January 26, 2011

The final day of full pads practice took place Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, and all that remains is to play the game on Saturday. Many of the coaches and scouts in attendance now head for home better informed on the players they hope to select in April. Just like the initial two days of practice, several prospects impressed future employers on the field and there was plenty of draft related news off the field.

One topic of conversation at the Senior Bowl is the marginal performance of the Miami Hurricane players. The once-proud program that placed a half-dozen players into the draft's first round in 2004 has fallen on hard times. Only five Hurricanes were selected in the past two drafts. Most believe the prospects are not properly developed and enter the league poorly coached. They point to players such as Sam Shields and Calais Campbell, underachievers in college who are developing fine NFL careers. The most glaring case this year is defensive lineman Allen Bailey. The once highly-touted prospect, who looked a chiseled 278-pounds during weigh-ins, has been nothing but ordinary the past three days in Mobile, Ala. Scouts are hopeful this will quickly change with Al Golden taking over the program.

Conversely, scouts in attendance have nothing but positive comments on the results the Pittsburgh Steelers almost always receive from their draft class. Last year's first round selection, Maurkice Pouncey, is the team's top offensive lineman. The team's third-round choice, Emmanuel Sanders, has been productive and is seen as the heir apparent to Hines Ward. Meanwhile, sixth rounder Antonio Brown has contributed at receiver. Why? The reason is simple according to scouts, the Steelers let their draft picks play. Unlike many franchises that try and develop rookies, Pittsburgh has no issue throwing first-year players into the fire and staying true to its drafts. They've done so with positive results.

PAULINE:Senior Bowl practice reports:Day 2 | Day 1

The next major scouting event before April's draft takes place in less than a month as teams head to Indianapolis for the combine. Invitations have already been sent out to players across the nation and all told approximately 330 prospects will be asked to participate. It is anticipated that 90 percent of the underclassmen that declared for the draft will receive invitations.

Jerry Glanville brought his colorful personality to Senior Bowl practices the past three days. Glanville wore his customary black attire, was seen wearing sunglasses while walking the streets at 9 p.m. and even had a friend play harmonica before practice on Wednesday.

Here's some of the top performances Glanville and many of the scouts witnessed on Wednesday:

Roy Helu Jr/RB/Nebraska: Helu was Wednesday's most complete back, showing a tremendous burst as well as speed carrying the ball. His ability to elude defenders was better than expected. Helu also caught the ball well and looked terrific in pass-blocking drills. In a draft with very few feature runners, the Nebraska senior stated his case.

Pernell McPhee/DE/Mississippi State: McPhee comes off a somewhat disappointing senior season, but is back in the good graces of scouts with his performance. McPhee showed the pass-rushing skill which made him highly rated coming into the season and also was tough to move off the point on running downs.

Phil Taylor/DT/Baylor: Taylor first impressed scouts during weigh-ins when he tipped the scale at a solid 337 pounds. He then continued to leave a positive mark by playing to his size during the week. Wednesday started off with Taylor overrunning blockers to stop a running play in the backfield. He was later impossible to move off the line the rest of the afternoon.

Anthony Castonzo/T/Boston College: Castonzo looked terrific in all facets of the position -- his best practice of the week. He showcased his strength, knocking away bull-rushing defenders and not giving up an inch. Castonzo also displayed technique in pass protection, sliding off the edge then sealing defenders from the action.

DJ Williams/TE/Arkansas: Williams looked strong all week but pulled it all together on Wednesday. He displayed terrific athleticism and speed, beating defensive backs down the field for the reception. Williams also gave terrific effort blocking all day.

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