As the week progressed, we started to get a better idea of the talent level from many of the Senior Bowl players.
Here's another detailed look at the performances from many players through three days of practices:
- Once again, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick was by far the best quarterback on the field during Wednesday’s practices, but FSU’s Christian Ponder started to show scouts why he has so much potential. He had much better touch on his passes and was able to hit on a lot of deep passes. Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi continues to be up and down, but also was able to drive the ball down field. I find Stanzi to be very intriguing as a passer.
- Boston College's Anthony Castonzo has been impressive at tackle and is fairly expected to go in the latter part of the first round. He has taken some reps at guard, where he's obviously inexperienced , and has struggled a bit, but that can be excused since he admitted he hasn't played the position since his freshman year in high school. The good thing is that he's willing to show an openness to coaching and to display some versatility.
- Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan had a solid bounce back day and got some looks as a standup rusher. At 6-4, 255, Kerrigan may project by some teams as a 3-4 OLB, so it was good to see him get pressure standing up and rushing the edge. During team drills, he was a consistent presence in the backfield.
- Arizona's Brooks Reed participated in linebacker drills for the first time Wednesday and handled himself well for a guy who didn't play any linebacker in college. Reed has been impressive this week as a somewhat undersized 4-3 DE but he said after practice that about 80 percent of the teams he's talked to think he projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The Senior Bowl has helped “tweener” players over the years boost their draft stock by showing positional versatility. A good of example of this is former Troy University DE DeMarcus Ware, who shined at OLB during Senior Bowl week of 2005.
- Stanford DT Sione Fua doesn't bring much to the table as a pass rusher, but he's very stout against the run and strong at the point of attack and he has, as they say, a high motor. He'll fit in the league as a nose tackle.
- Indiana's James Brewer has looked like a fish out of water when he's on the outside at tackle, where his lack of quickness is exploited. However, he's much better inside at guard. During 1-on-1 pass rushing drills, Brewer, at guard, was the only lineman able to halt California's Cameron Jordan.
- There really aren't any three-down running back prospects here in Mobile, as the backs on hand project more as third-down guys or specialty players. But of the crop, the best have probably been a pair of guys who plied their trade collegiately in Oklahoma. Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray will probably come off the board earliest of the Senior Bowl RBs and he's a burner with some big-play potential. But Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State has probably had the best week, showing not only impressive burst and quickness, but at 5-7, 199, Hunter has also shown a willingness to mix it up and is a willing pass blocker. Kentucky's Derrick Locke and Louisville's Bilal Powell have also opened some eyes with their acceleration. But what’s still in question is whether Hunter will wind up being more than a rotational back at the next level.
- At cornerback, Colorado's Jalil Brown has gone a bit under the radar because he hasn't had many big plays, but that's partly because he hasn't seen much action in team drills because he's doing such a solid job in coverage. Brown, 6-0, 202, has ideal size for the position and could come off the board in the first two rounds. Stanford's Richard Sherman, a late addition, looks almost too big for the position but he's opened some eyes this week in his coverage ability.
- Nebraska's Eric Hagg is kind of a tweener at safety and has experience at corner and, briefly, linebacker. He may not test off the charts at the combine, but he's been around the ball all week and is a guy who should show up on Saturday. Scouts have mentioned Hagg as one the week's pleasant surprises.
- On the opposite end of the size spectrum at cornerback is North Carolina's Kendric Burney, 5-9, 181, but that hasn't stopped the Tar Heel being one of the more impressive corners in Mobile. Burney had a lot to prove coming here after a six-game suspension at North Carolina this season, but he's answered the bell well and could project as a nice slot corner in the NFL.
- Two under-the-radar offensive linemen this week improved steadily and left a mark heading into Saturday. Georgia's Clint Boling struggled when he slid out to right tackle but has been impressive, especially as a run blocker, at guard. Small school center Brandon Fusco from division-II Slippery Rock struggled early with the jump in competition and hasn't looked particularly dominant in 1-on-1 pass protection drills. But as the week's gone on, Fusco has acclimated to the level of play and looks solid in team drills. Expect him to come off the board in the middle rounds.