The 2013 Senior Bowl was a disappointing game that can be attributed to weak quarterback play. Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and Miami of Ohio's Zach Dysert all were unable to produce big plays. N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon really struggled in the first half. With five of the six signal-callers (E.J. Manuel being the expection) not playing consistent football, it was tough for many offensive players to standout.
The star of the game was BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. The Senior Bowl week could be indicative for how his career will trend in the NFL. He was quiet early on in the week as he was getting his bearings against the higher level of competition. Ansah steadily improved to flash his superb athletic skill with the size, power and speed to be a force. He was dominant by game time.
Ansah was excellent throughout the actual contest. He defended the run well at the point of attack and consistently put pressure on the quarterback. Ansah led all defensive players with seven tackles, many of them high-impact tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He totaled 3.5 tackles for a loss too.
Ansah broke out late in the third quarter with a splash play. He was blocked initially, but eventually beat a double-team block to run down Nassib for a sack that jarred the ball free.
While NFL talent evaluators don't put any stock into the Senior Bowl game, maybe they should in Ansah's case, since it could reflect his development as a player. Ansah has a ton of upside, but with a late start in football, he could use some patience while he learns at the NFL level. His performance should help him go in the top 20 next April.
Glennon was off in the first half before making two beautiful throws in the final two quarters. He used his powerful arm to make a deep sideline throw and showed his touch and accuracy potential on a good throw down the seam. Glennon completed 8-of-16 passes for 82 yards.
Glennon helped himself at the Senior Bowl overall just by displaying his physical tools, but he didn't play up to his potential. Glennon is a scary boom-or-bust prospect who is going to need a good, stable coaching staff in the NFL. Where he lands will make all the difference on him panning out.
Sources told WalterFootball.com that Nassib was disappointing to them during the week of practice. He has a hitch in his delivery and wasn't as good as expected. The underwhelming performance continued with a bad game. Nassib struggled to complete passes, and he held onto the ball way too long on Ansah's strip sack. Nassib was fortunate that offensive lineman David Quessenberry recovered the loose ball.
Nassib also made a terrible throw into coverage. Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo had tight coverage and picked the ball off with a nice hands catch. Rambo returned the interception about 20 yards. Nassib finished the game 4-of-10 for 44 yards. He needs to rebound at the NFL Scouting Combine, his pro day and in team workouts to help mitigate the damage done in Mobile.
Wilson and Dysert were check-down machines in the Senior Bowl game. Dysert led the quarterbacks with 93 yards on 10-of-16 completions with a late touchdown toss to Kenjon Barner. A lot his yards were via short throws to the running back. Wilson was 8-of-11 for 40 yards. Dysert didn't stand out at all in Mobile and looks like a career backup.
Wilson possesses more potential, and his game performance wasn't as good as his final practices during the week. He doesn't have an elite arm and will need a system that protects his weaknesses while augmenting his strengths. Wilson would be best in the NFL as part of a West Coast offense that doesn't require a vertical passing game to win. If things work out well for him, he could be a signal-caller comparable to Andy Dalton.
Like Nassib, Jones had an ugly Senior Bowl game. Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore laid a nice sack on him in the fourth quarter coming off the left side. However, it was Jones' inept play that gave Moore the sack since Jones reall demonstrated his lack of escapability. Rather than rolling to his right with the field open, he went straight backward after getting pressure, and in turn, was quickly run down by Moore. This was indicative of the type of avoidable mistake that plagued the quarterback's career at Oklahoma.
Jones really had a terrible game and struggled to complete passes. He was 3-of-10 for 16 yards. For a pocket passer, he showed no comfort in the pocket and seemed to be feeling more pass rush than was actually there. Jones had an opportunity to help himself at the Senior Bowl, but did not take advantage. He was never consistently good all week. Jones looks like an inconsequential third-day pick off of his performance in Mobile.
Manuel was the one quarterback who put a good overall game together. He got the scoring started himself with a short touchdown run. The offensive highlight of the day was Manuel dropping in a beautiful 20-yard touchdown pass to Alabama tight end Michael Williams. It was a perfect touch pass from Manuel to loft the ball into Williams streaking through the end zone.
Manuel was on the field helping to move the chains on the South's final scoring drive, so in the end, he was the quarterback for all of the scoring drives in the South's victory. Manuel finished completing 7-of-10 passes for 76 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The pick wasn't a bad decision by Manuel and was inconsequential as the ball was deflected on a fourth-down attempt.
There were plenty of other prospects who had noteworthy games. Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin put together a solid week of practice and finished it off with a quality performance in the game. The small speed receiver hauled in five catches for 43 yards. It was nice to see the smaller wideout help move the chains with some shorter receptions. Goodwin definitely helped himself this week to be a mid-round pick.
Southeast Louisiana cornerback Robert Alford played well with five tackles on defense. He opened the game with an 88-yard kick return. Alford looks like a mid-round pick who could develop into a real contributor in the NFL. The Senior Bowl was a great opportunity for him, and he took full advantage of it.
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin also helped himself. He had a nice 20-yard touchdown run behind the right side of the offensive line. Illinois guard Hugh Thornton hit a great block to spring Franklin into the open field on the play. Franklin finished with 41 yards on five carries to lead the North squad. He had a good week and stood out with his blocking. Franklin helped his draft stock in Mobile.
Florida running back Mike Gillislee and Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor both had good weeks of practice. They were the most impressive runners and showed more of that in the actual game. Gillislee had a nice 15-yard run to highlight his day. He had 46 yards on 10 carries. He is a potential second-day pick who could become a starter.
The same should be said about Taylor. He had a nice 17-yard run to set up a touchdown run from Mike James. Taylor totaled 53 yards on nine carries. He really is a complete back who does everything well. Taylor is a good runner, receiver and blocker. He is very intelligent and a student of the game. Taylor could be a real value pick next April.
William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb had a good week in practice and took that into the game. He stood out on special teams as well with a 30-yard punt return.
Some other defensive prospects looked good in the game. Florida State linebacker Vince Williams and Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore each had six tackles and played well. Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short looked good with three tackles and a tackle for a loss. Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden flashed by snatching an interception and returning it 30 yards.