Alabama Crimson Tide: Senior Bowl

SEC Senior Bowl recap

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
5:30
PM ET
Auburn defensive end Dee Ford made the biggest splash of the SEC players at the Reese's Senior Bowl. He was impressive all week during the practices and walked away from the game with MVP honors after recording a pair of sacks and several other hurries.

[+] EnlargeFord
AP Photo/Johnny VyAuburn's Dee Ford was named MVP of the Senior Bowl.
According to ESPN's Scouts Inc. folks, Ford was one of the top five performersInsider last week in Mobile and really shined as an edge pass-rusher. Ford's performance at the Senior Bowl shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who watched him this season in the SEC. He blossomed after struggling with injuries in October and was outstanding in the VIZIO BCS National Championship loss to Florida State. Right now, it sounds like Ford is a solid second-round pick who could potentially sneak into the first round. He doesn't have ideal size (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) to play defensive end in the NFL, but makes up for it with his quickness and burst off the ball. He could be an excellent fit for a 3-4 team as an outside linebacker.

Among the other SEC players who turned heads with their play last week and potentially helped their NFL stock, according to Scouts Inc., were Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard and Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins. LSU safety Craig Loston and Auburn cornerback Chris Davis also had interceptions in the game. Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood had a 24-yard touchdown catch.

Two SEC players who didn't necessarily help their stock last week, according to the Scouts Inc. staff, were Missouri defensive end Michael Sam and Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews. Sam had a sack in the game, but relied too much on his speed rush. There are also concerns as to whether or not he can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Matthews had a nice 33-yard catch in the game, but the knock on him during the week was that he dropped too many passes and struggled to make contested catches.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Winning 49 games and three national championships only got Nico Johnson so far. The former Alabama linebacker enters the thick of Senior Bowl practice this week with plenty of questions about his game.

Is he fast enough to play in the NFL? Is he a guy who can stay on the field in running and passing situations? Is it worth it to use a draft pick on him?

Johnson is ranked the No. 8 inside linebacker according to Scouts Inc., so the question of whether he'll be taken in April's draft is likely to be answered in the affirmative. How high, however, is another question. At 6-foot-2 and 249 pounds, he has the size to play at the next level, but as pointed out in his Scouts Inc. profile, he's not an elite athlete and seems to lack the closing burst.

But Johnson isn't out to prove the skeptics wrong all at once. He's taking the laid back approach. Having played at Alabama, he's used to practicing under the watchful eye of scouts and knows that pushing too hard can get a player in trouble.

As he said, "Pressure busts pipes."

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