Here’s a summary evaluation of the talent at this week’s Senior Bowl practices.
Best arm—Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden noses out Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins. Both passers have live arms, but Weeden always seemed to appear as though he had something left in his arm. He throws with ease and SI.com draft analyst Tony Pauline says Weeden has a better arm than Andrew Luck.
Roadgrader of the week—Georgia’s Cordy Glenn, all 6-5, 348 of him, turned in a jaw-dropping performance in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practices. He devoured defenders in run blocking from the left guard spot on Tuesday, and then left scouts wondering on Wednesday how a man so big could be so light on his feet, as Glenn was in pass blocking as, get this, a left tackle. Center would seem to be the only position on the line Glenn can’t play.
Back of the week—Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard and Boise State’s Doug Martin share this award after each turned in a week of practices that spoke well of their consistency and versatility. They each can do it all.
Defensive lineman of the week—UConn’s Kendall Reyes, a high-round prospect that didn’t have a great senior season, rooted himself firmly in the first round of the draft by turning in a dominant performance. He turned Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler into a turnstile on Tuesday. Reyes was good against the run and as a pass rusher, and put on an impressive display of speed in chasing Cousins from the pocket all the way to the sideline. Reyes was high-intensity all week and appears to be very serious about a career in professional football.
Best hands—Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner made a dazzling one-hand stab of a pass early on Tuesday to announce his presence at the Senior Bowl, and then caught everything thrown at him the rest of the day and on Wednesday. Criner experienced deep personal problems last summer that caused him to miss time and lose focus, but he’s back on track now and clearly raised his stock this week.
Beep-beep player—Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams is speed, speed, speed. His hands looked pretty good, too. Teams looking for a DeSean Jackson-type run-after-the-catch playmaker will be interested in Adams.
Risk/reward player—North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins was identified as a major talent when he was at Florida, but he also acquired the reputation for being a problem player. What team will be willing to accept distinct risk to acquire a player of extreme talent at a premium position?
Wish he had done more—North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples looks like Julius Peppers but Coples didn’t play like Peppers this week. One defensive line coach with a strong interest in Coples professed to be very disappointed in what he saw.
Remember this name—Running back Lennon Creer of Louisiana Tech was a late addition to the South team. Creer then proceeded to open eyes with his burst, lean and power.
Best pass rusher—Marshall’s Vinny Curry grabbed this distinction with an eye-popping display on Wednesday. Curry was unblockable, and he was passed around for all of the offensive linemen to try, which impressed scouts even more. One scout, commenting on Curry’s thin frame and how it might restrict his usage in the NFL, said: “That’s why we have coaches. When you have a guy that can rush the passer like this guy can, you find ways to use him.”
Scariest player—Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw looks and plays the part. He’s gonna worry a lot of quarterbacks.
Mr. Smooth—Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight Bentley has a Darrelle Revis kind of refinement to his game. There’s an economy of movement in Bentley’s play and he broke on the ball better than any pass defender on either roster.
Over-achiever—Michigan nose tackle Mike Martin is relentless. He doesn’t look the part until the ball is snapped, at which point he becomes a dominant force in the middle of the line. A 3-4 team looking for a nose man will have to jump on Martin earlier than it might’ve hoped, as he raised his stock significantly this week.
Need to see more—Florida running back Chris Rainey was a standout performer as a receiver out of the backfield, but he’s not as quick as he is fast and the pro game is more about running 10 yards than it is about running 40 yards. He’s going to be a difficult player to evaluate in the postseason; scouts will have to lean hard on his college tape.