2014 Senior Bowl: Ten Prospects with a Lot to Prove on the South Roster
Written by Eric Galko on 19 January 2014.
Just like the North Roster, I decided to focus on ten prospects that have the most to prove this week. Again, it’s important to know what to look for in each of these guys that they couldn’t or struggle to prove on film.
Quarterback Derek Carr is the big name, but all of the below players can really improve their stock and value for teams with a strong week in Mobile.
1. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
For some, Carr is the top quarterback here. But after re-watching him on film, Carr ranks as the 3rd best quarterback in our eyes. Concerns about his footwork, placement when off his platform, and overall anticipation at an NFL level all are questions I’d like to have answered. He could certainly LEAVE as the best quarterback here, but he enters the game with more doubts than positives for a potential 1st rounder.
2. Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
Valued as the third most talented receiver on the Alabama roster, Norwood didn’t get to show an really impressive skill sets during his time at Alabama. A strong-handed receiver who finishes catches down the field and had success getting separation in the mid-field and in the redzone, Norwood could utilize that consistency this week. I’ll be looking for him to win consistently as a route runner and display more quickness and versatility than he was able to at Alabama.
3. Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
A true mauler for the North Dakota State rushing attack, Turner was able to show the natural strength, balance, and push upfield at the FCS level to not only earn an invite, but potentially enter with a Day Two grade. I’ll be very curious to see him work on the edge as a pass protector, and if he can consistently have success with his hand placement as a run blocker. If he can do both, and considering that the senior offensive tackle class is week, he could emerge as a Top 40 pick.
4. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
James improved quite a bit in his senior season, deepening his initial bucket step off the snap and holding a square, wide base to utilize his length more effectively. He still tends to click his heels or cross over while mirroring edge rushers, but his redirect laterally remains a big time plus for evaluators. James rarely secures a dominant inside fit with his hands and doesn’t wow with strength right away, but he does an excellent job of running his feet and holding ideal base width to finish blocks. Always an impressive tools player with the foot speed, length and natural power you look for, he appears to be flexible throughout his frame and will be an enticing developmental left tackle prospect in the latter portion of the top 100 picks.
5. Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
Only similar to Dee Ford in listed height and takeoff explosiveness, Chris Smith packs a ton of muscle onto his frame and remains one of the better athletes at his position. Able to sidestep blockers with lateral quickness, Smith’s athleticism helps him to keep clean of blocks but also plays to the detriment of his teammates. Beyond having quickness, Smith exchanges his hands with blockers, creates ideal separation at the point of attack and knows how to absorb contact through his powerful lower body. Physical tools aside, this isn’t an incredibly reliable run defender, and the frustrating aspect of his game is the lack of consistent activity. He’ll go a series or two without making a play and that’s concerning for NFL teams. Despite the added weight, Smith still struggles to convert speed to power and doesn’t have a go-to counter move once his initial momentum is stymied. Going back over notes and tape from the past season only raised questions and concerns about the day two grade I gave Chris Smith entering the season, so he’ll need to perform well to maintain his current position ranking.
6. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Similar to the North’s Aaron Donald, Sutton’s size is a concern for teams, and he may be “capped” as a 2nd rounder because of his natural limitations. Combine that with a down senior season that appeared to be because of added weight gain and a lack of quickness initially and laterally throughout a game, Sutton seemed to take a step back his senior season. A Senior Bowl that reminds scouts of why he was a fringe 1st rounder entering the week is a must-do if Sutton wants to get back in teams’ good graces
7. Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Anytime you’re as large and as situationally dominant as Daniel McCullers, teams are going to be intrigued. But, for the past two seasons, he hasn’t done much to ease team’s motor, consistency, and motivation concerns he’s had. Team’s will be looking for him not to be too “sloppy” at the weigh-in, appear to hold his weight well enough, flash during the week in over-powering in one-on-one situations, and see if he can remain consistent throughout the entire week of practice.
8. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
I’ll start off with this: A strong week in Mobile could push Attaochu into the Top 10-15 picks of the draft. And I’ll follow with this: I think Attaochu is going to have an impressive week as an edge rusher when he gets that opportunity, and he won’t look half bad in area coverage. He’s an ultra-talented rusher who was limited his junior and especially his senior season due to a scheme that didn’t fit his skill set. Look for him to really wow this week, and emerge as a legitimate target for the Raiders, Falcons, Bills, and Titans after the week is over.
9. Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama (RS JR)
Extremely long and athletic, with an ideal defensive end body type, my issue with Adrian Hubbard is how soft his hands are at the point of attack. Because Hubbard tends to be slow and deliberate with his initial punch, he rarely wins hand positioning and exposes his midsection far too easily for opposing blockers. As a pass rusher, Hubbard’s long gait allows him to close distance quickly between he and opposing blockers and he also possesses the body control to redirect back inside through contact. Listed as a linebacker, Hubbard will need to also see snaps at defensive end so he can give teams a better impression of his physicality. With his movement skills and length, Hubbard has the potential to be a better NFL player than he was at Alabama.
10. Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Most NFL teams are looking to follow the mold of the Seahawks (and Jaguars, to a lesser extent) in terms of pushing size, length, and physicality atop their evaluation traits for cornerbacks. McGill certainly fits those criteria, and his film oozes with the upside that team’s will want to develop. A strong week, particularly in press, and not getting exposed vertically, could make him a solid Day Two pick.