On the rise
DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis – One of the most productive backs in NCAA history, Williams solidified himself as a top ten pick on draft day after a great week of practice and making the most of his few touches in the game. Williams showed explosion and great vision all week long. A player who had high expectations coming into the week now has scouts drooling over him. Williams showed great hands as a receiver and he's a powerful runner despite his diminutive stature. He's only around 5'8 but he has a compact build and he's very strong, especially in his legs. Williams runs low to the ground and showed great instincts all week long. Scouts were also impressed with his attitude and personality. Williams showed NFL teams that he has the total package as a running back. Any chance the Patriots had of Williams slipping to them with the 21st pick ended last week in Alabama.
Sinorice Moss, WR Miami – No player at The Senior Bowl improved their draft stock more than Moss. Originally considered a second round pick, Moss is now competing with Ohio State's Santonio Holmes to be the first receiver drafted this April. Moss impressed scouts all week with his blazing speed and he showed that speed in the game when he beat Clemson cornerback Tye Hill and made a great catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Moss' acceleration out of his breaks was unmatched by any other receiver in Mobile and most scouts agreed he was the fastest player on either roster. Moss' performance in practice and during the game has probably made him a late first round draft pick. He's not very big and some question his toughness going over the middle but any receiver who can run like Moss can is going to be coveted by NFL teams.
Darryl Tapp, DE Virginia Tech – A few years ago a running back coming out of Alabama saw his draft stock drop because he wasn't the kind of player who excelled in practice and didn't have great computer numbers. However, whenever he was on the field he produced. That running back's name was Shaun Alexander and he'll be playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday after winning the NFL MVP Award in 2005. Tapp is that same kind of player. He wrecked havoc all year long for the Hokie defense but didn't have a very good week of practice in Mobile. Then, once the game started, Tapp turned it on. He was in the quarterback's face all day long, consistently beating offensive linemen off the ball. At 6'1, 265, Tapp doesn't have ideal size but he has a high motor and always plays like he's on fire. Tapp is just a football player. He isn't going to wow you in practice or at the combine but once the whistle blows and the game starts, he's all over the place. Tapp's performance in the game helped offset an average week of practice and probably solidified him as a solid second round draft pick.
Tamba Hali, DE Penn State – Other than Moss, the player who probably helped himself the most last week was Hali. This guy was pretty much unblockable during the entire game. He showed quickness with his outside moves and the ability to switch things up and power past tackles to the inside as well. Hali showed that he's extremely quick off the ball and he has all the tools to be an impact defensive end at the pro level. A lot of scouts came to Mobile intrigued with Hali and after a solid week of practices he didn't disappoint them by proofing himself to be one of the most dominant defensive players on the field last Saturday. Hali was a first rounder coming into the week and he did nothing but move up everyone's draft board after beating every offensive tackle he was lined up against in the game.
Brodie Croyle, QB Alabama – When the week started, scouts were all talking about a quarterback from the SEC who many thought had a bright NFL future. Of course, the player they were talking about was Vanderbilt'sJay Cutler but it was Croyle who stole the show. Croyle was on his way to having an impressive senior season with the Crimson Tide but injuries to his receivers and offensive line hurt him towards the end of the year. Many considered Croyle a mid-round draft pick before the week started but he was so impressive in practice and during the game, he's now moved into that second round area. Croyle showed scouts he has a cannon for an arm and he threw the best deep ball of any quarterback invited to the game. Scouts were also impressed with Croyle's intelligence and decision-making on the field. He's not ready to come in and take the league by storm but Croyle made himself a lot of money thanks to The Senior Bowl.
Jerious Norwood, RB Mississippi State – Norwood fumbled a punt in this game but it wasn't that big of a deal because he's not a return man. He was only in the game because to field punts because LSU's Skyler Green was injured. As far as running the ball goes, Norwood really improved his stock over the week. Norwood proved to be very quick and explosive in every practice. He was very productive in college despite the fact he played on one of the SEC's worst teams for his entire career. Mississippi State has had an awful passing game since Norwood arrived in Starkville and even with defenses keying on him, he was able to rack up a lot of yards over his career. He has blazing speed but also runs tough inside between the tackles. Norwood had a couple of decent runs during the game but it was his impressive practices all week that really helped his draft stock. He showed soft hands when catching the football and the explosive speed to score any time he touches the ball. If the Patriots are looking for a running back in round two or three, Norwood could be a possibility.
Max Jean-Gilles, OG Georgia – It's difficult to rate offensive linemen without breaking down film on them but Jean-Gilles was a man among boys at The Senior Bowl. At 365 pounds, he totally manhandled almost every defensive player he went up against. On one play, Jean-Gilles took 340-pound defensive tackle Gabe Watson out of Michigan and tossed him around like a rag doll. This is a weak draft for guards and even though Jean-Gilles came to Mobile as the highest rated player at his position, he wasn't a lock to go in the first round of the draft. That has probably changed after his impressive performance against some of college football's best defensive linemen. Jean-Gilles is not only a strong player who can maul defenders, he also showed he's light on his feet and very quick for a guy his size. Stephen Neal is a free agent and if the Patriots lose him to another team, don't rule out Jean-Gilles with the 21st pick. He's got the kind of toughness and mean streak the Patriots like out of their offensive linemen.
D'Qwell Jackson, ILB Maryland – Chad Greenway was the best overall linebacker on the field this past Saturday but Jackson was quite impressive himself. He made plays all over the field and really stood out during the game. Jackson showed both the speed to chase down ball carriers and the ability to fight off blockers in the hole and make a tackle. Jackson also showed very good range and was very effective in coverage. It's no secret the Patriots are going into this draft looking for linebackers and the athletic Jackson could be a good fit in New England. He's currently 235 pounds but has the frame to put on more weight and as he showed in The Senior Bowl, he's a guy who just makes play after play. Jackson has a chance to be a great linebacker in the NFL and his draft stock really improved after a strong Senior Bowl week.
On the decline
Derek Hagan, WR Arizona State – No player hurt their draft stock at The Senior Bowl more than Hagan did. After a horrible week of practice where we had trouble running routes and hanging onto the ball, Hagan's problems continued in the game where he had three drops. He did catch a touchdown pass but one reception isn't going to erase four days of bad play. Hagan was very productive at Arizona State but Dirk Koetter runs a wide-open passing game that helps receivers rack up big numbers. Hagan doesn't have great speed – he's more of a possession receiver – but possession receivers that have trouble catching the football don't last long in the NFL. Hagan still has some talent and teams will surely take that into consideration but any thoughts he had of being drafted in the first round were put in serious jeopardy after a terrible week in Mobile.
Jay Cutler, QB Vanderbilt – I like Cutler as a player and I think he could have a bright future as an NFL quarterback. However, he still has a long way to go and to put him in the same class with Matt Leinart and Vince Young is ludicrous. Cutler was up-and-down in practice all week and that carried over to the game. He made some nice throws and showed he has a powerful arm but he struggles with his footwork and accuracy. Some people don't believe Cutler's draft value was hurt by his Senior Bowl performance and only time will tell if that's the case or not. Cutler is a smart guy with great intangibles but he needs to go to a team where he doesn't have to play right away because he still needs a lot of work on his mechanics. If Cutler is a mid-late first round draft pick that would probably make sense but any team that has him rated as highly as Leinart or Young could be making a huge mistake because right now Cutler is not in the same class with those two.
Michael Robinson, QB Penn State – Unlike Antwaan Randle El and Matt Jones before him, Robinson came to The Senior Bowl dead set on playing quarterback. That was a mistake. Robinson did in this game what he did pretty much all year at Penn State. He was erratic and inaccurate throwing the football but he was dynamite when he took off and ran. But what team in the NFL wants their quarterback running draws every other play? Robinson is a great athlete but he's a man without a position. He reminds me a lot of former Patriots quarterback Michael Bishop in where he can do everything except the one thing most important for a quarterback: throw the football accurately. Someone will draft Robinson because of his athletic ability but he's going to have a tough time finding a full-time position in the NFL, especially if he thinks that position is going to be quarterback.
Will Blackmon, CB Boston College – It was a tough week for Blackmon. He switched to receiver at Boston College after playing corner early on in his college career and now he's trying to make it in the NFL as a cornerback. If last week was any indicator, he still has a long ways to go. Blackmon struggled against most of the receivers he went up against in practice and was giving guys way too much cushion in the game. He may improve as he gets used to playing corner again on a regular basis but after Senior Bowl week, it's obvious he has a lot of work to do if he wants to become a reliable NFL cornerback.
Elvis Dumervil, DE Louisville – The nation's leading sacker got eaten up all week in Mobile. It's possible Dumervil could have snuck into the first round of the draft with a strong week but now he should be happy if he's selected in round two. There were questions about Dumervil coming in because he hadn't played a lot against elite offensive linemen and when given the chance to go up against some of college football's best, Dumervil did very little. He does have a quick first step but if that doesn't work, he pretty much gets shut down. When the bigger linemen got their hands on Dumervil, they threw him all over the field. After having a sub par week of practice, some thought he might do what Tapp did and breakout during the game but he didn't. Dumervil was invisible and his draft stock is on the decline.
Mercedes Lewis, TE UCLA – When the college football season began, Lewis was considered the best tight end prospect in the country. Now some people don't even consider him one of the top five players at his position. Lewis had a tough week of practice dropping a lot of balls and running sloppy routes. He looked uninterested when he was in the game and the problem Lewis is having now is other tight ends at The Senior Bowl – USC's Dominique Byrd, Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein and North Carolina State'sT.J. Williams – had good showings, raising their draft stock. Lewis had a very productive career at UCLA and that can't be overlooked but he's going to have to fair well at the combine and his personal workouts to help regain the momentum he lost at The Senior Bowl.
D.J. Shockley, QB Georgia – No player had a tougher week than Shockley. After three awful days of practice, Shockley had a terrible outing in the game itself. Most of his throws were high and nowhere near his intended receiver. Shockley was one of those players who could have snuck into that second and third round range with a good showing but now he will be lucky just to get drafted at all. He does have a good arm but he showed no ability to read defenses or make many of the throws he'll need to make in the pros. It appeared that Shockley's tough week of practice got to him when he came into the game because he was missing receivers by a good 10-15 yards on some of his attempts. Shockley is a great example of how important Senior Bowl week is. If he had come in and played well like Jason Campbell did last year, Shockley could have seen his draft stock skyrocket. Instead, he'll now have to sit by the phone and hope to get a call by a team before the draft ends. At best, Shockley is a sixth or seventh round draft pick at this point.
Bill Belichick will serve as a guest analyst on the ABC Sports Super Bowl XL Pre-Game Show on February 5. Belichick will provide analysis on this year's Seattle Seahawks-Pittsburgh Steelers match-up throughout the 3.5-hour program (2:30-6 p.m. ET). Belichick will join co-host Mike Tirico on ABC's field-level set from Ford Field in Detroit. Host Chris Berman and top analysts Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson and Steve Young will appear from the main set inside the stadium.
"Bill Belichick is the perfect addition to ABC's Super Bowl XL Pre-Game Show because he understands better than anyone the pressure and the magnitude of coaching in - and winning - the Super Bowl," said Norby Williamson, executive vice president, studio and remote production, ESPN and ABC Sports. "Bill's perspective will provide viewers with even greater insight into this year's Super Bowl."