Graham has been the talk of the Senior Bowl through the first two days. Scouts in attendance are raving about his relentless motor and his ability to get in on everyone he faces. The 6-foot-1, 263-pound Graham combines a quick first step and tremendous leverage to gain an advantage against the opposition. On Tuesday, Graham did an outstanding job of getting underneath mammoth offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse (Massachusetts) during drills and caused him fits every time they went head to head. Graham has gone from a borderline first round selection to a first round lock with his performance this week.
Iupati continues to climb up draft boards and could move to OT at the next level.
The battle in the trenches has been heated this week, and Idaho’s Mike Iupati has created quite a stir among scouts and media. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Iupati did a great job of controlling the interior on Tuesday and manhandled North Carolina’s Cam Thomas and Purdue’s Mike Neal during linemen drills. Iupati embarrassed Neal on consecutive plays and stoned him as he tried to gain leverage. Speaking with scouts in attendance, at least five teams feel as though Iupati can play left tackle at the next level. They feel that he has enough lateral movement and a tremendous reach that translates well to him moving outside. If that’s the case, Iupati, in just two days, has gone from a potential first round draft choice to a sure top 20 selection.
There are very few players in college football that possess the explosion McCluster generates on every play, and the versatility that he has makes him even more valuable to a team at the next level. Even though he’s just 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, McCluster demonstrates toughness and the ability to separate from the opposition with ease. On Tuesday, McCluster took part in running back drills during the early portion of the practice, and unfortunately for the South Team linebackers, they had to try and contain him in space. McCluster owned every linebacker that lined up in front of him and was able to turn the corner at will. McCluster also stood out during receiver drills and made some acrobatic receptions downfield that created a buzz in the crowd. His ability to separate is special, whether he’s taking handoffs, running routes or in the Wildcat formation, he’s the ultimate weapon. McCluster’s stock is rapidly rising every time he’s on the field.
Shay Hodge, WR, Ole Miss
The draft process is a time where great players shine, bad players fade and diamonds in the rough are discovered. At 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, Hodge has caught the eye of scouts and myself, as being one of the most polished wide receivers in Mobile. Hodge is by no means a hidden gem. He’s improved his game in each of the last four years at Ole Miss, and this past season he had a breakout season catching 70 passes for 1,135 yards and eight touchdowns. But his success went unnoticed as everyone in the country focused on Dexter McCluster. During Tuesday’s South Team practice, the focus was on McCluster again, but Hodge also made a name for himself and showcased great route running, soft hands and an effortless ability to get in and out of his breaks quickly. Hodge made quite an impression on scouts watching the afternoon session and has improved his stock by at least two rounds.
Of all the players practicing this week, Blount has the most to gain and the most to prove, and so far he’s been the best running back in Mobile. After his breakdown at the end of the Boise State game at the beginning of the year, Blount’s draft stock took a major hit. But after being reinstated later in the year, he was given a second chance to play football, and is now making the most of his opportunity to perform in front of NFL scouts. At 6-foot, 245 pounds, Blount is a big, physical runner who excels between the tackles. Through two practices, he’s displayed patience, excellent vision and a burst through the line. He’s finished every run and won’t stop until the whistle is blown. He’s also done a nice job during blocking drills and has showed toughness. If Blount continues to play this way, there’s a strong chance that an NFL team will spend a late round selection on him. Despite his troubles, he’s a very talented runner.
McCluster and Hodge are the top two receivers on the South Team, and over the last two days in Mobile, Gilyard has proven to be the best receiver on the North Team. Gilyard has been a consistent route runner, pass catcher and kick returner. He’s faired very well against the North squad’s cornerbacks and in one-on-one drills on Tuesday; he got the best of Devin McCourty and Syd’Quan Thompson. Gilyard’s stock continues to rise, but it’s unlikely that he breaks into the first round.
At 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, Graham looks the part, acts the part and has some serious potential that a team can work with at the next level. After spending three years as a member of the Miami basketball team, Graham decided to quit basketball and pursue football as a potential career; smart move. As raw as he is, Graham was a pleasant surprise on Tuesday. He had a solid burst, ran crisp routes and flashed sure hands over the middle and downfield. Graham is considered to be a developmental player, but he’s beginning to gain momentum and is attractive to many teams.
Brown has been the best quarterback in Mobile through the first two practices.
The best of a poor crop of quarterbacks in Mobile, Brown continues to impress scouts with his arm strength, accuracy and decision-making. Not only can he beat you with his arm, but over the last two days, especially on Tuesday, Brown displayed his mobility and ability to make plays on the run. Brown has done wonders for his draft stock over the first two days, and if he continues to play well there’s a chance he lands in the second round.
Measuring in at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds during Monday’s weigh-in, Tennant has a lanky build and doesn’t look like he can hold his own in the trenches. But it just so happens that Tennant is one of the premier centers in the nation, and on Tuesday he showed why he’s so highly touted. During an 11-on-11 drill, Tennant did a great job of using his hands and strength to seal defenders in run situations. He also kept defenders at bay in pass protection. Currently, Tennant is rated as the No. 4 center in Scout.com’s NFL Draft Rankings and will likely move into the top 3 after this week.
John Jerry, OG/OT, Ole Miss
At a massive 6-foot-5, 332 pounds, Jerry showed impressive versatility on Tuesday, as he handled duties at guard and tackle. He used his length and strength to his advantage on the outside when he manhandled Troy defensive end Brandon Lang during one-on-one drills. Lang tried to get by Jerry with his speed, but Jerry shielded him by using his 34-inch arms and wide frame. Jerry also did a nice job inside. He stoned LaMarr Houston once (Texas) and Dan Williams twice (Tennessee), showing that he can withstand penetration from two of the premier defensive tackles in the draft. Jerry’s versatility is attractive and could allow him to move into second round consideration.
A surprising roster invitee, Butler has been a pleasant surprise thus far. On Tuesday, a lot of scouts were discussing his ability, and they believe he’s one of the top three linebackers in Mobile. At 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, Butler has the size and physical nature that teams like from a middle linebacker, and his downhill style has impressed everyone.
The hype surrounding Tebow this week in Mobile has been overwhelming, even to Tebow himself. He is used to large crowds and plenty of media coverage, but the attention he’s receiving at the Senior Bowl is Brett Favre-esc, and I’m sure it’s a major distraction for him. However, even if the coverage is getting to him, his play on the field has been less than stellar. For all the good that Tebow has done for college football, he’s never been the most fundamentally sound player, and that’s really showing up on the practice field in Mobile. On Tuesday, Tebow made some good throws down the seam, but when he threw the ball to the outside, he lacked timing and touch. His mechanics need a lot of work, and his footwork is all over the place. In my discussions with scouts during Tuesday’s practice, every time I mentioned Tebow’s name, a scout rolled his eyes or chuckled. It’s clear that after the first two days in Mobile, the 2010 quarterback class is the weakest in recent memory and has a chance to be the worst quarterback class in the last 20 years. Tebow’s chances of being a first round pick may still exist. But, it will be his work off the field during interviews that will have to convince teams he’s worthy of a first round pick, because his play on the field is way too erratic to even consider reaching for him in the opening frame.
Pike has been a major disappointment in Mobile.
Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
It’s been a disastrous and costly two days for Pike in Mobile. After a forgettable Monday practice, Pike followed it up on Tuesday with a performance that could tarnish his status as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2010 draft class. Prior to the first practice session on Monday, Pike was my No. 5 rated quarterback. But his poor mechanics, erratic release and inability to show timing and touch on his passes downfield will ultimately drop Pike in the rankings. Luckily for Pike, there are still two more practices until game day on Saturday. And while there are a lot of players - specifically quarterbacks - looking for redemption, Pike has the most to gain, because he’s already lost the most.
A classic underachiever at USC, McCoy has brought that same approach to Mobile with him and has been a major disappointment. The 6-foot-4, 249-pound McCoy has the skill set and size to be a factor on offense, but on Tuesday he dropped catchable passes and ran poor routes. McCoy also failed to standout as a blocker and appears soft and uninterested. He’s not making a memorable first impression this week and will plummet down draft boards.
The third quarterback to appear in this region, Canfield has been average the last two days at practice. He has prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, but has displayed average arm strength and struggles with his accuracy downfield. He lacks mobility and doesn’t elude the rush well. Canfield has to rework his mechanics and footwork and should be considered a developmental prospect.
Riley Cooper, WR, Florida
Cooper has great size and is usually sure handed, but he had a difficult day on Tuesday. In front of a heavily attended Florida fan base, Cooper dropped two catchable Tebow passes and dropped a total of five balls on the day. Cooper didn’t show a burst off the line and rounded off a few routes. He has to improve on the finer points of the receiver position if he expects to be anything more than a slot receiver at the next level.
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: email@example.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.