Sunday January 25th, 2015

The final score of Saturday's Senior Bowl contest -- 34-13, North -- is inconsequential compared to everything else that went on during the week.

Before the Super Bowl puts a stranglehold on the spotlight, we rewind through college football's premier annual all-star showcase.

All-Senior Bowl teams 

Offense: QB Garrett Grayson, RB David Cobb, RB David Johnson, WR Phillip Dorsett, WR Tyler Lockett, TE Clive Walford, OL La'El Collins, OL Shaq Mason, OL Ali Marpet, OL Laken Tomlinson, OL Rob Havenstein

Grayson stood out by being average, so that offers some indication of how the remaining quarterbacks played in Mobile. He hit on 4-of-11 passes Saturday, although a couple of his throws -- like several during the week -- were impressive.

Alabama's Blake Sims may not have shot himself up any boards with a 2-for-6 showing, but his quick feet both escaping the pocket and scrambling helped him make some plays. Getting to an NFL level as a passer may take years, if it ever happens. Sims is still intriguing as a project.

Cobb and Johnson were examples 1 and 1a this week of why it might be tough for teams to pull the trigger on a running back early. At 220-plus pounds, both guys are built to withstand an NFL workload and showed off versatility out of the backfield. Late in the fourth quarter, Johnson pinballed his way to a long kick return, then caught a pass out of the backfield for a nice gain. Cobb averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry. Oh, and Ameer Abdullah's still a favorite of mine in this class. He is electrifying with the football.

There was a plenty to choose from at receiver this week. Dorsett and Lockett consistently stood out from my vantage point. The 5-foot-9 Lockett is extremely polished and ready to step in as a playmaker, likely in a variety of ways.

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While the TE talent did not blow anyone away on paper, Walford absolutely raised his stock. Between his run blocking and aggressiveness as a receiver, he may have sealed up a Day 2 selection. Delaware's Nick Boyle was better than expected, too.

Collins, Mason and Tomlinson were rocks all week, with Collins reassuring any teams looking to draft him that he could fit as a left tackle. Mason, Tomlinson and Marpet are guard-only prospects, though all three could wind up as top-100 picks -- Tomlinson or Mason maybe even top-50.

Havenstein and fellow Big Ten alum, Penn State's Donovan Smith, were among the most consistent players all week. The former could be a long-term RT answer, while Smith has left-side potential. Smith's work vs. dynamic UCLA edge-rusher Owa Odighizuwa on Saturday will be queued up by scouts between now and the draft. Tre Jackson, the South's Most Outstanding Player on Saturday, kept his stock in good shape moving forward. The Florida State guard could push into Round 1.

Defense: DT Danny Shelton, DT Grady Jarrett, DT Carl Davis, DE Henry Anderson, DE/OLB Nate Orchard, LB Jeff Luc, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Kevin White, CB Ladarius Gunter, S Eric Rowe, S Cody Prewitt

Bending the formation rules a bit here to get three tackles on the squad. Shelton, Jarrett and Davis were all that good, and each brings something different to the table. Washington's Shelton swallows up space, which is why teams that run 3-4 schemes are eyeing him. Jarrett brings a pocket-moving presence from the three-tech, while Davis has the size to really excel as a one-technique guy.

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The 6-6 Anderson was a bit out of place at times during Saturday's game, having to line up as a pure 4-3 end. Drop him inside a bit as a 3-4 DE and he will disrupt offenses with his length. Anderson won a bunch of one-on-one matchups this week.

Orchard said he is at his best as a 4-3 end, as well. Watching him get into the backfield with a variety of moves, it's easy to see why. The coverage abilities are not as natural, but they are progressing.

The first two ILB-types off the board come April, at least in terms of those who were in Mobile, probably will be Denzel Perryman and Hayes Pullard. Don't forget about Luc, an athletic marvel at 5-11 and 26; or Hicks, who made plays over and over again in practice.

For lack of a better term, White was awesome. There were multiple occasions when he turned and found the ball before the receiver he was covering, a trait that helps him make up for his 5-9 height. Gunter (6-1, 200) can and does play a more physical game.

More Senior Bowl superlatives 

Biggest riser: Ali Marpet, G, Hobart

Not sure how many folks had even heard of Marpet before he found his way onto the Senior Bowl roster. (I hadn't seen any of him prior to that.) There will be a scramble for Hobart game film now. Marpet (6-3, 307) never once appeared out of place against higher-profile competition.

Most disappointing: T.J. Clemmings, G/T, Pittsburgh

The scouting report on Clemmings: promising, but raw. And that's about what the Pitt tackle showed throughout the week. The Titans' coaching staff, which oversaw Clemmings' North team, repeatedly critiqued Clemmings' technique -- mainly his hand usage and positioning.

What Clemmings did during the regular season should keep him in the Round 1 discussion. Any team holding out hope that he could slide to left tackle in the near future, though, will have to reassess its plan.

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Missed opportunity: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

A primary argument for Marcus Mariota or Brett Hundley taking part in the Senior Bowl was that either would have stood out among the other quarterbacks. Bryce Petty learned the perils off attending. He played like just one of the guys amid a mediocre group.

Petty did lead all QBs with 123 yards passing Saturday, though he also threw a brutal interception over the head of TE Ben Koyack.

Most versatile: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State or Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke

Both future slot receivers (Crowder stands 5-8, one inch taller than Lockett) are legitimate threats in the return game. Try to forget about the fumbled punt by Crowder on Saturday, which was overturned on a kick-catch interference call.

Honorable mention here to Norfolk State DE/OLB Lynden Trail, who was running all over the field during practices to take reps with multiple position groups. He even saw action as a tight end during red-zone drills -- Trail played a similar role at times in college.

Smartest position change: Nick Marshall, CB, Auburn

You probably better know him as: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn. But for Senior Bowl week (and likely from here out), Marshall moved to cornerback, where he played as a freshman at Georgia back in 2011. As should have been expected, Marshall stumbled through some rough plays trying to cover the receiver prospects present. However, he also showed the type of athleticism teams covet in their cornerbacks. Being a lanky 6-foot-1 won't hurt.

Best 6-7 team: 2014 Miami Hurricanes

The draftable talent is astounding for a Miami team that finished below .500. Every Hurricane that showed up in Mobile -- LB Denzel Perryman, CB Ladarius Gunter, WR Phillip Dorset and TE Clive Walford -- walked away having helped himself. All four should be off the board before the draft's second day concludes.

Deepest position: Edge-rusher

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OK, technically, that's not a position. But the DE/OLB line is more blurred now than ever before, and several guys straddled it this week. Odighizuma, Hau'oli Kikaha, Orchard, Markus Golden, Preston Smith and others all had moments of brilliance. Few, if any, prospects from that positional group could be flagged as having had disappointing weeks.

This might be the draft's most plentiful spot overall, so seeing all the talent on display throughout the week was no surprise.

Deepest position, take 2: Wide Receiver

The North alone had a handful of additional WR prospects that will be on the radar before the draft gets too old. With momentum from a national title victory, Ohio State's Devin Smith has the most buzz at the moment. Justin Hardy and Vince Mayle also were noteworthy.

When the South was on the field, Auburn's Sammie Coates continued to build a Round 1 case for himself. He needs much more development as a route-runner, but in the red zone and downfield, he can be lethal.

Small-schooler Dezmin Lewis (6-3, 215) also will get a shot at early playing time somewhere.

Carpe Diem Award: Tyler Varga, FB/RB, Yale

From the moment he walked out for Tuesday's weigh-in, Varga had the attention of the Senior Bowl crowd. Judging by the reaction to that moment, there were not many on hand expecting Varga to be among the most ripped Senior Bowl players.

He followed up by playing well all week, despite moving from his familiar running back spot to fullback for much of the time. Ever eager to find someone to block, Varga also showed some pass-catching ability out of the backfield and scored twice in Saturday's North win.

Somewhere in the late rounds, Varga will hear his name called.

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