Senior Bowl 2012: 5 Best Senior Bowl Participants No One Is Talking About
One of the main benefits of the Senior Bowl is the fact that it gives lesser-known prospects the opportunity to stand out. It also provides players who were stuck on a terrible team a chance to show their worth.
The media doesn't identify all the top players participating in the Senior Bowl. However, there are more than a handful players not discussed who really helped themselves this week.
Prospects are more worried about impressing talent evaluators and scouts than having their name mentioned on Twitter or SportsCenter.
Cam Johnson, Linebacker/Defensive End, Virginia
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Virginia's Cam Johnson is going to make his presence felt today on the field. He boasts the quickness and tenacity needed to consistently generate a pass rush. His ability to attack the edge will give the opposing offensive lineman trouble.
Like many undersized defensive ends, Johnson spent some time this week working at linebacker. Obviously, there's a bit of a learning curve when making a transition like this, but being able to get after the quarterback helps.
Keep an eye Johnson today, as I fully expect him to play most of the game in the opponents backfield. There's no reason to believe that he won't be able to register at least one sack in today's game.
Kendall Reyes, Defensive Line, Connecticut
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Connecticut's Kendall Reyes is one my favorite prospects in this entire draft. His versatility is one of the things that impressed me the most.
While at Connecticut, Reyes did whenever he was asked and filled many roles on this defense. He showed the ability to both play two-gap football and penetrate the pocket.
The fact that Reyes can fit multiple schemes will make him a very attractive prospect come April. Keep an eye on him today and watch how he both occupies blockers and works his way to the backfield. One of the first things you will notice is that he has a high motor and is always working towards the football. This is the type of player that will be make an immediate impact at the next level.
Isaiah Pead, Running Back, Cincinnati
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Today's NFL game doesn't boast a lot of teams that feature just one running back. This position has become more about specialty and situational players. Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead possesses the quickness and breakaway speed needed to fit a specific role.
He's the type of player who will be brought in to attack the edge of the defense in an attempt to hit a home run. However, Pead is more than just a speed back, as he showed to ability to run between the tackles. It's his quick first step and how he presses the hole that makes him a well-rounded running back.
Pead won't be selected in the first or second round, but he still will get an opportunity to make an impact at the next level.
Vick Ballard, Running Back, Mississippi State
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Mississippi State's Vick Ballard has a solid build and quick-twitch ability. At 5'10" and 217pounds, he possesses the bulk needed to carry the load the next level. Ballard's toughness, effort and strong leg drive allows him to pick up yards after contact.
During this past year, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. This is the type of production that stands out in the eyes of talent evaluators. Ballard's stock should only continue to rise, especially if he's able to post a strong 40 time.
He strikes me as the type of prospect who will be a mid-round selection but develop into an effective NFL running back.
Juron Criner, Wide Receiver, Arizona
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It's very difficult for prospect to suffer through a losing season and maintain a strong draft stock. Arizona's Juron Criner not only suffered through a terrible season, but he also had to deal with some injury issues. However, Criner might have been one of the few bright spots for the Arizona football team.
His production drop a little bit this year, but he still made plenty of explosive plays and proved to be a consistent target. At 6'2" and 220 pounds, he boasts the size needed to deal with the more physical defensive backs in the NFL. Criner doesn't have elite speed, but he runs clean crisp routes which allows him to gain separation.