The South roster features the lesser of the quarterbacks, with Tyler Wilson having a chance to really step up this week compared to his fellow QBs.
But with some of the most polished receivers and offensive tackles as well as high upside talents at those positions, including Terrence Williams of Baylor, Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, and more.
1. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Unable to reach lofty preseason hype that landed him inside many, if not all preseason first round mock drafts, Tyler Wilson enters the senior bowl with a chance to fight back into top round contention. Wilson, while tough, gritty and instinctive in the pocket, has developed a few bad habits in terms of his setup and footwork. This week, Wilson needs to remain grounded in his throwing base through the entirety of his progression, be more precise in resetting his feet and shoulders to secondary targets, and consistently drive off his plant foot at the top of his pass drops.
2. EJ Manuel, Florida State
Manuel won’t be drafted off his Florida State film, which reeked of inconsistency, poor fundamentals, and erratic accuracy. However, it’s his flashes, his upside as an athlete and big bodied QB, and the fact that an NFL team won’t ask him to do much in his first year or two in the NFL. His release is the main technique issue I see, as that forces his ball’s to sail through the route tree. However, team’s will be looking for coach-ability, the high velocity through the win, the flashes of athleticism, and some sort of football IQ to work with this week.
3. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
All about production and records, Landry Jones more importantly possesses big-time arm talent, prototypical size and the experience needed to make an impact early at the next level. And while the Sooner signal caller couldn’t win the big one, concerns fall more heavily on Jones’ inability to slide, adjust and deliver in the wake of pressure. If Jones wishes to work himself back into top three round conversations, he’ll have to be sharp with his reads, on target with the football, and lighter on his feet. Overall pocket movements have improved from season to season with Jones, and his consistent release as a passer should impress in this setting.
1. Andre Ellington, Clemson
With elite burst and great speed in the open field, Ellington flashes the patience up and through the hole, and can get separation with subtle moves and vision at the 2nd level. While he isn’t a complete interior runner, doesn’t have elite lateral agility, and can go down too easily at contact, Ellington’s big play ability, zone running back upside, and ability to showcase his receiving ability this week could push him into the Top 2-3 RBs in this class.
2. Mike Gillislee, Florida
Displaying plus balance, toughness, and leg drive to run through arm tacklers and pick up yardage after first contact, Gillislee set himself apart with his productivity between the tackles. Reading his blockers exceptionally well and having the feet to jump cut across multiple gaps or plant and drive on cutback lanes, Gillislee showcases the vision and instincts to burn opposing defenders that overpursue in run flow. That said, look for Gillislee to be more patient in the first few days of practice while adjusting to the system.
3. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
One of the most powerful and focused runners in college football, Taylor has elite shoulder strength to fight ahead for added yards through the hole as well as playing with great pad level and initiating contact when he does get to the edge. He lacks the deep speed and top level agility to be a future first rounder, but he’s got the bulk, strength, and drive to be a solid 1-2 punch running back in the NFL and worthy of an early round pick.
4. Onterio McCaleb, Auburn
5. Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest
1. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
One of the most efficient and productive receivers in college football the last two years, Quinton Patton does all of the little things well project as a long-term NFL receiver in a variety of systems. He tracks the ball at an elite level and is a subtle after catch runner. While he lacks top end burst and athleticism, , it’s his is ability to get upfield quickly and with decisive run-after catch moves, his elite ball tracking skill set, his diversity in the routes he’s scored touchdowns on, and his development as blocker shouldn’t take long to adjust to the NFL level.
2. Terrance Williams, Baylor
High-cut with deep speed to burn and plus length, Terrence Williams more than looks the part of an elite caliber wide receiver. Moreover, Williams packed the stat sheet as a consensus All-American in his first season as the primary target. At the senior bowl, it’ll be interesting to note how Williams attacks the football, as he isn’t a natural hands guy but can really flash explosive playmaking skills at the catch point with length, leaping skills and overall body control.
3. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Another track athlete with length and speed, Hamilton similarly graduated from being a supporting cast member to a lead actor in his team’s passing attack. Leaner than Williams, but more elusive and balanced after the catch, Hamilton was used most frequently on shallow cross patterns and mesh concepts that allowed him to drag across the width of the field. Hamilton shies away from contact and struggles to extend for catches outside his frame. In reviewing my own notes over Hamilton, it’ll be important to see if he can win off the line versus press coverage, as opposing corners in the SEC rarely bumped him.
4. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M
The former running back recruit, Swope has become a short area route technician as a receiver, while still having the strength and balance to be strong runner after catch. Likely limited to the slot at the next level, it’s his bulk as a runner and definition as a receiver that should allow him to be one of the premier slot receivers in this class.
5. Tavarres King, Georgia
6. Conner Vernon, Duke
1. Mike Williams, Alabama
In my preseason evaluations, I was highly unimpressed with Michael Williams lack of receiving skills and perceived underachieving as a blocker. After the first few games of the 2012 season, my tune quickly changed, as I saw Williams develop into a consistently active, polished and occasionally dominant blocker. Equally effective in pass protection or run blocking, in a variety of traditional tight end, wing tight end and H-Back alignments, Williams has learned to play with better base and overall hand usage at the point of attack. And while he should impress as a blocker in senior bowl practices, I’m more intent to see his impact in the downfield passing game and whether or not he can be a threat up the seam.
2. Mychal Rivera, Tennessee
3. Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard
4. Vance McDonald, Rice
1. Larry Warford, Kentucky
A favorite prospect of mine for much of the year, Warford has gone from a preseason day two projection to a possible late first round pick. Thickly built with the wide base, broad shoulders and overall girth desired at offensive guard, Warford has a prototypical skill set that includes strength, foot quickness and consistent technique. In this setting, I’ll be expecting to see some of the leadership qualities that he’s been praised for at Kentucky, and also whether or not he separates himself from the rest of the pack as the top rated guard at the senior bowl.
2. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Ending the regular season on a high note, Johnson has skyrocketed up senior offensive tackle rankings. Being a swing tackle prospect, capable of playing both right and left tackle slots, Johnson’s value will be equally high across NFL Draft boards. Though unrefined in his technique, both from a pass set standpoint and run blocking perspective, Johnson remarkable upside in terms of potential range in his kick slide, ideal body type, plus length and elite athletic ability. We’ll be looking to see improvements in Johnson’s inside anchor and overall strength versus speed-to-power rushers that will attack him head on in one-on-one drills.
3. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
Naturally athletic, quick and sudden out of his stance, and possessing the trunk, base, length and hand strength scouts look for in starting next level guards, the only area of weakness of Thomas is in the drive blocking capacity. Bending at the knees to absorb initial contact and maintain proper leverage, Thomas punches and sustains very well in both pass sets and run block assignments, but lacks real bite in terms of moving his man out of the hole. Hopefully at the senior bowl, Thomas will receive snaps at both guard and tackle, because he may project best as a zone blocking, left tackle.
4. Oday Aboushi, Virginia
Though he isn’t physical at the point of attack, and lacks sustained power in the run game, Aboushi demonstrates excellent footwork and balance, and looks to have the overall athleticism to left tackle at the next level. He looks natural getting to second level defenders in the run game and on screens, and displays good mobility pulling around the edge on sweeps. Aboushi still needs to develop and be more physical as an inline run blocker, but his size (6060, 310) and smooth footwork in pass protection make him a solid prospect for a pass oriented team, whose run game contains a good amount of counter and misdirection.
5. Xavier Nixon, Florida
6. Dave Quessenberry, San Jose State
7. Reid Fragel, Ohio State
8. Brian Schwenke, California
9. Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State
*. DJ Fluker, Alabama