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Senior Bowl Review – Monday

It’s Senior Bowl time again! NFL Network opened coverage of this year’s week-long NFL job fair with the North team’s Monday practice. Though the broadcast spent a lot of time on positions (QB, OT) where the Rams don’t have much need, there was still enough to give hope the Rams break out their Wisconsin and Boise State game tapes when they get back home. I know I’m lagging behind like Jason Sehorn trying to cover Steve Smith here, but here’s a rundown of Monday’s practice coverage:

* On, Wisconsin. No wonder the Badgers made the Rose Bowl, with linemen like 6’7″ 315 tackle Gabe Carimi and 6’4″ 314 guard John Moffitt. Though the Cincinnati Bengals staff kicked him inside to guard Monday, which I’d view as a unwarranted and major threat to my future earnings if I were him, Carimi is considered one of the top three tackles in the draft. He’s a mauler, with good-but-not-great feet. The four-year starter looked good at guard in 11-on-11, a very solid run blocker. He also threw DE Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma) around in 1-on-1 drills. Moffitt is tough and nasty, has a tremendous punch, a great run-blocker who can also play center. He looked good in 11-on-11 as well, coming in at guard when the coaches kicked Carimi back outside. Moffitt had a pancake block that sprung a nice middle run. So, two big young studs. One can play guard and tackle, one can play guard and center. Both are sure-fire NFL starters. Hank Fraley, John Greco or even Adam Goldberg could be feeling quite badgered by the time Senior Bowl week is over.

* Trench warfare. In the pass pro 1-on-1 drills, Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue came out one of the biggest winners, smoking Nate Solder with an inside move. Solder’s the consensus #1 OT. That was about his only messup, but that was the only time I saw him go against Kerrigan. Biggest loser was guard Stephen Schilling of Michigan, who got smoked twice by Cameron Jordan of Cal. Not even close. Good battles: DT Ian Williams (Notre Dame) vs. C Kevin Kowalski (Toledo); DE Christian Ballard (Iowa) vs. OT James Brewer (Indiana). Brandon Fusco, the Slippery Rock center and Division-II lineman of the year, threw down Sione Fua (Stanford). Jason Pinkston (T, Pitt) controlled Pierre Allen (DE, Nebraska). When the d-line coach told Allen he needed to get lower on the 2nd try, Allen actually got more upright. Listen better next time. Just wasn’t a good day for Beal; Carimi threw him around and Anthony Costanzo flattened him right off the bat with his punch on one rep.

* Mayock and Davis on the linemen: Solder, Costanzo and Carimi are the top 3 tackles. All three should be able to play LT in the pros. The latter two were four-year starters. All have great length and feet for the position. None of them have sloppy physiques but they could all get stronger. Mayock calls Solder a potential top-15 pick, Costanzo and Carimi potential first-rounders. At Purdue, Kerrigan had 33.5 career sacks, and 14 forced fumbles. And since he’s Caucasian, he naturally gets compared to Kyle Vanden Bosch and… Chris Long.

* Warm reception. Boise State WRs Titus Young and Austin Pettis were the stars of the passing drills, though I caution that the North DBs looked positively awful; I’m not even sure some of them even had their shoes on the right feet. Young drew a lot of comparisons to DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin. He’s similarly sized, runs with a lot of wiggle and takes no time to accelerate on screen passes. He smoked Da’Norris Searcy (North Carolina) on a sideline route and Joe Lefeged (Rutgers) on an improvised corner route. Lefeged couldn’t cover TEs, either, having gotten burned earlier by Lance Kendricks (Wisconsin). Both Boise WRs run nice routes. A big (6’2.5″ 205) receiver, Pettis turned Jalil Brown (Colorado) inside out after one catch. Quinton Carter of Oklahoma was about the only DB who looked like he could cover anybody, though he got away with downfield contact covering Pettis. Watching Niles Paul (Nebraska) scorch the heck out of the appropriately-named Kendric Burney (North Carolina), I don’t know how the Tar Heels got two DBs in the Senior Bowl, or how they didn’t get scorched through the air all season. The DBs did fare a lot better against shorter routes. A third receiver who stood out was Vincent Brown (San Diego State); he overcame illegal contact to make a nice grab in 1-on-1 and made a nice catch of a high bullet from Jake Locker in 11-on-11. (Searcy fell down in coverage on that play.) Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut) looked like the best cover LB; while Mark Herzlich (Boston College) got burned by not Darell, not Dorell, but Da’Rel Scott (Maryland) for a long TD. Young was the standout Monday, though. He’s Mardy Gilyard, if Gilyard could play, and already much more impressive than Gilyard was at last year’s Senior Bowl practices.

* Assorted Mayock, with good news for Daniel Fells: Mayock called TCU QB Andy Dalton a better prospect at this point than Kevin Kolb was. He called Texas A&M LB Von Miller the best pass rusher in the draft, though his height at 6’2.5″ may be a concern. He also noted that 2011 is not a good tight end class at all, which tells me the Rams goofed last year by not taking better advantage of a very deep class.

* Factoid only I care about: the Cincinnati coaching staff is working their THIRD Senior Bowl in SEVEN years. We complained about the Rams not taking advantage of the opportunity to work last year’s game, but all this exposure to the top college players doesn’t seem to help out the Bengals that much.

* QB notes: Jake Locker may be a fine athlete but he was Rick Ankiel-wild Monday. He completely overthrew a wide-open Kendricks during 1-on-1 and actualy got picked off during 7-on-7 due to a terrible overthrow. Bad misses in pretty-low-difficulty situations. Locker did show a nice play-fake. Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) was the story at QB. He was likened a lot to Tim Tebow; Paul Burmeister called him the most versatile QB in NCAA history. He has mechanics issues, like Tebow did, but when they said he was a better runner than Tebow, I was dubious, but they weren’t kidding. On a blown handoff play during 11-on-11, Kaepernick just took off in the other direction, and like a shot, for a big gain. I had to put my eyeballs back in their sockets after that play. There’s fast; there’s really fast; Kaepernick is FREAKING fast. He’s a very intriguing player.

More belated Senior Bowl reports throughout the week.

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