Practices were washed out by severe weather on Thursday of Senior Bowl week, which means it's time to begin taking a look back at what we've seen over the first three days of practice.
It's important not to overreact, because game tape will always trump what happens in an all-star setting, but here's an early breakdown of some Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) prospects who helped and hurt their overall stock during Senior Bowl week.
Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden
Weeden came into the week with the opportunity to show he has the skills to become a starter in the NFL and that he is better than the other five quarterbacks in attendance,- including Arizona's Nick Foles, who grades out in the same late-first- or early-second-round area. From the first practice, Weeden was confident and seemed to embrace the opportunity.
He's not a great athlete and has room to become more consistent with his decision making, but Weeden did show two things in particular. First, we did not see as many balls thrown up for grabs as we did on Weeden's tape, when he was often seen putting the ball up and simply allowing WR Justin Blackmon to go get it with his superior ball skills.
Weeden also showed he can play in a pro-style system. He didn't line up under center very often in Oklahoma State's wide-open passing system, and given his lack of experience there, Weeden looked good making reads while dropping. He also flashed accuracy when on the run. Finally, his arm strength and ball placement were also good, and overall, Weeden was the most consistent of the quarterbacks here.
We didn't see many differences between Foles and Weeden on tape, but watching them go head-to-head this week, it's hard to imagine anyone walking away thinking Foles is the better quarterback. The age question still remains, though. Weeden will be a 29-year-old rookie and that could make a difference. Is he the next Chris Weinke, who struggled from a talent standpoint after spending several years playing minor league baseball? Or is Weeden going to be a late bloomer like Kurt Warner, who did not become a full-time starter until he was 29 and went on to play 10 more seasons after that?
How teams feel about those questions will likely determine whether Weeden comes off the board before or after Foles.
Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley
Bentley is among the small-school prospects who showed during Senior Bowl week that he has not only the physical tools to hang with a higher level of competition, but also the mental toughness. I'm interested to see how fast he runs during pre-draft workouts, because Bentley didn't show great deep speed or recovery ability here, but he couldn't have been much better otherwise.
He's a quick-twitch athlete with the burst, footwork and fluid hips to develop above-average man-to-man cover skills, and he also did a good job playing the ball. One play that stood out was a diving interception on a ball that deflected off Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller. And while the all-star setting is not ideal for gauging a cornerback's ability in run support, Bentley appears willing to step up and be physical.
Bentley helped himself as much as any other prospect this week, and after coming into the Senior Bowl way under the radar, he'll certainly be a player we study much more tape on going forward.
Georgia CB Brandon Boykin
Boykin's physical tools jumped out this week. He is fluid and explosive, and he showed off good top-end speed and an extra gear to recover and make up ground when in a trail position. Boykin flashed the ability to turn his hips and run with receivers to limit separation, and even when he was beaten initially, he was able to recover. There are some concerns about his overall instincts and playmaking ability, whether he is a better athlete than football player at this point, but Boykin was one of the top performers on either roster.
He has the skill set to play nickelback and cover small, quick slot receivers, and his ability to return kicks is also an asset. Boykin is solidly in the Day 2 mix, and how teams judge his instincts on tape will play a role in where exactly he comes off the board.
Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu
Ta'amu flashed some quickness and power during the practice week, but it was easy to notice the difference in effort from play to play. He was also inconsistent in terms of playing with leverage, and did not display the ability to occupy blockers and be an every-down, two-gap defender the way a 3-4 nose tackle needs to.
Those things have to improve, because being a run-stuffer is the only thing Ta'amu brings to the table. He lacks athleticism and is not a skilled pass-rusher, so he will be limited to being a two-down plugger. You can't coach his size and strength, though, and some 3-4 team looking for depth and a potential future starter at nose tackle will likely take a chance on him, but I was looking for a bit more from Ta'amu this week.
Nebraska QB Alfonzo Dennard
He's a tough, physical corner who plays bigger than his listed size, but Dennard's lack of top-end speed and inability to recover were both exposed during Senior Bowl practices. He competed hard and was able to push receivers around at times, but Dennard also allowed too much separation out of breaks, and once he recovered it took him too long to get back into the play. He is fluid enough to turn his hips and run with receivers, but he likely won't be able to stay with above-average vertical threats at the next level.
Dennard isn't in a free fall, but he's likely slipped to the middle of the second round and forced teams to go back to the tape for another and check his ability to locate and defend the deep out, among other things.
North Carolina WR Dwight Jones
I like his deceiving top-end speed and hands to play the ball down the field, but Jones is stiff for his size and his inability to create separation became a glaring concern as the week wore on. Jones struggled to get off press coverage, had trouble dropping his hips and transitioning in and out of breaks, and he doesn't appear to adjust to the ball very well when his momentum is carrying him in a particular direction. Jones is just not a fluid player, and he is slipping as a result.
All in the mix
For perspective on just how many quality prospects are in Mobile, here's a list of all other prospects taking part who are potential Day 2 picks (in alphabetical order):
Arkansas WR Joe Adams
South Carolina DB Antonio Allen
North Carolina CB Zach Brown
Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins
Marshall DE Vinny Curry
NC State WR T.J. Graham
Boise State S George Iloka
Boise State RB Doug Martin
Oklahoma State S Markelle Martin
Iowa State OT/G Kelechi Osemele
Washington RB Chris Polk
Appalachian State WR Brian Quick
Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes
Michigan State S Trent Robinson
Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders
Notre Dame S Harrison Smith
LSU S Brandon Taylor
Utah State ILB Bobby Wagner
Boise State DL Billy Winn
Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler