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Senior Bowl: Win, Lose Or Draw

Jan 30, 2010 12:07 PM EST

The primary function for the players this week was to improve their draft stock. Some did, some did not, and some went the other direction.

Winners:

Mike Iupati -- the Idaho guard was far and away the best offensive linemen in Mobile. He proved that not only could he handle the jump up in competition, but he could dominate at that level. Iupati has an exceedingly rare blend of power, quickness, and attitude. He solidified himself as a first round pick, perhaps lofting himself into the 8-15 overall range.

Dexter McCluster -- NFL evaluators weren't quite sure what to make of the diminutive Mississippi player heading here; was he a running back, a wideout, or just a return specialist? McCluster put on a display of incredible agility and vision, performing very well in all phases. Now teams see him as a more elusive Percy Harvin, a utility knife that can get 10 carries a game, five receptions, take Wildcat snaps, and return punts -- all at a high level.

Brandon Graham -- the Michigan defensive end proved to everyone else what those of us who have watched him closely for awhile already knew: he's a major disruptive force off the edge with great quickness and power. His performance downplayed the concerns about his lack of height, drawing comparisons to Trent Cole and Robert Mathis. Solidly in the top 20, but I've been telling you that since September...

Andre Roberts -- when you come here from a non D-I program like Roberts, who went to The Citadel, expectations are generally lower. Roberts threw that in the face of doubters, showing great burst, good feet, and a swagger that comes from knowing he can catch anything near him. His smallish size limits his draft ceiling to probably the middle of the 2nd round, but before Mobile it was likely two rounds lower.

Jacoby Ford -- clearly established himself as the top slot receiver prospect with his sudden speed and flytrap hands. The telling moment came when the North team ran a reverse in drills. Ford took the handoff at full speed and turned it up the field with balance and real burst. The very next rep Mardy Gilyard took his spot, slowed way down to get the ball and then ran horizontally before awkwardly cutting back. The torch was passed right there.

The offensive tackles that weren't in Mobile -- some are underclassmen (Bruce Campbell, Anthony Davis, Bryan Bulaga) who weren't eligible to play here, but the lackluster (I'm being very kind here) performance of the senior tackles that were in Mobile makes those who skipped the Senior Bowl look much more attractive. Russell Okung, Trent Williams, and even the Shrine Game big winner Rodger Saffold all saw their stocks markedly arrow up without having to do anything. There were no tackles here (aside from Iupati, who might be able to make the move) that merit selection before the top of the fourth round.

LeGarrette Blount -- it was a bit of a coup by his agent just to get him in the Senior Bowl, and Blount did a fine job of rebuilding his draft stock. He looks very good on the field, showing good agility for his large, muscular frame and attacking the hole with nice burst. Just as importantly, he appears to have put the ugly incident that led to his suspension behind him, both in his own mind and the minds of talent evaluators. He'll still be docked for it, but Blount gets high marks for damage control.

Perrish Cox -- the Oklahoma State product had some shaky performances in positional drills, but he was the star of the South team 11-on-11 drills. He's one of those corners that just finds the ball innately, and his confidence and instincts are both top notch. Much like Dre Bly, he's not for everyone, but for certain teams he's a great fit and will be drafted as such. Bonus points for his elite return man potential.

Losers:

Mardy Gilyard -- "loser" is the wrong word to use with Gilyard, who is as mentally tough as they come and exudes positive leadership. But his hands were unreliable (again, being charitable) and his footwork wasn't sharp. When paired with his rail-thin build, I just don't see any way he is a top 50 pick, and if he would have had a good week he likely would have solidified himself as a late-first rounder.

The North team QBs -- They were overshadowed by Tebowpalooza all week, but they didn't exactly help themselves with shaky performances. Tony Pike was the best of the lot, but he has alarming tendencies to miss high and not see linebackers in coverage. For every "wow" moment -- and he had a few -- he consistently left scouts wanting more. Sean Canfield struggled to overcome a dismal Monday, and his arm strength and longer-range accuracy are both not NFL caliber. Dan Lefevour fits more in the "draw" category, but he did little to swing evaluators who already had opinions on him to the other side of the fence.

Patrick Robinson -- ACC teams almost never challenged the Florida State corner, but based on his performance in Mobile perhaps they should have. His footwork needs a lot of work -- the aforementioned Roberts got him to fall down twice -- and he had real trouble locating the ball. My signature moment of Robinson came early in the week when in a passing skeleton drill he missed his initial jam on Riley Cooper, then put his head down and blindly chased after him. Cooper made a nice cut, the ball went right inside and behind Robinson, who tumbled trying to both stop and turn at the same time. He showed he can make some plays but he is not the first round lock he was assumed to be this time last week.

Vlad Ducasse -- again the term "loser" is too harsh for Ducasse, but it's hard to not be negative when a player with his sort of unknown status and huge scouting buzz comes to Mobile and performs like Ducasse. The UMass offensive linemen was touted as being a great athlete for his size and ready to play tackle in the NFL. Neither proved valid, as he struggled with agility and football coordination. He should develop into a pretty good guard, but we learned two things about him in Mobile -- no way he's a tackle and he's at least a year away from handling the speed of the NFL game even at guard. Some mock drafts had him as high as the late first round, but I doubt you see him in anyone's first two rounds anymore.

Taylor Mays -- another player that confirmed my somewhat isolated September position was the USC safety. There is no denying his physical prowess -- he has the body every guy wants and every girl dreams her man would have -- but it seems more and more people are seeing his very real flaws on the field. Mays proved he lacks any sort of instincts in pass coverage and lacks lateral agility. I'll paraphrase an NFL head coach I spoke with after South practice one day, 'How come he's not playing linebacker?' Good question, because his stock as a safety is no longer first-round status. I wouldn't touch him before the fourth, and I am no longer alone in that assessment.

The Texas Longhorns -- only two Longhorns were in Mobile, and neither linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy nor defensive tackle Lamarr Houston helped themselves. Muckelroy is undersized and plays so, and he struggled both in coverage and at getting through traffic to the ball. Houston came to Mobile with first-round potential, but he was consistently overpowered and exhibited sloppy technique. Houston did have some good moments but he is not the impact player teams want in the first round. Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy is also in this draft, and the scouts here I talked with regarding him were not kind.

Trevard Lindley and Sam Young -- the Kentucky cornerback and Notre Dame offensive tackle both struggled badly in both positional drills and 11-on-11 action. For two players that both populated many preseason first round mock drafts, I wouldn't be surprised if both now go undrafted. Lindley's inability to cover anyone at all was stunning, and Young plays too high and slow to ever be more than a backup, if that.

Draw:

Tim Tebow -- he showed steady improvement as the week progressed, but the flaws in his fundamental quarterback skills are very evident and need lots of work. His delivery needs a complete overhaul and he needs to learn to read the field quicker. But I also witnessed why Florida fans worship him. He's a charismatic, enthusiastic natural leader, and his teammates quickly rallied around him -- including several Bama players here, much to the chagrin of the sizable Tide fan presence. He outshined the other South quarterbacks in two-minute drills and flashed great arm strength all week. He's certainly not a first rounder and is probably at least two full seasons on the bench away from being a starting NFL quarterback, but the Tebow magic is not without some basis.

Sean Weatherspoon -- the Mizzou linebacker won the Louis Delmas Honorary Award as most talkative player in Mobile. He also consistently impressed in agility drills and showing great closing speed to the ball. However, he needs that great speed because he's often slow to diagnose the play and frequently gets sucked in too early. But we all knew that already, which is why his week is a draw.

Stafon Johnson -- you probably recognize his name more for the freakish weightlifting injury that nearly killed him than his work at running back for the Trojans. Johnson looked physically fine and fully recovered, and got himself back on team's draft radar. But he did little to distinguish himself on the field, showing major trouble catching the ball and lacking the speed and burst of most other backs.

Anthony Dixon -- Dixon had an impressive week, so you might ask why the Mississippi State back rates just a "draw." The problem is that a lot of scouts here can't decide if he's a speedy fullback or a big running back. There is little debate he'll be good at either one, but being somewhat ambiguous waters down draft stock, particularly as the fullback positions devolves into further insignificance. Stanford's Toby Gerhart (who was not here) has the same problem, though Dixon is a better prospect.

-- Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com

Via Jeff Risdon/RealGM