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Best by position at the Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 26, 2013

If you need a defensive lineman, this is your draft

GREEN BAY—Scouts are often assigned the responsibility of evaluating one position at the Senior Bowl. For example, one scout takes the running backs, another takes the quarterbacks, etc., until the team they represent has the players at each position ranked. This is an especially good system for sports writers covering the Senior Bowl because it allows us to ask each scout who he thought the best player was at his position.

So, by position, here’s what I got.

Quarterbacks—Mike Glennon appears to be the closest thing to the pro prototype. He’s got size, a big arm and classic delivery. He threw the ball as expected at the Senior Bowl, but there’s not much he can do to address concerns about his grasp of offense until a team has a chance to work with him. His arm will likely cause him to be overdrafted. The same can be said of E.J. Manuel. He’s got the tools, but he showed some bouts of wildness on Monday that reminded scouts of Manuel’s flaws, which would also seem to include mechanics. He doesn’t get the ball into the throwing position quickly enough and, as a result, pushes the ball on quick slants. Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib were steady, but not spectacular. Landry Jones and Zac Dysert did not help themselves. None of these prospects screams out, “I’m the man.”

Running backs—Stepfan Taylor of Stanford may have moved himself into the top of the second round, or better. He was sensational in every way, including blitz pickup, thumping Alabama’s Nico Johnson to the ground. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin nearly knocked the shoulder off an end as he chipped the guy while going out for a pass. Taylor’s No. 1; Franklin might be No. 2. The other backs are largely specialty types.

Tight ends—Remember this name: Vance McDonald of Rice. He was clearly the best in class.

Wide receivers—Texas’ Marquise Goodwin is the speed guy. He’ll climb boards after he runs at the combine. Elon’s Aaron Mellette, 6-4, 220, is the size guy. He’ll attract a team that likes its pass catchers big. Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, 6-2, 195, has size and run-after-the-catch ability. Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton, 6-0, 182, is best in class.

Offensive Linemen—Eric Fisher might be the next Tony Boselli. Fisher pass blocks like Boselli and has a lean body that’s begging for more size. Fisher was so dominant in practice this week that he might’ve pushed himself into top 10 contention. At 343 pounds, Larry Warford of Kentucky was tough to shake when he got his hands on a blocker. This was a good group, but there was only one Fisher among them.

Defensive linemen—This is where the depth is. Start with John Jenkins of Georgia. He’ll be awfully difficult for a 3-4 team needing a nose tackle to pass up. He’s nearly as explosive and graceful as he is massive. Then there are the Williams’, Sylvester of North Carolina and Brandon of Missouri Southern. Sylvester Williams has top athletic ability for someone 6-3, 320. Brandon Williams, 6-3, 325, was a wrecking ball. Don’t go to sleep on SMU’s Margus Hunt, UCLA’s Datone Jones, Texas’ Alex Okafor, Penn State’s Jordan Hill, Purdue’s Kawaan Short, Florida State’s Everett Dawkins, Tennessee’s Montori Hughes or Georgia’s Cornelius Washington. They’ve all got top talent. Remember this name: Ezekial Ansah of BYU. He’s a poor man’s Jason Pierre-Paul. If you need help on the defensive line and don’t fix it in this draft, shame on you.

Linebackers—This is a bad year for inside guys and only an average year for outside guys. Florida State’s Vince Williams, 6-1, 250, has some explosiveness for a team looking for an inside guy. Missouri’s Zaviar Gooden, 6-2, 230, made plays and was active.

Defensive backs—San Diego State’s Leon McFadden is the big winner. He looked special on Monday and then held his ground. Cal’s Marc Anthony is instinctive. Alabama’s Robert Lester made some plays and then disappeared, which is a trademark he needs to shed. Utah State’s Will Davis might have the most upside of any of the defensive backs. He’s a pure cover corner who’s a late bloomer. Washington’s Desmond Trufant can jam receivers and offers potential in press coverage.

Kicker—Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins has a booming leg and was down the middle all week. As pressure goes, a stadium full of scouts ain’t bad.

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