Senior Bowl 2011: 11 Players Who Must Shine on Gameday After Bad Practice Weeks

April WeinerCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2011

Senior Bowl 2011: 11 Players Who Must Shine on Gameday After Bad Practice Weeks

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    The Senior Bowl offers pending NFL Draft prospects a final opportunity to impress scouts before the NFL Scouting Combine. These prospects hope to increase their draft stock.

    Unfortunately, this technique can sometimes backfire—and actually decrease interest in them—because of how they perform during the week-long event.

    Here’s a list of this year’s players who need to step up their game in the Senior Bowl to make up for poor performances during practice week.

11. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado

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    Brown’s invitation to the Senior Bowl handed him the opportunity to step out of the shadows of his Colorado teammates and shine. He still needs to impress though.

    Some scouts reported that, at times, he seemed disoriented with the drills and was too aggressive at other times. Brown needs to step it up in the game if he wants to accomplish what he went to Mobile to accomplish.

10. Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

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    Being a quarterback is difficult sometimes. College quarterbacks can't make many mistakes if they want to be picked high in the draft.

    In that sense, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi has not performed well this week in practice. He hasn't done anything to get more attention than his quarterback rivals this week. The other QB's have been stealing the show and leaving Stanzi in the dust. Stanzi has been slow, insecure and inaccurate at times this week.

    He will be eaten alive by NFL defenses if he doesn’t get better. The scouts know this and are looking for vast improvement from Stanzi in the Senior Bowl.

9. Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

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    Curtis Brown did alright in some aspects, but the negatives from this week will be ingrained in scouts' minds going into the game. 

    Brown struggled with agility and lacked good footwork. This is a disappointment because there were high expectations for him this week.

    Other concerns about Brown were that he didn't make big plays, usually because he made a mistake. He moved too quickly and aggressively sometimes, thus was out of position often. And he allowed receivers to get behind him, a big concern for scouts.

8. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami

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    The biggest impediment for Van Dyke is his size: he's small for a cornerback. This proves costly for him in man-to-man coverage. During the practice week, receivers moved right through him.

    To make up for his size, Van Dyke needs to be able to make big plays. He needs to show that during the game, because in practice he couldn’t make the big interceptions.

7. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

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    Not only is Matthews competing against other collegiate players in this Senior Bowl, he's also competing with family legacy. His older brother Clay will be representing the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl in a couple weeks, so the pressure is on the younger Matthews to perform.

    During practice week, he had his ups and downs. Matthews reads the quarterback very well, but struggles in man-to-man coverage: he can’t handle tight ends very well, running backs gave him trouble and even the smaller receivers went through him at times. He also struggled against the pass rush.

    He will need to do much better in the game.

6. Lee Ziemba, LT, Auburn

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    Ziemba is a massive player, which can impede his athletic skills. So far, he has not impressed at the Senior Bowl practice as much as expected.

    He has been slow and has played too stiffly. He didn’t keep moving, instead stopping short. Also, he hasn’t blocked well at times.

    He was good at tackling though, so he needs to show this in the Senior Bowl.

5. Courtney Smith, WR, South Alabama

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    Smith was chosen as his school's first representation in Senior Bowl history. Maybe the pressure to perform well has caught up to him.

    He dropped too many passes. This was his main problem in practice. Bottom line: If he doesn't perform better in the game, this will be an indication to scouts that he won’t be a great receiver in the NFL.

    Smith needs to work on his speed as well, to increase his stock.

4. DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas

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    Love had a great ’09 season then a disappointing ’10. He is not pleading his case very well based on his practice week play.

    He struggled with balance and was switched from tackle to guard during the week. The coaches don’t believe that Love is capable of playing tackle at the professional level. 

    This is bad news for Love because guards aren't as in demand as tackles are. He better put up a good performance in the Senior Bowl.

3. Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma

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    Beal began the week on a low note—weighing in too high. Beal then made some poor choices in line drills, one instance in particular happened against Colorado OT Nate Solder.

    The biggest problem is that Beal is no match versus bigger blockers. Beal needs to impress during the Senior Bowl, especially if he wants to remain a DE in the pros.

2. Andy Dalton, QB, Texas Christian University

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    Like other QB's at the Senior Bowl, Dalton has failed to outshine the competition.

    He has been inconsistent. He needs to impress at the Senior Bowl if he wants to remain in consideration. He needs to work on his timing as he threw erratically at times.

    Many are still impressed by him—after all, he played well during the season—but he needs to perform well in the Senior Bowl to solidify his status.

1. Jake Locker, QB, Washington

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    Being a great athlete is enough in college, but players need to be able to take it to the next level in the NFL.

    Locker threw high and was intercepted often throughout the week. He fumbled as well. The offensive coordinator had to talk to him about this, which is not a great sign for Locker.

    He's been stunningly inconsistent. One minute, he will make an amazing play, then turn around and throw a dumb interception.

    He needs to work on timing and accuracy as well. Inconsistency will likely be his biggest issue—timing and accuracy can be corrected through coaching.

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