2011 Senior Bowl Recap

The 2011 Senior Bowl allowed some of the nation’s top draft prospects to demonstrate their talents for NFL coaches and scouts. Here are a few thoughts on this year’s Senior Bowl and how it could affect New England’s draft plans:

  • I won’t say too much about defensive linemen since it will be one of the major topics of discussion on Foxboro Blog this week, but Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan and Cal DE Cameron Jordan really stood out. Kerrigan might be a bit undersized to play DE in a 3-4 alignment, but there is no doubting his motor. I won’t be surprised if Jordan is off the board before the Pats pick at 17, but if he’s available, he could be a solid value.
  • While Florida State QB Christian Ponder has drawn praise for his MVP performance, he seemed a bit unsteady at times. I was really hoping a QB like Locker or Ponder would stand out so they’d slide up the draft board into the top 16, allowing a better position player to drop to the Pats. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the six QBs in the game did enough to cement themselves in the first half of the first round. Ponder helped his stock, but probably not to that extent.
  • Miami WR Leonard Hankerson definitely helped his draft stock by reeling in five passes for 100 yards and a score. His 48-yard reception showed great field awareness and concentration and could go a long way in showing scouts that he is working to eliminate the drops that have plagued him throughout this collegiate career. His 6’2” frame would be a nice addition to New England’s WR corps. He was the best wideout on the field on Saturday.
  • Texas A&M OLB Von Miller had a strong game and showed why he is a consensus top 10 pick in most mock drafts. If the Patriots make a surprise move up the draft board in the first round, it would likely be to take Miller. His playing style is similar to Clay Matthews, and that is the kind of player the New England defense has been sorely lacking over the past two years. He’s one of the few players in this draft class that I think could step in and contribute from Day 1.
  • Washington OLB Mason Foster also showed a real nose for the football. He’s a four-year starter who led the Pac-10 in tackles this year, and he made several unassisted open-field stops in the game. I’m not sure he fits New England’s needs for a pass-rusher, but he seems like the type of player Belichick would love to nail down with the second pick in the second round. If the team is sold on Jermaine Cunningham as a pass-rusher, drafting Foster would seem to make sense.
  • The thud you may have heard in the New England area was Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Costanzo’s draft stock hitting the floor. He was projected to be a possible first-round pick, but he struggled mightily in the game and did little to earn much praise in Senior Bowl practices. Unless Belichick and Company see something in him that I don’t, it appears unlikely the Patriots will draft him unless he’s hanging around in the third round.
  • Nobody on the offensive line for the North team looked very good. Colorado OT Nate Solder appeared to be the best of the bunch. Several sources have given him positive reviews in practice, so I doubt his draft stock will take much of a hit.
  • Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod may have turned a few heads. He seemed to play with good leverage, which was one of the knocks on him. New England’s primary need on the offensive line is at guard, and I’m not sure his skill set at tackle would translate well if he moved into the interior offensive line. In a best-case scenario for the Pats, he could improve his draft stock to the point that some team desperate for offensive line help takes him in the top 16.
  • On the interior offensive line, Rodney Hudson from Florida State looked solid. He’s one of the few interior offensive linemen with a possible first-round grade. Baylor offensive linemen Danny Watkins also had a rare first-round grade for an interior lineman coming into the game, and he did nothing to hurt that perception. I won’t be surprised if one of those two players is in New England next year.
  • Louisville RB Bilal Powell was the game’s leading rusher with 50 yards on 10 carries, but I don’t think he did much to set himself apart from the rest of the RB crop. Due in large part to the struggles on the offensive line, no running back from the North was particularly impressive. If New England drafts a running back this year, I’d be willing to bet that it won’t be any of the guys who played on Saturday.
  • I doubt New England will draft him due to their depth at WR, but you could certainly make an argument that no player did more to help his draft stock than Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher. He was a late invite to the Senior Bowl, but he still hauled in five catches for 62 yards. Nobody will mistake this guy for a #1 receiver, but he likely moved up a few rounds in the draft with strong performances in the Senior Bowl and Sugar Bowl.