You can make the case that the week of practice for the Senior Bowl is as important, if not more so, than the game itself. After all, you get to see many more reps in an up close and personal environment. Now that practice week is wrapping up and the game is upon us, which prospects helped themselves the most over the last few days? We’ll start with the offense.
Amongst the quarterbacks, it’s hard to say which helped himself more, Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) or Derek Carr (Fresno State). Both of them are competing to be the 4th QB off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft, as I explained here. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) also showed off an impressive arm throughout a windy week of practice, though everyone already knew of his prodigious physical skills.
As far as running backs, it’s another close call between Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) and Charles Sims (West Virginia), with Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina) tailing right behind. Andrews and Sims both have the looks and skills to be 3-down backs in the NFL, judging by the week of practice they had. Both looked good between the tackles, out of the backfield and in blocking. Taliaferro showed good athleticism and strength on am impressive frame (6-foot 1, 230-pounds).
There’s a couple of candidates for the group of receivers. Josh Huff (Oregon) and Kevin Norwood (Alabama) probably helped themselves out the most as far as draft stock, while Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) helped secure his reputation as the best senior wide receiver in the class. Huff showed tremendous deep speed and concentration while Norwood caught everything in sight. Matthews has the looks and habits of a consummate professional.
Arthur Lynch (Georgia) helped himself out the most amongst the tight ends. He looked physical and athletic all week while excelling in all drills. He could’ve vaulted himself from late 3rd day pick to late 2nd day pick. C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa) also had a solid week.
For the hogmollies up front, I have to go with OT Zack Martin (Notre Dame). Martin was consistently rock solid all week long, and was one of the few people capable of stopping DT Aaron Donald (Pitt). He just may have pushed himself into first round discussion, and could be a pro bowler in the NFL at either OT or OG. Brandon Thomas (Clemson) looks like a long term solution at guard for some team while Morgan Moses (Virginia) displayed athletic and nimble feet on a gigantic frame (6-foot 6, 330-pounds).
All in all, a lot of guys had good weeks of practice, most of whom I didn’t name above. WR Kain Colter (Northwestern), WR Mike Davis (Texas), WR Robert Herron (Wyoming), C Weston Richburg (Colorado State), OT Jack Mewhort (Ohio State) and WR Ryan Grant (Tulane) are a couple of other offensive guys who helped themselves out.
Now we’ll have to wait and see if these guys follow up a good week of practice with a good game tomorrow. As they say, practice like you play, and play like you practice.