Senior Bowl evaluations: North squad

The highest ranked player on the North squad, DT Danny Shelton, showed why he’s in that position. The Scout.com contingent in Mobile ranked and evaluated the Senior Bowl’s top players at each position Tuesday.

Quarterbacks
1. Bryce Petty, Baylor: At 6-foot-2½ and 230 pounds, Petty looks the part of an NFL quarterback, but he struggled in his first day with accuracy. He was late in getting the ball out in routes and overthrew a number of passes.

2. Shane Cardon, East Carolina: He is a bit undersized in the height department, checking in under 6-foot-2, but has a thick body that would indicate he can take a hit. He has quick feet but a long release, but did a nice job anticipating his receivers’ breaks.

3. Sean Mannion, Oregon State: The big-bodied prospect (6-foot-5½ and 229 pounds) might have to endure too many hits with a slower-than-desired release and a lot of upper-body motion in his throws. He appeared to predetermine his throws before the snap.

Running backs
1. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State: Langford had an outstanding season for the Spartans, but he was overshadowed in the Big 10 by other backs, including fellow Senior Bowl participant Ameer Abdulluh. That was not the case Tuesday, as Langford showed his speed and flexibility during individual drills. He also showed a quick-cut ability and had great bounce in his running.

2. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: Abdullah, who is from the state of Alabama, looked as good as advertised in the first practice for the North squad. Though he is on the slight side and possessing less-than-ideal height, he made up for that by showing very good top-end speed and appeared to have good vision and very flexible hips to shift and twist at full speed during individual drills. Day 1 was a success for Abdullah.

3. David Cobb, Minnesota: Cobb is another Big 10 back who had a nice season, but was overshadowed and lesser known than his counterparts in that conference. Cobb is a physically impressive-looking back who looked comfortable in Day 1. He does not have elite top-end speed, but flashed good quickness in finding and attacking the hole while also showing patience to allow his blocking to develop. He impressed at least one scout in the crowd today that now wants to see more as the week goes on.

Wide receivers
1. Devin Smith, Ohio State: He isn’t a big receiver (6-0, 190), but he is probably the best receiver at the Senior Bowl and showed it from the start on Tuesday. His quickness and precise route-running was evident early, as cornerbacks struggled to decipher his moves and keep up with him coming out of breaks.

2. Jamison Crowder, Duke: Another small receiver (5-8, 174), he showed the athleticism that is typical of NFL slot receivers. He has good moves at the line of scrimmage to keep cornerbacks in press coverage off him, is quick off the snaps and had good extension for catches away from his body with very good hands.

3. Tony Lippett, Michigan State: At 6-2½ and 192 pounds, he show good feet for a big guy at times, but did lose his balance once on a comeback route. He wasn’t fast enough to create downfield separation all the time, but showed a willingness to block for others after they made the catch.

4. Ty Montgomery, Stanford: He was good at making adjustments for errant passes, but he didn’t appear to have sustained downfield speed, which allowed cornerbacks to keep pace and even make up ground with the ball in the air.

Tight ends
1. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame: While utilized more for his blocking than receiving in college, Koyack intends to show NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl that he can be a three-down tight end, capable of making plays down the field as well as sustain blocks in the trenches. Before he got his chance to start, he still established himself as a solid blocker. He was smooth in catching passes during his first practice Tuesday.

2. Nick Boyle, Delaware: Scouts will see his size and like his tenacity as a blocker. He has to prove he can be a capable pass receiver. He had a couple drops in his first practice. If the position is indeed thin coming draft day, as has been suggested, a favorable performance without more drops this week could boost his stock.

3. Casey Pierce, Kent State: He put up impressive receiving numbers in the Mid-American Conference to become just the third player from his school invited to the Senior Bowl. And he showed in his first practice that he’s a receiving threat. He lacks the weight of other blocking tight ends, but an NFL team will look to add strength and boost that number some without wanting to take away from his skillset as a pass catcher.

Offensive line
Tackles
1. T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh: Showcased natural skill and developed technique at swinging pass rushers wide of the pocket. He also excelled at knocking his assignment down in the run game. Possible first-round pick.

2. Rob Haverstein, Wisconsin: Haverstein comes from great Badger stock, and as such he showcased his size and physicality in Day 1. A strong, mauling run blocker, we can see him struggling with quick-step edge rushers.

3. Donovan Smith, Penn State: Smith was solid but unspectacular in his first Senior Bowl practice. He needs to show a strong work ethic and willingness to learn and improve.

Guards
1. Laken Tomlinson, Duke: Tomlinson held his own against the D-line of the North and was the best guard in the initial day of practice.

2. Ali Marpet, Hobart: He has a competitive spirit and excelled at one-on-one drills. We love him as a guard, not a tackle. High motor/effort guy.

3. Robert Myers, Tennessee State: Myers is best suited as a guard in the pro game, but we didn’t see him do anything to set himself apart on Day 1.

Centers
1. Max Garcia, Florida: Showcased good balance in one-on-one drills. He belongs inside, as his footwork probably is not suited for the outside tackle positions.

Defensive line
Defensive tackles
1. Danny Shelton, Washington: Projects as a block-consuming nose guard and belongs in a 3-4. North squad offensive linemen had a difficult time redirecting him. Shelton has high motor and is the best tackle prospect on the North and likely on both Senior Bowl rosters.

2. Marcus Hardison, Arizona State: Displayed quickness to get into the backfield and we like him in a 4-3 scheme. He could push Shelton for No. 1 defensive tackle spot with strong effort throughout the week.

3. Carl Davis, Iowa: This kid is strong and he put that on display Tuesday.

Defensive ends
1. Nate Orchard, Utah: Orchard is an OLB/DE tweener. He was the player who flashed the most on the North’s D-line with a quick, explosive first step. He can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt.

2. Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky: He has a really strong bull rush but could develop a better swim move and hand-placement technique.

3. Deion Barnes, Penn State: Barnes has great strength but didn’t really flash on Day 1. He needs to develop better technique.

Linebackers
1. Mike Hull, Penn State: Hull, who is an outside linebacker, made the biggest impression during his North team’s practice. Undersized in some people’s opinion, Hull showed great feet and quickness during individual drills. He seemed to be comfortable in every drill and showed great hands in the process.

2. Jeff Luc, Cincinnati: Luc (pronounced Luke) has below-average height for an inside linebacker, but he is thick and on Tuesday he showed nice speed and good hands during individual drills. He also showed better-than-expected hands and seemed to be comfortable in every drill.

3. Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky: Smith came to the Senior Bowl as a defensive end, but on day one he took his turn as an outside linebacker and the experiment seemed to work, which is why he is listed at both positions. In college, he was overshadowed by fellow UK defensive end Bud Dupree but showed surprising flexibility for someone of his size (6-5, 272). He also showed a surprising ability to change directions and fluid hips to turn and change of direction for his size. Smith carried a mid-round grade as a defensive end, and while he might not exceed that as a linebacker at this point, he certainly gained attention in Day 1.

Cornerbacks
1. Quandre Diggs, Texas: He doesn’t possess great size (nearly 5-9 and 196 pounds), but produced tight coverage on shorter routes with great reaction to the ball in the air. He locates the ball nicely and makes a play on it every time he is near.

2. Quinten Rollins, Miami-Ohio: Average size (5-11, 193), but was quick to react and played the ball well. He did get beat deep once. After only one season of football as a former point guard, he shows a ton of upside.

3. Steven Nelson, Oregon State: An aggressive soul, he will have to be careful not to grab and hold too long, as he did often in the first day of action. He generally provided tight coverage in man but appeared to give a lot of cushion in off coverage.

4. Josh Shaw, Utah: A relatively big cornerback at 6-foot-0 ½ and 198 pounds, he diagnoses the action nicely in front of him and often tries to strip the ball with an aggressive rake. His downfall was that he appeared slow to redirect receivers off their routes at the line of scrimmage.

5. Doran Grant, Ohio State: Grant has average size but appeared to have solid awareness in zone concepts.

Safeties
1. Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State: He has excellent speed to be solid in pass coverage, although he has been known to bite on moves. His size suggests he’s better suited to cover than support against the run. But he reacted quickly to run reads in his first practice, correctly identifying the plays quickly and speeding in to the point of attack.

2. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern: He piled up tackles and forced four fumbles as a senior, so scouts will be looking to see if he brings that physicality on game day. Senior Bowl practice doesn’t provide the opportunity for punishing tackles, so Saturday will be an opportunity for Campbell to show he can hit and defend as needed. He had a knack for being around the ball in college with 11 career interceptions.

3. Damarious Randall, Arizona State: The former baseball player was a solid tackler in college, especially solo stops, and is looking to show scouts that he can cover as well. While not rated as highly as other safety prospects, if he can prove himself a reliable pass defender, his tackling ability isn’t in question. NFL teams will undoubtedly want to bulk him up some to be able to handle making those stops at the pro level.

4. Adrian Amos, Penn State: While rated by most as the second-best safety on this team, he had a rough opening practice, getting beat on some pass plays. He played both cornerback and safety as a senior, but projects more as a safety in the NFL because of questions about his pass defense. He’s got some size for run support, but whether he attracts NFL interest could depend upon how he rebounds from some shaky plays in his first workout.

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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