Senior Bowl Winners
Last week in Mobile, Alabama the nations finest college football seniors gathered together for one last opportunity to demonstrate their football skills on the field in hopes of proving their worth to NFL observers. It was their first time enduring professional style practices, run by NFL coaching staffs, and a number of players saw their draft status rise as a result of their performance. Here's a brief list of players that helped themselves the most.
1) Marcus Trufant/CB/Washington State: Trufant clearly established himself as the #2 Cb heading into the combines with his performance this week. Trufant showed excellent footwork and fluid hips all week, coming out of his backpedal only when opposing WR's were going deep. While he may lack great speed he was only beaten deep on 1 play and shows an incredible ability to break on the ball once it's in the air. Fundamentally he is far ahead of his peers at this point.
2) Kevin Williams/DT/Oklahoma State: Williams was a terror all week against both the pass and the run. He firmly held his ground in run blocking situations and consistently applied pressure to QB's during passing drills. Weighing in at just over 300 lbs, Williams was also the fastest DT in Mobile this week.
3) Carson Palmer/QB/USC: Palmer was clearly the class of this group. In Byron Leftwich's absence Palmer further solidified his grasp on the top spot in the draft heading into the combines. After starting struggling in the first few practices, possibly due to adjusting to a new offense and new players around him, Palmer finished the week showing a strong and polished arm with tight spirals and good velocity on his throws.
4) Sam Aiken/WR/North Carolina: A tall kid, with the look of a possession receiver, Aiken is a physical specimen that plays with solid fundamentals, and shows the ability to break tackles. Suprisingly he graded out as either the top receiver or the second best receiver in every South practice. While he does lack great speed his precise routes give him the separation he needs to gain a step on DB's. Once he's open he does a nice job of making a strong play on the ball and extending his hands to make the catch off his body. He only dropped 1 pass all week that I saw. The strength and balance he shows after making the catch could make him a solid threat to add yards after the catch, a talent he prides himself on.
5) Eric Steinbach/OG-OT/Iowa: The top rated guard on most boards coming into this week Steinbach helped himself by playing well at both OG and at LT. He looked like the best LT on the Norths roster and did a nice job of holding his ground in pass blocking situations while playing in space. His footwork is fundamentally solid and does a nice job of using angles to help him cut off pass rushers despite his lack of experience at LT. He may not have the foot speed to play LT on a full time basis and his stellar play at guard may take him off the board before anyone might draft him as a tackle. He did however solidify himself as a first round pick and he may have a chance to break into the top 25 selections.
6) Bryant Johnson/WR/Penn State: A big, physical, and athletic WR prospect Johnson did a nice job all week in practices. He runs solid routes and does a nice job of extending his hands when catching and out fighting DB's for the ball. Another physically imposing WR prospect, Johnson shows great concentration and does an excellent job of reacting to tipped passes and tight physical coverage.
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