MOBILE, Ala. -- Prospects have the potential to gain dozens of spots in the NFL Draft and potentially earn millions of dollars in the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl, which are considered far more important to scouts than the game itself.
Like any all-star game, the Senior Bowl is about treating the fans to a spectacle and rewarding talented players from all levels the opportunity to play on a nationally televised stage. Coaches empty their benches in an attempt to get every player on the field and, of course, try to win the game.
• Rang: Senior Bowl blog
Meanwhile, the practices are more about how individual players match up, and are more conducive to scouting for the NFL. The majority of scouts and front-office executives leave Mobile on Wednesday or Thursday, rather than stay for the game on Saturday.
While prospects harbor dreams of improving their stock entering the week, the reality is most only confirm what scouts had previously seen on film. For example, scouts entered the week knowing Jared Odrick, Brandon Graham and Mike Iupati could play. Their strong performances in Mobile only reinforced their high grades.
However, the 20 prospects below did manage to either significantly improve their status -- or hurt it.
Players listed alphabetically in each category:
RB LaGarrette Blount, Oregon: Blount still has a long way to go to guarantee being drafted after his well-documented cheap shot of a Boise State player in the season opener. Scouts have been impressed with his contrition in interviews and utter lack of contrition on the field. Quicker than he looks, Blount's raw power makes him an intriguing option for a team needing a big back to run out of the I-formation.
|Ex-Miami hoopster Jimmy Graham seems to have made the right career choice. (US Presswire)|
ILB Donald Butler, Washington: A late addition to the roster, Butler might have earned himself an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine with his strong performance in Mobile. Instinctive and athletic, Butler was quick to penetrate the line of scrimmage, racking up potential tackles for loss.
DE Alex Carrington, Arkansas State: He might have entered the week of practice among the least hyped defensive players on the entire Senior Bowl roster, but after this week, every NFL team knows his name. Carrington's rare combination of size (6-feet-5, 284 pounds) and strength make him an intriguing prospect at end for the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. That versatility could result in a second round grade.
TE Jimmy Graham, Miami: The Hurricanes' established history of churning out tight ends is in good hands with Graham, the ex-basketball player who returned to the gridiron for only one season. Graham won't wow you with his pop as a blocker, but he's remarkably smooth running routes and adjusting to poorly thrown passes for a man of his size (6-6, 260) and experience (one season with the Hurricanes).
WR Shay Hodge, Mississippi: Hodge struggled with lazy routes and ill-timed drops throughout much of his career. Thus, his stellar play in both areas this week took many scouts for a surprise. Teams will have to determine whether it was focus or greed that led to his sudden improvement, but improve, he did.
OL John Jerry, Mississippi: Just as his older brother, 2009 Atlanta first-round pick Peria Jerry, did last January, John stepped up his level of play at the Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts from the beginning, measuring in nearly 20 pounds lighter than expected and yet still has the mass (6-5, 332) to project nicely at right tackle or guard in the pros.
OLB Koa Misi, Utah: Scouts are always looking for athletic defensive ends capable of making the transition to the rush linebacker position, and they've found one in Misi. A better athlete than his former Utes teammate, Paul Kruger, Misi could match the Baltimore Ravens' final draft slot -- and hear his name called in the second round.
WR Taylor Price, Ohio: Inconsistent quarterback play kept Price from earning the national acclaim his skills warrant, but he took advantage of the Senior Bowl stage to skyrocket up draft boards. His explosive speed and body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes had scouts this week comparing him to Chicago Bears rookie Johnny Knox.
WR Andre Roberts, The Citadel: Price was the flashier wideout this week, but no one was more consistent than the sure-handed, smooth-route-running Roberts. Forget the small-school label, Roberts is among 2010's more polished receivers.
WR Danario Alexander, Missouri: Like many big receivers, Alexander struggles changing directions quickly -- a fact that was quickly exposed in the pro-style offense he was forced to acclimate to this week. The long strider is a good enough athlete to make plays when he gets the ball delivered to him on the move, but the expectations that he could enjoy the same sort of immediate impact in the NFL as former teammate Jeremy Maclin appear misguided.
OG Zane Beadles, Utah: Scouts knew Beadles lacked the balance and quick feet to remain at left tackle, but his lack of upper-body strength makes his conversion to guard a much more formidable one than scouts had anticipated. Odrick ran Beadles ragged all week.
QB Sean Canfield, Oregon State: Canfield rode a breakout senior campaign to Mobile, but once there the first-team All-Pac-10 passer was unable to drive the ball consistently outside the hashes. Canfield's timing and touch could make him successful in a West Coast passing attack, but he might have eliminated his chances at being a top-five quarterback with his weak-armed effort.
OT Selvish Capers, West Virginia: While blessed with quick feet and rare body control for a 300-pound man, Capers proved to scouts he has a long way to go before being a trustworthy pass blocker. Operating at his customary right tackle and left, Capers was beaten inside and out. The former tight end has the athleticism to eventually star in a zone-blocking scheme, but he might be a year or two away from contributing.
CB Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest: A physical defender with rare straight-line speed, Ghee certainly looks the part. But he was too often satisfied with allowing receivers to make the uncontested grab in front of him.
WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati: The first-team All-Big East performer might have been the week's most disappointing prospect. Scouts anticipated the 6-foot, 179-pounder might struggle with press coverage, but the sticky hands that had helped him emerge as one of the country's most dependable playmakers over the past two seasons abandoned him this week. Gilyard dropped multiple passes each day.
CB Trevard Lindley, Kentucky: Graded as a second-round pick following his junior season, Lindley had hoped to be able to recoup some of his lost stock after struggling with injury early in 2009. Instead, he was consistently a step late in coverage as rival quarterbacks frequently targeted him.
OLB O'Brien Schofield, Wisconsin: Schofield's stock was on the rise after an impressive week of practice and defensive MVP honors at the East-West Shrine game last week. But Schofield went down with a serious knee injury during his initial practice in Mobile. Concerns about his health has Schofield's chances at being drafted at all now in peril.
RB Charles Scott, LSU: Unlike Schofield, Scott's injury occurred before the Senior Bowl. However, scouts had hoped to see the bruising tailback on the field. But the broken collarbone that had ended his senior campaign prematurely was proven to still be a problem, resulting in a failed physical and a lost opportunity to impress scouts.
OT Sam Young, Notre Dame: The highly touted prep athlete served as an effective pass blocker in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense. Despite operating exclusively at right tackle, his lack of foot quickness and flexibility was quickly exposed by the speed of Senior Bowl defensive ends this week. Even worse, at 6-8 he's too tall to move inside to guard.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange