With the Senior Bowl set to begin in a little less then 10 hours, it’s an appropriate time to step back and look for who to watch. With Senior Bowl players getting ready to make the last in-game impression they can, there will be no shortage of competitiveness on the field on Saturday. These players are going to go out there and give 100% in hopes that some team will give them a job. While many of these players will be drafted come Draft Day, let’s take a look at the 10 position battles that could really affect how how or how low the players at those positions could go.
South QB Brandon Weeden vs North QB Russel Wilson
During the week of practice, it became clear that Brandon Weeden was the best quarterback on the field followed by Russel Wilson and the rest of the QB’s. That is why Weeden and Wilson will be starting the game for their respective teams. Weeden’s stock is pointing up and a strong performance could push him even higher despite his old age (28). Wilson, on the other hand, had good moments and bad moments in practice. His height is the main concern and he will need a good performance to alleviate the concerns on how his height will affect him at the next level.
North RB Chris Polk vs North RB Doug Martin vs South RB Chris Rainey
This position battle will be one of the most important to watch. Chris Polk entered the week as one of the best running backs in the 2012 class, but a poor showing in practice has his stock pointing down. Doug Martin had a fantastic week of practice and his stock is very much pointing up. Rainey showed up and has widened a lot of eyes with his speed and athleticism especially as a receiver. If Polk wants to regain his spot, he will need a very good performance in the game or he risks falling out of the first 2 rounds of the draft. Martin, on the other hand, could really solidify his status as a Day 2 pick with a strong game. Rainey is a guy who could really shoot up boards if he shows the same athleticism he showed during practice. As the old saying goes, “You can’t teach fast”.
North WR Marvin Jones South WR Juron Criner
We got two Pac-12 guys who had two good weeks of practice. Jones surprised everyone throughout the week with deceptive speed and skillful route running. Criner, on the other hand, displayed good route running, good hands, and knows how to shield the defender away using his 6 ft 2 frame. Both of these guys entered the week under the radar due to various reasons, but both go into the game with a lot of momentum and some buzz among draft analysts. A solid performance could boost them solidly into Day 2 of the draft.
South DT’s Brandon Thompson North DT’s Kendall Reyes
Defensive Line play has been pretty dominant all week long. Clemson DT is clearly the cream of the crop of the senior bowl. He’s big, explosive and has been unblockable throughout the week. Kendall Reyes explodes off the ball and uses violent hands to get after the QB. He has opened some eyes this week. These are the top 2 DT prospects in Mobile. Thompson is probably a first round pick and a good performance will only solidify that. A good game from Reyes and he will firmly be planted in Day 2.
North OL Mike Adams vs South OL Cordy Glenn
Two of the top offensive lineman could gain quite a bit with good performances on Saturday. Mike Adams has really surprised people with his athleticism and strong build. He was looked at as a potential 1st rounder but has quickly shot up boards. A strong performance could make him a top 15 pick. Glenn, on the other hand, is the consensus top guard in this draft. Big, tough and physical, Glenn has the makings of a day 1 starting guard. He will probably be a 1st round pick.
South DT Jaye Howard vs North DT Alameda Ta’amu
Jaye Howard is an intriguing guy. He didn’t do much at Florida, but he caught my eye doing drills. He is athletic with a good burst. A strong performance for him is a must if he wants a shot at being drafted on day 2. Ta’Amu is a guy who really needs a good game. He has had a less then stellar week of practice. He needs to show more pass rush ability then he’s been showing if he wants to be drafted early on Day 2. Both of these guys have a lot to gain and a lot to lose on Saturday.
South DE Quinton Coples vs South DE Courtney Upshaw
Two of the best prospects in the country, Coples and Upshaw are squarely competing against one another to be the consensus top pass rusher in the draft. Both Coples and Upshaw have proven to be unblockable throughout the week. Coples is a prototypical 4-3 DE while Upshaw has versatility and could play in a 4-3 or 3-4. Both of these guys look like top 10 prospects.
North DE Vinny Curry vs South DE Melvin Ingram
Curry and Ingram are both intriguing. Curry has some explosiveness to his game and could be a really good pass rusher at the next level. However, he has some mechanical flaws that need to be fixed such as his hands and his pad level. On the other hand, Ingram has been very impressive all week, but his short arm measurements have caused some concern and could be a problem moving forward. Ingram will be looking to keep his name in 1st round discussion and Curry is trying to raise his 2nd round draft stock.
North CB Jammel Flemming vs South CB Janoris Jenkins
The two best corners will do battle with both eying the 1st 2 rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jenkins is the better corner, but he has some off the field character concerns and will need a very strong performance for teams to overlook those concerns. Flemming is a good prospect with starter potential as he continues to work on things such as tackling and playing against the run. A strong game from Jenkins will help his 1st round hopes while Flemming could be vying for a top 40 spot with a good performance.
North S George Iloka vs North S Harrison Smith
The two best safeties at the Senior Bowl are on the same team. Iloka really opened eyes at his weigh in do to his height, weight and arm length. He has definitely got a buzz going around him and a good performance could really boost his stock in this weak safety class. Harrison Smith is a solid prospect who is best against the run. His athleticism is a negative and will hurt him, but a strong showing could have him taken sometime on Day 2.
Make sure you stay tuned throughout the weekend for analysis of the Senior Bowl. You can also follow us on Twitter as we tweet our thoughts throughout the game.
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Tags: 2012 Nfl Draft Alameda Ta'amu Brandon Thompson Brandon Weeden Chris Polk Chris Rainey Cordy Glenn Courtney Upshaw Doug Martin George Iloka Harrison Smith Jammel Flemming Janoris Jenkins Jaye Howard Juron Criner Kendall Reyes Marvin Jones Melvin Ingram Mike Adams NFL Draft Quinton Coples Russel Wilson Senior Bowl Vinny Curry