Tuesday UA Senior Bowl Notes: South Team

Scout.com's NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber points out some of the players who stood out during Tuesday afternoon's South team practice.

It’s obvious when you watch the South team practice, the talent on the field is overwhelming, especially the linebacker trio (Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews) from USC. All three players stood out at practice on Tuesday afternoon and received plenty of praise from the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff and from scouts in attendance.

Cushing is a physical linebacker who uses his strength and technique to his advantage. During positional drills, Cushing used a strong rip move to get through the opposition and showed good footwork as he made his way into the backfield. The fluidity that Maualuga possesses came across during the afternoon session. He has great awareness on the field and is always in position to make a play. One scout in attendance said, “[Maualuga] the real deal on the field, but he makes everything look so easy that it doesn’t even look like he’s playing hard.” Matthews, on the other hand, is all about hard work and has played himself into second round consideration with his impressive play during the season and the work ethic he’s put forth in Mobile. Not only has Matthews been impressive as a linebacker, but he was the first player down the field on special teams drills.

Cushing and Maualuga are destined to be first round picks, but don’t rule out Matthews being a late first round selection. An AFC scout said, “If I had to pick one of them, I’d go with Matthews. His motor is off the charts and his versatility is unique. He brings it on every play; I can’t say that about the other two.”

Even though many believe White won't be a QB at the next level, don't tell him that.
Streeter Lecka/Getty

Blessed with great athleticism and elusiveness, West Virginia quarterback Pat White has been stereotyped as an athlete, who’s likely to be a wide receiver or running back at the next level, not a quarterback. But don’t tell White that, because he’s making the most of his opportunity at the Senior Bowl to convince scouts that his talents translate to being a QB in the NFL. “In my mind, I’m a quarterback,” he said. “And until somebody tells me that I’m not, I'm going to do everything I can to succeed.”

On Tuesday, White started off on a down note when Ole Miss LB Ashlee Palmer picked him off during seven-on-seven drills. Even though he struggled, White threw the ball with confidence and displayed a strong arm. When the South team ran 11-on-11 drills, White was at his best. He sold play action effectively and delivered the ball on time to his receivers. White has been a media darling this week and has handled every situation with class.

With his teammate Aaron Curry no where to be found, Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith has shined at the Senior Bowl. The 5-foot-9, 193-pound playmaking corner plays much bigger than his measurements suggest. He has lock down potential and tremendous ball skills, which helped him record 37 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and seven interceptions this past season. Smith showcased those ball skills on Tuesday as he picked off Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson during seven-on-seven drills. At this time, Smith is currently the 5th ranked cornerback on Scout.com’s NFL Draft Rankings and if he continues to play aggressive and create turnovers he will gradually move up the list.

Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi ran solid routes and caught everything in sight during positional drills. He adjusted well to a few errant passes by John Parker Wilson and Cullen Harper, and is solidifying his status as a quality possession receiver. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Massaquoi is a physical receiver who has a compact build that will allow for success over the middle. When asked about how he’s adjusting to a new system and being coached by NFL coaches, Massaquoi said, “There’s different verbiage, but it’s the same concept. Any offense that you’re in, the only difference is the verbiage and the tempo. But once you get the verbiage down you’re comfortable.”

Hawaii DE David Veikune played with a high motor during positional drills on Tuesday. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Veikune used his speed and deceptive strength to gain the upper hand against Ole Miss OT Michael Oher in one-on-one drills. Veikune surprised the 6-foot-5, 309-pounder with his powerful bull rush and was able to get in the backfield with relative ease. But when the two went head to head again, Veikune barely got off the line and was engulfed by Oher’s sporadic strength.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.

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