Senior Bowl – South Squad Standouts and Disappointments
In continuing the analysis of practices during Senior Bowl Week, I shifted my focus to a few individuals on the South team. Scouts and front offices should take note to see to see if outstanding performances continue for these guys in the Scouting Combine or Pro Days, or if a struggling athlete can redeem himself before the draft.
South Notes: I like the quick release of the football by Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) and his arm appears stronger than most believed, but his touch still needs some work (even though Tuesday’s practice was in windy conditions). He can be a serviceable backup in this league and has a potential to be more than that – should he improve.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (Costal Carolina) impressed me in several blocking drills; the rusher did not back down and dominated consistently at the point of attack. This middle-to-late round selection would be a great option to complement a team’s running offense.
The ACL injury to Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma) was a huge blow to the athlete’s stock; I though he was doing exceptionally in coverage and was at the right place at the right time. I hope he has a speedy recovery.
Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) is a mauler at guard (roughly 340 pounds) and pushed back defenders with ease. A run-oriented franchise (although those are not very abundant) may value him greatly, possibly choosing the athlete in the second round.
Standing Out: Running back Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) displayed a triple threat in rushing, catching the football, and picking up blocks in pass coverage. Senior Bowl Week has done wonders for his draft stock; he may go a round or so earlier than previously anticipated but still taken in the middle to later part of the draft.
A pair of defensive linemen, Chris Smith (Arkansas) and Dee Ford (Auburn), performed well in a few aspects. These include corralling offensive fronts and providing speed off of the edge. Additionally, Ford beat a few guys to the inside with nimble moves. The latter may go a earlier if a team values more of a pass rusher, but both will likely go on the second day of the draft.
Linebacker Christian Jones (Florida State) flashed both strength and speed while breezing by blockers in one-on-one matchups and got to the quarterback without trouble. He will clearly have to develop multiple pass rush moves in the NFL but for the time being, he looked tremendous. A second round choice for this athlete would not be surprising.
Derek Carr (Fresno State) has the strongest arm of all the South quarterbacks. As we all know, there are many traits required to be successful in the NFL but this one will be a large factor why he will be taken in the first round of the draft.
Disappointing: Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) is one of my favorites in his position, but the wide out succumbed to both dropped passes and issues with press coverage. These two things are paramount to correct, otherwise he could become the next Greg Little – very talented but shortcomings cause him to not reach his potential. I still believe he can be taken late in the first round, which might change if he doesn’t improve in the near future.
Linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) and Adrian Hubbard (Alabama) had issues getting into the right spots once the ball was snapped. It could be debated that each may have a niche role in a certain defense (whether it’s a 3-4 or 4-3), but that does not dismiss trouble with getting off blocks and finding the ball carrier. Both might dip to the middle rounds should this continue.
Cornerback Chris Davis (Auburn) showed a weakness against some solid wide outs like Mike Davis (Texas) and Kevin Norwood (Alabama). The end result was the defender got burned and gave up some longer receptions. His stock could fall to the very end of the draft, and there’s a chance he is simply a special teams player in the NFL.
Telvin Smith (Florida State) looked very slow and out of position in coverage drills. Scouts might dismiss this about the outside linebacker if he proves that those mistakes are correctable. In the drill, the offense typically won, but it should not have been by that wide of margin. He will still likely be taken during the second or third rounds of the draft, however.