Monday at the Senior Bowl

Monday afternoon's practice began in earnest for the South team as the quarterbacks were on fire as were the linemen, two of whom got into a brawl.

The Senior Bowl got under way this morning with the measuring of the more than 100 players that have shown up in Mobile.  It is usually an affair highlighted by beefy lineman that broach the 400-pound barrier but there was a twist this time around as many of the prospects have seemingly been calorie counting and following a Weight Watchers regiment the past several weeks.

Slim was the word of the morning as the "wows" generally coming from the Alabama Ballroom at the Adams Mark Hotel turned to surprise as senior after senior stepped onto the scale looking as though they needed to be on a weight gaining diet.  All three quarterbacks for the South squad looked as though they've been drinking a lot of Slim Fast recently. Kliff Kingsbury and Chris Simms who both measured in over 6-feet and 3-inches, tipped the scale at 203 and 216 pounds respectively; especially Kingsbury who looked painfully thin.  Even Carson Palmer who's been on the rubber chicken circuit since winning the Heisman Trophy last month was only 220-pounds at 6-feet four and a half inches.  Possibly the most surprising measurement of the day was LaMarcus McDonald, the tough, run stuffing linebacker from TCU known for his intimidating style of hitting.  Just touching the scale at 6-feet, the skinny framed McDonald weighed only 209-pounds.

Monday afternoon's practice got off to a quick start for the Detroit Lions coaching staff, which was in charge of the south team.  Quarterback Carson Palmer looked solid all day.  His passes were crisp and his arm strength was obvious.  Though not pinpoint accurate with his throws, Palmer consistently placed the ball well all practice.  He had some difficulties late in the day but attributed the struggles to the difficulty of handling the new offense given to him by Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg.  Overall it was a good performance by the Heisman Trophy winner.

Palmer's Trojan teammate Justin Fargas also impressed during the session.  Known as a workhorse running back that punishes defenders, Fargas carried the ball with a good degree of intelligence, displaying great vision and finding the running lanes all day.  His week is off to a good start. 

Torrin Tucker of Southern Mississippi was easily the most dominant lineman of the afternoon.  Quickly putting to bed any consideration that he may be a soft player, Tucker drove-opposing defenders off the ball and opened holes all afternoon.  At one point his intensity level got a bit out of hand as he engaged in fisticuffs with Tennessee's Rahsad Moore, prompting Lions coach Charles Haley to jump in the mix and break up the fray.

On the other side of the ball Ty Warren was a load in the middle as the defensive tackle commanded double teams all afternoon yet collapsed the pocket, pushing blockers into the backfield.  Warren's explosive playing style was also evident and he garnered the attention of scouts on this day.

Florida's Taylor Jacobs was by far the most active and consistent receiver of the day, catching everything thrown in his direction and drawing a favorable response from the South's signal callers.  Jacobs is a natural wide out and not only displayed reliable hands but solid route running skills and the abilities to pick up positive yardage running after the reception. 

Other prospects also received positive reviews Monday afternoon.  Central Florida pass catcher Doug Gabriel is raw, talented and slowly turning into a complete wide receiver.  He flashed skill all day, beating defensive backs on several occasions down the field or across the middle and enhanced his draft stock. 

Kliff Kingsbury's lack of arm strength is apparent but just as obvious is the feel and grasp he has for the quarterback position.  Many scouts were impressed with the poise and patience Kingsbury displayed all afternoon as well as the touch and accuracy he puts on his passes in both the short and intermediate field.  For any team that implements a spread offense, Kingsbury could be the guy to run the show.

North Carolina's Sam Aiken caught the ball well all afternoon as did tight end Mike Seidman.  Perhaps the surprise of the day was the hands displayed by Mississippi State fullback Justin Griffith.  A player beset by injuries late in his career, the versatility Griffith showed may help him sneak into the late rounds.

On the flip side a few prospects were disappointing and did not help their cause.  Talman Gardner continued what has been an inconsistent career and after catching the ball well early in the day, dropped a lot easy passes, seemingly fighting the ball in the afternoon.  Sammy Davis had a tough day and the cornerback from Texas A&M was beaten several times on different areas of the field while defensive tackle Jarrett Johnson of Alabama fought hard throughout the session but was handled by blockers and got little penetration up the field.

All in all today was a smooth start for the south as the players build up to Wednesday's all important full contact practice which is always the most heavily attended day of Senior Bowl week. 

 

 


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