Sooner tackle Lane Johnson
The 2013 Senior Bowl is in the books and some Big 12 players made some big impacts. So who impressed the scouts the most?
While UCLA's Datone Jones is the pass rusher who has created the most buzz, Okafor isn't too far behind, getting the best of Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher on several occasions this week. Okafor lacks quick-twitch burst and isn't a speed rusher, but he understands how to use his hands and limbs to grip and rip past blockers. On Wednesday, he got into the body of Fisher, who is arguably the best prospect in Mobile, several times and drove him backward, using his natural strength and hand placement to jolt the left tackle.
Texas' defense was underwhelming last season, but that wasn't due to the defensive line play—it was more the linebackers and defensive backs who were out of position and displaying poor tackling techniques. Okafor was a star at Texas and his Senior Bowl productivity during practices and the actual game put an exclamation mark on his resume.
Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson also had a very good week. Much praise had been given to tackle Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), but Johnson also impressed Brugler, who has Johnson as a first rounder:
There is no question Eric Fisher has been spectacular thus far, but Johnson has also been impressive and isn't far behind Fisher in the tackle rankings. Lining up at both left and right tackle, he has looked very natural in his kick-slide off the snap with a very wide base to cover a lot of ground, not lumbering or struggling to adjust to edge rushers. Johnson has only two years of experience on the offensive line and it shows at times, but his combination of length (35-inch arms), hand strength and movement skills should guarantee him a spot in the top 20 picks, possibly in the top 15.
Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin managed to have a great week, despite all the fantastic receivers playing in the Senior Bowl. Brugler hints that Goodwin could be a sleeper in the draft:
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An Olympic athlete will always be an intriguing NFL prospect, but Goodwin's senior season on the football field was average at best. However, through three days of practice at the Senior Bowl, Goodwin has looked much more natural and polished in his routes and catching the ball. His world-class speed translates well to the football field and he looks much more flexible in his patterns and breaks, catching just about everything thrown his way. A prospect who looks much different from the tape, Goodwin is forcing scouts to go back and study more on the former Longhorn, but it wouldn't be surprising if Goodwin vaults into the early rounds, similar to Buffalo Bills wide receiver T.J. Graham a year ago.
Though the Sooners' spread offense isn't run at a tempo as fast as the version in Oregon, Jones still operated primarily without a huddle in college. Scott Linehan, the Lions' offense coordinator, has been impressed with Jones' ability to handle no-huddle situations and his accuracy through the first three days of practice in Mobile, Ala.
Kansas State's Chris Harper is in an outstanding class of NFL receiver prospects, but he still managed to turn at least one head at a Wednesday practice leading up to the Senior Bowl. From National Football Post:
Harper was outstanding today, as he is clearly a polished, big-bodied receiver that has reminded us of Anquan Boldin. Today he did an excellent job of using his hands to combat aggressive CBs and create separation on his breaks. He also displayed outstanding hands and a large catch radius. He consistently showed the ability to adjust to off target throws during today's practice.
All of these accolades and constructive comments are a result of just one practice week and one game, so no need to panic (or pop the champagne cork) just yet—improvement can be made at the players' respective schools' Pro Days as well as the combines.
But with the last of college football competition officially over—we're not counting national signing day on February 6, although many view that as competitive sport—the seven-month slumber for college football fans may now begin.