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Senior Bowl Preview: Who and What to Watch

January 26, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

The first thing to remember when watching the Senior Bowl game today is that this is just a very small portion of the scouting process. The practices, the interviews, and even the weigh-in all play a much bigger role than their performance in the game in evaluating a player this week.

This is due to two main reasons: 1. the sample size in the game is extremely small, quarter backs may be lucky for 10-12 attempts in this game, compared to practice when they were throwing the ball probably 50-60 times (at least). 2. the game is more restrictive in terms of what you can do from a defensive perspective, where as in practice you had guys blitzing more or playing press coverage making things much more difficult. Now that is not to say that you can't watch this game from a draft perspective to gain some insight, but don't focus on the results.

Two years ago Jake Locker had better "numbers" than Collin Kaepernick, but if you watched the game and saw that Locker got a lot of "yards" from the screen game and Kaepernick's interception wasn't his fault. Scouts watch these games based on what actually happens in the play not what the play results in. A quarterback who throws a perfect pass but is intercepted because it bounced off the receivers hands, is going to be viewed far more favorably than a quarterback who throws a seven yard slant that the receiver runs for 80 yards for the score with.

Saying all of that there are still some great stories and players to watch:

South quarterbacks and receivers versus the North defensive backs:

The corners and safeties on the North squad have been far better this week than the South squad so this could be a wake up call for some of the South's top signal callers and receivers. Any time you see Terrence Williams or Quinton Patton lined up versus Jordan Poyer and Desmond Trufant it should be a fun battle to watch.

North Offensive Line versus the South Defensive Line:

The lineman battling in practice.

The lineman battling in practice.

Eric Fisher, Kyle Long, Justin Pugh and company could have their hands full with Ezekial Ansah, Malliciah Goodman, Montori Hughes and John Jenkins. It should lead to some really good match-ups and it will be interesting to see who gets the better of it.

Return Men, who can get the job done:

Both squads feature a number of receivers, running backs and defensive backs who will look to increase their value in the return game. A lot of focus will be on North receiver Denard Robinson, but expect a couple of other guys to look even better. RB Kenjon Barner and WR Marquise Goodwin from the North are two to watch, while on the South team look for DB Robert Alford and DB B.W. Webb to shine.

5 Players to Watch South Roster:

QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas:

Wilson has had a big week so far and it would be nice for him to cap it off with a strong game. He's shown a nice accurate pass and has been better than expected with his footwork. Wilson has worked his way up into the 2nd round range and could continue to see his stock rise.

RB Stepfan Taylor, Stanford:

Has arguably had the best week of any player on the South squad and I'd expect him to keep it up today. Running backs are one position that can get a pretty fair look in these games (rule changes don't impact them as much), so it should be an intriguing test. He's shown great burst and vision throughout the week and I'd expect a big game for him.

Taylor cutting through the line at practice.

Taylor cutting through the line at practice.

WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech:

Patton wasn't as heralded as some other receivers down here this week, but he really was on par or better than the majority of them. Look for him to be a favorite target of the South quarterbacks this game.

OL Larry Warford, Kentucky:

Warford really showed well in practice versus the likely first round pick John Jenkins all week and has one more chance to wow scouts. I expect him to have a big day against a pretty formidable North defensive line.

DL Montori Hughes, Tennessee Martin:

Every time you watched him this week you came away more and more impressed, I would expect that to continue in this game. He's a big physical kid, with great power and quickness.

5 Players to Watch North Roster:

WR Marquise Goodwin, Texas:

Not a high profile guy coming into this week, but he showed excellent speed. Expect him to fly around the field and come up with some big plays.

OL Eric Fisher, Central Michigan:

Kyle Long and Eric Fisher of North offensive line.

Kyle Long and Eric Fisher of North offensive line.

Just a tremendous all-around week for him, look for him to continue his dominance and to cement a top 15 pick status after this game.

DB Desmond Trufant, Washington:

He had a big week with a lot of highlight plays, will really like to see him versus Patton and Williams and what instincts he shows on the field.

DB T.J. McDonald, USC:

Really had a quiet, but strong week, showing nice coverage and decision making. I'd expect a big hit or two something that he really couldn't showcase in practice.

DL Margus Hunt, SMU:

One of my personal favorites, he had an up-and-down week, but the potential is there. I could see him making a flashy play or two, and don't be surprised if it is a blocked FG/extra point.

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Senior Bowl Day Two Practice Report: North (Part 2) Led by Alex Okafor

January 22, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

In part 1 of my North practice report I highlighted some quarterbacks and receivers that had strong days, here are the rest of my thoughts on the days practice.

Wide Receivers:

Marquise Goodwin, Texas:

Goodwin showed great speed and was really crisp in his route running as well. He missed a couple of catches, but for the most part caught the ball extremely well. My one concern with him is he jumped for almost all his catches. Granted he's under 5'9" and some of those he needed to jump for (note: he had a very impressive vertical), but others he needs to be able to snatch out of the air and not leave his feet.

Aaron Dobson, Marshall:

Dobson had a good all-around practice though he did leave due to injury for about a third of it. When he came back though he looked back to full strength as he showed good speed and quickness. I liked his hands and route running ability the most.

Alec Lemon, Syracuse:

Lemon was a late add, but turned on an impressive performance in his first practice. He really was a nice route runner and displayed good hands. Lemon doesn't have great speed, but did show some change of direction quickness. He looks like he could be an interesting slot receiver or possession guy.

Offensive Line:

Braxston Cave, Notre Dame:

Cave struggled some in 1-on-1's lacking the anchor or strength to win versus some of the top DT's here. He also had a couple poor center exchanges though without really breaking down what happened via replay it is tough to say if they were his fault or the quarterbacks.

David Quessenberry, San Jose State:

Quessenberry doesn't have the profile of some of the bigger names here, but he's more than held his own. Like everyone he's struggled some versus Okafor, Hunt and Jones, but he hasn't made it easy for them. He shows good quickness and nice footwork overall. His punch isn't the best, but other than that there is a lot to like for his future.

Brian Winters, Kent State:

Winters had an extremely strong practice, he didn't give up much ground and it didn't seem to matter who he was facing. He also has a bit of a mean streak as would take guys to the ground. He showed both power and movement, though I still don't think his feet are good enough for left tackle full time.

Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin:

Disappointing practice for Wagner as he looked to be a step behind the other tackles. He won his fair share of battles, but when he lost (usually to Okafor) he lost bad. Some times when a lineman loses in a drill or scrimmage you think that it might have only ended up a pressure or QB hit (which still isn't good), since you really don't know always if the defender would get home. Wagner though lost his man so quickly/badly that it clearly would have ended up a sack. Some promise is there, but the footwork is inconsistent.

Justin Pugh, Syracuse:

Pugh had a really good day overall, he fared well at times versus both Okafor and Jones (the two guys who were the standard for every OT), but he also lost them a couple of times. He's much more a finesse blocker, who fits in a movement system. I love his footwork and athletic ability.

Eric Fisher, Central Michigan:

Fisher was pretty dominant all day, swallowing up defender after defender. He did lose bad to Jones on one play, but had no problem with him the very next go. He's incredibly athletic and shows really nice footwork and an anchor. He's got everything you are looking for in a starting LT and is moving his way up draft boards to the top 15.

Defensive Line:

Michael Buchanan, Illinois:

Buchanan shows some nice edge speed, but he's not strong enough or have any counter moves to get past any of the better tackles. Really looks to be only a situational player right now.

Kawannn Short, Purdue:

Very strong practice, liked how he got off the ball quickly, showed excellent power and strength inside. Showed nice pursuit and hustle on plays that went away from him.

Jordan Hill, Penn State:

Hill looks the part and was very quick off the snap, but too often lost leverage by playing too high. When he stayed low he usually won inside and got penetration, when he stood up he was pretty ineffective.

Margus Hunt, SMU:

You can tell that there is a rawness to his game, but you can also quickly see that he has dominant potential. He has a lot of athletic ability and really good strength. Some times his play recognition or technique is off, but overall the potential is through the roof.

Datone Jones, UCLA:

Really had a nice day for the most part. He had by far the best run versus Eric Fisher, running right over him. He also had some nice runs versus Quesenberry and Pugh where he showed his strength. He also got handled at times, and was quieter in the scrimmage portion of the practice.

Alex Okafor, Texas:

Okafor had the best day of any defender, consistently beating his man, getting a ton of penetration/pressure. He definitely looks like he can handle staying a 4-3 defensive end, and should go in the late first round.

Secondary:    jordanpoyer

Jordan Poyer, Oregon State:

Really liked Poyer's practice today, he was all over the field making a number of good plays. I thought he broke on routes well, displayed a nice back pedal and flipped his hips well. He still struggled some running deep, but he's not getting burned. He's at his best when the play is in front of him and he can break to the ball, but he seems very capable of starting right away.

Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International:

Crprien displayed nice athleticism and good hitting ability (even though it there wasn't big hitting), he struggled a couple of times in coverage, but overall had a nice all-around practice.

Dwayne Gratz, UConn:

Really good day for Gratz, it wasn't elite, but I thought it was a day that exceeded expectations. He did get beat a couple times by receivers, but he also beat them a number of times as well. He showed really nice ball skills I thought.

Phillip Thomas, Fresno State:

Didn't really wow me today in what I considered an underwhelming performance. Allowed too much separation by both tight ends and receivers on a couple of plays. Didn't take good angles to the ball, which one time would have allowed the receiver an easy path to the end zone if the CB didn't make the tackle. Really didn't see many standout plays from him.

T.J. McDonald, USC:

McDonald made a couple of nice plays in coverage, but for the most part didn't have many opportunities. He did do well in some other areas though. He was probably the best at covering tight ends in man, running with them stride for stride each time, and not conceding the inside leverage. He also took really good angles in pursuit. One time on a run Barner got to the edge, and McDonald did a nice job of not overcommiting, using the sideline to his advantage.

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Archived Mock Draft Round 2, 12/7

December 7, 2012 in Mock Drafts

*This is an archived post, for Fanspeak's latest Mock Drafts check out our 2013 NFL Mock Draft Headquarters.

33. Kansas City – QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

34. Jacksonville- DT Shariff Floyd, Florida

Cleveland- no pick

35. Philadelphia- OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

36. Carolina- WR Terrance Williams, Baylor

37. Cincinnati (from Oakland)- RB Giovani Bernard, UNC

38. San Diego- DE Kawaan Short, Purdue

39. New York Jets – QB E.J. Manuel, FSU

40. Tennessee-S Matt Elam, Florida

41. Arizona- OT Dallas Thomas, Tennessee

42. Detroit- DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

43. Buffalo-QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee

44. St. Louis- WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

45. Washington- CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

New Orleans- no pick

46. Dallas- OL Oday Aboushi, UVA

47. Miami – TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

48. Tampa Bay- CB/S David Amerson, NC State

49. Minnesota- OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA

50. Cincinnati- DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn

51. Seattle- WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee

52. Pittsburgh- QB Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)

53 New York Giants- CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

54. Miami – from Indianapolis- OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

55. Green Bay- OLB Chase Thomas, Stanford

56. Chicago-OG Larry Warford, Kentucky

57. New England- LB Kevin Minter, LSU

58. Denver- RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama

59. San Francisco- FS T.J. McDonald, USC

60. Baltimore- S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

61. Houston- QB Aaron Murray, Georgia

62. Atlanta- RB Andre Ellington, Clemson

Archived Mock Draft: Steve Part 2 (10/30)

October 30, 2012 in Mock Drafts

Archived Mock Draft: Steve Part 2 (10/30)

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17. Dallas Cowboys- G Barrett Jones, Alabama

-The Cowboys offensive line continues to be a trouble area for Dallas adding a star like Jones who can play at any position along the line would be a smart pick.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: S Eric Reid, LSU

-The Bengals safeties have been a huge weakness this year, and Cincy can fix matters by grabbing Reid who has star potential.

19. Seattle Seahawks: OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

-The Seahawks wisely moved James Carpenter to guard, unfortunately RT remains a major hole on that offensive line.

20. Minnesota Vikings: WR Robert Woods, USC

-Christian Ponder is having a great 2nd year campaign, but outside of Percy Harvin  has little to work with in the passing game. Wood is a nice sure target, who will fall because he lacks elite speed.

21. Philadelphia Eagles:: S T.J. McDonald, USC

-The Eagles have invested a number of draft picks into their safety position, but overall have little to show for it. It could be time for them to take a first round safety to stabilize the position. The fact that McDonald's father, Tim was a star safety in the NFL doesn't hurt either.

22. San Diego Chargers: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

-Chargers are giving up far too much pressure and it is time they stabilize the offensive line with an early round pick.

23. Denver Broncos: CB Jonathan Banks, Miss. St.

Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career, and would serve as the perfect mentor to the high upside Banks.

24. New England Patriots: DT John Jenkins, Georgia

-Vince Wilfork is starting to slow down in the middle, adding a guy like Jenkins who can play alongside Wilfork for a year and then replace him would be a good long term plan.

25. San Francisco 49ers: OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

-This isn't a major need, but the 49ers could use some depth here, especially if Anthony Davis's improvement this season fails to hold-up long term.

26. Baltimore Ravens: OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

-This is an absolute steal for the Ravens as Warmack has elite potential. He can play either LG or replace Matt Birk at center when he retires.

27. Green Bay Packers: CB David Amerson, NC State

-Packers could look in a few different directions here, but one place that would be smart would be continuing to add to their secondary. Amerson has fallen down some draft boards but i think he'd be a nice fit in Green Bay. .

28. Chicago Bears: OT Brennan Williams, UNC

-The Bears are very impressive this season, but their offensive line will likely be their down fall come playoff time.

29 Pittsburgh Steelers: DL Shariff Floyd, Florida

-The Steelers front three has been their biggest weakness all season, and unlike their problems at LB, OL, or in the secondary isn't a result of injuries.

30. New York Giants:. OG Jonathan Cooper, UNC

-New York last year added some weapons to help out their offense, but didn't address their offensive problems and depth until later in the draft. By in large the Giants offensive line. Though a right tackle is probably their most pressing need, a stud guard like Cooper is too good to pass up here.

31. Houston Texans: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee

–The Texans have little in the way of actual needs, but one thing they could use is another outside receiver threat. Kevin Walter is solid, but far from spectacular. Andre Johnson is the only real receiving threat, especially when Houston looks to stretch the field.

32. Atlanta Falcons: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

-Though he doesn't appear to be slowing down, Tony Gonzalez has said that he will likely retire after this season. That would leave a major hole in the Falcons offense and one that they should look to fill as soon as possible.