The defensive standout for the North team has been Boston College DT B.J. Raji. The consistency he’s maintained this week by dominating two of the top centers in the country (Oregon’s Max Unger and Cal’s Alex Mack) has elevated Raji as a potential top-ten selection. During 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday, Raji beat Virginia Tech center Ryan Shuman over the top and disrupted a handoff between Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and Virginia RB Cedric Peerman. There were a lot of mishandled balls that hit the ground this morning, and Raji’s ability to penetrate caused problems on snaps. Raji stated, “I had confidence coming into this week, and I knew that I would be facing the top centers in the nation, and I wanted to show what I could do. I felt like I’ve been getting better each day, and with this being the last day in full pads, I thought I had my best performance.”
The Senior Bowl is an adjustment period for Harrell, as he learns to take snaps under center.
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell comes from an offense where he was primarily in a shotgun formation making quick decisions and throwing screen passes and shallow crossers. This week in Mobile has been a big transition for Harrell as he’s receiving extensive work under center, and with that transition comes an adjustment period. The Senior Bowl has been a huge adjustment for Harrell, who’s had some difficult moments fumbling snaps, as he gets used to receiving the ball from three centers: Alex Mack (California), Max Unger (Oregon) and Ryan Shuman (Virginia Tech). Harrell said, “When you’re working with three different centers, there will be some struggles at times. I’ve felt comfortable with one kid, and with the other two I’ve dropped a couple of snaps, but it’s going well. I’m getting better drops now, throwing the ball on time and have taken some good snaps.” Harrell is currently the 5th ranked quarterback on Scout.com’s NFL Draft Rankings.
Illinois OT Xavier Fulton is having a tough week, and during one-on-one drills this morning, he struggled against Northern Illinois DE/OLB Larry English and Connecticut DE/OLB Cody Brown. English and Brown used their speed and strength to beat Fulton off the edge. Fulton is limited moving laterally and didn’t engage fast enough against the two hybrid defenders. At 6-foot-4, 301 pounds, Fulton is a good athlete, but he doesn’t get off the line quickly enough and isn’t a technician.
Penn State WR/RS Derrick Williams looked sharp today during the morning session. During special teams practice, Williams, who had struggled catching punts on Monday and Tuesday, fielded balls cleanly and showed elusiveness in the open field. In seven-on-seven drills, Willams ran good routes and caught the ball with his hands. Williams’ game is reminiscent of Denver Broncos WR Eddie Royal, who participated in the Senior Bowl last year and had similar troubles fielding punts in Mobile. A reason for the problems on special teams could be attributed to the swirling winds at the field. When asked about his mishandling of punts earlier in the week, Williams said, “[The ball] was moving around a little bit more early on, and I’m getting used to the wind out here. It’s just one of those things, but I’m good now.”
Iglesias had an impressive showing at Wednesday morning's practice.
Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias ran smooth, crisp routes and flashed strong hands during 11-on-11 drills. He was impressive in the intermediate game and displayed the ability to get vertical when he hauled in a 40-yard Graham Harrell pass down the left sideline over Michigan’s Morgan Trent. At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, Iglesias is a physical receiver who doesn’t shy away from contact and does an outstanding job of blocking downfield. A consistent performer during his time in Norman, Iglesias had a strong senior campaign where he pulled in 74 receptions for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns. With a strong showing on Saturday, Iglesias, who’s currently the 7th ranked wide receiver on Scout.com’ NFL Draft Rankings, could raise his stock and be in contention to be a high second round selection.
Another receiver that shined this week was Washington State’s Brandon Gibson. After a solid showing on Tuesday, Gibson left practice early with an apparent hamstring injury to his right leg. He was seen on the sideline with an ice wrap on the back of his leg.
Cincinnati CB Mike Mickens and North Carolina WR Brooks Foster left Mobile and were replaced by Michigan CB Morgan Trent and Oklahoma WR Manuel Johnson. Both Mickens and Foster underwent knee surgery in the last two months and left early for precautionary reasons. They should be ready to go for the Scouting Combine, which takes place February 18th – 24th.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.