Charles Sims (USA Today Sports Image)
MOBILE, Ala. — The week of practice wrapped up Thursday, and all that's left for the Senior Bowl players is the game on Saturday. Although playing well in the contest can boost a player's stock, the bulk of the scouts' impressions — good and bad — came from the practice sessions.
Here are the players who impressed the most, and the ones whose stocks dipped:
West Virginia RB Charles Sims: He appears to have all the skills and looks like the most well-rounded back down here. Sims didn't flash much in the receiving game and he might need to pick it up as a pass protector, but he showed good vision and explosion as a runner and didn't disappoint.
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald: It was a banner week for Donald, and when we asked him Wednesday if he was just showing off at that point, he couldn't help but laugh. Donald consistently won one-on-one drills for three days of practice and was easily the most destructive interior lineman in Mobile, putting questions about his size (6-foot, 288) to the side. Watch the tape.
Wisconsin LB Chris Borland: We're talking about a throwback body type here — he has been compared to Zach Thomas for years — and Borland even admitted he knows he must prove he can play in pass coverage consistently. But his movement looked good, he was quick to diagnose plays and find the ball, and his effort was visible from the first snap. One scout called him the best interview he had all week.
Auburn DE Dee Ford: The Jacksonville Jaguars' coaching staff used him in their "Leo" rush linebacker role this week, and a few times it looked as if Ford was shot out of a cannon off the snap. His explosiveness and edge-bending ability was obvious, even if his size (6-2, 243 pounds) isn't ideal for every system.
Notre Dame OT-OG Zach Martin: He might be a guard for some teams and doesn't possess ideal tackle size, but Martin held up well outside against the best rushers down here and you'd have to think he solidified his spot as a top-40 pick.
Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo: He earned high marks from scouts for his effort, desire and continued improvement throughout the week. Garoppolo came from the East-West Shrine game, where he starred, and he did his best to adjust to the new receivers and terminology, and flashed a quick release that stood out above some of the other quarterbacks here.
BYU LB Kyle Van Noy: The athletic linebacker was expected to work out well here, and he did, and it will provide some momentum heading to the scouting combine, where he should test exceptionally well for his position. Great in coverage, Van Noy also showed some nice pass-rushing skills that could make him more versatile than expected.
Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward: Although Ward is not big, he will leave Mobile as the best safety from this group with a strong week of play from start to finish. He didn't make any true flash plays but was around the ball consistently, and his ability to cover the slot adds to his attractiveness.
Baylor OG Cyril Richardson: The week got off to a sour note for him on Monday when he looked too bulky at the weigh-in, and then later that day he was whipped consistently by Donald in practice. Things got a little better during the week, and he continued to battle, but he looked slow and clunky at times.
Toledo RB David Fluellen: Tough week. Showed little burst, and didn't run with enough power to make you think he could be that kind of back despite good size. Struggled a little with pass protection, and he also put one ball on the ground, too.
Missouri OLB-DE Michael Sam: He's not a linebacker, but that's the position the scouts wanted him to play. He had a few flash plays but otherwise was blocked too easily and looked wooden in linebacker drills.
Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers: If you watched him exclusively, you would not have seen him do much. Yes, he can absorb double teams with his incredible mass, but he's not a playmaker. At all.
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