Day 1: Upwardly Mobile in Mobile

It's early in the predraft process, but if first impressions are lasting, a number of players did their draft stock a favor Monday in Mobile, Ala. Who were the surprises from the North and South squads in their first Senior Bowl action in front of NFL scouts and coaches?

Not everyone comes to the week of Senior Bowl practices with visions of first-round draft stock dancing through their heads.

In fact, most of the players are at the Senior Bowl this week in Mobile, Ala., looking to improve on their stock, compete against the guy that might be more highly touted and show the array of NFL scouts and coaches that he can look better in person than he did on tape.

The first day of practices at the college all-star week were held Monday afternoon as the North and South squads practiced at the same time in different towns. Here are a couple of the pleasant surprises picked out by observers on the ground:


OL Rodney Hudson and Danny Watkins
The duo along the interior of the South team offensive line was very impressive during the one-on-one drills in the first practice of the week. Hudson, a standout from Florida State, got the best of his matchup with Cedric Thornton. Hudson had several NFL scouts inquiring about him at the conclusion of practice.

Along with Hudson, offensive guard Danny Watkins from Baylor also had a very productive first day. He regularly went up against his college teammate, Phil Taylor, and won most of the one-on-one battles.
— Kevin Carden

DE Brooks Reed
Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed had a strong initial showing. He displayed a lot of burst around the edge, making running back Noel Devine miss on one attempt and putting pressure on the quarterback. Later in the short full-team session, Reed showed his speed and a good angle chasing the ball carrier in pursuit. He isn't a fit for a 3-4 defense at end, but he might he looks the part to play outside linebacker in that scheme.
— Tim Yotter

WR Leonard Hankerson
The product from "The U" was listed at 6-foot-3 on the initial Senior Bowl roster but checked in at 6-foot-1 5/8 during the Monday morning weigh-ins. No matter, he played like he was 6-4, but it was his route-running that was especially impressive. He continued toward the ball nicely on comeback routes, which may have turned potential interceptions into receptions. "He's a playmaker," said one AFC personnel man on the sidelines.

"I think that's one of my strengths – the route running, going up and getting the ball and being a physical guy," Hankerson said. "I'm looking to improve on coming in and out of my breaks and having my hands ready so I can catch the ball better."
— Tim Yotter


WR Austin Pettis and Titus Young
The two wide receivers from Boise State, Austin Pettis and Titus Young, both found a way to stand out on Day 1 for the North, even though none of the three signal-callers was particularly sharp throwing the football. Senior Bowl practices can be sloppy, as the skill-position players have never worked together before and are being directed by an NFL coaching staff for the first time, but Pettis and Young were drawing rave reviews from Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi in particular.
— John Crist

DT Ian Williams
My surprise of the day for Monday's North Team practice was Notre Dame defensive tackle Ian Williams. A member of the much-maligned Irish defense, Williams impressed scouts and onlookers as the 6-1, 311-pound tackle handled some of the top offensive line prospects in the nation in one-on-one drills. Williams can play in the middle in a 4-3 alignment or outside in a 3-4. He certainly received attention on Monday with his performance.
— Charlie Bernstein

Jake Locker
Having never seen Jake Locker in person and covering a completely different side of the country, I wasn't completely sold. But on Monday Locker separated himself from the other North team quarterbacks in my opinion. His release is quick and efficient, he was the most accurate guy out there and he seems to have good presence in the huddle. I was also impressed with his attitude after interviewing him. The combination of his play on the practice field and his obvious intangible qualities make him my biggest surprise of the day.
— Laura McKeeman

DT Sione Fua
The defensive tackle from Stanford had a strong practice, showing crisp technique and a variety of moves and counter moves. He had one particularly strong swim move during a one-on-one session that drew oohs and ahhs from the scouts in attendance. He played with great intensity and leverage.
— Michael Lombardo

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