A week of an NFL-style practice featuring some of the best seniors in football grants the selected few an opportunity to begin building their offseason draft resume. It's here where many are able to turn around a disappointing senior season, shake off a small school stigma, or reaffirm their college tape as the best in the country at their position. While it's important not to overemphasize a single week amongst years of football, there is money to be made and lost.
On the Rise:
Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, North Carolina - Coples entered Senior Bowl week attempting to erase questions over his motor and drop in production his senior season. He responded adequately by dominating the competition in practice and proceeding to flash as a disruptive force in Saturday's game. Coples has great size, strength, and get-off and displayed the ability to beat tackles inside and outside, giving them trouble with his length and hands. He's a lock for the top 10 and with the pass rush moves he showed this week, he very well should be.
Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina - Melvin Ingram also cashed in this week as many pass rushers often do during this time of year. Playing in space in the beloved one-on-one drills, Ingram was able to demonstrate his ability to beat tackles with outside and inside moves. At 6'2, 276, Ingram has the low center of gravity and understands how to get on a lineman and jack him up to the quarterback. He has good explosiveness and though it'll be interesting to see how he moves on his feet in shorts at the Combine, he looks like a great rush backer in the 34 front. His build seems like the type the Steelers often covet, but teams shouldn't be expecting to get him where there Steelers drafted Woodley and found Harrison. However, because of his size, he will interest teams of all schemes because of how he may be used as an end and inside pass rusher as well.
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama - Finishing the pass rushing trifecta on the South squad, Courtney Upshaw also impressed this week. He and Ingram are virtual clones in body type, but Upshaw has more experience on his feet. He has a thick build and a powerful punch on the edge. He will generally rush the pass and set the edge and would be a terrific asset at LOLB. He showed some great rips and swims this week beating tackles to the inside and playing within the scheme and assignment in the game. Though he didn't make as big a splash as Coples or Ingram, he's still very much a mid-round one player.
Mike Martin, DT, Michigan - Sticking on the defensive side, Mike Martin was flat out abusive this week in a way stout defensive tackles generally aren't. His 6'1, 307 pound frame will force teams to think of where they can use him and may even drop him far down the board for certain fronts, but his disruption this week was very evident. Martin is built like a bull with absurd upper body strength, but showed some explosiveness this week to pair it with. The highlights for many this week were his battles with Ohio State's Mike Brewster, but his performance in the game stood out every bit as much. He was difficult to move off the snap and found his way into the backfield many a time redirecting plays.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State - The soon-to-be 29 year old Brandon Weeden impressed this week in Mobile. His arm strength was very apparent as he cut through the wind in Wednesday's practice and consistently showed good ball placement. Though he didn't play too well in the game, it wasn't a quarterback-friendly game for any of the participants who suffered from dropped balls and immense pressure. On the whole, his accuracy and decision-making came out as positives. He handled the transition to under center better than most and seems more NFL-ready than the others here. Whether or not teams believe he's ready enough to contribute year one or two will determine how high he'll go in the draft.
Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington - At 6'2 1/2, 341 pounds, Ta'amu's performance in Saturday's game should have turned some heads. He was rather quiet throughout the week, but flashed as a-dare I say-unblockable talent in the game. With a quicker-than-expected first step, he darted through gaps and disrupted numerous plays in the backfield, recording two stuffs and another pressure that led to a sack by a teammate. He displayed good two-gapping ability for the middle rounds, but lacks the pass rush moves to creep up much higher.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia - Boykin competed strongly the entire week showing off his physical tools as a corner. He has natural movement skills on the perimeter and looked comfortable in space all week in the one-on-one drills. This will be even more important for Boykin at the next level as he figures to work his way into the lineup at the challenging nickel corner position where quickness is your best friend and space your worst enemy. He also defended well down the field with discipline and good recovery speed whereas several of his peers struggled to exhibit either.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State - There was a quite a bit of chatter early in the week when Adams weighed in at a massive 6'7, 323 pounds with long arms and giant hands. Throughout the week, he asserted himself as the best left tackle prospect based on the eye test featuring size and athleticism. He has a nice six-inch punch and does a great job of locking onto defenders with his 11" arms. Throughout the week he demonstrated the ability to consistently ride edge rushers past the pocket and reaffirmed as much in Saturday's game. Adams is a late one-early two type prospect who didn't let the talent of the South roster overwhelm him.
Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette - The lean 5'10, 176-pound Ragin' Cajun made a name for himself in the practices this week. He should quickness and strong cover corner ability. Bentley anticipated routes well and demonstrated the ability to act on his reads breaking up a couple passes. Though he didn't have the stiffest competition on the other side, he stepped opposite some big school receivers and hung with them for the greater part of the week.
Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina - The North Carolina track star who set an indoor school record with a 6.72 in the 60-meter dash back in 2009 had a strong showing this week. As a read-and-chase WILL linebacker, Brown has a strong future in the league if he can grasp the mental aspect of the game. Several linebackers are making names for themselves in the pros, relying more on athletic ability than size and strength. Brown made a couple nice plays in the game, including one where he sniffed out and stopped a screen from ten yards away, arriving at the ball before blockers could even get their heads around.
Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia - The massive 6'6, 346-pound Glenn had a very impressive showing this week in Mobile. For a player many are expecting to kick inside to guard on size alone, Glenn held his own even at left tackle this week. He carries his weight surprisingly well and handled edge rushers for the greater part of the week. If he can get his hands on a defender, the battle's won. Though he was beat by Vinny Curry once in the game, Glenn kept the door open for himself to play right tackle in the pros after winning far more match-ups than he lost.
Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida - Rainey consistently showed some elite speed and figures to be one of the fastest at this year's Scouting Combine. He took a bulk of the reps at receivers this week and managed to torch several corners deep, including his former teammate Janoris Jenkins. Rainey didn't look that impressive returning kicks in the game, but that's where he figures to get his first crack in the NFL. Though he reminds many of Percy Harvin, he doesn't carry the same bulk and won't figure to run much between the tackles. His best bet is polishing his route running skills where he can become a great deep threat.
Joe Adams, WR, Nebraska - After a fairly quiet week of practice, Adams exploded in the game as the game's leading receiver. He ran a couple nice routes, but primarily took advantage of soft coverage and poor tackling, turning quick hitches into extended gains with great YAC ability. If he can shore up his hands, he can have a similar impact at the next level as a playmaker.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall - Though Curry was overshadowed by other pass rushers on the South squad, he had a nice week for himself. He's a great pass rusher from above the waist with his hands and upper body strength. With a motor that never quits, he challenged a couple tackles including OSU's Mike Adams on a couple occasions. Though Curry doesn't have the physical tools coveted by pros, Curry will find a way to get after the passer with power, hard work and determination, as he did on two occasions on Saturday.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati - Though no running backs dropped jaws, Isaiah Pead sure looked like a pro on Saturday. With a pair of nice returns and a couple nice runs down the stretch, Pead's big plays were a major factor in helping his team secure the win. He showed nice quickness and burst on his two long punt returns and the move to free himself down the sideline on a 4th quarter run. As a mid-round back, Pead has some value.
On the Decline:
Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State - At 6'5, 335, Osemele had the opportunity to play at right tackle this week. Based on how he fared this week against some of the top competition, it would be surprising to see him continue to play on the edges at the next level. He was abused by Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram in the game and looked minimally better in practice out there. There's plenty to like about Osemele, but it just really doesn't seem like it'll hold up at tackle.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska - Dennard came into this week looking to solidify himself as a first round pick, but based on his Senior Bowl experience, he's looking more like a one-dimensional mid-two corner. There's a lot to love with corners like Dennard who bring their hard hat every week and play physically, but unfortunately, a lot of those corners struggle defending the deep routes and lack the recovery speed to minimize a poor start at the line of scrimmage. This week Dennard struggled over the top and allowed a bit too much separation on intermediate routes.
Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M - At 6'4, 217, Fuller had the height and size advantage on his competition, but like many of those guys attempting to stay out wide in the pros, Fuller struggled to gain much separation. When he was able to use some of his quickness to pull away from a corner, he ended up dropping balls. The combination of the two didn't make for a very strong week for Fuller.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington - Polk looked less than impressive all week. He showed minimal explosiveness and had very few moments that excited anyone. He's a better inside-the-tackles runner than in space, but backs that generally can't spring long gains or make people miss don't last long in the league. It would be a mistake to give up on Polk, but he better impress at the Combine more than he did here.