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hawaiiansteel
02-04-2010, 07:30 PM
Top 10 best players overall during the 2010 Senior Bowl game - GBN Report

1. Michigan DE Brandon Graham
2. Georgia DT Geno Atkins
3. Penn State DT Jared Odrick
4. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
5. North Carolina DE Cam Thomas
6. Utah LB Koa Misi
7. Tennessee DT Dan Williams
8. Florida State CB Patrick Robinson
9. Maryland DB Terrelle Skinner
10. Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard

Hononrable mentions: UMass OT Vlad Ducasse, Auburn RB Ben Tate, Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount, Alabama TE Colin Peek, Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, Vanderbilt OT Thomas Welch, California DE Tyson Aluala, TCU LB Daryl Washington

Defensive line dominates … As they say early in baseball training camp that the pitchers are always way ahead of the hitters (or is it the other way around) the defense generally has a bit of a natural edge in college football all-star games. And that was certainly the case, at least as far the line play went, at this year’s Senior Bowl game where the defensive lines pretty much overwhelmed their counterparts on offense. Michigan DE Brandon Graham, who shined in one-on-one pass rush drills during practice all week, was simply the best player on the field. Again as he did during the week, Graham exploded off the snap, got great leverage as he kept his pads low, used his hands effectively to disengage and showed some nice spin moves as well as a non-stop motor. For good measure, Graham, who had two sacks, a forced fumble and another tackle for loss, also did a solid job defending the run as he was just too quick for the South’s cadre of LTs. On occasion, though, Graham just stood up after the snap and didn’t get any real penetration, while he will also overrun the odd play in his enthusiasm to get to the pocket, but otherwise did nothing to tarnish his overall pass-rush credentials which got a huge boost last week in Mobile.

There was a similar story last Saturday for Penn State DT Jared Odrick who continued to show outstanding interior pass-rush potential in Satuday‘s game. Odrick displayed a very quick first step off the snap as well as an excellent swim move. And while he’s a little rangy for a prototype run-stuffing DT, the 6-5, 300-pound Odrick did a nice job taking on and splitting double teams. For good measure, like his former Big 10 opponent Graham, Odrick also showed a great motor and lateral range as he pursued the ball to the whistle; Odrick, who may have earned some consideration as a 3-4 DE with his play in Mobile, showed good timing get his long arms up into the passing lanes when he didn‘t get to the QB. Georgia DT Geno Atkins also proved to be too quick for the North’s interior offensive line in the Senior Bowl. In particular, Atkins gave star North OG Mike Iupati fits with an explosive first step along with the functional strength to maintain leverage once he got position and headed up field.

Meanwhile, Tennessee DT Dan Williams didn’t get that much actual up field penetration himself, but proved almost impossible for the North offensive front to get off the point of attack. Williams consistently beat the OL off the snap, showed good balance and short-area lateral range, as well as the strength to hold his spot when double teamed. It was also a good day for North Carolina DT Cam Thomas who didn’t show much in the way of sophisticated pass-rush moves or lateral quickness, but was able to bull-rush his way deep into the pocket on just about every play as he physically overwhelmed the South OGs. And like Penn State’s Odrick, the 6-4, 330-pound Thomas, who heretofore had been thought of as a pure NT, may start to get some serious consideration as a potential 3-4 DE, as well as a more traditional 4-3 DT.

At the same time, DTs Lamarr Houston of Texas and Mike Neal of Purdue also made big plays in the backfield in Saturday’s game, however, other than the occasional both tended to get stuck on the line of scrimmage although it didn’t appear to be from a lack of effort. Indeed, both worked very hard to the whistle, but Neal in particular looked to lack the strength of get off blocks. Same story for Louisiana Tech DT Boo Smith who was a non-factor Saturday in Mobile after a very disappointing week of practice. Then there was Alabama DT Terrence Cody, one of the biggest, both literally and figuratively, stories in Mobile last week. No question Cody was almost impossible to dislodge off the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s game, however, he really didn’t show much in the way of balance or outright strength at the point of attack and ended up being bounced around enough that he seldom was available to find the ball or make a play.


Linebackers: Normally, all-star formats make it tough for LBs to really stand out but someone forgot to tell this year’s group. Missouri MLB Sean Weatherspoon, for example, had an outstanding day Saturday as he made plays all over the field. Weatherspoon was very light on his feet, did a nice job avoiding the trash and flowing to the ball, and showed good instincts and range. What really had to impress pro scouts, though, were a couple of plays in coverage in which he first stayed with speedy Ole Miss RB, and sometime WR, Dexter McCluster well down field and then turned just in time to braek up a pass in the end zone. Later, Weatherspoon read the QB’s eyes and stepped in front of another pass for a pick to put an exclamation point on the day.