The week was highlighted by great practices on both sides of the ball. The weigh-in brought out some intriguing results, including Colt Brennanís 185 pounds frame. Practices were run up-tempo for the most part and became very sharp later in the week. The receivers as a whole looked quite impressive with many able to come in and out of cuts very quickly. Most of the big names impressed while some of the lesser names stood up.
Once practices died down and game day arrived, intense play left us with an intense ending. Lane Kiffinís North Team was up 16-10 in field goal range with 2 minutes and change remaining, but decided to go for it on 4th and 1. Soon after being stuffed, Erik Ainge led his team to a gutsy drive converting a 4th down and 10 finally taking them to the 2 yard line. From there, three incompletions led to a 4th and goal where offensive coordinator Mike Martz called a reverse to Andre Caldwell who capped an outstanding week with a touchdown. Once the PAT was converted, the South team left Mobile, Alabama victorious, but more importantly, players on both sides were able to flash scouts talent and show coaches character and intelligence through interviews throughout the week.
All in all, who earned the big bucks and who would have been better off staying at home? Letís get into it.
1. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC. Words canít even come close to describing how well Sedrick Ellis played all week. Think back to Amobi Okoye of last year and multiply it by about two. He started off strong coming in about 20 pounds heavier and thicker than expected. Teams couldnít even pretend to block this incredible talent. He exploded off the line and used great quick hands and hand placement to set up moves to blow past defenders in the one-on-one drills. In the game he shot through gaps and ended up with a few hurries and a safety for his squad. With Glenn Dorsey taking the week off, Ellis has caught up to 1b in many rankings to this point and is a bona fide top 10 selection, if not higher.
2. Chad Henne, QB, Michigan. Hereís a quarterback who had been banged up for the season at Michigan and had thus been forgotten about. No longer the case. Henne had a solid week of practice and 64 yards and 2 touchdowns in the game. All week he showed a nice touch downfield, something that had been a question mark before. He has the arm, accuracy, decision-making, and according to the guys in his huddle, a tremendous presence and leadership abilities. Probably a second rounder.
3. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. Thereís something special about this kid and there was a buzz throughout the week. He doesnít get up there and harass receivers off the line, but his presence, reactions, and footwork is similar to that of an aged vet. He makes the flat foot 3 step reads and has some of the quickest feet and breaks to the ball Iíve ever seen. If he could learn to catch the football, heís someone who could get around 7-10 picks a year at the next level. He also has world class speed. Heís worked his way clearly into the first round and could go top 10-15 depending on what schemes the corner-needy teams run.
4. Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware. Measuring in at 6í6, 232. He flashed the strongest arm in the draft repeatedly and showed the ability to make every NFL throw. Flacco has moved himself up in the solid portion of the second round with a legitimate shot at hitting the first. Something to keep an eye on at the next level however is his tendency to stare down receivers and his flickering accuracy which sometimes gets sloppy. High ceiling though.
5. Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California. Itís fairly safe to say that Hawkins had the best week for a wide receiver on either side. He ran fluid routes with hands of glue. Hawkins comes in and out of cuts very quickly and gets good separation. Has the ability to get up and down the sideline to adjust on underthrown balls down the field. Because size is somewhat of a concern, heís only a borderline first rounder.
6. Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt. Williams has an outstanding future at left tackle ahead of him. His athleticism and footwork is second to none in the draft. His kick slide, his initial steps on passing downs, is great because he doesnít get perpendicular to the line which lengthens the corner the defensive end has to go to get to the quarterback. His wingspan isnít elite, but he understands hand placement. Heíll need to get more explosive in the run game, but has still worked his way into the first round.
7. Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida. Caldwell, like Hawkins has done a great job with just about everything this week. Heís torched many corners deep and has shown good fluidity in and out of cuts. Heís got great hands and capped off a good week of practice with the winning touchdown on a reverse from the 2 yard line. Unlike Hawkins, Caldwell stands at a solid 6í1, 207 pounds. Likely a second-third rounder pending workouts.
8. Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame. Much like Sedrick Ellis, Trevor Laws had a great week beating linemen in the one-on-one drills. Heís also got an explosive first step and is a great one-gap penetrator. He had over 100 tackles for a defensive lineman at Notre Dame this season so would you expect any different than six tackle, a sack, and a fumble recovery in the game? Heíll fit very well into an interior defensive rotation from the second or third round.
9. Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College. Scouts will really fall in love with his 35 5/8 inch arms and his 6í7, 315 pound frame and bubble-butt. It may sound silly to the average football fan, but what this tells scouts that heís a road grater and a mauler. He may struggle with the occasional speed rush, but heís downright physical and nasty in the run game and looks like an outstanding fit over on the right side.
10. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State. Heís a long, rangy corner who with great ball skills. He looked a little high in the backpedal at times, but he makes good breaks on the football. He appears to have an outstanding vertical leap as shown by a pick in practices and in the game. Scouts will salivate over the play in the game where he came up from ten yards off and drilled the receiver with a perfect form tackle. A first-second rounder with the excess of talent at the position.
Other noteworthy performances:
Chauncey Washington, HB, USC. Overshadowed by bigger names and talents, Washington is a big back with quick feet for his size. He was used some at fullback and also showed an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Matt Forte, RB, Tulane. Another big back with very quick feet in the hole. Able to move around well enough to consistently grind out five yards a carry. Knows how to fall forward upon contact.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Kansas State. A big, thick tremendous straight line athlete that just continues to get separation and reel in balls with his hands, rather than allowing it to get to his body.
Donnie Avery, WR, Houston. Possibly the fastest player in college who runs decent routes, but has great hands from the outside. Can blow by the fastest of defensive backs. Had a good week of practices and led his team with 54 receiving yards.
Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU. At very well-built athlete for 6 foot, 229 pounds. Outstanding in coverage and able to deliver a pop. Is questionable getting off blocks, but took the Oklahoma State fullback and knocked him to the ground on one play during the game.
1. Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State. A big body (6í3, 220) that is able to beat the press coverage in a cinch. Struggled mightily the entire week with dropped passes. He cut short some of his routes and overall didnít have the best of weeks. Even in the game he had what looked like a touchdown catch, but was unfortunate to have the refs rule he didnít ďmaintain possession after hitting the ground.Ē Might drop him out of the first two rounds, but if he can get past the dropsies, heís a very solid player.
2. Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky. The top quarterback coming into this week is no longer. Woodson didnít have a great week of practice having his balls sail all over the place. This also gave scouts a chance to notice his ridiculously and awkward throwing motion. In a league in which a smidgen is the difference between a touchdown and an interception, teams will take a long, hard look at Andreí Woodson to gauge what kind of talent he is.
3. Drew Radovich, OG, USC. Maybe he didnít have the third worst performance this week, but he was a guy I was very high on coming into the week. I liked his versatility and his ability to move well laterally along the line. Unfortunately, what he showed me was that heís not strong enough to handle -the NFL. He was often pushed back by bull rushes and was a victim of Mayockís ďheavy-legged, waist-benderĒ tag. Thatís never a good. A late rounder even in a weak guard class.
4. Heath Benedict, OT/OG, Newberry. Heís always the top small school linemen that I heard about. His supposed freakish workouts with the Jaguars last year. Well none of that really went into the Senior Bowl and he was very disappointing. He doesnít have the technique down out wide and will probably begin his career as an interior lineman. His footwork canít handle the speed rushers at this point and was beaten several times by these smaller guys. In the game, he was beaten badly by Eastern Michiganís Jason Jones. He might fare well on the interior, but he doesnít look impressive on the outside. As a matter of fact, Northern Iowa offensive guard Chad Rinehart impressed me a lot more than Benedict.
5. Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii. Colt Brennan mightily struggled on many facets of the game. It all started with the drop backs. I donít think anything different was to be expected of him this week, but his footwork looked somewhat off. He couldnít grasp the timing he had perfected at Hawaii and as a result couldnít throw the deep balls with only a mediocre arm. Because of his footwork, his accuracy was also a little off. Brennan did show some great charisma and an ability to drop the ball in the bucket on the 30 yard fade passes. Once he can perfect his footwork, he can then learning the other aspects of the pro game. I do believe heíll give his NFL team a solid 7-9 years in the league, but wonít be for several years and his draft stock. Probably a 4th rounder+ at this point.
Other noteworthy disappointments:
Beau Bell, LB, UNLV. He was beaten badly in pass coverage early in the week. His physique didnít even look all that impressive for 6í2, 243.
Oniel Cousins, OT, UTEP. Heís a project out on the right side. Certainly flashed some potential, but overall was beaten several times due to poor technique. Teams wonít shy away from him because of upside, but heís not NFL-ready.
Barry Richardson, OT, Clemson. Didnít look that bad altogether, but itís clear heís going to struggle a lot at the next level with the quicker guys. Not a great pass protector, but he does explode off the line with some pop in the run game.
Cody Wallace, C, Texas A&M. Was beaten several times by Dre Moore on the bull rush, who won the leverage battle. He was going up some tough competition all week, but if he canít handle some of the rookies here, he may struggle to beat some of the more polished guys at the next level.