January 25, 2011
MOBILE, Ala. -- As Day 2 of Senior Bowl practice gets underway this morning, every young player who hit the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Monday had time to reflect on his own performance. This is the first step of the pre-draft evaluation process, and every year, there are stars from this game that go forward to make their way in the NFL with Senior Bowl week as a specific landscape. Here are 10 players that either established outstanding beginnings, ot will need to turn things around in a hurry.
QB Jake Locker, Washington - Everything people question about Locker - primarily, accuracy and decision-making - came home to roost on Day 1. Locker would make the pro throws everyone knows he can, but would alternate those with high flyers and an ugly interception. Still much better outside the pocket, Locker most begin to prove that he's more than a sandlot quarterback.
QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada - Kaepernick played in the Pistol formation under Chris Ault at Nevada, and he knew there would be questions about his ability to take snaps under center and make quick throws in the pocket. He looked great on the first day of practice, zipping balls into tight areas when needed. "It's been pretty easy," Kaepernick told me about his transition in Mobile. "There are a few things the Bengals coaches would like to see me do a little differently. But at the same time, overall, I've been doing pretty well."
WR Titus Young, Boise State - The speedster needs to establish that he's got a command of the route tree, but he'd better start the second day of practice with better hands. Young dropped a key pass and seemed distracted by his mistakes. If he wants to live up to the Johnny Knox(notes) and Mike Wallace(notes) comparisons he's received. Young must start to turn it around.<
WR Dwayne Harris, East Carolina - The Senior Bowl can be a huge step up for smaller-school players, and this Conference USA star turned a lot of heads to start the week. For teams looking to acquire a slot/third-down receiver in the Davone Bess(notes) mold, Harris is now on several NFL shopping lists.
WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State - Of all the receivers on the first day, Brown received the most praise from analysts after the fact. He was quick off the line, showed the ability to get free in short spaces, and had after-catch burst to spare.
OT/G Danny Watkins, Baylor - the former firefighter and one-time Canadian Football League draft pick made his name by replacing Jason Smith(notes) on the left side of Baylor's line, but don't be surprised if he blows people away at guard this week. The 26-year-old Watkins is making up for a lack of football experience early in his life, but he's got great technique and an outstanding attitude.
OT Gabe Carimi, Winconsin - The knock on Carimi coming out of college was that he came out of his stance too high, allowing defenders to get under his pads and preventing him from establishing a powerful base. But so far this week, Carimi's shown the benefits of some serious work in this regard. He played lower with a nastier streak and was the most impressive offensive lineman on the day by most accounts. Iffy footwork at the second level may show up through the week.
OT Nate Solder, Colorado - Solder is the Jake Locker of offensive tackles - as good a raw skill set as you'll see, but "raw" is the operative word. Solder looks blocky in pass protection at times and can be turned around at the edge. In run-blocking, he can dominate, and he's very good at blasting through to the second level. But he needs to put it all together in an integrated skill set, or a very interesting class of senior tackles may just pass him by.
FB/LB Owen Marecic, Stanford - The sooner Marecic drops the "two-way" stuff and goes with the full-time fullback position, the better off he'll likely be. He looked good on the offensive side of the ball, but really struggled on defense when he was asked to drop into coverage. Perhaps he could find a place in the NFL as a pure run-blocking linebacker, but most NFL teams want their ‘backers to do more these days ...
LB Greg Jones(notes), Michigan State - ... like Jones did on Day 1. He was all over the place, showing good speed all over the field, and coming down well to defend the run. Scouts will be looking to see which inside linebacker position suits him best - 4-3 or 3-4? - and Jones has proven so far that he'll make a place for himself either way.
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