Slotting the Senior Bowl Prospects

There are probably a hundred different draft sites that will give you their opinions on who helped themselves and who didn't during Senior Bowl week, but where does the big picture stand now? Our draft expert Josh Liskiewitz has returned from Mobile, Alabama to answer those questions and more.

(Independent scout and draft expert Josh Liskiewitz will contribute regularly to in the days, weeks and months leading up to the annual NFL draft. To determine Josh's street cred, check his bio beneath the article -- Thanks, Ed.)

There are probably a hundred different draft sites that will give you their opinions on who helped themselves and who didn’t during Senior Bowl week, but where does the big picture stand now? Here is part one of my firsthand breakdown of the week’s events, which also ranks all prospects at the game that I will grade as day one (first round) or day two (2nd and 3rd round) prospects.

First Round Prospects

Cameron Jordan  /  DE  /  California  /  6-4 1/8  /  287lbs

Jordan was a dominant force all week, whether it be during individual drills or team periods, run defense or pass rushing. He showed elite strength at the point of attack, which teams that run the 3-4 will love, as well as excellent quickness and superior hand usage, which will have 4-3 teams salivating. Teams also love the competitiveness he showed throughout the week, as too often the top senior prospects skip the senior bowl for more favorable conditions at a personal workout. If he is not drafted in the top ten then several teams will have made a serious mistake.

Von Miller  /  OLB  /  Texas A&M  /  6-2 5/8  /  237 lbs

Coming into this past week Miller was regarded by many as an elite 3-4 pass rushing OLB, but 4-3 teams were concerned about where he would translate in their scheme. Miller put all fears to rest, as not only was he outstanding rushing the passer both with his hand down at DE and standing at OLB, he was impressive dropping into coverage. He clearly has the athleticism and instincts to cover and pursue in space, making him capable of playing either weak or strong side backer for traditional 4-3 teams. Expect him to also be selected in the top ten, possibly as high as #3 overall to Buffalo.

Anthony Castonzo  /  OT  /  Boston College  /  6-7 1/8  /  305 lbs

Both rosters were loaded with talent on the offensive line, and although Castonzo struggled during the actual game, he proved throughout the week that he is the cream of this year’s crop. He showed the athleticism and length to consistently cut off the corner and change directions against pass rushers, but what was most impressive was his natural strength and competitiveness. He displayed the ability to play with consistent knee bend and leverage, which allowed him to anchor and deflect bull rushers, as well as drive block effectively on run plays. Expect to hear his name called early on April 28th.

Leonard Hankerson  /  WR  /  Miami  /  6-1 5/8  /  205 lbs

This was not the most impressive group of receivers in Mobile this week, so I expected Hankerson to set himself apart from the rest; he did not disappoint. On film he looks like a thick, possession style receiver, but during practice this week he proved he is much more well rounded prospect. He was very quick and efficient getting in and out of his breaks, and was very consistent playing the ball in the air. His play carried over to the game, as he was again the most productive receiver on either team. What’s most telling about his skill set is the number of times all three South QBs targeted him during the game. This demonstrated the high level of trust he had built with each of them in just 4 short days. After his stellar performance this week, he should challenge Alabama’s Julio Jones for #2 receiver in the entire draft class, behind only Georgia’s A.J. Green.

Ryan Kerrigan  /  DE  /  Purdue  /  6-3 7/8  /  255 lbs

The week did not get off to a great start for Kerrigan, as he weighed in at only 255 and looked thin in his lower body. Back on the field, however, it was business as usual for the skilled pass rushing king of the Big Ten. He continually impressed with his burst and skilled hand usage coming off the edge, something none of the highly touted tackles on either squad had an answer for. While he needs to improve his lower body strength in order to better hold the point of attack against the run, with his competitiveness and pass rushing skills expect him to be a mid to late first round selection at this year’s draft.

Nate Solder  /  OT  /  Colorado  /  6-8 ¼  /  314 lbs

From a technique standpoint, Nate Solder is far from a finished product. He doesn’t shuffle his feet consistently, and too often relies on his length by stopping his feet and reaching for his man, causing him to fall off blocks. He must also show better awareness in space, as on short pulls he tends to ride the back of his TE instead of using his elite quickness to get around the corner and execute blocks on the 2nd level. However, he is an outstanding athlete for a man his size, and clearly has the physical skill set to start at LT in the NFL.

Derek Sherrod  /  OT  /  Mississippi State  /  6-5 5/8  /  312 lbs

While Sherrod went somewhat unnoticed during the week, he saved his best for last during the actual game on Saturday. He displayed impressive foot quickness getting out to the edge against speed rushers, and also showed the balance and change of direction ability needed to deflect counter moves. He was also extremely effective when run blocking, as he showed the strength, leg drive and competitiveness needed to collapse his side of the line of scrimmage and open up huge holes. While I only rank him as the #3 OT this week, and will probably rank USC junior Tyron Smith ahead of him as well, he clearly has the tools to play LT at the next level, and should be a mid to late first round selection in this year’s draft.

Second Round Prospects

Stephen Paea  /  DT  /  Oregon State  /  6-1 1/8  /  295 lbs

While Paea’s film and Senior Bowl week performance is that of a first round pick, during practice on Wednesday he tore the MCL in his right knee.  If he can’t perform at the combine or run an individual workout in March or April, he could drop to the 2nd, or even 3rd round.  The reason he was considered a first round prospect before his injury, is his elite quickness off the snap.  He has an excellent first step, and uses his hands well to set up a variety of pass rush moves.  As long as his knee is not a long term issue, he will be a highly productive under tackle for a 4-3 defense.  
Rodney Hudson  /  OG  /  Florida State 6-2 ¼  /  291 lbs
There was a collective sigh of relief from general managers and scouts alike at the Senior Bowl weigh-in when Hudson weighed in at 291.  While it clearly wasn’t “good” weight, the fact of the matter is he can add needed bulk to his frame.  On the field he plays with very consistent knee bend and leverage, which allows him to play stronger at the point of attack than his lack of size would suggest.  He has elite speed and quickness for an interior lineman, and while he played both guard positions during Senior Bowl week his natural fit is probably at center.  He could sneak into the end of the first round, and will be a day one starter, whether at guard or center.
Danny Watkins  /  OG  /  Baylor  /  6-3 ½  /  312 lbs
No player helped himself more this week than Danny Watkins, as he showed he clearly has the strength and athleticism to start immediately at either guard spot in the NFL.  What is most impressive about his game is his ability to consistently sink his hips and play with leverage, which allows him to anchor the point of attack against even the strongest of nose tackles.  He will be a hot commodity early on day 2, despite his being 27 years old and not only being fairly new to football, but new to the position as well (he played left tackle at Baylor).
Colin Kaepernick  /  QB  /  Nevada  /  6-4 5/8  /  225 lbs
While scouts and media alike were hoping to see Jake Locker step his game up in Mobile, it was Kaepernick who set himself apart from the other Senior Bowl QBs.  At the weigh-in he looked much thicker in his upper body than he did on film, although he clearly needs to develop his lower body.  Not only did he display his elite speed and athleticism, but he was far and away the most consistently accurate QB throughout the week, and also showed off the elite arm needed to make every NFL through.  The hitch in his throwing motion has steadily improved throughout his college career, and teams were very impressed with how solid his footwork and decision making was at practice this week; the transition from the “Pistol” offense at Nevada to the more traditional pro style system he used in Mobile did not appear too big for him.  
James Brewer  /  OT  /  Indiana 6-6 ¼  /  323 lbs
While much of the attention at offensive tackle this week was paid to Anthony Castonzo and Nate Solder, Brewer was impressive in his own right.  He showed the natural strength to play right tackle, but also surprised with his quickness and footwork on the blind side.  Once locked on his man struggled to disengage from his block, and while he isn’t an elite prospect, he has the tools to start in the NFL and will come at a cheaper price than several of his Senior Bowl teammates. 
Jarvis Jenkins  /  DT  /  Clemson  /  6-3 7/8  /  309  lbs
Jenkins was a difficult prospect to evaluate on film because he benefited from playing next to the top overall player in the entire draft class, Clemson DE and college teammate Da’Quan Bowers.  While he flashed excellent strength at the POA and surprising foot quickness, he rarely saw double teams, something he will need to deal with on a consistent basis in the NFL.  While he wasn’t an overwhelmingly productive player in Mobile, he flashed the same skill set that he did in college.  While he has the versatility to play in any scheme, 3-4 teams will love him because he has enough quicks to play end, but has the bulk and strength to play nose tackle as well.  With so many teams using the 3-4, he could go earlier than expected.
Titus Young  /  WR  /  Boise State  /  5-11 ¼  /  174 lbs
Young had a big week in Mobile, showing the agility and explosiveness to run precise routes and consistently create separation.  While he struggled opening the week with numerous drops, this was not an issue going forward, and he was also consistent catching the ball on film.  His slight frame and off the field concerns could keep him from being drafted in the first round, but clearly he has the skill set to be a dynamic playmaker not only as a receiver, but as a punt and kick returner as well.  
DJ Williams  /  TE  /  Arkansas  /  6-1 7/8  /  236 lbs
While his lack of size and natural strength prevents him from being a consistent blocker at the point of attack, Williams’ athleticism and consistent hands will make him a match up nightmare at the next level.  In Mobile he demonstrated the smoothness and quickness needed to accelerate out of his breaks and create separation on his routes, as well as the speed to run away from linebackers in the seams.  While he isn’t a complete prospect, expect him to be a highly productive receiving TE at the next level in the mold of New England Patriots 2010 rookie Aaron Hernandez.
Third Round Prospects
James Carpenter  /  OT  /  Alabama  /  6-4 ¾  /  313 lbs
Carpenter’s best trait is possibly his versatility, which was on display in Mobile.  He has the strength and enough quickness to protect the edge at RT, but body-wise is a more natural fit inside at guard, where he played at Alabama up until his senior season.  While he isn’t an elite athlete he flashes the agility to kick out to the edge, and he has the competitiveness to fight to the whistle on every snap.
Gabe Carimi  /  OT  /  Wisconsin  /  6-7 1/8  /  315 lbs
While some consider him among the elite tackles in this year’s class, Carimi is way too inconsistent to be considered a first round prospect.  He is regularly caught stopping his feet and bending at the waist, and because of this does not sustain blocks as long as he should be able to.  He has elite bulk, strength, and arm length, but he will not survive in the NFL on size alone.
Kendric Burney  /  CB  /  North Carolina  /  5-9  /  181 lbs
With top echelon DBs Jimmy Smith from Colorado and Prince Amukamara from Nebraska opting out of the Senior Bowl late, Burney was able to step up and shine throughout his week in Mobile.  While his lack of size and elite speed probably limits him to nickel and dime packages, he possesses the instincts and aggressiveness to be effective not only in pass coverage, but also against the run and on special teams.  
Curtis Brown  /  CB  /  Texas  /  5-11 5/8  /  180 lbs
Brown struggled on Monday, but settled down as the week progressed and had overall a solid Senior Bowl week.  His biggest issue is his technique, as he does not have a consistent back pedal, and gets into trouble when he gets high and choppy and opens up too early, allowing his receiver to beat him on the break.  This is a technique that isn’t generally employed at Texas, and he should improve as he gains proper experience.
Vincent Brown  /  WR  /  San Diego State  /  5-11  /  184 lbs
Brown was one of the big surprises of the week, as he proved to be one of the quickest, most consistent receivers on either roster.  He needs to add bulk to his frame, but he flashed the quickness and agility to run precise routes, and was able to create separation consistently.  Brown also displayed solid hands and ball skills.  

Josh Liskiewitz has been an independent scout for four years, the last two with GM Jr as a college scout. He is a self professed "film junkie," watching upwards of 50 hours of film per week year round on hundreds of NFL prospects. He credits Russ Lande, former NFL scout and founder and president of GM Jr Scouting LLC, with aiding in the development of his foundation in scouting and unique perspective on football.

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