MOBILE, Alabama – Thursday at the Senior Bowl is typically getaway day for NFL scouts and coaches, though that’s been made more difficult by the inclement weather in the area, including tornado warnings. Practices on day four consist of shorts and shells, not pads, limiting the evaluation opportunity, but today, because of the weather, practice has been moved inside. So in advance of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game (4 PM EST, NFL Network), let’s take a look back at the three days of pads-on practice, highlighting the players who helped themselves the most. This is a list not of the best prospects at their position, but rather who improved their “stock” the most over the past several days.
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden, 6-3, 219 – Weeden was sure to be under scrutiny all week as evaluators have to decide how to balance his talent with his age (Weeden will turn 29 in the fall). The Oklahoma State standout stood above the other five quarterbacks in Mobile, showcasing superior accuracy and a strong enough arm to succeed at the next level. Weeden is also impressive in interviews and answers the questions about his age well. He still won’t go as high as he would if he were six years younger of course, but Weeden assuaged most other question marks. Elsewhere, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson helped himself a lot, despite measuring under 5-11, his arm is plenty strong. Arizona’s Nick Foles did not have a great week, but he could end up as the first of the six quarterbacks taken come April.
Running Back: Vick Ballard, 5-10, 217, and Chris Rainey, 5-8, 178 – Running back may be the most difficult position to evaluate in this setting, as each play concludes at contact, disallowing an opportunity to see how well a rusher can break tackles. Ballard impressed with quickness in the backfield and was generally decisive when picking holes. He also had better hands than expected. Rainey’s inclusion is a bit of a copout because part of the reason for his impressive week was the versatility he showed when flexed out as a wide receiver. Sure, Rainey is small, but he was probably among the two quickest players in Mobile and was able to separate from an impressive crop of South cornerbacks. Darren Sproles is the obvious comparison for Rainey, which may or may not be fair, but he will definitely be a weapon at the next level. Saturday’s game will provide better insight into the running backs - Boise State’s Doug Martin and Ohio State’s Dan “Boom” Herron will be players to watch.
Tight End: Ladarius Green, 6-6, 237 – There wasn’t a great group of tight ends in Mobile, but Green, out of Louisiana-Lafayette, gets the nod of LSU’s DeAngelo Peterson. Green ran crisp routes all week and was able to separate consistently from linebackers and safeties. His hands were also impressive, as he made a few difficult catches on Wednesday.
Wide Receiver: Joe Adams, 5-10, 174, and Marvin McNutt, 6-2, 216 – The choice of Adams is a no-brainer, as he was a standout from day one. Along with Rainey, Adams was the quickest offensive player in Mobile and was able to separate with ease. He did have a couple drops, but not enough to balance out his big-play ability. Adams was also a superlative returner at Arkansas, boosting his value even more. He’s likely to be the first wide receiver selected among the Senior Bowlers. The selection of McNutt was more difficult, as California’s Marvin Jones and Ohio State’s DeVier Posey were also impressive, but Iowa’s McNutt was the most polished of the North trio and caught everything that came his way. Several times, McNutt was able to slide into the soft spot in the zone in both seven-on-sevens and team drills, and he made a few difficult catches in one-on-one drills. He likely projects as a solid complementary receiver at the next level who can “move the chains.”
Offensive Tackle: Mike Adams, 6-7, 323, and Cordy Glenn, 6-5, 346 – The offensive line, in general, lacked for elite talent on both the North and South teams, which allowed the defensive lines to shine in both occasions. Adams is probably a sure-fire first-round pick as the behemoth former Buckeye swallowed up defenders early in the week. He wore down a little bit as the week went on and was vulnerable to a few speed rushes, but he certainly has the tools to project as a future left tackle. Senior Bowl week was especially important for Adams, who had limited game tape his senior season after being suspended among the Ohio State “tatoogate.” Glenn was definitely the second-best offensive linemen in Mobile, but he played a lot of guard, where he projects at the next level. However, most other tackles were beaten consistently, including Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders, who was previously highly thought of. Glenn lined up a few times at left tackle, and was surprisingly mobile, leading the way downfield on a toss sweep in the
Offensive Guard: Kelechi Osemele, 6-5, 333, and Senio Kelemete, 6-3, 300 – Osemele, out of Iowa State, took several reps as a tackle, but guard is where he belongs. He was stout at the point of attack and was nimble enough to get the job done, especially during the one-on-one drills. Kelemete was much of the same, though this was admittedly slim pickings. Both will be tested by the South defensive line on Saturday.
Center: Mike Brewster, 6-4, 310 – Once again, not a lot to choose from at the center position, but Brewster gets the nod by virtue of being the only one consistently able to snap the ball with ease in shotgun. Brewster had some notably heated battles with Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin, which will please fans of the intense Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, and was generally feisty enough to make an impression.
Check back later for the defensive portion of our All-Senior Bowl team.