Josh Norris

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Senior Bowl '12: One Last Look

Tuesday, January 31, 2012



Offensive Linemen

1. Cordy Glenn (6-5/346), Georgia - Glenn spent time at tackle and guard in Mobile, and he was the best player at either position. His waist-bending style is far from ideal, but somehow Glenn consistently produces. Facing speed rushers, Glenn uses a long reach to separate and follows with anchored feet to absorb contact. Inside, Glenn rips high and drives with momentum to create lanes. Glenn's versatility will help in the NFL, but it will be interesting to see at which position he is drafted. I think he is good enough to stay at tackle, quite possibly on the left side.

2. Kevin Zeitler (6-4/315), Wisconsin - When Zeitler starts with proper hand and body positioning, he is tough to beat. Zeitler struggled to land an initial punch and cut-off step against gap-splitting speed rushers, however. Zeitler is sturdy and pushes with proper pad level, delivering a nice pop even in pass protection. He'll have difficulties against persistent rushers, but Zeitler has the look of a long-term starter and likely second-round pick.

3. Mike Adams (6-7/323), Ohio State - Senior Bowl week was a microcosm of Adams' senior season. He was terribly inconsistent with great highs and dreadful lows. Adams' tall frame opened the door for quick rushers to burst inside, and occasionally Adams failed to even land a hand to stutter momentum, focusing more on his initial outside drop-step. Even when Adams planted in proper position, his upper-body power did not match his size. Adams' sluggish feet and inconsistent positioning lead me to believe he is a better fit at right tackle in the pros.

4. Mitchell Schwartz (6-5/317), California - Like Glenn, Schwartz has the versatility to play inside and out. He never dominated an opponent off the snap, but Schwartz consistently maintained sound posture and hand placement. He lacks ideal athleticism to bend, plant, and recover, but in those moments Schwartz chose to "drive and wash," which is a solid alternative. A bend-but-don't-break style applies to Schwartz's blocking approach. He'll be a value in the middle rounds.

5. Zebrie Sanders (6-5/308), Florida State - Luckily, Mobile was not my first exposure to Sanders, whose feet looked flat-out slow at times. For months I touted Sanders as a future blind-side starter, but it will be difficult to keep that opinion after he consistently failed to reach the edge against outside rushers. Sanders seemed methodical rather than reactionary with his positioning, and his hands lacked power to redirect. Sanders needs to add a significant amount of strength to play right tackle. He lacks a quick drop-step to fit on the left.

Defensive Linemen

1. Quinton Coples (6-6/281), North Carolina - My top senior entering the week, Coples solidified his elite grade with dominant daily performances. He won far more one-on-one reps than he lost with a wide array of moves. Against Zebrie Sanders, Coples won three straight times with three different techniques: outside dip rush, outside step to inside burst, and a push-pull technique. Coples could improve with more active hands on counter moves while driving his feet, but his initial momentum was rarely stopped in Mobile. With versatility to fit any scheme and move inside on passing downs, I would be shocked if Coples is not a top-ten pick.

2. Melvin Ingram (6-2/276), South Carolina - Ingram's athleticism stood out all week. He bursts into first contact with enough strength to literally wobble his opposition. I don't see Ingram as a 3-4 outside 'backer, but he is far more than just a base 4-3 end. A low center of gravity allows Ingram to move inside to beat stronger interior linemen with leverage, and his great closing speed is effective from a two-point stance. A defensive coordinator will love to use Ingram as a mismatch creator. Occasional lapses in edge responsibility are his lone deficiency.

3. Courtney Upshaw (6-1/273), Alabama - Upshaw's best fit may be as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he showed the ability to win with his hand on the ground in Senior Bowl practices. Upshaw will rarely blaze by a tackle with speed rush, but his tenacity to persistently push the pocket will make him very reliable and effective. Upshaw will only add to his rushing repertoire. He is also a technician when run fitting against blocking tackles on the edge.

4. Brandon Thompson (6-2/311), Clemson - Thompson is a few skills away from being a complete defensive tackle. His first step produced the most success when pass rushing or splitting gaps against the run, but Thompson lacked leg drive when his initial momentum was stopped. It's disappointing Thompson struggles with counter moves, because he plays with active hands and solid technique in the upper half. He also fails to consistently disengage with good timing versus the run. I still see Thompson as a long-term NFL starter with lots of potential for improvement.

5. Alameda Ta'amu (6-2/341), Washington - Observers that believe Ta'amu is a conventional nose tackle because of his size are mistaken. Ta'amu moved as well as any interior lineman in Mobile, weaving from side to side while readjusting body positioning to penetrate. Ta'amu was easy to latch onto because of his size, but his momentum was rarely impeded. Keeping with the irregular style, Ta'amu fails to anchor versus double teams, too often giving up ground unless he splits the blockers. That can't happen to nose tackles. Teams that covet bigger-bodied, upfield defensive tackles will be interested in Ta'amu.

6. Malik Jackson (6-5/270), Tennessee - I added a sixth prospect to the D-Linemen because Jackson deserves positive publicity after joining the Senior Bowl roster mid-week. Jackson is a top-five 4-3 end in the 2012 draft class, quietly sharing the same versatility traits of Quinton Coples. Jackson spent much of his senior season inside, and was consistently disruptive both off the snap and when beating blocks after first contact. He is strong throughout his bulky frame with violent hands. Jackson gets a bit high at times and needs to create more separation against powerful linemen, but he is one of the more underrated prospects in the country.

Linebackers

1. Lavonte David (6-0/225), Nebraska - I hoped David would add weight before the Senior Bowl, but his ripped frame looked full at weigh-ins. David plays much bigger than 225. He is a missile at the second level, easily discarding blocks to find tackle lanes and exploding into contact. David told me blitzing comes natural to him, and he has a feel for when to leave his zone in order to close effectively. He's my top 4-3 weak-side linebacker in this draft.

2. James-Michael Johnson (6-1/249), Nevada - Johnson is a consistent plugger that lacks lateral agility. In practice drills, Johnson failed to fluidly hop over pads while strafing, but in team activities he was always around the ball. Johnson may lack deep range, but he makes up for it with aggressive angles and physical play within five yards. A hard hitter and communicator on the field, Johnson could see immediate NFL action as a second-day pick. "JMJ" profiles similarly to Joe Mays with better measurables than the Broncos' middle linebacker.

3. Zach Brown (6-1/236), North Carolina - Senior Bowl was made for Brown; controlled contact on running plays with plenty of practice in coverage. Brown has exceptional range and can immediately cover receiving tight ends during his rookie year. On tape, however, Brown is a soft player. He is consistently either overpowered, removed from the play, or simply misses the tackle at the point of attack. Brown needs to get tougher.

4. Bobby Wagner (6-0/241), Utah State - Wagner excelled this week in coverage, but will run a slower forty time than Brown. He fails to read and react between the tackles and displays poor technique to beat blocks. Wagner can lay wood with much more force than Brown, but is a raw prospect that may need to learn on the job.

5. Shea McLellin (6-3/248), Boise State - Given an opportunity to practice at strong-side linebacker after playing end at Boise, McLellin showed surprising range and excelled near the line of scrimmage. It's still a bit concerning that McLellin lacks an explosive element to his game, instead winning with persistence and consistency. He'll likely be drafted in the middle rounds by a team hoping to convert McLellin to linebacker full time.

Defensive Backs

1. Janoris Jenkins (5-10/191), North Alabama - Like Cal wideout Marvin Jones, I had not seen enough of Jenkins' North Alabama games before practice started. But from the first snap, Jenkins pressed with force and stayed physical through the receiver's route. Jenkins is a chippy corner, tough enough to jam and decisive with a quick enough burst to be comfortable in off coverage. He also fights for the football at the catch point. Only NFL teams know how Jenkins will fare in background checks, but he's a top-20 pick in terms of on-field talent.

2. Alfonzo Dennard (5-10/203), Nebraska - Hopefully my plea to disregard Dennard's Senior Bowl week reached many of you: No pure press corner is going to meet expectations when he predominately lines up in off coverage. Few cornerbacks in the nation are more physical than Dennard. Just ask Alshon Jeffery, whom Dennard beat up for three quarters.

3. Antonio Allen (6-1/202), South Carolina - I mentioned Allen as a possible rover strong safety/linebacker, but that may be limiting his potential. Allen showed range and a physical side when closing the line or in coverage of tight ends. While Allen's foot speed may not be outstanding, his abnormally long reach helps in many areas. He's the No. 2 safety in this draft behind Mark Barron.

4. Ryan Steed (5-10/190), Furman - Unlike fellow FCS prospect Brian Quick, Steed did not look overmatched in practice. He consistently stunted the upfield drive of receivers off the line. Steed stays to the wideout's side downfield with an armbar, and has enough length to match up with bigger receivers at the catch point. If Steed puts on muscle and learns to react rather than guess, he's going to at least be a future NFL nickel corner.

5. George Iloka (6-4/222), Boise State - Another potential "rover," Iloka has the range to cover a significant amount of grass. His 82-inch wingspan helps when making up ground or reaching through receivers to break up passes at the catch point. I wish Iloka was a bit more aggressive, but his draft stock will benefit from NFL defenses' inability to cover big, athletic pass-catching tight ends.



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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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