Senior Bowl 2013: Highlighting the Most Dynamic Pro Prospects
The season after the season is already underway. Scouts from across the National Football League have gathered in Mobile, Alabama to watch some of college football's top players be put through the paces at the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Granted, some of the top prospects in this year's draft chose to skip the festivities in Mobile, but that doesn't mean there isn't still a wealth of talent on display.
That includes the following players, each of whom represents the best of what this year's crop at the Senior Bowl has to offer to the NFL.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of BYU didn't even start until his senior year for the Cougars, but the huge impact that Ansah had in that one season in Provo has carried over to Mobile.
The 6'5", 270-pound Ansah, who tallied 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2012, has drawn numerous comparisons to New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul, and Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller has Ansah rated as the top overall player at this year's Senior Bowl.
Miller isn't alone in his praise of Ansah, as Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com also had some very good things to say about Ansah according to John Glennon of The Nashville Tennessean.
“He’s raw like sushi,” said Rob Rang, the senior draft analyst at NFLDraftScout.com. “He’s a long, lean athlete with good speed, and he uses his hands so much better than one might expect for a player that inexperienced. As far as players who could absolutely skyrocket based on what happens this one week, Ziggy might be the most intriguing prospect at the entire Senior Bowl.”
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
There may not be a player with more to prove at the 2013 Senior Bowl than Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Many draft pundits expected Wilson to go pro after a stellar junior season, but Wilson returned to Fayetteville for his senior year.
In retrospect that may have been a mistake, as injuries, coaching changes and a dearth of talent around him caused Wilson's production (and draft stock) to drop noticeably.
However, at just over 6'2" Wilson has both the prototypical size and arm strength that may scouts look for in a signal caller, and according to Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting Wilson is impressed scouts off the field in Mobile as much as he has on it.
Tyler Wilson was awesome. Looks the part of a Senator. Great understanding/detail of career/ability. Best interview for most here #Arkansas
— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 22, 2013
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
He may have played at a relatively small school, but Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher is making a big impression at the Senior Bowl.
The 6'7" 305-pounder earned third-team All American honors for the Chippewas in 2012, and among all the stars in Alabama it's Fisher who may have done the most to boost his draft stock this week.
At least that's the impression that Scouts Inc. gave to ESPN's Kevin Seifert.
"Fisher also had a good day [Tuesday]. He's put together well, with 34-inch arms and a long frame that allows him to carry his weight well. His balance was impressive, and the matchups against [Alex] Okafor and [Datone] Jones were the only times he lost his balance.
"He's a smooth mover, but he played with a little chip on his shoulder, especially against Jones. You sometimes worry that guys who move so well rely too much on finesse, but that wasn't the case for Fisher today."
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
If it's possible to steal the show at a weigh-in then that's exactly what SMU defensive end Margus Hunt did in Mobile.
The former track star, who didn't even play football until arriving at SMU, wowed scouts with his 6'8" 277-pound frame, and while Hunt has had an up-and-down week of practice there's no denying that the raw talent is there.
Some pundits have compared Hunt to J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, and while that's an awfully lofty comparison, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com believes Watt's position is where Hunt is best suited in the NFL.
Thoughts from @seniorbowl North practice:1.Margus Hunt is intriguing prospect. Very advanced w/hand usage. Flashes power. Ideal 3-4 5-tech.
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 22, 2013
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The decisions by offensive tackles Taylor Lewan of Michigan and Jake Matthews of Texas A&M to return to school in 2013 robbed the NFL draft of some of its' talent at the position, but it also opened the door for other prospects at the position to improve their stock with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.
Lane Johnson of Oklahoma is taking advantage of the opportunity.
The 6'6", 302-pound Johnson, who was named a second-team All Big-12 selection in 2012, has enjoyed a solid week of practices so far in Alabama, drawing the praise of attendees such as Grant Paulsen of 106.7 FM in Washington D.C.
Watching 1-on-1 drills at #SeniorBowl practice. Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson (6-6, 302) is dominating. Began college as TE. Very athletic.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) January 23, 2013
Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks, who won the Thorpe Award as college football's top defensive back in 2012, chose not to attend the Senior Bowl this year, which shifted the focus at one of the NFL's premium positions to those players are actually are there.
Among those players is 6'0" cornerback Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, who is viewed by many as one of the better zone coverage corners in this year's class.
Poyer, who had 46 tackles and seven interceptions for the Beavers in 2012 on his way to being named a first-team All-American, is the type of player for whom a strong performance in Mobile can mean big things on draft day.
According to USA Today's Mike Loyko, at least one NFL scout believes Poyer is more than capable of putting up that big showing.
An established NFL Scout told me today the best corner he saw in the PAC-12 all year was Jordan Poyer.. said he was used in so many coverage
— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) January 22, 2013