The Senior Bowl is the first of many post-season player evaluations to come up. It gives draft scouts more accurate measurements of the players' dimensions, it shows what they look like under NFL coaches, it evens the playing field, and allows players to directly compete with other top prospects in the same field.
It's a pretty important event for senior's wanting to go to the next level. This year is no exception.
Already, several players have separated themselves from the pack (not all of them in a good way). Here are five players who've helped their cause along with five more who've hurt themselves.
I'm sure by the end of the Senior Bowl, Casey Hayward will firmly be in the "winners" category, But since I didn't see any of him today, I can't really put him there just yet.
However, it is worth mentioning that Hayward was measured at what his listed height was (5'11" even). Since tall corners are the in-thing right now, even a ball-hawk like Hayward would have his draft stock go down if he was shorter than advertised. Luckily, he isn't.
I've been watching Hayward all season, and he's a fantastic athlete with great instincts and a nose for the ball. I'm hoping the Titans keep him in Nashville if they don't re-sign Cortland Finnegan.
Mike Adams was already a winner when his measurements were announced. He had 11-inch hands, a reach of 33-3/4 inches, was recorded as 6'7" tall and weighed 323 lbs. Those are darn good measurements for a left tackle.
However, he also had a very good first day of practice.
His technique was good, his feet were quick and his only flaw seemed to be that he lacked a little power. That shouldn't be much of a problem on an NFL workout routine.
I see Adams as this year's Tyron Smith. He was ranked, pretty consistently on draft boards, as the fourth best tackle in this year's class. With Matt Kalil up there, I don't see him getting any higher than the third spot.
But if nothing else, he closed the gap between himself and the other three top tackle prospects.
People are talking like he'll go in the top 15 now.
Kelechi Osemele had great measurements when he came in. He measured out at 6'5-3/8" and 333 pounds. with hands that were 10-3/8" across.
Despite this, he looked bad in practice playing out of position.
Osemele may have played tackle at Iowa State, but everyone has him as a guard prospect—and he showed why in practices. Unlike Adams, Osemele was all power and no technique.
He had moments where he ran through defenders. But he looked bad overall and that has hurt his stock a little. He could recover it if they move him where he ought to be playing, guard, and looks good.
I've been high on Vinny Curry for a while now, and it was nice to get some validation as Curry was excellent in the first day of practice.
He was matched up with Mike Adams (remember, the tackle that's really, really good) twice and the two had a win each. Curry also landed a sack on Russell Wilson later on (which is hard to do).
Curry had a phenomenal season, but that was against low-level competition. Now that he's facing better opponents, he doesn't seem to be slowed down that much.
He also had a great weigh-in, measuring 6'3" and 265 pounds. He's definitely big enough to play a 4-3 defensive end if teams want him to.
With Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram coming in a little short (more on that later), Curry's draft stock will soar if he keeps up the good work.
No, height isn't everything, but Marquis Maze's height is going to be a big problem.
Maze measured in at a tiny 5' 7-3/4" tall and 184 pounds. That's shorter than I am, and I am not a pro football prospect.
Maze had a great year with Alabama, but he's really going to have to do something special to overcome that kind of measurement. His future in he NFL could be exclusively as a kick returner.
During the coverage of the Senior Bowl practices, Mike Mayock compared Russell Wilson to Doug Flutie and called him "special." Sounds like one hell of a compliment to me.
Now, I'll get this out of the way now: Russell Wilson is too short to play quarterback at the professional level. He measured at 5'10 and 5/8" tall, which is really, really short.
That said, he's so talented and physically gifted that he's going to go way higher in the draft than anyone else that height could.
Wilson's throws were on point and quick. So far (and this is a small sample size), he's looked like the best quarterback out there.
He also had better measurements than I thought he would. His hands were 10' across, bigger than anyone except Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley. The same went for his arm, which measured 31 and 3/4" long (again, only Foles and Lindley beat him), and he weighed a healthy 203 lbs.
I feel for Wilson. If he were just a couple of inches taller, he'd be looking at the first round.
These two are together because the analysis is pretty much identical. Both Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw have been mocked pretty consistently in the middle of the first round, but they came up a little short today (literally).
It isn't a huge deal, but both players were measured under 6'2" tall. Ingram faired slightly better than Upshaw, coming up to 6'1 and 7/8" where Upshaw was only 6' 1-1/2" tall.
Both players have great tape and have been excellent all-around players for their respective teams this season, but that's a bit shorter than most teams want their defensive ends to be.
Like I said, it isn't a huge deal, but it will make scouts hold a magnifying glass to everything else about their games as well. If they find any other slight flaws, it could really hurt them.
Nick Foles is a winner right now for two reasons: one, he had a great weigh in (6'5" and 244 pounds); two, Ryan Tannehill isn't there.
Let me explain both of these. In a thin quarterback class, the guys in the second tier of signal callers (i.e. Tannehill, Foles, Russell Wilson) are all in a competition with one another to separate themselves from the pack. Wilson, as I pointed out earlier, is super-talented, but small.
Foles is just the right size to play the position. Not only is he tall with a big arm, he's also got plenty of size on him to take big hits and to pick up short yardage with quarterback sneaks and rushes. Scouts love prototypical size.
The second reason goes with the first. At the end of the regular season, Ryan Tannehill was the third ranked quarterback prospect on most people's boards and Foles was fourth. With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III already sure-fire top five selections and Tannehill sidelined with an injury, all eyes are on Foles.
If he takes advantage of this opportunity, he could sneak past Tannehill into the first round.
Billy Winn just had a bad day.
First of all, his weigh-in was far from great. He weighed in at a pretty good 296 pounds but apparently looked flabby at that weight. If he hits the weight room, he'll probably dip pretty well below 290 pounds, which is a little light for a 3-4 defensive end.
On the field, he looked very different from the Winn who had his way with Cordy Glenn in the season opener. Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman beat him both times they were matched up.
Winn will have to step up his on the field performance if he doesn't want his stock to take a nosedive.
Kellen Moore's size has been an issue. Everyone knows it. He was listed at 6' even in college, but everyone knew that they were probably giving him an inch or so. After all, Drew Brees was listed as 6'1" in college, but is only 6' even in reality. Lying about size is normal in college.
Well, Kellen Moore really surprised me by showing up at 5'11 3/4" tall.
Is he shorter than six feet? Yes. Is he a lot shorter than six feet? No.
If Moore does well at practice this week, bulks up a bit before the combine and is measured at the same height there, then he may boost himself up into Day 2 of the draft. That's a lot of ifs though, then there's also....
Yeah, he's taller than I thought, but guess what else? He was the lightest quarterback at the Senior Bowl (191 pounds), he was the second shortest (5' 11-3/4"), he had the smallest hands (9-3/8") and the shortest arms (29-7/8" reach).
So yeah, that's how he measures up as a physical specimen. There was also the fact that his passes were floating way too much, showing he hasn't really improved on his arm strength—an area where he needed improving.
So yeah, it was a bittersweet day for Moore. His height doesn't hurt him as much as everyone thought it would, but everything else wrong with him does.