Senior Bowl: 23 prospects, 23 questions
With an exciting week of Senior Bowl practices rapidly approaching, there is plenty for top prospects to prove. In honor of practices beginning on the 23rd of January, here are 23 questions that I have about 23 prospects heading in to Mobile:
WR Joe Adams, Arkansas – Can he play receiver?
It may seem like an odd question but if Joe Adams wasn’t a special teams stud this invite to Mobile may have never happened. Consistent hands catching would go a long ways because you know Adams will make people miss if he can get the ball with room to run.
OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina – Will he show that he is more than just a physical specimen?
Zach Brown will easily be the most athletic linebacker in Mobile, but at times he appears to just be running somewhere fast without a purpose. How Brown performs in a new situation could allow him to emphasize that he has the natural feel for the game and instincts required to be a 1st round pick at linebacker.
DE Andre Branch, Clemson – Can he hold his own with his hand down against NFL offensive tackles?
Branch was a monster this season and has quickly risen up draft boards, but there is a split on whether he can play end in a 4-3 or if he’s better suited to stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. A strong showing against a senior offensive tackle class not lacking in girth could push Branch into the 1st round.
DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina – Does he have the mental toughness to make it in the NFL?
I want to know what’s going on in Coples’s head. He really struggled this season and appeared to have lost his cool on several occasions. Once considered a top 10 prospect, Coples can salvage his falling draft stock with a consistent week of practice.
QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State – How is the arm strength?
Cousins has the leadership of former Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, but can he make the NFL throws that Dorsey couldn’t? If Cousins can show that he has the arm to succeed in the NFL, he could come off the board as early as the 2nd round.
QB Nick Foles, Arizona – Does he have “it”?
Nick Foles has the size and has the arm but at times, he seems like just a guy. Nick Foles will need to step up this week in a leadership role to prove that he is worth the 1st round pick that some draftniks are hyping him up to be.
OLB Lavonte David, Nebraska – Can he fight off blocks?
David will have the best linebacker instincts in Mobile but his size and lower body strength could become an issue. How he responds when an offensive lineman gets their paws on him could help shed some of the doubts about David.
WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M – Where was he all season?
Fuller was considered a 1st round prospect by many but after weeks of inconsistency and inability to fight for separation, his stock plummeted. In his last two games, Fuller began to show glimpses of the guy people expected to see. If he can prove he turned a corner and generate separation he can prove that he’s not an aging Roy Williams.
OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia – Where will he play?
In Georgia Glenn played Left Tackle and held his own against the next guy on the list, but many feel he won’t be able to stick there at the next level and he’s much more suited to be a guard. If he can show the athleticism to protect the edge then his draft stock will surely benefit.
DE/DT/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina – Is he a jack of all trades, master of none?
Ingram was on an absolutely loaded defensive line with the Gamecocks. He is viewed by many as a 4-3 DE but several of his sacks came from the inside at DT taking advantage of less athletic guards. Complicating matters even more, some feel like he has the athleticism to stand up in the 3-4 defense. Will Ingram shine particularly bright at any one spot?
QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State – How consistent will he be?
Lindley will make the “oooh” and “aaaah” throws during the week and someone will compare the zip on his passes to Aaron Rodgers. But in college he has also been known to throw a couple of head-scratchers too. That just won’t cut it in the NFL. If Lindley can alleviate some concerns of inconsistency that will majorly improve his stock in the always over-drafted QB crop.
RB Doug Martin, Boise State – Does he have a 2nd gear?
Martin is ranked by many as the 2nd or 3rd best running back of the draft class. At times, Martin can bore you to death with how solid he is. We all know he can make people miss, but in order to justify himself as an early pick he’ll need to show that he has the 2nd gear that a similar prospect Mark Ingram hasn’t been able to find in New Orleans yet.
WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa – Will be minimize the mistakes?
If you judged everyone based solely on highlights, you may think that McNutt is the best WR in the draft. But McNutt has had several blonde moments at Iowa and keeping the mistakes to a minimum will improve the stock of one of the best aerialists in the draft.
OG Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State – Where will they put him?
At Iowa State, Osemele was protecting the blindside but has shown that he can be a bit heavy in the feet. If the coaches put him at the guard spot many project him to land at in the NFL, it will be interesting to see what he does when he gets his hands on some of the best prospects.
RB Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati – Can he do the dirty work?
Pead has shown an ability to burn the defense with a big play, doing so this week shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone. In order to have longevity at the RB position in the NFL, you need to catch and block. Doing so can turn Pead into more than just a change of pace type of running back in the eyes of many scouts.
RB Chris Polk, Washington – How much wiggle does he have?
It may seem like a simple question, but in a class that features some serious burners at the RB position, Polk can separate himself from the 2nd tier if he shows a high level of agility and can break a few ankles in Mobile.
RB Chris Rainey, Florida – Can he take a beating?
At Florida, Rainey found himself on the injury report quite often with bumps and bruises. Everyone knows that he has impressive speed but no team will risk an early pick if they aren’t sure that their investment can survive. Weighing in at more than 170 pounds would be a good start.
WR DeVier Posey, Ohio State – How much will his stock change?
Posey has easily the most volatile stock of anyone in Alabama. A bad week filled with poor interviews could slide him down to day 3, but a strong showing could make him one of the first 5 WR selected in April. He has the talent.
WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin – Can he gain separation?
At times in Wisconsin, Toon failed to show the quick twitch ability to get space between himself and defenders. He has the NFL pedigree but so did Brian Robiskie, and he couldn’t get separation in the NFL either.
OT Zebrie Sanders, Florida State – Left tackle or right tackle?
Sanders began his year at FSU holding down the right tackle spot, but when Andrew Datko went down with an injury, Sanders shot up draft boards when he performed even better on the left side. His agents should beg the coaches to put him at the blind side this week.
DT Alameda Ta’amu, Washington – Can he move?
Ta’amu couldn’t be budged in college. While in some ways that is a compliment, it also means that he could lack the ability to disrupt or show lateral movement. If he wants to make some money this week, he’ll make a case that he’s more than just a clog in the middle.
LB/DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama – Does he possess natural pass rushing ability?
The situation is ripe for the picking as the offensive tackle class in Mobile has a bit of a vulnerability in pass protection. With NFL teams dieing for an elite pass rusher to step up before April, Upshaw can hop into top 10 consideration by showing that he can get around the edge in a hurry.
QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State – How fast does he respond to coaching?
It’s no secret that Brandon Weeden is 28 years old. Just how early he gets picked in April will greatly depend on how soon he can play for his new team – and how soon he can play for his new team will be reliant upon how much of a knowledge sponge he is.
Mike will be at the Senior Bowl practices this week, so keep your eyes peeled for more coverage.