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Senior Bowl News

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Updated: January 22, 2008, 7:17 PM ET Around the North practice • USC's Keith Rivers clearly is the most complete linebacker prospect on the North roster. In addition to showing great instincts and quickness, Rivers plays with a mean streak. ...

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Old 01-23-2008, 09:39 AM   #11
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Re: Senior Bowl News

Updated: January 22, 2008, 7:17 PM ET



Around the North practice
• USC's Keith Rivers clearly is the most complete linebacker prospect on the North roster. In addition to showing great instincts and quickness, Rivers plays with a mean streak. He takes on blockers and fights hard to get through traffic. He looks to be in excellent physical shape, and his range versus both the run and the pass is impressive.
• Jordon Dizon (Colorado) doesn't look the part of an NFL linebacker, but somehow, he winds up around the ball on nearly every play. His feet are outstanding, and he covers a lot of real estate in zone. He has an uncanny knack for avoiding blockers without taking himself out of the play. His lack of size and power will prevent him from playing in the middle at the next level, but he has a chance to make an impact on the weak side in a smaller-type scheme such as those run by the Colts and Broncos.

• Justin Forsett (California) and Chauncey Washington (USC) had the best showings of the North running backs. Forsett runs hard and has shown an extra gear when he breaks through the line of scrimmage. Washington did an excellent job of catching the ball out of the backfield during seven-on-seven and team sessions. He also showed a second gear when he broke into the open field. He has some durability issues and off-the-field baggage, but he still stands to gain from this experience if he builds on the momentum from Tuesday.

• None of the other running backs were overly impressive. Chris Johnson (East Carolina) failed to stand out, despite his exceptional speed. Dantrell Savage (Oklahoma State) didn't show the burst, elusiveness or power to create anything on his own.

• The tight ends on the North roster are an interesting group to study. Michigan State's Kellen Davis is the guy you want leading the team off the bus, but he is the least productive of the three between the lines. He's a bit stiff as a route runner, and his effort, leverage and technique as a blocker are far too inconsistent. Martin Rucker (Missouri) is right down the middle. He looks the part in pads and is a reliable short-to-intermediate receiver, but his game seems to come up short in terms of explosiveness. Fred Davis (USC) is the least impressive physically, but he clearly is the best pass-catcher and all-around athlete of the group. We still want to see more of him as an inline blocker this week, but there is no question he has first-round receiving skills.

• It has become apparent in just two practices that Purdue WR Dorien Bryant is the most polished receiver here. With good quickness off the line, Bryant shows the ability to break down a corner's cushion right out of the gate. Bryant also attacks defenders with proper position that creates leverage, giving him the ability to get solid separation out of his breaks. One of Bryant's highlights Tuesday came during the one-on-one period. Showing sound technique getting off the line against press man, he was able to swim and get to the outside. Displaying great body control, he instantly stopped on a fade thrown behind him and attacked the ball, coming down with the reception. Adding to his résumé, Bryant also looked very effective as a return man during the special teams period.

• Bryant wasn't the only North receiver to impress scouts Tuesday. California's Lavelle Hawkins continues to turn heads with his consistency. He runs smooth, crisp routes, knows how to separate from man coverage and does an excellent job of plucking the ball on the run. He shined during the one-on-one periods, beating defenders all three times he lined up. He used quick feet to beat the jam at the line and also displayed the top-end speed to beat Boston College CB DeJuan Tribble down the sideline for a deep reception. One of his more impressive plays came during the team period. After slipping out of his break, Hawkins was able to recover and do a nice job of going down low to make the reception on a curl route.

• Oklahoma State WR Adarius Bowman is off to a slow start. Taking too long to get out of his breaks, Bowman has failed to create solid separation, but he makes up for it by using his bigger frame to shield defenders from the ball. Unfortunately, Bowman also has given scouts some concern with the consistency of his hands. He has not looked natural catching the ball, often times appearing to fight it. This has resulted in multiple drops throughout the first two days of practice. He will need to turn things around in a hurry and finish the week strong to make up for the slow start.

• Finding a shutdown corner who has the ability to lock up man-to-man is never easy, but using his tremendous speed and fluid hips, Indiana CB Tracy Porter has made a solid case for himself this week. Porter is a quick-twitch corner and has done an outstanding job of blanketing receivers throughout both practices. Showing great instincts, he has the unique ability to make a quick break on the ball. This was evident during the seven-on-seven period when Porter was able to come up with an interception and head the other way for six points. He read the quick drop of Delaware QB Joe Flacco, and showing great anticipation, beat the receiver to the spot on a slant route.

• Colorado CB Terrence Wheatley also has been impressive throughout the week. He displays very smooth feet, showing good ability to mirror and stay with receivers. With good ability to turn and run combined with adequate top-end speed, he rarely trails receivers and often runs step-for-step with them down the sideline. He also has shown sound ability to break out his backpedal; he broke up a curl route during seven-on-seven drills.


• BC's Tribble, on the other hand, has failed to prove he can lock up in man coverage. Multiple times, he trailed receivers while struggling to flip his hips and change direction instantly. There also is concern about his overall strength. Attempting to jam at the line, Tribble was overpowered by Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson, who knocked Tribble off balance and sent him stumbling to the ground.

• Sedrick Ellis is a great player. Although he doesn't look the part because he is just 257 pounds and short by NFL standards, Ellis is nearly un-blockable by just one offensive lineman, even against this level of talent. He might be the best football player in Mobile at any position. He gets off the ball with outstanding explosiveness and often beats heavier-footed interior offensive linemen with just his quickness, but he is also an exceptional technique and hands player and his feet never stop moving. Ellis almost always has better pad level than his opponent and has a quick and powerful rip move that he uses to perfection. He is a stunner who can jolt his opponent with his hands and move them backwards with his power. Centers Mike Pollack and John Sullivan were overwhelmed by Ellis in one-on-ones today and probably will be all week long. In 2008, NFL interior linemen might be overwhelmed by Ellis as well.

• At several points of practice, the North's entire left side was made up of USC players. It was not uncommon to see Drew Radovich at left guard, Sam Baker at left tackle and TE Fred Davis flanking Baker. Considering it's so early in the week, the familiarity that these college teammates have with one another was apparent and a tremendous advantage, particularly with combination blocks in the run game. Watching Radovich and Baker in one-on-ones wasn't particularly impressive nor necessarily a poor showing, but Radovich can struggle with quickness and upfield penetrators while Baker needs to get stronger in both his upper and lower body. Both players certainly have starting potential however.

• We touched on Ellis, but overall, the North's group of defensive tackles could give the South's interior offensive line fits. Notre Dame's Trevor Laws doesn't make you take notice with his physical traits, but he is the type of defensive tackle who just doesn't go away or take a play off. His peskiness and tenacity leads to this Golden Domer making plenty of plays when the game is said and done. At the next level, he would be best used in a rotation, but he could excel in that role.

• Nebraska's Carl Nicks is an underrated prospect at this point, but don't expect his vast abilities to go unnoticed with all these offensive line coaches in attendance. Yes, Nicks is still unpolished and hasn't played a lot of football at a high level, but he has some traits that should make scouts very excited. He can be overly aggressive and certainly needs to be coached up -- but that is what offensive line coaches are for. Nicks is massive and very powerful in both his upper and lower body. He is light enough on his feet to secure the right edge in the NFL and has the power to move the pile and consistently open holes for a power running team. Nicks might begin his career at guard, but has the looks of a fine starting right tackle in time.

Ellis and Rivers continue to impress.
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Old 01-23-2008, 09:40 AM   #12
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Re: Senior Bowl News

Around the South practice
• Tulane RB Matt Forte is making some money in Mobile this week. The 6-foot-1, 221-pound back is proving to scouts on hand that the nation's second-leading rusher in 2007 is not simply a function of lower-level FBS competition. In fact, he is standing out as the most complete back thus far on the South roster -- and that includes Georgia Tech standout Tashard Choice. Forte is a strong, compact runner who displays good burst through the line of scrimmage. He has soft hands and is very comfortable catching the football. He also shows good instincts and the strength to anchor as a pass-blocker. Outside of Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall, Forte could be the highest-rated running back weighing in at 215-plus pounds in a deep 2008 class.
• It's easy to see why some teams are high on LSU OLB Ali Highsmith. He is a fast-flowing, athletic defender with good closing burst and initial striking power. But Highsmith isn't for everybody. He runs around too many blocks because he lacks the base and strength to win in the phone booth. As a result, he will occasionally get out of position and compromise his unit's gap integrity. Bottom line: Highsmith only has first-round value on a smaller defense that emphasizes athleticism over strength (see: Colts, Buccaneers, Lions, etc.).


• For the second straight day, Florida WR Andre Caldwell produced at a high level. Caldwell continues to impress scouts by displaying excellent ball skills with the ability to open his hips and pull in balls thrown behind him. Caldwell's overall strength was quite noticeable as he was able to withstand any jam defenders threw at him. Caldwell did a nice job of being stout and showed good ability to knock defenders hands down while creating a clean release off the line. The thing that impressed the scouts the most was his ability to attack the football. Caldwell showed no hesitation when coming across the middle going after and using his strong hands to haul in a catch in traffic.

• WR D.J. Hall's lack of suddenness is more obvious in a setting like this than it is watching most of his college games on film. Hall was a tremendously reliable and productive receiver at Alabama. He is an instinctive route runner with good size and excellent hands, which is why he should make some impact in the NFL. However, his inability to separate versus faster, more physical cover corners in press-man will likely prevent Hall from growing into a full-time starting role.

• LSU CB Chevis Jackson does not possess good top-end speed and likely will need to play in a Cover 2 heavy scheme in the NFL. However, it has not taken long to realize he's the most naturally instinctive cover corner on the South roster. He has an uncanny knack for reading quarterbacks' eyes, as well as anticipating receivers' breaks.

• On the flipside, Alabama CB Simeon Castille struggled out on an island. Giving up too much cushion combined with a lethargic break on the ball, Castille often gave up too much separation to wideouts. Castille's top-end speed is also in question as he allowed receivers to run by him on several occasions. In Castille's defense, he did display solid ball skills when in position to make a play on the ball. Castille also showed good overall athleticism and may have a niche as a nickel package defender at the next level.

• Red Bryant has to be catching the eyes of coaches and scouts. He is difficult to miss. Bryant is a giant person (6-5, 329) who has long arms and the bulk to be a true, two-gap lineman. He can really jolt offensive linemen with his heavy powerful hands and once he has a hold of his blocker, he simply drives him backwards with his power. He is very difficult to move and occupies space in the middle quite well. Bryant is also difficult to throw over and should bat down a lot of passes in the NFL. While he isn't overly dynamic and doesn't have an especially wide array of pass rush moves, players with Bryant's skill set are difficult to find. He should have many suitors from teams that need big, space-eating defensive tackles or clubs that employ a 3-4 scheme.

• Pitt's Mike McGlynn runs from drill to drill like his hair is on fire. It is hard to miss a 309-pound offensive lineman running at full speed down the field to get to a drill. While hustle and "want to" are great traits, he needs to settle down a little bit. McGlynn is an intriguing prospect because he could potentially fill in at every line spot in the NFL with the exception of left tackle. At this point, he is a master of none, but does have some upside, particularly as a guard. McGlynn is also able to deep snap, which adds to his versatility. If he gets the opportunity to snap for punts -- it is a safe bet that McGlynn will hustle down the field.

• Maryland's Dre Moore was the most impressive big man for the South squad today. He has a reputation of turning it off and on and this forum is fantastic for him in that regard, but there was no denying that he was on today. As exciting as he is now, NFL decision makers need to temper their enthusiasm and go back and watch his game tape before pulling the trigger on Moore. But, he has excellent size and a fine physique for the position, runs very well and can make plays down the sideline. He is very powerful with fine explosiveness when he stays low out of his stance. Bowling Green C Kory Lichtensteiger was tortured by Moore today, but he wasn't alone. Moore can be a difference maker -- if he wants to be.

• It is somewhat odd how the South coaching staff is using their offensive tackles. Barry Richardson got the most snaps at left tackle today, but Oniel Cousins also got his share of reps there as well. Richardson is huge (6-6, 345) and can engulf his opponent, but lacks the quickness out of his stance and lateral agility to compete at left tackle at the highest level. Cousins (6-4, 303) is a far better athlete, but lacks ideal left tackle height and weight. The best candidate for the left side on this roster is Chris Williams, who is probably the top offensive line prospect on this squad. Williams is more of a finesse player than mauler, which doesn't suit the right tackle spot he was playing today. Williams had a very good practice, however, and stays square to his target with excellent lateral agility. He has the light feet and natural knee bend to adjust and recover when beaten. Williams should be on the left side.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
Would it have been great if Chevis had 4.4 speed? He certainly would have been one of the first corners taken.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:14 AM   #13
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Re: Senior Bowl News

Wednesday


Afternoon Practice


At wide receiver, both Donnie Avery and Andre Caldwell have been the most impressive so far this week. They both have improved their stock and are now among the top senior wide receivers in this year's draft.


Matt Forte, running back from Tulane, is a strong, powerful player. He looks like an NFL running back and could have a shot at being a productive fantasy player next year.


Andre Woodson continues to impress me. His drops have been nice, he's got a strong arm, and he takes care of the football. I'd have no problem with taking him in the 1st Round of this year's draft.


Brandon Coutu is looking good as the kicker from Georgia was drilling balls from 48 yards out. He's the top kicker in a class that doesn't have a true superstar. Could he be 2008's Nick Folk for fantasy owners? Possibly, but I also wouldn't put it past the North Team's kicker Alexis Serna, who only stands 5 foot 6 and weighs 170 lbs.


Morning Practice


Chad Henne is raising his draft stock more than anyone so far this week. He's shown a very strong arm, had great accuracy, and showed to me that he is capable of throwing the ball on the run. I wouldn't be shocked if he snuck into the 2nd Round come April.


Dorien Bryant, the wide receiver from Purdue looked good today. He was running some nice routes and looks like he could be a great slot receiver at the next level. He's being projected as a Mid-Round pick.


Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins continue to shine. They are both doing everything right and have both raised their draft stock. Hawkins seems like he'd be a good #2 receiver at the next level and Royal seems more like borderline #2 or #3 receiver.


Justin Forsett was impressive today. He catches the ball well and is a nice little scatback. He's being projected as a Mid-Late Round pick due to so many juniors coming out.


Adarius Bowman improved today. He didn't drop as many balls as in previous days and he also showed how he is nice redzone target when he went up in the endzone and came down with the ball.


Tuesday


Afternoon Practice


Early Doucet is a player to keep an eye on. The former LSU Tiger and National Championship winner was impressive today as he looked like a player that was worthy of being a 1st Round pick in this year's draft. In fantasy leagues, he's a player that I'd consider for Dynasty or Rookie leagues.


Houston's Donnie Avery is another receiver that I would look at, as his speed and athleticism could really help a team at the next level. He is also a very good returner, so that should help his fantasy value in terms of defense/special teams.


While Andre Woodson likely won't begin the year as a starting quarterback, he has all of the tools to be a great quarterback at the next level. He'd be a player that I would really consider stashing away on a dynasty league team or in a rookie league draft.


Morning Practice


From a Fantasy perspective, Chris Johnson from East Carolina has really impressed me. His speed is among the elite down here and he is really showing the scouts why he is being projected by some as the top senior running back in this year's draft. I think he has the potential to be a great player at the next level and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is going to be a huge plus for the team that drafts him.


Adarius Bowman continues to struggle as he dropped at least another three balls today. I don't know if it's a lack of concentration or just nerves, but he's definitely not helping his draft stock so far this week. Fantasy wise, Bowman isn't as much a player that I would like at this year in regular drafts, but in dynasty and rookie leagues, I'd say he'd be a nice Mid-Round prospect.


Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins have both looked great so far this week. They have the potential to be a nice #2 or #3 receiver at the next level. It also helps that they both have nice return skills, so that should help their stock. They have a chance to have an impact fantasy wise at receiver and for the defense/special teams that they are drafted to.


At quarterback, Chad Henne has had the best two days of practice so far. He's looked very poised and has done a great job of delivering the ball on time. He's had some really nice looking throws. Joe Flacco has looked pretty good as well. I think he could use some coaching on his footwork as his drops seem to take longer than the other quarterbacks.


John David Booty hasn't really impressed, but he has disappointed. He's looked like an average quarterback that should be a Mid-Late Round selection, which is what he is. While none of these quarterbacks will likely start next year, I think that both Henne and Flacco are players to look at in dynasty or rookie leagues. Flacco likely ahead of Henne, but with the way Henne's been playing this week, it could be a lot closer.


Monday


For the first practice of the week, I headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium to see the North team. Overall, the defensive lineman impressed me the most. There were a few that really struggled, while there were a couple of receivers that really looked good. Here's a look at which player's stood out the most today:

Sedrick Ellis DT USC: There's a reason that Ellis is being projected as a lock for the Top 10 of this year's draft. His strength is unbelievable, and to see it in person is really a treat. He literally overpowered his opponent at least two or three times today. I was very impressed with him and expect him to be among the top players taken this year.

Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina: Balmer is a player that a lot of people don't know about; however, that should change pretty quickly. Balmer possessed a nice combination of quickness and strength today as he he was another defensive lineman that had a great day. I really like his quick hands and his ability to find the ball.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Royal had a few grabs today that were just sick. On one play he put a double move on the defender and sprinted up to the field to catch the ball in the back of the end zone. In another play he made a circus-like catch over a defender that had slipped to the ground, as got two feet down in bounds. He really opened some eyes today.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins really displayed his ability to make plays today as he made a few acrobatic catches that most other receivers wouldn't be able to make. He showed good quickness and nice elusiveness in the open field.

Thomas DeCoud S California: DeCoud quietly had a nice practice. I really like his ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks. He also showed nice hands in some of the individual drills for the defensive backs.

DeMario Pressley DT NC State: I really like Pressley's quickness. He showed this today when he, on back-to-back plays, gave the lineman a quick juke-move and got into the backfield. He also showed quick hands.

Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College: Cherilus was a beast today as he, from what I saw, didn't lose a single one-on-one battle with a defensive lineman. He has great size and showed the quickness and athleticism that you look for in a top offensive lineman. He also, at times, lined up at right tackle. I was very impressed with him today.

Adams S Michigan: Adams struggled at times in coverage today, which really worries me, but he did have a couple of plays where he literally would have been on the "jacked up" highlight reel. On one play, West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt caught the ball out of the backfield, turned up and field, and Adams was there to deliver the blow. Adams hit him so hard that Schmitt's helmet went flying off in the other direction. Adams' big hits today made up for his struggles in coverage.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I was really unimpressed by Bowman today. He clearly showed his athleticism, which was nice, but he dropped at least three very catchable balls. This did not bode well for him and he had better step it up the rest of the week.

Charles Godfrey CB Iowa, Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado: Both of these guys had a bit of a tough day. They both seemed to struggle a bit in coverage and each of them dropped a few passes in the individual drills. They both showed flashes at times, but overall they didn't have that great of a day.

Drew Radovich OG USC: Radovich did not have a good day today as he really struggled in the one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. He had a lot of trouble with Kentwan Balmer and DeMario Pressley. It'll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the week.
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