Monday, 25 January 2010

Senior Bowl preview

By Rob Staton
The Senior Bowl is officially underway with those prospects who are attending being measured this morning. Seattle-born Taylor Mays has come in at 230lbs, 6'3" - what he was listed at USC. Nobody can deny Mays physical qualities, it's up to him between now and the draft to show he can show football smarts and instinct to match the unique size and speed he owns.

Of course, there's always the issue of who actually attends this event. Last year, a cluster of withdrawals hit the Senior Bowl - none of the seniors taken in the top ten were present. Michael Oher, who did show up, ended up plummeting into the late 20's having originally been considered a top ten pick. Here's what we know - there's no Ndamukong Suh or Russell Okung. You can now follow Seahawks Draft Blog via my twitter account - updates appear on the right hand side bar too. Some of you already following may have noticed that we discovered today there'll be no Brandon LaFell, Trent Williams or Jerry Hughes in attendance either.

Here is the North and South rosters in full.

So who is worth looking out for?

Mike Iupati (OG, Idaho) is part of the North team and despite his excellent size and agility, there are concerns about the level of competition he faced with Idaho. This is a chance to see him against much stronger opposition.

Sean Canfield (QB, Oregon State) will be looking to perform well enough to further enhance his draft stock. He had a solid year for the Beevers in 2009 and many consider him to be the next best quarterback available after Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen.

LaGarrette Blount (RB, Oregon) is an interesting storyline throughout this draft process. Suspended and then reinstated for striking an opponent after a week one defeat to Boise State, there's no doubt the powerful Blount has some skills. Can his talent put that incident to the back of scouts minds?

Brandon Ghee (CB, Wake Forest) keep an eye out for this guy. He's getting rave reviews from scouts apparently and a good work out here could solidify a first round grading. This is a great chance to show off his talents with a lack of elite cornerback's at the top of round one.

Terrance Cody (DT, Alabama) - he weighed in at 370lbs today. That's big, scouts will ask if it's too big. Mount Cody struggles to play three downs and that will affect his stock. Hype sometimes overcame effectiveness on all round dominant Alabama defense in 2009. Teams looking for a 3-4 nose tackle will show interest, but they need to know that Cody can keep his weight in check.

Montario Hardesty (RB, Tennessee) a strong runner who's shifty quick, he isn't unlike Tim Hightower in that sense. Bursts through a hole with a no-nonsense style and he has a chance to cement his place in scouts' minds with a good performance.

Myron Rolle (S, Florida State) having spent a year at Oxford, can he transition back into the thick of the action and maintain a mid/late round grade? I think he'll find it harder than some expect, but he should do enough to land on a roster for training camp.

But alas, the biggest story will no doubt be how Tim Tebow (QB, Florida) performs for scouts working strictly as a quarterback. There will be no snaps at tight end. He won't be working out as a fullback. I'm not sure he'll run much at all, at least not until game day. This is essentially what we've been waiting for. If Tebow's long release, not ideal mechanics and accuracy as a passer don't match up, it might be safe to say any talk of him being a first or even second round pick will fade. It helps that he'll be working with the Miami Dolphins coaching staff - he could get the chance to take some wildcat snaps and you know they'll show interest after drafting Pat White last year.

Alternatively, this is a chance for Tebow to prove a few critics wrong and show he can be a signal caller at the next level. All eyes will be on the Gators quarterback (and fair play for showing up at all - it's a credit to Tebow's character that he's here).


Anonymous said...

From Texashawk,

Rob kyle, and kip,

I have been watching highlights of players since I do not follow college ball. Can you clarify what seperates CJ Spiller from Jahvid Best. Because after watching the highlights of these players they are very similar. Correct me if I am wrong but it also looks like Best may even have more heart then Spiller. Please compare and contrast them for me if you could. Thank you and as always I value your opinions.

Rob Staton said...

Hi Texashawk,

Personally, I think the differences between Spiller and Best are minor but do exist. I think Spiller is much better in pass protection, I think he's a more natural receiver (runs decent routes, has shown an ability to make regular plays in the passing game) and he shown an ability to make plays in many different ways regularly. When he has a quiet game, he still tends to score a touchdown - whether it's a kick off return, deep pass, break off a run whatever.

Best flashes very similar home run hitting ability and lightning speed, but he's smaller and has had two very serious head injuries now which will concern scouts. He's good in the passing game, but not as good as Spiller for me. His pass protection isn't as good. He's shown a consistency in making big plays but not with the regularity of Spiller. It also concerns me slightly that in big games Best has disappointed, but then you watch a half injured Spiller perform the way he did in the ACC Championship and you seperate the two.

Best might be a better 'between the tackles' runner but I think Spiller has a better burst when he turns on the jets.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Charlie Brown isn't going to make it to the Senior Bowl:

I wonder if this will cause him to fall to us at #40 or if it would lead us to pass on him there.

Rob Staton said...

It's a hard one to project. I can sort of understand why he isn't there. People act surprised when the borderline first rounders don't show - but they have a lot to lose and not much more to gain from the Senior Bowl. Brown has an extra month to bulk up for the combine, if he's not at a peak weight here and performs badly it'll linger with scouts.

At the same time, those same scouts might be just as put off by the fact he hasn't shown.

However - Jason Smith was a no-show last year, arrived at the combine in peak conidition and went from a late first rounder to 2nd overall. Eugene Monroe didn't show up at the Senior Bowl. The one guy who did was Michael Oher, and on draft day he sank like a stone. I wouldn't read to much into passing here. It's disappointing not to see these guys, but it shouldn't hurt them too much.

Kyle Rota said...

I have to disagree with a few comments between Best and Spiller, Rob.

1, I wouldn't call Best smaller. Assuming the schools are not lying to us (and they most assuredly are), they are the same weight and Best is an inch shorter. I'd consider that an advantage for a running back, height doesn't do much good... The shorter and squatter, the better.

I also wouldn't consider either to be better as a receiver. Best wasn't used the same way in Cal's system, but he makes the most of his chances. Both split out wide, both catch most balls thrown to them, and both are scary on wheel-routes.

Personally, I'd give Spiller the edge in blocking (by a significant margin. Best is not a strong blocker, Spiller is above-average), pure speed (this is close, the first couple of games I did of Spiller I actually was inclined to give it to Best. Spiller runs at top speed rarely, but when he does he is fast. Best runs at his top speed more regularly, but it isn't quite as fast), and "power", though neither back has much.

Best has freakish lateral speed. He can race to the sidelines and win the corner. Both are elusive in the open-field, but Best also makes guys miss and take bad angles between the tackles. Best is quicker to full speed, as well. I'd compare Spiller to Felix Jones and Best to the Clinton Portis Denver had (not the bigger, slower, great blocking back WAS has). The lateral speed Best has reminds me of when LT was in his prime, though LT had 20lbs on Best. But if you ever watched LT a few years back it was eerily similar.

Kip Earlywine said...

I'm holding off on giving an opinion for now. My head is kind of spinning at the moment, but in a few days I'm going to do a post on running back options. I'll spend a lot of time looking at Spiller and Best then and let you know what I think.

Both Rob and Kyle's takes sound pretty close to what I've heard elsewhere.

Coldmutha said...

Rob-How come you're not hard on Tebow? You go after Tmays without any true merit.

Rob Staton said...

I've been critical of Tebow's mechanics. In fact, we've broken them down to a much greater extent than we have Taylor Mays' technique at safety. In fairness - everything I've said about Mays is not unfounded and has certainly been echoed by others.

Coldmutha said...

Rob-can you provide your credentials of the sport you played? and what level of competition you reached?

Rob Staton said...

My credentials are non-existent, coldmutha. If you want to know my background, since leaving University I've worked as a scout for English soccer teams and now work as a radio journalist. I also write this blog.

I've never claimed to carry any level of expert analysis. What I have done, is watch hours of tape and spend most of my weekends (much to the distain of the future Mrs. Rob) studying up and doing my homework so that I can a.) hold an opinion and b.) back it up.

Clearly you don't much like or agree with my analysis of Taylor Mays. That is perfectly plausible, I entertain discussion on here and the last thing I want is everyone to simply agree with me.

Dan C. said...

Off topic...
I was reading twitter commments on Taylor Mays' Senior Bowl practices.
Is anyone talking about converting him to an amazing pass-rush linebacker rather than a safety with coverage issues? Seems natural to me given his size and athleticism. He could ALSO play safety, just not all the time.

Vince Mulcahy said...

Thought this would be the most appropriate place to put this:

I'd thought it would be cool to list some of the players that the Seahawks specifically could be targetting. Because as fun as some of the guys are to watch we simply won't draft because of team need (mainly Tebow who manages to show up everywhere...)

I don't expect Iupati to be around when we are drafting later, but I would like to see some more tape on Jeff Byers (Guard, USC). At 6'-3" 300 he was moving around pretty well on the 1-v-1 drills. But I like his mean streak; jumping down on DTs after a knock down. It might bring some fire to our o-line that clearly lacks right now.

Nate Allen (Saftey, South FL) and Myron Rolle (Saftey, Florida St. but did not play in 09) were two impressive DBs. Both did really well on the 1-1 drills, which favor the WR. Rolle came in at 6'1" 217 , and Allen 6-1 205 but as they are both cover safeties are decently sized. I think Rolle has a higher ceiling as he didn't play in 09 and will still be getting comfortable with full padded practice. But both are guys that will be interesting to see how they fair through out the week.

None of the OT were very impressive I thought. Ciron Black is the name that comes to mind, but he has such a goofy first step that I'm questioning his footwork. And he is too big and clunky for a zbs anyway.

The corners were really varied in skill level. I wasn't that impressed with some of the bigger names like Perrish Cox and Javier Arenas. I thought Syd'Quan Thompson and Patrick Robinson had a better practices and have some natural talent that could develop. Thompson might be a limited package player though as his speed is not elite. Robinson had some nice break ups and could really twist his hips around quickly.

Vince Mulcahy said...

Dan C,

Mays doesn't nearly have the size for an OLB. He also looked pretty bad in press coverage and most of the WR had very clean releases off the los. Wherever he goes that team is going to have an agressive defense though. If Mays is limited to zone coverage, but can't play cover 1, and a little too small for LB it will take an unorthodox defensive coordinator to utilize his limited skill set.