Before I get into this write-up I want to highlight an article I wrote earlier this weekend breaking down possible three-technique option Devon Still. Check it out by clicking here.
I’ve just finished watching the Senior Bowl and wanted to quickly put a few thoughts on the blog. Firstly, the best player on the field today was Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina) and it wasn’t even close. He was playing at a different level to anyone else, flashing superb range, athleticism, repertoire and extreme athleticism. His motor kept rolling throughout the game and he played like a top-five pick - he was virtually unblockable at times. The thing is, I’m not quite sure what to make of it all.
Throughout 2011 Coples flattered to deceive. He was regularly subbed in and out of plays, time-sharing with Donte Paige-Moss (who also had a disappointing year). Coples played without fire, without urgency. He claims he struggled to adjust back to right end having featured mostly inside during 2010, but he still should’ve been dominating average college lineman due to his natural physical talent. His senior season was just a completely wasted opportunity, it was garbage. He turns up in Mobile for what amounts to a public job-interview and performs at a level beyond anything we saw in college this season. NFL teams must be asking themselves tonight which Quinton Coples they’ll get if they take him with a high pick. This version can be an all-pro and rival probably only Julius Peppers for natural-born ability to rush the passer. The North Carolina version is going to be a lethargic non-factor who costs you a lot of wasted money and maybe a reputation.
In many ways this performance raises more questions than answers. The team that ultimately drafts Coples will be left with the ultimate risk-reward situation. So which team, if any, will it be at the top of round one to take this on? That’s what we have to work out. But today was the Quinton Coples we wanted to see throughout 2011 and nobody can deny the potential he has at his disposal. Quinton – don’t waste that potential.
Teammate Zach Brown also showed well at linebacker. He was quick to react to plays throughout, flashed good closing speed and an aggressive edge I’ve not seen before. Brown was making plays all over the field and while he’s never going to be an effective pass rusher or gap clogger, he’s going to have a solid career as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. There were a couple of occasions were he could’ve made a big play in coverage but missed, yet you have to give him credit for being in position in the first place on developing routes. That’s tough for a linebacker at any size.
Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall) capped off a nice week with another solid performance. He’s quite a unique player – lacking the really big size but being more of a physical rusher rather than relying on speed. He boosted his stock this week and with teams looking for pass rushers, he could easily work his way into the late first/early second round range.
Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama) had a quiet evening but for a sack at the start of the second half and a splash on a Kellen Moore throw shortly after. Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina) went a step further and was virtually anonymous. He does seem to have a new BFF in Quinton Coples though, the pair were inseparable all week and were constantly together on the sideline during the game.
Despite a rough first series, Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State) made two excellent throws on his second drive only to be let down by bad drops. He’s still showing a slightly elongated release, but they were nice throws. We didn’t learn a great deal today from Moore, who was widely panned for his performance in work-outs during the week. At times his weak arm showed up as he made one or two ugly throws, including a near pick from a tipped pass (Coples) on his first attempt. We also saw some very accurate deliveries with adequate velocity when given time in the pocket.
Twelve months ago I mocked Juron Criner (WR, Arizona) as a first round pick, before he opted to return to Arizona for his senior year. Overall he had a difficult 2011, but he reminded everyone today why he warranted such high praise a year ago. While there’s no AJ Green or Julio Jones in the class, there’s unique depth. Criner could be pushing his stock back into the high second round. The amount of depth at the position may put some teams off drafting Justin Blackmon in the top-ten, something we’ve discussed a lot recently on this blog.
Teammate Nick Foles (QB, Arizona) looked like the player we’ve talked about all year. Away from Arizona’s high percentage scheme he looked out of rythm, he lacked mobility and struggled with pressure. He only seemed comfortable throwing to Juron Criner, the pair linked up for a touchdown. His footwork was generally poor, he looked uncomfortable getting out of the pocket and being asked to improvise beyond the play call. This week should act as a bucket of cold water to his stock, with some people strangely bumping him into first round consideration in the week leading up to the Senior Bowl despite a mediocre senior campaign.
The two Arkansas receivers Jarius Wright and Joe Adams are going to make rosters in the league and provide excellent value. They’ll be two guys in a few years where people ask why they lasted so long on draft day. Exciting playmakers, top-end speed. Both will tear up the combine.
Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington) had a really impressive game, flashing the kind of potential that at times had people considering if he could be a top-15 pick. He’s an ideal nose tackle, but moves well too and will offer some pass rush potential. He shouldn’t fall further than the first few picks in round two based on potential alone. Fellow Huskie Chris Polk also had a nice game after receiving criticism during the week for a modest performance during work-outs.
Isiah Pead (RB, Cincinnati) probably took himself up a round or two today. He had back-to-back big runs on special teams and was awarded the game’s MVP. I’ve always liked Pead as a change of pace back and he’s going to have a lot of interest as a return man.
Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State) looked superb at left tackle competing against a high quality South defensive line. I’ve never been that high on Adams, but he looked good this week. I’ve not studied left tackles much this year because it’s probably the one position this team will NOT be drafting in round one. I’m happy to admit my brief initial impression of Adams may have been wrong and teams needing a blind-side blocker will have him high on their board. The Seahawks need as many offensive tackles to rise as possible, because potentially it will push some of the better defensive talent into their path at #11 or #12.
Another Buckeye – DeVier Posey (WR, Ohio State) - did his best job to unsettle Kellen Moore and Kirk Cousins with bad drops and finishing routes poorly. Not a good display at all.
Jamell Fleming (CB, Oklahoma) had a tremendous year for the Sooners and showed up big here, including an interception on Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State). He’s one to watch, he has a shot at a good career in the NFL. For what its worth, Weeden’s hype needs checking. That was a bad throw from someone who suddenly is being talked about as a possible first round pick. Weeden had two interceptions on the day – completing only three more passes to his own team. He is not going to be a first round pick. Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State) was perhaps the most impressive quarterback, but there’s very little positivity to take from the group today.
Bobby Wagner (LB, Utah State) isn’t a spectacular player and I’ve not had much chance to scout him during 2011, but he was the second best defensive performer on the field today after Coples. Just a solid football player who will enjoy a solid career if today’s evidence is anything to go by. Fellow linebacker Sean Spence (LB, Miamia) had a quiet game but was highlighted by Mike Mayock as someone who ‘made money’ during the week. In my most recent mock draft, I projected Spence to Seattle in round one.