s Sione Fua, who looks like a third round pick who will be a starting nose tackle down the road. Baylor’s Phil Taylor was very powerful as well, and somebody will take a chance on him in the 25-40 overall range. The Texans make a ton of sense at 42 overall. At linebacker, Miami’s Colin McCarthy was all over the place in the box, out in space, and on special teams. He looks like a tough competitor who will start for somebody. LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard looked bigger, stronger, and more instinctive than the rest of his teammates and the more I watch him, the more I like him. He or McCarthy would be very good fits at SAM linebacker for us.

The cornerbacks are the group that I paid attention to the most, because as all of you know, I consider corner to be the Eagles’ greatest position of need. North Carolina’s Kendric Burney was excellent. He was tough, a good tackler, and was great at jumping routes. However, it’s obvious that his height and speed will be serious disadvantages for him at the next level, and he may not be a good fit on the outside. A more gifted player is USC’s Shareece Wright, who was very good again today. He’s a very good athlete and one of the more complete corners in the draft. He has jumped all the way up to be my sixth rated cornerback in this class behind Peterson, Amukamara, Aaron Williams, Ras-I Dowling, and Rashad Carmichael. The Eagles should consider him with their second round pick because he has a ton of potential. Texas’ Curtis Brown, who is regarded as a player who could stand to tackle better, lay the lumber on one of the North’s receivers. I was really impressed by the recognition of the route, the break on the ball, and the violence of the hit. If that play had taken place eight months later, he would have been fined though. No safeties stood out as my personal favorite Ahmad Black did not play due to illness. So, there you have it.

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