Senior Bowl 2013: Biggest Risers from Saturday's All-Star Game

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2013

Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl.
Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl can be a prospect's last chance to put some good things on tape for NFL scouts and teams, and Saturday's All-Star game featured plenty of standout performances. 

Scouts and personnel men filled the stands in Mobile, Ala., to watch some of the best seniors in the country square off. 

Luckily for them, a number of players showed up Saturday, including one of the most physically gifted defensive linemen in the draft. 

Let's take a look at the biggest risers from the 2013 Senior Bowl. 


Ezekial Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

At 6'5", 274 pounds with nearly 35" arms, BYU defensive end Ezekial Ansah draws comparisons to New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul for his freakish abilities. Despite their similarities, Ansah is an even rawer prospect than Pierre-Paul was back in 2010, and for good reason. 

A former track star, Ansah strapped on the pads just three years ago, so his instincts and technique are severely lacking. However, the Ghana native flashes on tape with a strong bull rush and the closing speed that defensive line coaches covet. 

Unfortunately for the former BYU Cougar, an inconsistent week of practice left scouts wondering where all the hype was coming from. 

Then came Saturday. 

Ansah exploded for seven tackles (3.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks, including a strip-sack of Syracuse's Ryan Nassib. The projected first-round pick earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the South squad (via AP on Sports Illustrated). 

A performance like Saturday's should have NFL coaches licking their chops for the chance to turn Ansah into the next JPP. 


Kawann Short, DT, Purdue 

Regarded as one of the premier interior pass-rushers in the nation, Purdue's Kawann Short racked up 19.5 sacks in four years with the Boilermakers. 

Despite his ability to make plays in the backfield (49 career tackles for loss), the 6'3", 308-pounder still has some holes in his resume. According to Bucky Brooks of, Short's energy and effort levels can overshadow his otherwise dominant play. 

For a defensive lineman, that's not a good sign. 

But at the Senior Bowl, Short showed just why he's considered a possible first-round pick. Utilizing his rare lateral quickness, Short lived in the South's backfield, racking up three tackles (one for loss). 

His strong showing earned him Most Outstanding Player honors for the North and proved why he's a perfect fit for the 3-technique spot at the next level. 


E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

While most of the quarterbacks struggled, Florida State's E.J. Manuel rose to the challenge at the Senior Bowl. 

The 6'5", 240-pound signal-caller led the South on two consecutive touchdown drives to start the game in a 21-16 victory. Showing off his big arm and fast feet, Manuel found the end zone on a two-yard run before throwing a beautiful 20-yard strike to former Alabama tight end Michael Williams later in the first quarter.

With his team down late in the fourth, the former Seminoles star led the South on a game-clinching touchdown drive. Although he never led FSU to a national title, Manuel's standout Senior Bowl performance encapsulated a very solid career in which he went 4-0 in Bowl games and 3-1 against in-state rivals Florida and Miami. 

Manuel has prototypical size for the position, but has to polish up his accuracy and decision-making skills if he hopes to become a big-time NFL quarterback. Saturday's performance was certainly one step in that direction and could vault him into the second round of the draft.


Other Players on the Rise: 

Vince Williams, LB, FSU

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon 

Michael Williams, TE, Alabama