Lou: We've had a series of articles Draft King direct from Mobile, Alabama, the site of the Senior Bowl. This is the last of those for 2008; it comes as a special from the outstanding website KFFL.com, which has been a must-visit web information source for me for the past several years. Enjoy!
January 28, 2008
Senior Bowl Wrapup
By: Cory J. Bonini, KFFL.com
Wow! What a Senior Bowl! The game came down to a last-second touchdown and extra point conversion to give the South squad the win against a more talented North team. The South turned over the ball three times but was able to overcome their miscues by the arm of University of Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge and his game-winning drive.
Let's refocus on some of the defensive players from the week leading up to the Senior Bowl and how they played during the game.
The cream of the crop along the defensive line is University of Southern California defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. He was a force all week during practice and proved to be just as tough to handle during the game, busting through the line to record a safety early during the game. Ellis is probably best suited to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive alignment in the pro ranks, but he is more than likely to be a top-five draft selection.
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson, also of USC, showed up big during practice and made a few nice plays during the game, too. Much like his fellow Trojan alum, Jackson figures to be a first-round draft pick.
Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws didn't impress me a whole lot during practice, but I liked his technique during the game. He played disciplined football and made a few key stops.
University of Alabama defensive end Wallace Gilberry was undisciplined during the week of practice, particularly during Day 3, because he consistently jumped offsides. Since the time defensive linemen are in peewee football, they are taught to watch the ball and not jump at the audible snap count of the quarterback. Gilberry didn't show too many positives to scouts during the week, but a strong showing at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine could make some forget about his multiple flags.
The players that you expected to show up during the week and game did just that. USC outside linebacker Keith Rivers was on his game all week and also during the game. Many joked that it should have been the South squad versus USC, and the way some of the Trojans played would make you think as such. Rivers, a high character player in his own words, figures to be one of four potential USC products to be first-round draft choices in April. His instincts caught my eye in practice more than any other player at his position, and he rarely found himself out of place to make a play.
Penn State linebacker Dan Conner was a tackling machine during his time under head coach Joe Paterno - the school's all-time leader in stops, to be precise. Considering all of the players that have come from the ranks of the Nittany Lions that speaks volumes far greater than what can be penned.
Louisiana State linebacker Ali Highsmith was all over the field during the game after what I felt was a relatively unspectacular week of practice. He was good during the week, but he wasn't as special as many believe that could have been and will be. I still think he is a bit undersized, having trouble during the week shedding larger blockers at the point of contact. His speed and instinctual play will be his biggest assets, but a strong showing at the Combine will have him soaring up boards everywhere. I know most LSU fans probably don't agree with my assessment of Highsmith, but am not sold until I see him put on a few pounds of muscle while keeping up his speed. Here's to hoping that he can prove me wrong!
South Florida linebacker Ben Moffitt's week in Mobile, Ala. may not have been the most eye-opening of all on the field, but he wasn't too shabby. One of his coaches didn't even know his name, instead referring to him as the "white kid" at linebacker. The biggest news surrounding Moffitt is coming from his time off of the field, where his wife, Shauna, was docked 10 hours of pay from the school district that she works for. Moffitt's wife admitted to writing nearly every single paper for her husband during his time at USF, which clearly brings along concerns about his character to scouts. You can bet your tail that he will have a lot of explaining to do at the Combine!
While you will probably be able to find this anywhere and everywhere under the sun at this point, Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie opened a few eyes during the past week. He was a monster during the game itself, recording an interception, a key pass deflection and a strong tackle that probably wowed more than a few doubters of his physicality. Rodgers-Cromartie enjoyed a great weekend of practice and was able to show off his athleticism at every turn. Some scouts went as high as pegging him as a late first-round draft choice, but we'll let the Combine be the judge of that.
I really liked what I saw from LSU cornerback Chevis Jackson during the week of practice, but I thought he could have used a big game to help himself more than some of the other prospects. He was a strong defender for the Tigers, and Jackson should be a fine pro player, but there was some sentiment that he could have showed up with a little strong play at times. Personally, I was pleased with what he displayed in his coverage skills, primarily his footwork and recovery speed, showing to be one of the stronger defenders during the week of practice.