The Senior Bowl is about having the best senior talent come together and compete in front of a large contingent of scouts and media. It’s also a place to discover talent that you may not be familiar with and one of those names is Southern Miss tight end Shawn Nelson. At 6-foot-5, 238 pounds, Nelson is an athletic, pass-catching tight end who creates mismatches with his unique blend of skills. He gets a fluid release off the line, runs good routes and uses his frame to mirror defenders while snaring a pass. He’s focused and disciplined, and he showed those qualities on the practice field Wednesday. Known more for his ability as a receiver and not his blocking technique, Nelson has improved his blocking throughout the week and had his best showing during the afternoon session. He held his own in a one-on-one matchup with USC’s Brian Cushing and received praise from the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff for his effort. Nelson’s receiving ability is well documented and he showcased his talents during 11-on-11 drills. He was the favorite redzone target of Clemson’s Cullen Harper and Alabama’s John Parker Wilson, who both found him open in the endzone. “They were just seeing me out there; I was open,” he said. “Those touchdowns came on plays that weren’t originally put in the package, but after the coaches sat down and watched film, they saw the athletic ability that I have and they put it in the game plan.” Nelson is currently ranked 8th in Scout.com’s NFL Draft Rankings and will certainly ascend after this week concludes.
Brown's size, speed and strength make him an attractive option for a team searching for a bigger back.
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NC State running back Andre Brown was very impressive on Wednesday. He had a great burst through the line, displayed patience and vision as he reached the second level, and had surprising quickness in the open field. Not only is he a powerful runner, but he’s also been the most impressive RB in blocking drills. He’s not afraid of contact and will use his 6-foot, 224-pound frame to knockout an oncoming defender. If Brown performs well on Saturday and runs well at the Scouting Combine, he could emerge as a third round prospect.
Ole Miss DT Peria Jerry has been solid all week and has been a handful to deal with inside. Jerry is so quick and explosive in the trenches, he’s made the biggest lineman at the Senior Bowl, LSU’s 6-foot-7, 382-pound monster Herman Johnson, look small. During lineman drills, Jerry went head to head with Johnson and used his speed and technique to bull rush the monstrous guard back into the blocking dummy. Jerry worked left, used his right arm as a guide to spin back and was in the clear to touch the dummy. The South’s defensive front seven has been impressive, but Jerry’s been the interior presence that’s received the most attention from scouts.
It’s amazing how Rey Maualuga makes everything he does on the field look so effortless, and his play on Wednesday was no different. In one-on-one blocking drills, Maualuga went up against Clemson running back James Davis. Maualuga completely took Davis out of the play with a vicious rip move that left one Jaguars coach shaking his head and smiling. After that incredible move, the nonchalant Maualuga jogged back to where the rest of the linebackers were waiting their turn and started playing with his hair.
It’s hard to ignore the way Hawaii DE David Veikune is playing in practice. He plays with such a high motor that every time he comes off the edge you get the feeling he’s going to explode through the blocking dummy. During Tuesday’s practice, Veikune blew by top OT prospect Michael Oher and on Wednesday he abused Tulane’s Troy Kropog. Veikune’s ability to generate top end speed off the line of scrimmage, control it and formulate it into leverage is unique. No matter how much he plays on Saturday, Veikune has improved his stock dramatically this week and should be an early Day Two selection.
A couple of notes from today’s practice: Florida State WR Greg Carr was added to the South roster, but no player was removed… Tennessee OG Anthony Parker sustained an ankle injury during practice and was carted off the field. The extent of the injury is not known at this time.
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.