Senior Bowl evaluations: South squad

Without any true standouts in the first day at the South practice, several players showed some strong flashes. The Scout.com contingent in Mobile ranked and evaluated the Senior Bowl's top players at each position Tuesday.

Quarterbacks
1. Blake Sims, Alabama: Sims was the more consistent of the quarterbacks Tuesday for the South squad. He showed good accuracy with the short and intermediate passes and throwing on the move. Sims struggled on the longer throws.

2. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State: Grayson is certainly the better prospect of the two. He has good size and a very strong arm. Grayson made some terrific throws on the day but also missed some easy ones. Grayson also missed open guys with mis-reads.

Running backs
1. Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn: The compact runner doesn’t appear to have breakaway speed, but he shows flashes of quickness and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Because the draft is deep at the position, the Senior Bowl is his opportunity to show he should be considered for a later round pick. While some draft experts have questioned his physicality, he had decent numbers after first contact in college. Artis-Payne came into this Senior Bowl week facing some questions concerning his ability to line up as an I-back after playing in Gus Malzahn’s spread system at Auburn.

2. Jalston Fowler (FB), Alabama: NFL teams looking for rugged fullbacks will like what he brings to the position. He hits the line hard with purpose, fearless in his willingness to engage, and that’s easy to spot from Senior Bowl practice, even with hitting minimized to a certain extent. He helped pave the way for a lot of rushing yards in college, and occasionally caught some passes out of the backfield. Teams looking for a fullback will likely target him at or near the top of his position. Fowler certainly does not have elite speed, but he showed that he has better-than-expected quickness for someone of his size. He also showed he has good hands out of the backfield during his career and did not disappoint in that area in day one. His versatility and potential to perhaps play as an H-back could be his ticket to making a roster.

3. David Johnson, Northern Iowa: The Senior Bowl is made for guys like this. A big runner who isn’t shy about taking on tacklers, he also has the speed and excellent hands to be an effective pass receiver. He’ll be looking to dispel any questions about coming from a small school. It’s early yet, but keep an eye on this guy. His versatile skillset, which includes returning kicks, could convince scouts that he would be an excellent sleeper pick.

4. Connor Neighbors (FB), LSU: He’s not as fast as Fowler nor is he considered as strong a blocker. And because he wasn’t used much as a runner in college, he might not hear his name called on draft day unless he can show something at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. That said, he was a decent blocker in college and NFL scouts might see enough potential to take a chance on him in the late rounds or as a free agent.

Wide receivers
1. Phillip Dorsett, Miami: If it’s a quick slot receiver you are looking for, Dorsett is your man. He is lightning quick off the line of scrimmage and consistently had some cornerbacks turned around in coverage with his deceptive moves. The only downfall, besides his 5-foot-9 ½, 183-pound frame is that he occasionally got a little flat-footed in his breaks.

2. Sammie Coates, Auburn: He displayed good separation from the cornerbacks on several occasions, is physical and has the speed to beat man coverage. At nearly 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, he had his way with smaller cornerbacks trying to hold him up at the line of scrimmage. He would occasionally get off-balance in his breaks.

3. Rannell Hall, UFC: Although he started off by letting the ball get into his body and had some wasted movement in his routes, he made one really nice diving catch and produced a good sideline catch a short while later.

4. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Although he, too, appeared to have some wasted energy early in his routes, he showed quick feet and was able to pluck the ball out of the rapidly to avoid giving defensive backs the opportunity at a pass breakup.

5. Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas: At 6-foot-3 ½, he was slow off the line of scrimmage, but provides a big target, high-points the ball nicely and boasted good feet on sideline catches.

Tight ends
1. Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.): Despite having what he termed as “minor” surgery to repair a slight meniscus tear in early December, Walford pronounced himself healthy after the team’s first practice Tuesday. He’s looking to prove himself worthy of a higher round pick, as had been projected before suffering the injury in the regular-season finale. His original recovery timetable was two months. He’s got the size and strength that NFL teams will like, but will be looking to display the speed and athleticism some have suggested he lacks.

2. C.J. Uzomah, Auburn: His size suggests blocking tight end, but Uzomah wasn’t utilized enough in the pass game in college, hence small senior numbers. He needs to show he can get consistent separation from Senior Bowl defenders to boost his draft position and attract interest. He’s not as fast as some tight ends spending the week in Mobile, Ala., so it’s imperative that he shows an ability to get open with sufficient foot speed.

3. Devin Mahina, BYU: He isn’t projected among the top tight ends, but has NFL size for the position and is looking to build upon a strong showing at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He has decent athletic ability, and uses his body to shield defenders. If he can continue to display that here, he could develop into a sleeper pick in the later rounds.

Offensive line
1. La’El Collins, LSU: Projected as a first-round pick, Collins measured in at 6-4½ and 308 pounds — smaller than his previously listed 321 pounds while at LSU — in the morning and then looked good at times while playing left tackle during the South’s afternoon practice.

2. Tre Jackson, Florida State: A stout 323-pounder, Jackson took turns at left guard and right guard during drills and looked strong in the run-game one-on-one drills. He was a three-year starter at right guard for the Seminoles, so he’s got the kind of experience that should make him one of the more advanced interior linemen in this draft class.

3. Arie Kouandjio, Alabama: Another guard, Kouandjio looks the part as one of the bigger interior linemen in Mobile. A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide after being a highly-touted high school prospect, he measured in at nearly 6-5 and 318 pounds on Tuesday morning.

4. Tayo Fabuluje, TCU: A mountain of a man measuring in at 6-6 ½ and 353 pounds, Fabuluje passed the eye test at first glance in Mobile. Fabuluje started his college career at BYU before transferring to TCU.

5. Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State: The 6-5, 309-pounder was a four-year starter for the Rams and graded out well during his senior season with CSU. He arrived in Mobile with some hype and fared well in the opening practice.

Defensive line
1. Gabe Wright, Auburn: The most impressive player on Tuesday in Mobile may have been Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton for the North squad, but Wright was impressive in his own right for the South. After measuring in at 6-3 and 299 pounds, Wright flashed some quickness, including beating Shaq Mason with a swim move during a one-on-one drill.

2. Markus Golden, Missouri: Golden lined up at left defensive end and right defensive end during drills and showed off his quickness around the edge. The 6-2, 255-pounder also got Blake Sims for a “sack” during 11-on-11 action.

3. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA: An impressive physical specimen at 6-3 and 266 pounds, this UCLA pass rusher looks like he will make scouts and media learn how to spell his name this week.

4. Trey Flowers, Arkansas: Flowers is an impressive-looking defensive at 6-2 and 268 pounds. He had his moments of giving the offensive tackles fits during the afternoon practice session.

5. Preston Smith, Mississippi State: Weighing in at 6-5 and 270 pounds, Smith was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the league’s coaches this past season. He’s got the body and the resume to be a player NFL teams will keep a close eye on this week.

Linebackers
1. Lorenzo Mauldin (OLB) Louisville: Mauldin was one of the better looking prospects on the day for either squad. He was terrific in one-on-ones, showing a good get-off, quickness and speed on the edge. Mauldin showed a good spin move as well.

2. Stephone Anthony (ILB) Clemson: Anthony is a very physical inside linebacker. He takes on blockers well and was tough to deal with in one-on-one drills versus a running back in rush drills. Anthony showed good quickness for a MIKE and played with good leverage. He has a reputation as a big hitter, though we didn’t see it in this practice that was not full pads. He did show a nice feel for filling the hole in the run game and above-average speed to range across the numbers and to even get outside at times. If he can keep it up for the remainder of the week, his mid-round projections will climb.

3. Denzel Perryman (ILB) Miami: While he’s a tad undersized (height wise) Perryman showed out well Tuesday for the South defense on the inside. He plays with speed, balance and quickness. Perryman is aggressive and was always in attack mode. He stood out in pass rush drills.

4. Lynden Trail (OLB) Norfolk State: The former Gator has put on weight but still has plenty of room to grow into his long 6-foot-6 frame. He had some terrific moments off the edge in one-on-one pass-rush drills. His speed and length off the edge was impressive at times.

5. Amarlo Herrera (ILB) Georgia: This is a good sized linebacker that weighs nearly 250 pounds and he moves well. Herrera plays downhill and shows good fundamentals and can play with leverage. Like Anthony and Perryman, he showed he’s a strong presence in the middle and looks like a guy that can play inside or out.

6. Geneo Grissom (OLB) Oklahoma: Grissom is a thick outside linebacker prospect that shows better straight-line speed than quickness. He’s a former end that has made the transition to this position. He is the most physically imposing linebacker on the field. He is an outside linebacker that possesses great speed for someone of his size and he is the most chiseled player here this week. The negative for Grissom coming in is that he only played linebacker for one-and-a-half seasons, moving from tight end early in his junior season. His first day here was a good one.

Cornerbacks
1. Imoan Claiborne, Northwestern State: He’s less than 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds, but he didn’t let that stop him from being aggressive in press coverage and latching on in the 5-yard zone off the line of scrimmage. There were times, however, when he had position on the receiver but let him break back in front of the ball and make the catch.

2. Kevin White, TCU: White was beaten once early, but recovered for a generally solid practice. Had good position most of the time and turns to locate the ball on deep routes.

3. Senquez Golson, Ole Miss: He has a good punch at the line of scrimmage and reacts quickly to break up passes.

4. Jacory Shepherd, Kansas: Reads the action in front of him nicely, but can get turned around and out of position by good route-runners. However, he suffered what appeared to be a minor left knee injury late in practice.

5. Ladarius Gunter, Miami: If you like a physical attitude in your cornerbacks, you’ll like Gunter. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he has somewhat skinny legs but doesn’t let that stop his aggressiveness. He’ll have to be careful not to get too grabby, as he’s extremely physical, and he brings an attitude out on the field.

Safeties
1. Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss: Prewitt was one of the stars of the day for the South defense. He showed exceptional versatility, lining up in the box or as a single-high safety. In coverage Prewitt showed range and play-making ability with a few pass breakups and an interception. He’s long and smooth.

2. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford: This small-school safety prospect has terrific speed and can really break on the ball. He made several nice plays in seven-on-seven and team drills. He carries his 218 pounds well and looks like he has plenty of room to add bulk.

3. Clayton Geathers, UCF: Geathers is a good-sized strong safety prospect that moves well. He’s always attacking and very aggressive. He showed versatility playing all over the secondary in the South’s first practice.

4. Anthony Jefferson, UCLA: Like all the safeties in Tuesday’s practice, they moved this former Bruin all over the secondary. Jefferson showed good versatility but looked best on the back end in the deep safety position. He’s fluid in his movement, showed good speed and coverage awareness.

Scout.com’s Greg Arias, Chad Jensen, Nate Latsch, Jamie Newberg, Phillip B. Wilson and Tim Yotter contributed to this report.


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