After taking an extended look at the talented crop of offensive linemen for the North and South the first few days here, it’s time to see what other prospects are making a name for themselves at the Senior Bowl.
There’s no question Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller looks like the best prospect this week and will go high in the first round, but let’s dig a little deeper into these rosters.
Here are 10 guys who jumped out as interesting prospects and clearly helped their draft stock during Senior Bowl practices.
North Carolina CB Kendric Burney: He was suspended for part of the season and really needed the Senior Bowl to show NFL people just where he is at in his development. He might not run the fastest 40-yard dash, but he is as quick as anyone out here and can mirror any short route. He has a real knack for getting his hand on the ball and would be ideal as a slot corner. He excelled at jamming receivers in press man-on-man drills and forcing the outside release. He also has some return skills.Boise State WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young: The pair can really snatch the ball out of the air and I would label them as hand-catchers. Pettis’ hands are so good that he doubles as the holder on field goals. He’s also the bigger of the two (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) and looks suited for the X-receiver spot. He is sudden in his release and was good against press coverage in practice all week. Young is explosive and dangerous as a deep threat. On two occasions, I watched him line up against cover 3 with a corner off at 9 yards and back pedaling at the snap. Both times, Young got by him on a go route. He has shake, separation and can stop on a dime.
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick: An athlete and someone who can really run. Although his throwing motion is a bit unorthodox, the ball comes out of his hand with a lot of spin. I spent some time with him after practice Tuesday and found him to be a bright young man, who is certainly ready to take on the challenges of the NFL. He performed better in the team segment of the practices than he did in the drills, which leads me to believe his game tapes will tell us more about him than anything he does in shorts over the next few months. Don’t be surprised if this 6-6, 225-pound athlete runs a sub 4.5-second 40 at the combine. There’s a lot to work with here. A few years in a system, learning on the bench, and some team is going to have a good QB.
Oklahoma S Quinton Carter: He looks like the most complete safety here. He can play up in the box as well as in the deep middle or half field. He is smooth in his change of direction and covers a lot of ground when he has to. The Senior Bowl offense he is facing is not complicated and he has had no trouble with his key and diagnose. He’s also a solid open-field tackler that understands angles of pursuit. NFL coaches I spoke with really liked what they saw from Carter.
Connecticut LB Lawrence Wilson: At 6-1, 226 pounds, he is slightly undersized, but will fit as a 4-3 Will (weak-side) linebacker. He really shined in the blitz drills Wednesday. He came off the edge against a running back and won with an edge rush, a spin move and even a speed-to-power move. He is smooth in his zone drops and athletic enough to run with a back out of the backfield.
Nebraska WR Niles Paul: He regularly demonstrated good extension on catches in practice, grabbing the ball with his hands instead of his body. He is sudden enough to work in the slot or outside. I liked his route running and separation in his breaks. He also has return skills.Clemson DL Jarvis Jenkins: At 309 pounds, he moves like a guy in the 280-pound range. He has a good first step, and possesses the quickness to be a one-gap penetrator. He is also stout enough to hold the point of attack. He came here as a late third-round talent and clearly caught the eye of a number of defensive line coaches. He fits in any front and could play tackle or end. He told me he blocked four kicks in college, which tells you a little about his quickness.
Stanford CB Richard Sherman: The late addition to the Senior Bowl roster picked up everything the Bengals’ staff was teaching in a day. He is really smart, and the former wide receiver knows how to back pedal, stick his foot in the ground and close. He has size (6-2, 193 pounds) and plays like a guy who has been at corner his whole college career, despite catching 81 passes as a wide receiver. There is no doubt he knows what routes are coming at him because of his days on offense. He has great size for the position.
LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard: He measured in at 6-2, 250 pounds, which got my attention. Then he went on the field and destroyed running backs in a blitz drill. He bull rushed the undersized backs, but he also used a speed rush and a spin move to win. He looks like a solid pick for any 3-4 team in need of a pass rusher at outside linebacker or a stout inside guy over a guard. He has the physical strength to play the run and demonstrated that in nine-on-seven drills. He was around the ball a lot when I watched him work.