MOBILE, Ala. --** The 2014 Senior Bowl kicked off this morning as more than 100 players were measured and weighed for the league's 32 teams. Later in the afternoon two successive practices took place and a number of prospects, mostly from the defensive side of the ball, made some money. Here are six players who stood out.
Dontae Johnson/DB/North Carolina State: Both safety and cornerback are need positions for the Eagles and Johnson, Earl Wolff's former defensive backfield mate, could fill either spot. On Monday, he was the most dominant defensive back for the North, shutting down opponents in drills then keeping the momentum going in full scrimmage. Johnson, 6-2, 199, possesses next-level size and showed an array of ball skills all practice long. He has the cover skills to play cornerback and the size to move inside to safety for any NFL team.
Aaron Donald/DL/Pittsburgh: Despite around 6-1, 290, Donald was the most dominant prospect on the field today. He was unstoppable all practice long, beating opponents with power, speed and finesse. On one down, he bull-rushed Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, who outweighs Donald by 55 pounds, off the ball and pancaked him to the ground. Donald also beat Richardson several times with a quick swim and -over move. Where he'll play at the next level is still up in the air, but there's no questioning the fact Donald will eventually find a place in the NFL.
Chris Borland/LB/Wisconsin: Borland is another size-deficient prospect who stepped up big today. The Wisconsin product showed a complete game, making several nice plays defending the run as well as covering the pass. Borland plays smart, tough football and rarely makes mental mistakes. The fact he measured just 5-11 ½ today will relegate him to the draft's second day yet Borland exceeded expectations during the first Senior Bowl practice.
Kain Colter/WR/Northwestern: Colter was featured in our Senior Bowl preview as the latest college quarterback asked to make the transition to receiver. In the early going, the former signal-caller has looked good at his new position. On a number of occasions Colter beat well-established defensive backs to come away with the catch. He also showed great shiftiness separating from opponents as well a run-after-the-catch skill. He still must learn the nuances of the position and protect the ball, yet all signs point North for Colter's move to receiver.
DeAndre Coleman/DT/California: Coleman was one of the bigger surprises on the defensive line during Monday's practice. He showed power all day long and easily controlled the point of attack. More than that, Coleman displayed a great degree of athleticism, quickness and agility, charging around opponents as well as bull-rushing over them. With the shallow pool of talented players at the defensive tackle position, Coleman definitely helped himself today.
Joel Bitonio/OL/Nevada: The versatile Bitonio, 6-4, 307, showed skill at both tackle and guard. He's a wide-bodied blocker who easily handled everyone he faced off against today in both drills and scrimmage. Bitonio was not the prettiest blocker yet did everything scouts asked of him.
Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyPauline.