Senior Bowl Recap: South
By: Robert Davis
More Senior Bowl Coverage: North recap, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday practice
With the game played in Mobile, Brodie Croyle of Alabama was the local headliner in the game. Everyone was watching and hoping he would do well. Croyle had a good week of practice, despite his frail frame. He barely touches the 200lb. mark, and his durability is in question. But his talent was on display this week. He showed coaches he has the arm, the touch, and the awareness to play at the next level. He was 6-11 for 77 yards to go along with a touchdown and a pick. Croyle had an excellent throw to the back corner of the end zone to Sinorice Moss for a 30-yard touchdown strike. Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler have solidified themselves as the top three signal callers in the draft, but Croyle's performance gives him as good a shot as anyone to be the fourth QB selected.
Alabama-Birmingham's Darrell Hackney's game was a mirror image of his career. At times the kid with one of the best arms in the draft looks like a potential pro bowler. Unfortunately he has his moments where he looks like he doesn't even deserve a roster spot. Hackney was 3-6 on the day for 42 yards and a touchdown. His throws were erratic, but he had a beautiful throw to Devin Aromashadu for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. With pressure in his face, he threw an absolute strike to the left side of the end zone to the crossing Auburn wideout. Hackney is built like a tank, has a cannon, and has a lot of upside at the next level. He will need to show more consistency on a throw to throw basis, but his performance this week should be enough to guarantee him a draft spot in April. He could go as high as the fourth or fifth.
Just like the North side, there was a QB with very good athleticism hoping to show scouts that he could play quarterback. Just like Michael Robinson, D.J. Shockley did nothing to help his cause as a quarterback. There was a major difference though; Robinson at least showed the physical ability to project to another position, whereas Shockley did not. He was 2-7 on the day for just 13 yards and a pick. His throws were forced and off the mark. This performance may make Shockley go the free agent route in hopes of making an NFL roster.
Memphis' DeAngelo Williams was one of the headliners in this game. He is a potential top 10 pick, and could be the second back taken in April. With the other top backs underclassmen, Williams came out here with a chance to standout while the others could not. Aside from measuring up slightly smaller than expected at 5'9 207, DeAngelo had a great showing. All week long he was praised for his quickness, patience, and vision. When the game rolled around, he put it all on display one more time. Williams ran the ball three times for 31 yards, and had two catches for 28 yards, including an exciting 20 yard screen pass. He lacks the ideal size for the next level, but it has been done before at his size, by a number of performers. Williams cemented himself as a first rounder, and could become a Top 15 pick with good workouts the rest of the way.
The MVP of this years game was Miami WR Sinorice Moss. The younger brother of the Redskins' Santana, Sinorice has a lot of the same game breaking ability. While not as highly regarded as his brother was, Moss is still a big time playmaker. His speed and quickness were a step above everyone else all week long. He had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown, and one rush for 21 yards. His touchdown grab was impressive. He beat the top corner in the game, Tye Hill, for a touchdown by just getting a foot down in bounds. His size is a question mark, but he could be very dangerous as a return man and slot receiver. He should at least hear his name called at some point in the second round.
Max Jean-Gilles of Georgia is the best interior lineman prospect in this draft. It is an understatement to call Jean-Gilles a big man. After measuring in at 358 pounds, he went out and dominated at the point of attack during the game. He is an immovable force off the snap, and just mandhandles defenders. His strength and long arms allowed him to neutralize people all day, and should be a lock to be the first guard taken in April.
A favorite on sleeper lists, Thomas Howard of UTEP had a solid performance on Saturday. He had a chance to be one of the true standouts in the game, but didn't take advantage of every opportunity. Heralded for his natural talents, Howard showed the ability to consistently be near the action and put himself in position to make plays. What kept his performance from being special was that he did not make many plays on the ball. He tipped one pass in coverage, but could not locate the ball in the air or he had an interception. He had another shot at an interception later on, but dropped the ball that was thrown right at him. He also had excellent coverage on Joe Klopfenstein, but allowed the Colorado TE to go up and come down with the touchdown. There is positive in him being in the right position all the time, but he must show the ability to make plays on the ball for it to matter.
Texas corner Cedric Griffin had the play of the game. With the North team marching down the field and in the red zone, Griffin intercepted a Jay Cutler pass that was intended for Derek Hagan. Griffin had solid coverage on Hagan, but if Cutler leads Hagan across the end zone, this play would not have happened. He displayed awesome body control by leaping from behind Hagan, around him to pick the pass off cleanly without touching Hagan at all. Griffin has always been known for his toughness, but that type of body control and ability to play the ball is what gives Griffin a Day One grade.
It is important to note that this game alone does not determine a players draft stock. It is just a part of the equation. But the hands on experience and the chance for NFL personnel to get a close look at them is invaluable. Players that do well here often carry the success over into workouts, and vault themselves up in the draft. LaDainian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers are two past Senior Bowl performers that elevated themselves into the Top 5 of the draft, and it was aided by their performance in Mobile.
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