The Senior Bowl is an easy time of the year to get caught up in the hype of some prospects, and it’s important to keep perspective on just what the success of some players actually indicates about the NFL Draft value.
For some players, lack of exposure, injuries, playing out of position, or a poor supporting cast can make the Senior Bowl an important step in making team’s realize how talented a prospect really is. Here’s five guys who took advantage this week and left the week firmly in NFL teams’ discussions.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones had flashed on film and has ample NFL size, enough that despite his inconsistency issues this year, he still remained in the Top 4 round discussion. However, this week, the inconsistency wasn’t an issue this week, and he repeatedly showed great leg drive, explosiveness, lateral balance, versatility, and overall polish in his rush moves that he didn’t show in 2012. It’s important to consider Jones’s 2012 film before rushing him up boards, but it’s clear that he helped himself drastically this week.
Jonathan Cyprien, FS, Florida International
Missing him in during-the-season and pre-week evaluations, I was blown away by Cyprien in the little I saw just before practice, and thoroughly impressed both throughout the week and in review via the film session I did on Wednesday. With elite range, high football IQ in terms of reading the quarterback’s eyes, and timing/anticipation to the ball, Cyprien certainly proved to put his name in the “top safety” discussion this week.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Providing arguably the most unexpectedly solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Marquise Goodwin showed NFL scouts and decision makers that he’s more than a “track guy”. A legitimate two-stepper with stride length unseen for a receiver his size, Goodwin can eat up the cornerback’s cushion in a blur and separate in the vertical game with consistency. The promising aspect with Goodwin this week, was how quickly he adapted to the physicality of the North defensive backs; incorporating off-the-line quickness with counter punches of his own, Goodwin steadily improved at defeating press coverage and proved he could play on the outside at the next level. Possibly a late third or early fourth round pick, Goodwin can contribute right away as a fringe third or fourth option in an offense, while adding value as a dangerous return specialist
Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
Utilized in a multitude of ways at Rice, Vance McDonald was never in a position to shine brightly as a traditional, in-line tight end. Showcasing his well-built frame and plus athleticism, McDonald really stood out among the tight end class with explosiveness at the top of the route, balance through physicality and overall speed to work the seams. While he can be prone to focus drops or turn upfield without securing the catch, McDonald generally attacks the ball with his hands and even flashed the ability to extend away from his frame. His performance will have our staff re-watching tape over the next few weeks, but a top 100 selection is not out of the question.
Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
Thoroughly impressing myself and others this week, Williams consistently collapsed the pocket with heavy hand usage and dominant leg drive through initial contact. Williams, who did not dominate in games I had viewed prior to the senior bowl, played up to the level of competition here in Mobile, besting opposing blockers with natural leverage (due to his thick, wide base) and surprising hip explosion. As wide as he is tall, Williams continually got underneath his opponent and snapped upwards through the point of attack. Williams could be a one-technique in some NFL schemes, but better projects to the three-technique, where he can be matched up in one-on-one situations. Williams provides a legitimate pass rushing threat inside, while also having disruptive force to close down running lanes for opposing tailbacks. A sure-fire draft selection entering the week, Williams has certainly made a strong case for himself as a day two pick.