The following eight players caught our eye at this year’s Senior Bowl this past Saturday.
Ezekial Ansah, BYU DE (6-5, 270). The Ghanaian Go-getter stood out in the Senior Bowl with a persistent pass rush (1.5 sacks, forced fumble) and an eye-bulging ability to chase down runners. Kept the broadcasters focused on him throughout the game with several individual plays (seven overall tackles). Has only played football since 2010, so scouts slobber over his potential.
Kawann Short, Purdue DL (6-3, 315). Short by name, huge on talent, this Boilermaker provided consistent pressure up the middle and seemed unblockable at times, earning the North’s Most Outstanding Player honors. Can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment and would instantly provide a stout presence in the middle – where the Patriots lacked depth this season. Had 14.5 tackles for loss this past year.
Desmond Trufant, Washington DB (6-0, 186). This consensus first-rounder seems ready to step up to the next level, showing strength and quickness while also displaying a strong field sense. Began the Senior Bowl with one of its most impressive plays, chasing down speedster Robert Alford on the opening kickoff to save a TD.
Larry Warford, Kentucky OL (6-3, 333). Warford made the highlight reel several times, most notably on a pancake block during the South’s ultimate touchdown drive. A mauler who could add strength and depth to the Patriots’ interior offensive line.
Brian Schwenke, California OL (6-4, 300). Playing for the South (go figure), Schwenke demonstrated the type of versatility Coach Bill Belichick covets by playing left guard on one TD drive and then center on another. He showed quick feet and solid leverage on several plays.
Conner Vernon, Duke WR (6-1, 200). Whatever Vernon lacks in straight line speed, he makes up in route precision. The Blue Devil caught four passes for 36 yards in the Senior Bowl and looked like one of the afternoon’s most consistent receivers. That makes sense, as he set the ACC record for career receptions. Also stood out as a perimeter blocker.
Marquise Goodwin, Texas WR (5-9, 180). Goodwin failed to produce big numbers at Texas (26 catches, 340 yards). But, playing for the North (again, go figure) his five receptions for 44 yards led all receivers. Throw in 30 yards on two punt returns, and you can color us intrigued. A world-class athlete who made it to the London Olympics for the long jump, Goodwin has the speed and quickness to extend short passes into long gains.
E. J. Manuel, Florida State QB (6-4, 240). The best, most consistent QB at the Senior Bowl, it was no coincidence the South’s three TDs happened with him under center. Manuel earned South team Most Outstanding Player honors, completing seven of 10 passes and one TD while running for another. While New England may want to avoid drafting a quarterback too high, Manuel has the athleticism and poise to instill any team with confidence in the backup position.
Any players you saw on Saturday that caught your interest, please let us know in the comment section below.
You can email Chris Warner notes of praise and/or haikus at firstname.lastname@example.org