Opening Eyes in Mobile

By Eric Galko
January 24, 2013

Eric Galko looks at five players who showed more than he expected.

The Senior Bowl is just one part of the evaluation process for NFL teams, and it’s important to put in perspective that reviewing how these prospects performed on the field throughout their career more weight than one week of practice. However, due to prospects playing with lesser talent around them, changing positions, dealing with inconsistencies, or overcoming injuries, the Senior Bowl can also be a way for top NFL Draft talents to “rehab” or “rebuild” their reputation, and give team’s good reasons to overlook their film.

Most players here didn’t have their grade affected more than a few slots, but a handful of prospects performed well enough to warrant teams at least consider reviewing their film with a new look their skill sets.

  1. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas

    Coming out of a Texas offense that has a (recent) history of not utilizing their weapons consistently, the track star Goodwin shined this week by utilizing his elite speed in a variety of unexpected ways. He obviously got separation with speed vertically, but it was the explosive burst he showed redirecting in shorter routes that impressed. He also got off separation off the press much better than expected, leaving the possibility of playing outside still open as well. With his burst between routes, flashing the ability to extend away from his body, and more development in his routes than expected, Goodwin has gone from track speed-type receiver to intriguing mid round “riser”, similar to TJ Graham last year.

  2. Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan

    While it was a rough set of practices for Denard in his first trial at receiver for NFL scouts, Robinson actually showed some intriguing and developmental attributes this week to show signs that he’s progressing. In each facet of his role as a receiver, he’s struggled, from extending away from his body to finishing catches to route tree development to getting separation. But he’s flashed each one of those skill sets individually, showing signs that he understands what he needs to do, but isn’t polished yet. A rough week for Robinson, he’s at least shown his willing and able to make the adjustment to receiver.

  3. Vance McDonald, TE, Rice

    A relatively unknown prospect when he accepted his invitation early in the process, the Senior Bowl’s Executive Director Phil Savage spoke highly of McDonald throughout the process and before the week began, and McDonald didn’t disappoint.  McDonald has the ideal body type for a tight end, and showed the physicality and drive as a blocker and the receiving ability to work in-line and outside. Some concerns over how fluid he is and if his hands are consistent, but he’s done well to maximize his chance to get out of a lackluster Rice offense to impress this week.

  4. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

    Coming off an up and down senior campaign, Jones consistently showed this week what he flashed throughout his career. With his strong lower half and fantastic leg drive, he collapsed the pocket from the outside as well as any rusher here. He played with good pad level, extended and was forceful with his hands, and even gave the event’s best player, Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, a tough match-up on a few occasions. Able to play a 4-3 strong side end or a 5-technique in a 3-4, Jones may have helped his value the most of any player here this week.

  5. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

    In college, Trufant showcased great ball skills, route timing, and quick hips to stay tight to his receiver. This week, he showed that on a consistent basis, especially in off coverage, consistently against the some of this draft’s best receivers. While he struggles a bit when asked to press, he’s got the initial back pedal, the recovery speed, the burst between steps, and the anticipation that makes a great off-man cornerback. Trufant proved he’s one of the better cornerbacks in this class this week, and firmly put himself in that early 2nd round, maybe even late first round, thanks to picks 25 through 40 being defensive back heavy.