10 players who impressed at the Senior Bowl, 5 who did not

Marquise Goodwin is fast.

Impressed:

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: Fisher’s excellent week at the Senior Bowl began at the Monday morning weigh-ins.  Fisher came in at 6’7 1/4″, 305 pounds. He was lean, cut, and looked more like a super-sized athletic tight end than an OT. If his future NFL team wants him to add some weight, he should be able to do so rather easily without losing much in the way of agility and quickness. During practices, he largely dominated really good players like Texas’ Alex Okafor and LSU’s Lavar Edwards, although Okafor did beat him soundly once to the inside. I suspect Fisher is going to put up very impressive numbers at the Combine. I haven’t watched any tape on Fisher yet, but based upon what I saw in Mobile, the talk that Fisher should be a Top 15 pick is warranted. Barring an injury, I don’t see much of a chance that he makes it to the Cowboys or Giants at 18/19, but if he did, he could be almost impossible to pass up for either team.

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: Here’s another player that is unlikely to make it to the Cowboys or Giants at 18/19, but if he does, he could be a great pick. Like Fisher, Johnson had a great week. He has great feet, and blocked with power in the run game. There was one play in which a guard initially blocked the DT, then peeled off to block a LB. Johnson, aided some by the initial block by the guard, easily cleaned up on the DT, caving him right down the line and opening up an enormous hole on the left side. It wasn’t quite Jason Peters-esque, but it was impressive nevertheless.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: Ansah’s inclusion on this this is a matter of perspective. For full disclosure, I am not a “draftnik.” I dabble in all things NFL Draft and have more knowledge of college prospects than the “Average Joe,” but I’m not on the level of guys that analyze draft prospects for 365 days. For many players, I can only go on what I saw from Monday-Wednesday at Senior Bowl practices. Ansah is a player with whom I had absolutely no prior opinion. I’ve read a few reviews that were disappointed in Ansah’s play, and I think that was due in part because they had higher expectations.

From my perspective, an observer with no expectations at all, I found Ansah to be extremely intriguing. On the first day of practice, the QB was throwing a short pass to the right side, and a DE got way up to bat the pass down. It was a highly athletic play, that not many NFL’ers can make. I didn’t see initially who it was in the crowd, but I kept my eye on him until the mass of bodies broke up. It was Ansah. On Day 2, he beat an OT with a nasty inside spin move, that again, not many NFL’ers can make with the quickness that Ansah displayed. Any team that drafts Ansah is going to have to realize that he could be a project, but his ceiling is extraordinarily high.

Mike Glennon, QB, NC State: Mike Glennon is known for having two major deficiencies in his game:

  1. He gets rattled under pressure.
  2. He turns the ball over… a lot. In fact, he threw 29 interceptions the last 2 years (17 in 2012).

Those 17 INTs led the nation:

Mike glennon

There are certainly worries about Glennon’s game. However, this week in practices, without any threat of being hit, Glennon showed off what was by far and away the best arm among all the QBs competing this week. He delivered several absolutely pristine deep balls that were right on the money, a couple that were more than 50 yards down the field. He did look awkward when he had to move around in the pocket, and even in drills (no defense on the field at all) when he had to throw on the run, but again, his deep ball is special.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: If one of your favorite team’s division rivals drafts this guy, your immediate reaction should be “Crap.” Goodwin’s speed and quickness are off the charts. Here’s Goodwin competing in the triple jump and clearing 50 feet, 3 inches:

Think about what 50 feet, 3 inches is. That would be like a player triple jumping from the 16 yard line and landing in the end zone with plenty of room to spare. In fact, that might be the best TD celebration ever if Marquise ever finds himself with a runaway TD opportunity.

During one session in which receivers were running the route tree (no defenders on the field), one of the QBs had gotten into a rhythm throwing out routes to normal-speed receivers. When it was Goodwin’s turn, he had run his out route so fast that he was standing on the sideline, waiting for the ball to come to him.

But it’s not just that he’s fast. He ran great routes, and showed good hands, with his highlight being a diving, full-extension catch near the sideline. Goodwin is a scary home run threat, who at the very least will be be able to stretch the field, but I think he can be more than that. He also showed during the season that he can be physical:

Now, I’m not down with 15 yard penalties, but I think on some level this shows that Goodwin is a football player, not just a track star.

I can’t wait to see his numbers at the Combine.

Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego St.: McFadden strained his groin during Wednesday’s practice, and he may not play in the game on Saturday. Bummer. I was looking forward to watching him in the game, because he had two excellent days of practice on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, he was the best CB on the field, as he was draped all over receivers, and even had a spectacular one-handed INT (right in front of me, actually) near the sideline.

On a side note, as I noted above, for many of these players, it was the first time I’ve ever seen them (or even heard of them). Tommy Lawlor asked me which players I liked after that first Monday practice, and I said “McDonald, from the small school.” Tommy and another draftnik did kind of a “Huh?” and checked their roster sheets for a McDonald from a small school. No such player existed. I looked at my sheet and said, “Oh, my bad… McFadden, from… uh… San Diego St.”  His name was neither McDonald, nor did he go to a “small school.” Oops. Laughter at my expense ensued, although I made the argument that because I didn’t have any preconceived notions about a lot of these players, or that I even knew their names, it put me in a better position to more fairly evaluate how well they played solely at the Senior Bowl practices. I’m not sure they bought it. Anyway, for the rest of his career, I’ll think of McFadden as “McDonald from the small school.”

Kyle Juszczyk, FB/TE/H-back, Harvard: Juszczyk, or “Juice,” was the best back in pass pro this week. He can also catch, loves contact, has deceptive speed, and lined up all over the place (FB, slot receiver, TE). Very interesting swiss army knife kind of guy.

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford: Taylor isn’t fast and probably won’t put up eye-popping numbers at the Combine, but any time a running back got free cleanly into the secondary, more often than not it was Taylor. He also caught the ball well and did a nice job in pass pro. I liken him in a way to former Boise St and current Buccaneer RB Doug Martin last year, in the sense that there’s nothing that really blows you away about the guy, but he just seems to do everything well.

Robert Alford, CB, SE Louisiana: Robert Alford had a great week as a CB, not so much as a punt returner. Alford returned punts at SE Louisiana, so I know he can do it…

However, he struggled both on Monday and Wednesday fielding punts, muffing at least two, and letting a third drop a yard or two in front of him, on a play in which he didn’t even have to run up to field it.

However, as a CB, he had blanket coverage all week. He even gave up two long TD’s, one to Baylor’s Terrance Williams, the other to Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, but he actually had very good coverage on both plays. The receivers simply made outstanding plays.

I almost sound like Alford should be in the “did not impress” category, but I assure you he had a very good week, just providing solid coverage all over the field, covering a assorted mix of receivers.

Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: As noted above, Patton made a great play for a long TD against Robert Alford, but he also looked like the most polished receiver at the Senior Bowl this week. He ran great routes, adjusted well to poorly thrown balls, and showed good hands. There was one play where Patton caught a ball on a post pattern, ran away from the CB, turned on the after-burners, split the safeties down the middle, and was gone.  Here are Patton’s numbers at Louisiana Tech:

Quinton Patton

He could be a solid pick for somebody in the 2nd round. That’s how good he was this week.

If he wasn’t 6’8, Margus Hunt would have been completely invisible this week at Senior Bowl practices.

Did not impress:

Denard Robinson, WR/QB, Michigan: Robinson’s hands are major issue. He dropped a lot of passes this week, including two in a row while running the route tree with no defense on the field. Not good. There has been talk that Robinson could contribute as a kick/punt returner at the next level. Welp… it ain’t happening at punt returner anytime soon unless he improves drastically between now and September, as Robinson looked really uncomfortable fielding punts. Maybe he can be used as a kick returner, but with the value of KR position being devalued because the NFL moved kickoffs to the 35 yard line, I’m not sure how Robinson can realistically find his way onto the field in a meaningful role right away. It’ll take some time to make the adjustment to WR.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU: In the Hawaii Bowl vs. Fresno St., Margus Hunt absolutely “wrecked the game.” He’s tape of his performance that day (the good parts start around the 1:55 mark):

I was excited to watch Hunt play this week, especially after he measured in at 6’8 at the weigh-in, which might actually be too tall.

For a 6’8 player, Hunt was almost invisible.

Will Davis, CB,  Utah St.: There were plenty of times when receivers were getting open deep with a lot of separation. The first few times, I had to look at my roster sheet to see who #17 was, and the name “Will Davis” was staring back at me. As practices wore on, I just expected to see #17 whenever someone had been badly toasted. Bad week of practice for Davis.

Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse: I hate to pick on a kid that was a late addition to the roster, but Lemon ran poor routes, had a few drops, and simply wasn’t on the level of this good group of receivers.

Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida St.: Dawkins had a really rough day in drills the first day of practice. Dawkins goes 6’2, 288, and he simply didn’t look as fluid/coordinated as any of the other DTs running the drills, which included a handful of players much bigger than Dawkins, like 359 pound DT John Jenkins from Georgia. At 6’2, 288, you would expect Dawkins to be chiseled, but he was described at the weigh-in as “undefined with a pot belly.”

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8 Comments

  1. Great read. Ive also heard Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and defensive end Datone Jones from UCLA had great weeks.

    1. Yea, Trufant definitely had some good moments that I saw. I didn’t notice much of Jones, but he had some buzz there as well. Tough to see everything.

  2. Tracer Bullet says:

    I’m surprised they played Dawkins at DT since it seems more likely that he’d play DE in a 3-4 or asked to drop weight to play DE in a 4-3. Not a whole lot of 288 pound DTs in the world.

    1. He was listed at over 300 coming in. The Raiders coached one side, and the Lions coached the other. Both run a 4-3, so they’re going to run their own scheme in practice. Last year, the Skins ran a 3-4, and the Vikings ran a 4-3.

      I think if they would have put Dawkins out on the edge they’d have done him a huge disservice, since like I said, he was really limited athletically.

  3. I don’t see Lane Johnson getting past the Rams if they stay at #16. They desperately need a blindside protector for Sam Bradford.

  4. ct17 says:

    I think you suggest that Friday next year be “Writers’ Day” at the Senior Bowl, and have the coaches put all of the writers and other media guys through the drills.

    1. That would be awesome.

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