The first day of Senior Bowl week is full of excitement for everyone involved. The city of Mobile, Alabama enjoys hosting the game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and local football fans flood the parking lot waiting to see some of college football's finest talent. Coaching staffs and scouts alike enjoy the event after the doldrums of the NFL season. Hope springs eternal as each prospect becomes "the next Tom Brady
," "next Pierre Thomas
," and "next Wes Welker
Here are five positives and five negatives from the opening weigh-ins and first practice of the week. Five Positives
1) Ryan Kerrigan
(DE Purdue), Nate Solder
(OT Colorado) and Christian Ponder
(QB Florida State) all had great weigh-ins. Kerrigan looked chiseled in his upper body and more athletic than he is typically viewed. Solder drew a whistle from media members in the audience showing up at a legit 6'8" and carrying 314 lbs better than many thought possible. He has a lot of work to do from a development standpoint, but is as intriguing a tackle prospect as we've seen from this class. Ponder had the QB mold trifecta with athletic build, short arms, and big hands. A onetime top prospect, he'll rise if his shoulder is healthy.
2) Everyone knows Colin Kaepernick (QB Nevada) is tall and runs well for his length. He showed up at his weigh-in with more muscle definition than was expected and looked like he had plenty of room on his frame to fill out. At practice, Kaepernick was spotty, but threw the ball as well as anyone and drew buzz from several team scouts. Currently a mid-round prospect, Kaepernick could rise quickly in this class.
3) John Moffitt (OC/OG Wisconsin) is considered a mid-round prospect after blocking for numerous top rushers during his time in Madison. Moffitt took reps at every interior line position during practice today and excelled moving to both his right and his left. Versatility is key for mid-round linemen, and Moffitt showcased it in spades for the Cincinnati Bengals coaches.
4) The defensive backfield talent in this draft isn't great behind Patrick Peterson
and Prince Amukamara
, but Rashad Carmichael (DB Virginia Tech) had a nice pick off of Jake Locker
(QB Washington) and consistently locked up his man during 1-on-1 drills. Joe Lefeged (DB Rutgers) had a nice pick on a high-arching pass he tracked without losing speed. A great week by a cornerback or safety in this game could really shape a mediocre class.
5) Danny Watkins (OL Baylor) looked great at guard for the South squad. He moved very well and was able to mirror pass rushers. Watkins consistently stymied bull rushers throughout 1-on-1 drills. At the second level, he showcased the ability to lock on linebackers and drive them out of the hole. Interior linemen are in short supply this year and Watkins can make himself some money this week.Five Negatives
1) Greg Jones
(LB Michigan State) is extremely small for a middle linebacker at 5'11 7/8, 240 yet consistently lined up at that position while the bigger Mark Herzlich lined up outside. Furthermore, at the weigh-in Jones looked like he could actually shed weight. Jones needs to spend this week showing versatility and willingness to play special teams. He just doesn't have the body or the skills to play every down in the middle of an NFL defense.
2) Titus Young (WR Boise State) had five drops during the practice session and was subsequently dogged by the coaching staff. However, he also turned in a couple of great plays and hauled in a touchdown. His stock is currently sitting in a group of five or six high mid-round prospects. He can certainly carve out his niche in the NFL as a short route demon and punt returner, but he needs to consistently catch the ball.
3) If Jake Locker
(QB Washington) ever writes his memoirs, this week should be in a chapter entitled, "No Excuses." Locker was sporadic in today's practice but had a couple of really good passes, including a few dropped by the aforementioned Titus Young. Locker has every tool you want from a NFL QB, but poor blocking and worse skill position play doomed him in Washington. On the flip side, Coach Steve Sarkisian is a famed QB developer and many scouts believe Locker should be further along in his development. No one is being watched closer.
4) Kendric Burney (CB UNC) struggled through 2010 on a team that had plenty of excuses. Today, in Mobile, he better have had a couple because he was burned repeatedly by the North's wide receivers. Burney simply couldn't stay with receivers who beat him several times with double moves.
5) DeMarcus Van Dyke (CB Miami) didn't display any physicality at the South practices, and had trouble breaking on the ball. He was consistently caught high in his backpedal and the South quarterbacks took advantage. Michael Schottey is an NFL Featured Columnist at BleacherReport.com and an Analyst at DraftTek.com. He will be covering the Senior Bowl practices all week in Mobile. Follow him on Twitter @Schottey