So here are the notes from the draft prospects in their bowl games, again, with the needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers in mind:
PEACH BOWL (LSU vs. Miami) – The left tackles here showed why this is a strong tackle crop. LSU's Andrew Whitworth (6-7, 325) outplayed Miami's Eric Winston (6-7, 310) because he has better feet. Winston might be stronger, but Whitworth played a physical game all the same. He led a ground attack highlighted by Joseph Addai (6-0, 205) who showed a giant heart inside as well as the ability to run outside. He showed good hands and blocked like the rest of the LSU offense: with Walter Payton-sized heart. He does run a little high, and with that Payton-like heart he'll take a pounding, but Addai looked like a late first-round guy for a quality team that doesn't want to mess around with a prima donna who can't block. Are you listening Laurence Maroney? LSU right guard Nate Livings (6-5, 295) had a very good came. He's an overachiever who can pull; sixth-rounder. Defensively for LSU, Claude Wroten (6-3, 295) isn't a run-stuffer nor is he a pass rusher, so he's been labeled a 3-4 end, but he's a slasher. Maybe he can be coached into being a two-gapper, but he didn't show it this season. His sidekick at defensive tackle, Kyle Williams (6-2, 295), is an overachiever who looks like mid-round fodder. End Melvin Oliver (6-3, 295) isn't the celebrated prospect his linemates are but showed suddenness and could grow into a quality 3-4 end. I'd rather take him in the third round than Wroten in the first. There were no notes next to FS LaRon Landry's name; just another center fielder surveying the action. PR Skyler Green is Tim Dwight – good return man; small No. 5 receiver. His counterpart for Miami, Devin Hester, is a more explosive return man, but lacks confidence. That's what you'll get when you measure a senior against a junior, and I feel Hester is making a career-threatening decision by coming out a year early. He doesn't have a position and Larry Coker used the listed CB as a tailback and slot receiver, and Hester's lack of confidence was obvious. Someone gave Hester some bad advice because he needs to return and play one position for a season. As for the rest of Miami, WR Sinorice Moss (5-8, 195) is too small for the first day, FB Quadtrine Hill (6-2, 225) is a pass-blocking tailback with speed, hands and is the team captain; DT Orien Harris (6-4, 300) is a one-gapper who'll be overdrafted; and LB Rocky McIntosh (6-2, 237) is a half-step behind everything.
CAR CARE BOWL (North Carolina State vs. South Florida) – Mario Williams (6-6, 285) looked like Jevon Kearse. He's obviously a 4-3 end, but like Kearse could play FS for you. His bookend at NCState. Manny Lawson (6-5, 245), was stiff in limited coverage opportunities. Since he's nowhere near being the next Dwight Freeney as a DE, Lawson will have to play OLB in a 3-4, but he looks like Alonzo Jackson trying to shift his hips while dropping. Lawson will be one of the great busts of the draft because his workout times will tempt someone. MLB Oliver Hyte (6-3, 255) is camp fodder. NCState TE T.J. Williams (6-3, 255) is loose-limbed and a willing blocker, but he's better athlete than blocker. South Florida RB Andre Hall (5-10, 205) lined up in the slot at times and showed natural hands. He runs inside, toom with that chippy chop style and is built low to the ground. Might be a nice second-day surprise.
LIBERTY BOWL (Tulsa vs. Fresno State) – Sorry, Kyle Young fans, but my center will not make my quarterback look like a bear crapping in the woods. Young (6-5, 320) is strong but he's so tall his butt is barely off the ground. That forced QB Paul Pinegar to play like said Bear the last few years. Not with my Ben, you don't. Pinegar (6-4, 220) survived the embarrassment though. He looks like a solid fifth-rounder with average mobility and arm strength. Fresno DE Garrett McIntyre (6-3, 270) has nice hips for a big man. He could lose a few and play OLB. The Tulsa star is TE Garret Mills (6-2, 232), who's more of an H-back with great hands and a knack for finding the openings. He's already being looked at as a fullback.
COTTON BOWL (Alabama vs. Texas Tech) – The Steelers will be looking at linebackers, but Alabama OLB Demeco Ryans (6-2, 232) will be gone. He was the standout here because of his suddenness and instincts. S Roman Harper (6-1, 200) is an interesting prospect. He showed some good instincts and was active in this game. DE Mark Anderson (6-5, 255) is an interesting mid-round OLB projection. He dropped at times and already has an array of effective pass-rushing moves. Cornerback Anthony Madison (5-9, 180) is a small but tough player with return skills, just like Deshea Townsend coming out. QB Brodie Croyle showed a strong arm and intelligence. He's a bit on the slow side, but looks like an able fifth-round project. For the TT Red Raiders, QB Cody Hodges 6-1, 210) showed good mobility and toughness, but has a weak arm. RB Taurean Henderson (5-10, 205) is low to the ground and runs with short steps but might be too small. He wasn't asked to block. The best prospect at TTRR is FS Dwayne Slay (6-3, 215), who looks smaller than his listed size but is sudden in run support and hits hard.
OUTBACK BOWL (Iowa vs. Florida) – This was taped off a late-night replay and ESPN gutted this game for commercials. From the limited film, it appears Iowa OLB Chad Greenway (6-4, 245) has better range and is better in coverage than ILB Abdul Hodge (6-2, 235), but didn't show the same toughness between the tackles. I need to see more, but Greenway will probably be drafted too early anyway. Iowa had a couple of small but tough corners who got beat by bigger WRs. Offensively, WR/PR Ed Hinkle (6-1, 190) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but ran stiffly. He looked like he had knee problems. Florida WR Chad Jackson (6-1, 205) made one leaping grab and muffed away a punt return. Center Mike Degory (6-5, 310) relies too much on cut-blocking. LT Randy Hand (6-6, 310) is a better run blocker who lacks a true anchor in pass pro.
GATOR BOWL (Virginia Tech vs. Louisville) – Marcus Vick stomped on Elvis Dumervil in this infamous game. Vick eventually was kicked out of school. The incident occurred while a sideline reporter was interviewing Michael Vick in the stands. It happened while he was in the middle of a puff answer about his brother's "maturation as a quarterback." The camera cut to the action right before Marcus stomped on Dumervil. The camera went back to Michael Vick and no one mentioned it until the teams came out from halftime. Anyway, CB Jimmy Williams (6-3, 216) was ejected for throwing a fit INTO an official after Louisville's second touchdown. This punk will be overdrafted, so he's not a consideration here. DE Daryl Tapp (6-1, 268) is a 4-3 end and OLB James Anderson (6-3, 232) is a rangy SS-LB tweener. Tech has some interesting offensive talent. TE Jeff King (6-5, 246) plays basketball, too, and has hands, toughness and can block. RB Cedric Humes (6-1, 232) showed inside power and some nimbleness on cutbacks. Humes moved piles, but Louisville's defense isn't the most stout. Humes looked like a fourth-rounder. For Louisville, Dumervil (6-0, 255) can't hold the point and didn't show much potential to play linebacker; early fourth-rounder. RB Michael Bush played well with a sore foot but made the right decision to come back to school. This Bam Morris carbon will be someone's pride and joy in the first 10 picks in 2007.
ORLANDO BOWL (Wisconsin vs. Auburn) – LT Joe Thomas (6-8, 325) looked like the next Tony Boselli, but in the dumbest move of a fine career, coach Barry Alvarez had Thomas play DT in the third quarter with a 17-3 lead. Thomas, in his second defensive series, tore an ACL. Wisky RB Brian Calhoun (5-10, 195) can break it, but is small with questionable hands and he can't block a lick. He's a sixth- or seventh-rounder. TE Owen Daniels (6-3, 250) is an interesting second-day prospect. He's a willing blocker with great hands who also played fullback on the punt team and made a great tackle in coverage. Daniels was the Wisky H-Back and showed he could lead a RB through the hole. The Steelers should like Daniels. WR/KR Brandon Williams (5-11, 170) is a tough little guy and very competitive. The last Wisky prospect, WR Jonathan Orr (6-3, 190) is an enthusiastic blocker and possession receiver. For Auburn, it's difficult to watch anyone with Marcus McNeill (6-9, 340) filling up the screen. He played better here than he did against Georgia, but is still an overrated waist-bender who plays too high and is slow to react to blitzers. WRs Anthony Mix (6-5, 245) and Ben Obomanu (6-1, 200) are late-rounders. Mix is more interesting because of his size and blocking. Auburn's other WR, Devin Aromashedu (6-2, 205), showed explosiveness as a return man. RT Troy Reddick (6-5, 335) is more interesting than McNeill. Reddick is strong and showed good feet. He was ejected in the second quarter for throwing a punch after Wisconsin rolled up on his leg. Nose tackle T.J. Jackson (6-1, 306) is a late-rounder.
FIESTA BOWL (Ohio State vs. Notre Dame) – OLB A.J. Hawk (6-1, 238) is deserving of the hype. He has speed, strength and instincts. In other words, forget about seeing this guy at the bottom of the first. ILB Anthony Schlegel is hailed as an underrated player so often, he's now overrated. I didn't have DE Mike Kudla on my prospects list, but he kept showing up, unlike S Nate Salley (6-3, 215), who never showed up. FS Donte Whitner (5-11, 200) will be the better value in the fifth round. Let CB Ashton Youboty (6-1, 190) be someone else's enigma. He looks disinterested at times, but is a sudden athlete. For the Ohio State offense, Santonio Holmes (5-11, 195) is polished but lacks explosiveness. I'm surprised to see so many list him as a first rounder; I put a third-round mark next to his name that night. C Nick Mangold (6-4, 290) is quick and polished and played a great game, but won't be taken in the first round. The better line value will be OT Rob Sims (6-4, 310), who's big, can move and showed some nastiness. Notre Dame's most interesting prospect is WR Maurice Stovall (6-5, 225), who showed great hands and blocks. Stovall's had a year under Charlie Weis, so that adds to his value.
SUGAR BOWL (Georgia vs. West Virginia) – Georgia did the same thing Pitt did: stayed in a 4-3 cover two against the running Mountaineers. The Georgia defense is better against the pass with corners Tim Jennings and DeMario Minter. DT Gerard Anderson (6-2, 315) didn't play because of a back injury. He's a better prospect than Kedric Golston (6-4, 275), who could develop into a decent 3-4 end in his own right. FS Greg Blue (6-1, 215) was rarely in the action or on the screen. Offensively, Georgia QB D.J. Shockley (6-1, 226) looks like another decent fifth-round prospect. His line has massive men: OT Dennis Roland (6-8, 310) flopped sides with OG Max Jean-Gilles (6-4, 340). Jean-Gilles is a rock in short yardage but has eaten himself into the description: "phone-booth guy." He lumbers in the open field. Roland is big, strong and has good feet; another in a long line of serviceable right tackles. TE Leonard Pope (6-6, 250) is Bennie Cunningham's double. Fans may remember the big Steelers' tight end who could block and catch, but was easily upended with a low hit. Pope is intriguing, and so was Cunningham, but will have the same "big-man problems" Cunningham had.
WVU C Dan Mozes (6-4, 295) is only a junior, and he probably needs another year after moving from guard. Pro scouts look to move college guards to center because the center position's perpetually weak, so Mozes is ahead in the game. RT Garin Justice (6-7, 305) can move and had a good game against Georgia junior Quentin Moses. WR Brandon Myles (6-3, 190) is an interesting prospect who was covered most of the game as WVU ran all over Georgia. Defensively, WVU's secondary has the prospects. FS Jahmile Addae (6-0, 205) made a highlight-reel hit but seemed to shrink from any more real tackling the rest of the game. SS Mike Lorello (6-1, 200) is an active tackle but looks smaller than his listed size. NT Ernest Hunter (6-4, 295) is active and pushed double teams.
ORANGE BOWL (Florida State vs. Penn State) – Penn State DE Tamba Hali (6-3, 271) dominated this game. He has the explosive first step of one Dwight Freeney, and his motor never stopped. He's a top 10 player. CB Alan Zemaitis (6-1, 200) intercepted an early pass and was avoided the rest of the game. He's a tough tackler, too. His opposite CB, Anwar Phillips (6-1, 185) saw plenty of action and held tight coverage most of the time. FS/PR Calvin Lowry is solid. Steelers DB coach Darren Perry (of Penn State) will get the inside on these guy. The only offensive prospect from Penn State is QB Michael Robinson, who measured 6-feet-1 at the Senior Bowl. Look for him to emerge as a running back in the mid-rounds.
When Florida State could block Hali long enough, it often found WR Willie Reid (5-10, 186), who yapped like a poodle all game but showed some explosion as both a receiver and return man. He also threw a big fourth-quarter block to spring a play. He'll be a productive third or fourth-rounder. RB Leon Washington (5-9, 205) couldn't find any lanes behind his lousy O-line, but played with passion, particularly as a pass blocker. Defensively, OLB Ernie Sims was the show. His size and suddenness evoke memories of Wilbur Marshall. Sims is a classic 4-3 Will backer. NT Broderick Bunkley (6-2, 290) is a slasher as opposed to a two-gapper who'd interest the Steelers. DE/LB Kamerio Wimbley (6-4, 255) left me wanting to see more. Just back from injury, he looked rusty, but interesting. FS Pat Watkins (6-4, 195) is tall and skinny, but made plays in both the pass and run game. He was also outstanding as a punt gunner.
ROSE BOWL (USC vs. Texas) – Let's just cross Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Vince Young off the list because they'll be long gone. Just on a hunch, let's also cross off RB LenDale White and RT Winston Justice for a combination of unavailability/character. TE Dominique Byrd (6-3, 260) was seldom used but proved tough to tackle. LG Tatusi Lutui (6-6, 370) is big and can move; love to see this guy lead the counter power. Defensively for USC, DE Frostee Rucker (6-4, 255) is interesting because of his hips. He could make the move to 3-4 OLB and in fact dropped at times in this game. The USC safeties had poor games. Darrell Bing (6-2, 220) is smart but not much of a tackler for a SS. FS Scott Ware (6-3, 220) is a late-round special-teamer. His tackling was a problem here.
Texas LT Jon Scott (6-7, 305) conjured up memories of John Jackson. He's strong and fit, the way a left tackle should be. He also made the long pull and mowed someone down. He's a first-rounder. TE David Thomas (6-3, 245) might have been the toughest player in this game. He has GREAT hands and refused to go down. Impressed with his field smarts, too, but Thomas is a bit thin. RG Will Allen (6-6, 315) is too slow to play for the Steelers. Defensively, DT Rod Wright (6-5, 305) was an invisible man and should fell into the second round. DB Mike Huff is a strong FS but he tackles like Chris Hope – consistently high. Instinct says Huff will time well enough to be the first CB drafted. DT Larry Dibbles (6-2, 285) doesn't start, but was very active and emotional. He'll be an interesting sixth-rounder. CB Ced Griffin is a hitter who's solid in coverage.