The 2014 Senior Bowl festivities in Mobile, Alabama have come to a close, as the South unsurprisingly disposed of a much weaker North team with ease in the 20-10. Below are some of my winners and losers from the game and the week of practices, since the Senior Bowl is about so much more than just the game that was played out yesterday afternoon; the practices also give valuable insight on how good players are.
Winner: Auburn DE Dee Ford
Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford is now squarely in the first-round discussion following an incredibly strong Senior Bowl week, and he capped off a dominant slate of practices with a well-deserved MVP award during the game yesterday. Ford’s run defense is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing, but there’s no doubt that Ford is a high-impact pass rusher. Think about it this way, Vic Beasley was somehow rated a sure-fire first-round prospect by many people before he decided to stay in school, and he was even mocked into the top ten by some writers. If Beasley can get there, then Ford is a possibility due to his work at the Senior Bowl, in the National Championship, and throughout the season. He’s an explosive DE, and he showed it by notching two sacks and batting down a pass yesterday.
Loser: Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
I’ve never been a fan of Tajh Boyd at all, and it’s honestly good to see people catching on to just how inaccurate he really is as a passer. People say that Derek Carr benefited a lot from screens at Fresno State, and that’s honestly true. But Boyd benefited from screens even more than Carr, as Clemson’s offense included many screens to Sammy Watkins. Boyd also threw plenty of chucks downfield to Watkins and Martavis Bryant, and there honestly isn’t all that much to like about his game. That said, I think some people are going too far by calling him an “undraftable” prospect, because he has some physical tools and is still much more polished than “total upside” prospect Logan Thomas. At this point, I think Boyd is a fifth-round pick, but it would be sad to watch him go undrafted; I doubt that ends up being the case.
Loser: Miami QB Stephen Morris
Now this is a guy who is going to end up undrafted, and no draft prospect has fallen harder from where they were at this point in time last year. Morris had a nice junior campaign and built a lot of buzz going into his senior year, but he had a massive dud of a season. It didn’t help that he looked hopeless in the Russell Athletic Bowl, as he badly missed screen passes, made poor reads, and looked horrible under pressure. Morris had the worst Senior Bowl performance of any QB, and that’s saying something given how bad Boyd and Thomas were. There’s little doubt that Morris has the tools due to a strong arm, but tools don’t mean much at this stage, especially when your decision-making (he had two interceptions in the game itself) and accuracy are just about non-existent.
Winner: Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir
Desir had such a strong game in the Senior Bowl and looked so solid in practices that some people are so high on him that they believe he is worth a first-round pick. And while I’m not one of those people, it’s difficult not to fall in love with Desir’s game. He looks like a second-round pick to me on film, and he backed it up on Saturday. Both Desir and Stanley Jean-Baptiste were two very impressive big corners at the Senior Bowl, and the most impressive thing about Desir is the fact that nobody wants to throw it in his direction. And oh yeah, he had a pick.
Winner: Wisconsin RB James White
Melvin Gordon was Wisconsin’s main feature back this past season, but White might be just as impressive of a draft prospect. Although he isn’t nearly as well-rounded as Charles Sims (nobody is), White has closed the gap on Sims’s all-around game and draft stock. Statistically, he was easily the most impressive running back in yesterday’s game, and he looked solid in practices.
Winner: Fresno State QB Derek Carr
There’s no doubt at all that Derek Carr came into the Senior Bowl as easily the most impressive quarterback on the field, and he solidified his top ten draft stock by blowing out the rest of the competition at quarterback. I really like David Fales and view Jimmy Garoppolo as a solid mid-round prospect, but there’s no doubt that Carr is on another level. He’s one of the QBs in the draft class who can be called future franchise QBs, and the only thing that concerns me about Carr is his footwork. He reminds me of a mix between Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, because Carr has the best arm talent in the class and just needs to work on some of the finer points. Carr had a great week in Mobile, but that was always to be expected.
Loser: Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas
For some reason, there’s buzz about how Logan Thomas could be drafted pretty high in the draft and is the top QB on some team’s boards. If there are teams that have Thomas rated above the likes of Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr, then I would really like to see those people. Thomas has great size, is a dual-threat QB, and he can make some “wow” throws. I mean, this is the guy who is the prototypical “upside” QB that some scouts drool over and ambitious coaches believe they can “coach up” to be a star. Another thing going for Thomas is the fact that he had a bad situation at VT, but it’s so concerning to see that he’s never developed; teams need to be wary of that. I don’t think Thomas is anything more than a sixth-round project player at the highest, and he has upside worth tapping into and developing but only as a low-risk, late-round project. He’s just so inconsistent, takes too many sacks, has no consistent accuracy, and makes very poor decisions.
Winner: Wisconsin LB Chris Borland
I’ve loved this guy as a prospect for months now, and it’s clear that he’s worth a second-round pick. Borland may be under-sized, but the lack of size definitely doesn’t concern me with a prospect as good as him. He had a great week of practices and showed a lot of uninitiated NFL fans just how good he is. I think the Zach Thomas comparisons are over-the-top, but pretty much every comp is supposed to be of that nature. He had eight tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a fumble forced in a great performance.
Winner: Notre Dame OT/OG Zack Martin
Martin is a sure-fire first-round pick now, and I don’t think anyone’s draft stock rose higher than Martin’s. I was never high on Martin before the event, but now that I’ve seen him at the Senior Bowl, I am a big believer in what he can do. He was dominant in practices and games, as he shut down some top pass rushers, including Ford.
Winner: Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
No interior defensive line puts pressure on the quarterback at nearly the rate Aaron Donald does, and his college pressure stats were just off-the-charts. Donald backed up his college numbers with some incredible performances during practices, and he did a great job of putting consistent pressure on the QB yesterday. He didn’t record stats, but he recorded pressure, which is truly important. No three prospects were more impressive than Donald, Martin, and Ford in the Senior Bowl this year (this includes practices and the game itself).
Loser: Baylor G Cyril Richardson
Even those who were high on Richardson coming into this week were left scratching their heads at just exactly what happened for the big guy. There’s no doubt that Richardson is one of the best run blockers in the class, but his huge struggles in pass protection throughout the week were very worrisome. With a strong Senior Bowl, Richardson could have vaulted himself into the second-round discussion, but his pass pro woes have him rated in the third or fourth round (I’m leaning towards the fourth).
Other winners: Princeton DT Caraun Reid, BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy, Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward, Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, and Colorado State TE Crockett Gillmore.
Topics: Aaron Donald, Auburn Tigers, Baylor Bears, Caraun Reid, Chris Borland, Clemson Tigers, Crockett Gillmore, Cyril Richardson, Dee Ford, Derek Carr, Football, Fresno State Bulldogs, James White, Jimmie Ward, Kyle Van Noy, Lindenwood Lions, Logan Thomas, Miami Hurricanes, NFL Draft, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Pierre Desir, Pittsburgh Panthers, Senior Bowl, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Stephen Morris, Tajh Boyd, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wisconsin Badgers, Zack Martin