It's nice to have a draft order set and the Senior Bowl behind us (other all-star games, too, I suppose). The combine is the other big event of the offseason, so we really are halfway to the draft. Sort of.
The most important part of the the East-West Shrine week, or the Senior Bowl, is the practices and how the players play during the week. Even though NFL scouts don't put a lot of stock in the actual game, there can be some players who showcase their skills for the next level. With every player being a draft prospect, we will focus on the players that had noteworthy games, positively or negatively.
Tennessee Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman looked better in the game than he did in practice throughout the week. Coleman threw some bullets downfield. He had a 27-yard toss, a 64-yard completion and a touchdown pass on a quick to the flat. Coleman was more accurate against the West than he typically was in practice. Coleman was 6-for-6 in the first half. He fit in a beautiful pass down the seam between defenders in the fourth quarter, but the pass was dropped. The scouts that take the game into consideration will definitely give Coleman a boost for his performance. Coleman has a plus arm with size, and against the West he showed some developmental potential as a third-day pick.
Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis was the other signal caller who played well. He moved the ball well with some precision passing in the second quarter. Davis looks like a third-day pick.
Tennessee running back Tauren Poole had a 15-yard run on the first play. Offensive tackle Jeff Adams had a nice block to spring Poole. Outside of that run, Poole didn't break any long runs but he had a nice gain on a pass reception.
Tennessee Tech wide receiver Tim Benford had a good week. He didn't get many opportunities on Saturday, but he caught a pass for a 27-yard gain on a deep cross from Coleman. Benford really helped himself at the East-West and put himself in position to be a mid-round pick.
Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin started the game well and made his presence felt. He had two nice tackles at the point of attack. After that initial surge he was pretty quiet for the rest of the afternoon.
TCU linebacker Tank Carder showed well against the East on Saturday. Carder had a big tackle on the first drive where he fired into the hole to stop the back for a loss of one yard. Late in the second quarter, Carder disrupted a pass down the middle seam and helped to cause an incompletion by leaping into the passing lane. Carder fired into the backfield to blow up a run in the fourth quarter. A few plays later, Carder made a nice block on a punt return.
Another linebacker who really stood out during the game was Merrimack College's Shawn Loiseau. In stretches, he was all over the field and showed his speed by running down Arkansas wide receiver Greg Childs after Loiseau started out in the middle of the field. Loiseau proved he could hold his own against the better the competition. He looks like a nice developmental player as a late-round pick who can contribute on special teams.
North Carolina cornerback Charles Brown had a nice pass breakup on a pass intended for Jarius Wright. Wright came back to burn Brown on a double move in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Brown, the pass was thrown too late and it was intercepted by safety Penn State safety Nick Sukay. Sukay came over the top and caught an interception on a bomb in the fourth quarter. He showed range and ball skills on the play.
Miami tight end Chase Ford made a big 64-yard catch in the first half. He went up and made a great catch between a few defenders in traffic. He took a shot from Texas safety Blake Gideon, but he bounced off the hit and raced downfield for about 30 yards. In the fourth quarter Ford dropped a tough catch down the middle on a well thrown pass from Coleman. Overall, Ford had a big week and went from the undrafted ranks to a late-round pick. Scouts told us that Ford needs to improve his ability to drive block, but he is a player worth developing.
Michigan State wide receiver B.J. Cunningham started the week slow, but finished strong with a quality game. On a pass from Coleman, Cunningham caught a quick out before breaking a tackle and springing down the sideline for a touchdown catch of about 15 yards.
Colorado guard Ryan Miller had some good blocks in the ground game during the first quarter to open up some holes. Early in the second quarter Miller was destroyed by Navy defensive linemen Jabaree Tuani to blow up a run. Miller had some pancake blocks in the ground game in the third quarter. He finished strong with some good run blocks on the game winning touchdown drive.
Miami of Ohio guard Brandon Brooks was dominant on Saturday. He blasted open holes in the ground game and showed his power. Brooks' strong week to go along with his physical frame has himself in third- or fourth-round consideration.
West Virginia defensive end Julian Miller was one of the top players at his position. He made a nice read and ran down the quarterback for a sack in the third quarter. Later on, Miller almost made a leaping interception on an edge rush. He couldn't catch the pass, but he did cause an incompletion. On the same drive Miller had a good pass rush and a tackle in run defense.
BYU left tackle Matt Reynolds struggled early in the game in pass protection and was beat by Wake Forest defensive end Kyle Wilbur on back-to-back plays. In the third quarter, Reynolds got called for a holding penalty, but it was a questionable call. He had his share of wins as well.
Wilbur was one of the standouts of the game with a few splash plays. He had a nice sack in the fourth quarter after he came virtually unblocked when he jetted by the left tackle. He had some bad plays where he didn't show good awareness and blew containment.
Duke safety Matt Daniels started the game with some nice plays, but then had his ankles broken on a juke by Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie. It got worse for Daniels when he allowed an onsides kick in the second quarter. It was a bad end to an otherwise good week for Daniels. Wylie had a big punt return in the fourth quarter, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater had a mixed first half. He showed some tight coverage and made some nice plays. He had a pass breakup in the end zone that deflected the ball away for an interception. Prater was flagged for an pass interference and that took away the turnover, but it was a tough call and a bang-bang play. Prater's stock looks solid in the third round.
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa looked bad on Saturday. He had a number of passes that were thrown well off the mark. Florida quarterback John Brantley also struggled and underwhelmed. Both of them could go undrafted.
Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen made a beautiful throw after getting pressured on a 41-yard pass to Jarius Wright. Hansen dodged Julian Miller and tossed a perfect pass that dropped into Wright, who beat Coastal Carolina quarterback Josh Norman on a double move. Hansen threw a pretty strike to North Carolina State tight end George Bryan down the seam in the fourth quarter. Hansen has a lot of physical tools but had a rough run at Colorado. Some team could use a late-round pick on him with the intention of working with his skill set as the third quarterback, or on the practice squad for a few years.
Ole Miss offensive tackle Bradley Sowell had a horribly timed false start late in the fourth quarter. In a tie ball game, the East was going for it on fourth-and-inches. Sowell's false start forced his team to punt and they lost the game shortly later. He is a third-day pick.