This will be my third season watching prospects at the Senior Bowl and my second covering it for the New York Times Fifth Down Blog. Here are some of the prospects on the current roster list that I’m looking forward to watching up close and a few notes as to why.
WR Joe Adams, Arkansas: I don’t think Adams is the speed demon that Jacoby Ford is, but he has made a number of exciting plays the past couple of seasons when the ball is in his hands. I want to see Adams in drills where he has to extend his arms for the football and then I want to see him make those kinds of catches in scrimmages.
RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: I want to see Ballard in the I formation running down hill with good decision-making at the line of scrimmage. I also want to see his burst in live action.
DB Mark Barron, Alabama: I’ve been enjoying Barron’s play for a few years. Although I’m not evaluating defenders for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, players like Barron make a good litmus test for the offensive players that face him in practices and scrimmages.
DB Brandon Boykin, Georgia: I want to see Boykin return kicks more than anything, but that will have to wait until the game.
QB Nick Foles, Arizona: I couldn’t have been less impressed with him last year. I haven’t see him this year, but what will go a long way for me is to watch Foles perform in a pro style offense.
WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller underwhelmed when he first came to A&M but he matured after working with Larry Fitzgerald one summer. Fuller’s in a pretty loaded class of receivers. I already know he’s physical, but I want to see his vertical skills.
RB Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: I’m glad I’m not the only one that was impressed with Ganaway. Big, faster than you think, and nifty in the open field, Ganaway is a physical, smart kid and I’m interested seeing how the NFL coaches use him next week: fullback or halfback?
WR T.J. Graham, NC State: Graham has promise as a long-term project because he’s fast and he has worked hard to learn to catch the ball with his hands. It will be interesting to see how well he holds up against top-notch players as a barometer. I’ll be keeping an eye on how much he improves with coaching as the week progresses.
RB Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M: It seems no one is talking about him compared to the juniors coming out, but I love Gray’s patience. On film I saw evidence of power that surprised me. I’m expecting a good week from Gray, but I want to see more of that physical play on display in Mobile.
RB Dan Herron, Ohio State: I haven’t watched much of Boom yet this year. I saw him plenty for the past two years. I want to see him in pass protection.
WR Dwight Jones, UNC: Getting the chance to see Jones and Jeff Fuller at the same time will be a nice basis of comparison. I’ve seen the explosiveness from Jones that I want to see from Fuller, but I’ve also seen the physical play from Fuller that I want to see from Jones.
QB Ryan Lindley, SDSU: Lindley impressed me as a junior, but I wasn’t studying his game up close. I just liked the aggressiveness and the arm talent. Having Demarco Sampson and Vincent Brown helped. I’m counting on Lindley raising his stock this week.
RB Doug Martin, Boise State: There’s not much Martin has to prove. I want to see him in pass protection drills and watch him on the same field with Gray and Herron.
WR Marquis Maze, Alabama: Maze kind of grew on me. This is an awfully deep receiver class, so he’ll need to grow on me some more. If he can flash some skill against the jam and greater route proficiency than what I saw at Alabama, he will.
WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa: Add McNutt to that list with Fuller and Jones as the third guy I want to use as a basis of comparison with the other two. I want to see his vertical speed and skill in tight coverage.
QB Kellen Moore, Boise State: Smart passer, but I want to see how smart and aggressive he’ll be in a pro style offense that isn’t spreading the field.
WR DeVier Posey, Ohio State: It will be nice to see Posey getting looks from quality NFL QB prospects. At least that’s the hope. I didn’t see much of that at Ohio State.
RB Chris Rainey, Florida: I think a good place to start will be to see how he measures up when the meat market portion of the Mobile happens on Monday morning. Is he really 174 lbs?
WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin: I know Toon isn’t a speedster, so if any of the other receivers look slower than Toon then they are in trouble. One thing Toon can do is catch the ball. However, this might not be the environment where he’s going to get a lot of love because big, but slower pass catchers generally see their stock suffer in all-star games where quarterbacks aren’t as likely to zip the ball into tight spaces and demonstrate great rapport with relative strangers.That said, he and Wilson should look good when working together. I want to see Toon when he’s targeted by other passers.
QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Tannenhill’s foot fracture was a big disappointment, but Weeden in a pro set should be interesting stuff. I expect him to have one of the top two quarterbacks here this week.
QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: He throws well on the run. I want to see him do it standing still.
Kendall Wright, Baylor: He’s my bet as the best skill player on the field next week. He’s a dynamic player who I expect to impress the hell out of people with his quickness, routes, physicality, and hands. I want to see him work against the jam.