Josh Norris

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Senior Bowl: Double Take

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 percent. That is my goal for how much Senior Bowl reports and observations should play into my evaluations. In order to achieve that, however, a solid baseline opinion is necessary. From there, prospects’ tendencies that flared up during practice should reflect the already defined opinions, but if they drift in a different direction the next step is to go back and check game action to see if the same qualities flashed.

I did not get to every attendee prior to the week of practice, but below are some prospects that either confirmed my evaluation or will force me to review their body of work from the 2012 season after the Senior Bowl has run its course.

The easy ones: On Sunday in my preview I listed T Eric Fisher, T Lane Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, and DL Datone Jones among my top six prospects (five if you remove LB Arthur Brown, who is not practicing). Each has performed very well this week, especially Fisher, who will likely be mentioned along side Luke Joeckel in the coming months as one of this draft’s top overall players. His daily matchups with Jones are a must watch affair, with each winning their fair share of battles. The UCLA product will offer plenty of versatility up front since he wins from multiple alignments. Johnson is a tackle in a tight end’s body, and although he might falter more frequently than Fisher, I expect the Sooner to be a top-20 selection. Finally, Patton is as smooth as they come. I don’t expect a good workout from him, especially in the 10-yard split category, but Patton creates separation with body control and fluidity in his routes. He is the top senior receiver, excluding Tavon Austin who fits in a separate category.

RB Johnathan Franklin - It may have been a poor evaluation, but prior to the 2012 season, Franklin looked adequate in every area and I projected him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. After watching a few exposures this year, i could tell that Franklin had changed his game for the better. The Bruin appears leaner and meaner, with better vision to see cutback lanes or avoid tacklers at the second level. I am a big Andre Ellington fan, but since the Clemson Tiger has left the event due to injury, Franklin is now the Senior Bowl’s top runner. I will be watching more of his 2012 games in an effort to determine if Franklin is a top-five running back in this class.

WR Marquise Goodwin - The speedster can actually play receiver, apparently. Goodwin has looked very natural on the edge whenever given a free release, running past corners on vertical routes or separating on breaking patterns. Even when he slipped, Goodwin reset and beat his opposition to find an open area. Yes, he has absolutely struggled against the jam this week, along with inconsistently catching targets, but Goodwin is a very intriguing option at the beginning of the third day.

DL Ezekiel Ansah - Don’t expect Jason Pierre-Paul when watching Ansah. They are different players that will likely play different positions. Obviously I remain very high on Ansah, but when stuck at left defensive end this week, he has failed to shine against the likes of Oday Aboushi and Lane Johnson. Along with having only one real season under his belt, Ansah was used as a rush linebacker, end in a four man front, end in a three man, and even at nose tackle. Meaning, he doesn’t have a real home or spot that he has refined his craft to fit (it could be argued Datone Jones could have the same excuse, but he has been great). I would much rather watch cutups from Ansah at each of the spots he saw snaps from rather than watching him across multiple games. I still need to pinpoint where he fits best, and Ansah does need a stronger natural base to be a solid player at any of the four listed positions, but I remain all in on the BYU Cougar.

LB Chase Thomas - Asked to play plenty of strong side linebacker this week, Thomas is used to lining up from a variety of spots after his time at Stanford. The biggest issue has been his inability to handle running backs or tight ends in man coverage. This was surprising to me, as Chase Thomas saw snaps in space and at middle linebacker dating back to 2011 when Shayne Skov was sidelined with an injury. I have been on record saying that Thomas is one of the class’ best in terms of fit, press, and shed technique as a pass rusher, but he may only appeal to certain teams if he cannot play behind a four man front. The plan is to go back to Stanford’s 2011 and 2012 games and note if Thomas flashed ability when asked to cover from the inside or outside linebacker spots.

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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