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Senior Bowl Positional Review

By Mark Solway | January 29th, 2012

The North defeated the South 23-13 in the 2012 Senior Bowl. There’s a lot to look at when you’re watching such an all-star game, perhaps too much for any one person to effectively take notes on and analyze. Solution? Get a bunch of guys to concentrate on one position each and get a much fuller representation of the facts – put them together into one article, and call it the “Senior Bowl Positional Review.”

By Mark Solway – Twitter Handle: @TheHogsdotNet

The Redskins need a quarterback in the 2012 Draft. Was that quarterback playing in Saturday’s Senior Bowl? Not if their Senior Bowl performances were the deciding factors.

Nick Foles was Mike Shanahan’s best quarterback if turnovers were a factor – he was the only South quarterback to not throw an interception. He was also the only South quarterback to throw a touchdown, a 20-yard hook-up with Arizona teammate Juron Criner that looked like it might get the South back in the game. Foles rebounded from a slow start and finished 11-of-15 for 136 yards. He didn’t do anything to help, nor hurt his draft position.

The same probably can’t be said for Brandon Weeden. The Oklahoma State quarterback impressed Shanahan enough throughout the week to get the start, but he couldn’t carry the performance through to the actual game. He started well enough, but seemed to peter out, and then threw a bad interception. Shanahan put him back in the game late in the fourth, seemingly to redeem himself for the earlier interception, and he threw another one. Tough to put the second one on him as he came in cold, but it was also a terrible throw. His play in the game may have actually undone an otherwise good week in Mobile. At 28 years old, has Weeden peaked?

Unfortunately for QB Ryan Lindley, his Senior Bowl week didn’t get any better on game day. He threw the game’s final dagger – an interception in the final minute. It wasn’t exactly a deal breaker anyway, as obviously the South were down by two scores, but it was a tough, but seemingly appropriate end to a tough week for the San Diego State quarterback.

The North’s quarterbacks were better than the South’s, but not by much.

Russell Wilson had an interesting day. The Wisconsin quarterback was suspect in the pocket, but made some great plays on the run. He threw one of the North’s TD passes, to Cal receiver Marvin Jones, but he also fumbled two snaps, and despite his obvious athleticism, didn’t solidify himself as anything more than a longer term project.

Kirk Cousins had the other touchdown for the North, but he also threw an interception. The quarterback from Michigan State wasn’t as ineffective as his 5-of-11 might first indicate, as he was the victim of some drops. His 114 yards led the North and he actually made some great throws and looked comfortable in the pocket. His interception was amplified by the fact that it was in the Red Zone, but he did enough other good things to at least keep his stock from falling.

Kellen Moore didn’t have any touchdown passes, but tough to put that on the quarterback when he twice hit receivers in the end zone with very catchable balls. While the North had to settle for a field goal on the drive, it may have actually been the most impressive drive of the game for any quarterback. Moore may in fact prove too small to play in the NFL, but he certainly showed signs of why he was the most winning quarterback in NCAA football history (50 wins in 53 games). He has an obvious acumen for the game – if he was two or three inches taller, and had a bit stronger arm, he would be a bonafide first round pick. But as it stands, he isn’t.

Six quarterbacks – six players who failed to do anything to move up the draft board. Mike Shanahan said after the game that the Senior Bowl allowed the Redskins to among many other things, quickly ‘eliminate some people.’ He may have been referring specifically to quarterbacks.

North – Kellen Moore 6-12-0-50; Kirk Cousins 5-11-1-115; Russell Wilson 4-7-1-45.
South – Ryan Lindley 10-21-1-103; Nick Foles 11-15-0-136; Brandon Weeden 5-9-2-56

Wide Receivers
By Emmanual Benton – Twitter Handle: @Roccoskins

During Senior Bowl week, the main attribute I look for is consistency. I like to find out which player(s) practiced hard and shined throughout the week, and if it carried over into the actual game. For the Washington Redskins, Wide Receiver is a huge need, and there where some good ones that stood-out during the Senior Bowl.

Arizona’s, Juron Criner had a great week of practice. At 6ft 2, 220 lbs, Criner showed strong hands, and was able to create separation from Defensive Backs. Now, Criner won’t wow you with speed, but during the actual game you could see his burst. Everything he did during the week in practice, translated into the game. Corners weren’t allowed to play press-man coverage during the game, however was able to “bump n run” when in the redzone. This Senior Bowl contained quite a few big receiving targets, and in the redzone is where I felt these guys would make money. It showed how physical these receivers really are, and Criner passed the test. The Redskins have reportedly already showed interest in Criner, by spending one-on-one time with him this week. This is a guy who could definitely be on their radar.

Arkansas Wr, Joe Adams was the South Team’s Most Outstanding Player, with 8 catches for 133 yards. At 5ft 1o, 174 lbs, he isn’t the biggest guy around, however he’s a missed tackle waiting to happen. Just ask the North Team’s Defensive backs. He’s a speedster, who catches essentially everything, and makes defenders miss after the catch. The Redskins need nothing more than a receiver who can create YAC (Yards after the catch). Adams projects as a slot WR in the NFL, but proved this week he can also play on the outside.

Marvin Jones, Wr out of Cal, made himself money this week. From day 1, he was determined to make heads turn, and he did just that. He’s listed as 6ft 1 but closer to 6ft 2, showed great burst and ability to separate. He has good field speed and burst, and runs crisp routes. Again, during the game, I wanted to see these receivers get physical in the redzone. Jones did just that. His stock is rising, but could be a value pick.

Chris Rainey out of Florida is listed as a RB, however, was used primarily as a Wr this week. Mike Shanahan raved about Rainey, as he abused every DB during practice with his outstanding speed. Now, he didn’t do much in the actual game, however is worth mentioning as he provides major playmaking ability. At 5ft 8, 178 lbs, this could be an upgrade over Brandon Banks. Rainey provides ability to play Wr, a situational RB, and a great special teamer.

North – Gerell Robinson 2-64; T.J. Graham 2-27; Brian Quick 2-10; Dan Herron 2-4; Devier Posey 1-33; Bradie Ewing 1-23; Marvin Jones 1-8; Isaiah Pead 1-4.
South – Joe Adams 8-133; Juron Criner 6-77; Jeff Fuller 3-19; T.Ganaway 2-8; A.J. Jenkins 1-26; Dwight Jones 1-7; Vick Ballard 1-2; Lennon Creer 1-minus 4

Defensive Backs
By Andre Mtchell – Twitter handle: @MrDCSports

Evaluating the Defensive backs in this game could be a little misleading with the defensive rules that only allowed cover 1 and cover 3 defenses.

The week leading up to the game there was a lot of hype surrounding two cornerbacks on the South team, Janoris Jenkins and Dwight Bentley. Jenkins looked good early coming up to make a stop in the run game, but he was beat on a touchdown in the 2nd quarter by a much taller Marvin Jones who used his body to shield Jenkins off. Bentley showed some good break on the ball and didn’t get thrown too often.

Another South CB that stood out to me was Casey Hayward. He made a couple of plays that stopped touchdowns including an interception in the red zone. Brandon Taylor from LSU showed good ball hawking ability picking off an early Russell Wilson pass. The Redskins definitely could use help at safety and I hope they take a good look at Taylor. None of the North defensive backs stood out to me. Trenton Robinson was a guy that I didn’t like, took some bad angles, and reminded me of Kareem Moore. The guys on the North seemed to be greatly affected by the forced soft coverage, as the south WRs had no problem finding open space on the field.

What I didn’t like – soft coverage or not – was the amount of missed tackles from the DB’s on the North side. Joe Adams had a field day with YAC against all of the North DB’s.

After seeing this game, guys that I’d love to see the Skins draft in the mid rounds if available, would be Bentley, Hayward, Taylor, and Ryan Steed.

Guys that I’d stay away from Robinson, Brandon Boykin, and Jamell Fleming.

On the Fence: Janoris Jenkins and Antonio Allen. I like Allen’s big frame at safety but I’d like to see him make more plays. Jenkins size could be a concern against bigger receivers.

With the draft less than 3 months away the Redskins can find a gem in the middle rounds with one of these guys.

Offensive Line
By Mark Solway – Twitter Handle: @TheHogsdotNet

The Redskins have an obvious need along the offensive line, and quite possibly in multiple spots, so it seemed prudent to watch the game through once with an eye for JUST the offensive linemen.

Ohio State Left Tackle Mike Adams from the North squad had probably the best game of any lineman. He completely shut down a couple of very highly regarded defensive ends in Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw, and proved himself worthy of not only a first round pick, but in the first half of it. Coming in to the game, there was a lot of buzz around both Ingram and Upshaw after impressive weeks in Mobile, and the 6’7″ 323 pound Adams showed what a premiere tackle does against premiere ends – he shuts them down. After the game, Adams said of his and the North offensive line’s performance: “… us Big Ten boys — especially on the O-line — we know how to get after it, and I think it showed tonight.”

Right Tackle Mitchell Schwartz from California also had an excellent game. He drew North Carolina’s Quinton Coples many times, and despite the fact that Coples had a great game, none of his success came against Schwartz. Nothing overly remarkable about the performance other than the fact that it was technically very sound – footwork exceptional – Schwartz proved that he has what it takes to complete with the college game’s best, and that he’s ready for the next level.

For the South, fellow tackle Cordy Glenn from Georgia capped off a great Senior Bowl week with a good game on Saturday. Unlike his North opponents Schwartz and Adams, he didn’t have as great a game, but Glenn has the added caveat of being able to also move inside and play guard as well, and showed that versatility and strength on Saturday.

Not all tackles fared so well in Mobile; Matt McCants from UAB and Florida State tackle Zebrie Sanders both had tough outings. Sanders struggled with both power and finesse, as he was pushed straight back into the pocket a couple of times, and beat on the edge too easily. McCants was labeled a project earlier in the week because of a perceived lack of strength, and he continued to struggle on game day.

Inside line play was considerably less remarkable as guards Johnnie Troutman from Penn State, and Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin, both had very average days for the North. Troutman did show good strength and speed when he pulled early in the game, but other than that one play, did little to separate himself from any pack. Coming in to the game, a lot of people were looking at guard Will Blackwell of LSU. He possesses tremendous size, but looked a bit lost against the tough competition. He seemed to struggle with the speed of the ‘upper echelon’ talent across from him, and may have slid down a few boards because of it.

Center Mike Brewster from Ohio State had a good game inside. He didn’t have any of the troubles snapping the ball like he did late in the year, and despite his smaller size, Brewster would make a good Center in a Zone Blocking scheme like the Redskins use. He is mobile and athletic.

Ben Jones started at Center for the South and the Georgia product was solid, but did nothing spectacular or overly notable. The 2011 Rimington Trophy Finalist didn’t hurt his stock as one of the top centers in the country, but he didn’t take any steps forwards either. Jones is better suited to a power running attack than a ZBS, and may not be on the Redskins’ radar per se, but it’s very likely that either he or Brewster are the first Center taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Tight Ends
By Justin Fiore – Twitter handle: @Redskins_101

Luckily for me, the tight ends were a focal point in this year’s Senior Bowl. Wait, that wasn’t the case. Well anyways, the 2011 NFL season was showcased with big receiving tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. If it weren’t for atrocious quarterback play, we could have gotten a better look at the tight ends who were involved.

The entire position accounted for 64 total yards, led by Brad Smelley, who’s not the receiver of the bunch, but played well Saturday. Only one receiver caught more than one pass – DeAngelo Peterson caught two, for all of three yards.

It appeared that the quarterbacks rarely looked their way Saturday, so no one’s draft stock rose from this game – no one’s really fell either. The only thing you can take from it scouting wise would be their “measurables”.

Ladarius Green (6’5″, 237 lbs.) and DeAngelo Peterson (6’2″, 230 lbs.) are both entering the league looking to be the next great receiving threat. Only problem? Ladarius didn’t catch a single pass and Peterson tallied the whooping three yards previously mentioned.

Brad Smelley fits in the hybrid H-back role well at 6’1″, 233 pounds. He can block, run, and catch (with soft hands, might I add), but he won’t ever blow anyone away – not a flashy guy.

The North team had three good, balanced tight ends that all showed slivers of promise in the Senior Bowl. Brian Linthicum (6’4″, 249 lbs.), Michael Egnew (6’5″, 251 lbs.) and Emil Igwenagu (6’1″ 245 lbs.) all only caught one pass, but blocked well and were open several other times.

Like I was saying, poor play at quarterback lessened the impact these guys were able to have.

As far as the Redskins are concerned, I doubt anyone on the South team (which your already know our coaches coached) will be drafted by the Redskins. From the North, both Brian Linthicum and Michael Egnew could be attractive players in Mike Shanahan’s eyes. The Redskins are in need of a big blocking tight end that can catch and run when targeted.

For those of you doubting that – think about it. If Chris Cooley plants wrong one time next year ? IR, done for the season. IF Fred Davis returns and tokes up one more time – suspended, done for the season. And lord knows I can’t take another year of Logan Paulsen.

North – Emil Igwenagu 1-14; Michael Egnew 1-14; Brian Linthicum 1-9
South – DeAngelo Peterson 2-3; Brad Smelley 1-24

Running Backs
By Mark Solway

Running Back might not appear to be a big need for the Washington Redskins, but with them releasing Ryan Torain at the end of the season, and with Tim Hightower coming off of his injury as a free agent, they definitely will need a body or two for the backfield in 2012. It may come via free agency or the re-signing of Hoghtower, but with the success of 2011 Running Back picks Roy Helu and Evan Royster, there’s no reason to believe that the Redskins wouldn’t take a running back somewhere in the draft if presented with good value.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to help determine the prowess of but one back at the Senior Bowl – Isaiah Pead. He was named the game’s MVP on the strength of two brilliant plays on special teams, but he also had the game’s longest run of 18 yards. In fact, if you take out Reed’s 18 yard play, there were only 87 rushing yards from either team in the whole game (105 Yards total). Pead was definitely the jewel of the day, though more for the electrifying 60 and 38-yard punt returns. He may run a little upright, but he showed incredible burst through the gap on his 18-yard run. He also led both squads in carries (8) and in yardage (31), but other than the 18-yard scamper, he only managed 13 yards on 7 other carries. Still, the young man out of Cincinnati did more than any other RB to earn more money on Draft day with his Senior Bowl performance.

Boise State RB Doug Martin also had a good game for the North, albeit with limited opportunity. He only carried the ball 4 times for 19 yards, but his 4.8 yards per carry led all running backs on either squad. He also made a good down-field tackle to much fanfare from the broadcast team. Martin had a great Senior season, can play special teams, and did nothing to hurt his stock as one of the top five or six running backs available in the Draft.

Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard led the way in rushing for the South, with 29 yards on 7 carries. Shanahan’s squad could only muster a paltry 36 yards rushing on 20 carries, so needless to say, nobody from the South did much to enhance their draft stock. Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway had a nice 16-yard run, but only had 2 yards on his other 4 carries.

Washington’s Chris Polk and Ohio State’s Dan Herron both had 6 carries a piece, but for 14 and 15 yards total respectively. Such little action shouldn’t change either one’s status too much, but the fact that Herron faltered later in the season as well, means that his draft stock is definitely going the wrong way right now. Polk may not have damaged his standing too much, but he definitely didn’t make the best of, or get the chance to make the best of, his Senior Bowl experience. He came into the game ahead of Pead on most people’s RB boards, but the game could change that standing for some pundits and maybe even a few NFL teams as well.

North – Isaiah Pead 8-31; Doug Martin 4-19; Chris Polk 6-15; Dan Herron 6-14; Bradie Ewing 1-1; TEAM 2-0; Russell Wilson 4-minus 3; Kellen Moore 2-minus 8.
South – Vick Ballard 7-29; T.Ganaway 5-14; Lennon Creer 4-10; Chris Rainey 1-5; Brandon Weeden 1-minus 6; Ryan Lindley 1-minus 7; Nick Foles 1-minus9.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway

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