CARSON, Calif. – With NFL scouts and executives barred from attending practices this week, the in-game action of the inaugural NFLPA Bowl took on added importance. Not surprisingly, those players who excelled throughout the week also delivered the top performances, with two notable exceptions.
Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne was ranked in the middle of a mediocre pack of signal-callers during the week but stood head and shoulders above the rest on game day. Kinne completed six of nine passes for 79 yards and showed good instincts and mobility on a 20-yard touchdown scramble, showing he is at his best when the lights come on.
The other standout was UCLA defensive tackle Justin Edison, who had two tackles for loss with one sack, as the National defensive line controlled the flow of the game.
Edison simply bowled over the American offensive line with sheer power, working both inside and outside in a game where the defense could not blitz or stunt.
“The defensive lineman was a dominating factor in there today,” National coach Dick Vermeil said. “And he has fun, he likes to play.”
As for the best of the rest:
Syracuse RB Antwon Bailey
Bailey continued to show good burst and creativity, especially cutting back on his eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He finished with 50 yards on 12 carries, caught three passes for 11 yards, and also contributed on special teams.
While his height might have scared some teams away in years past, Bailey could benefit from the record setting all-purpose yardage amassed by another diminutive back in Darren Sproles of the New Orleans Saints.
As a third-down back, Bailey could deliver significant returns in the right situation, a sentiment echoed by Vermeil.
“There’s a place for him (in the NFL),” he said.
Oregon WR Lavasier Tuinei
Tuinei was hampered by poor quarterback play and limited opportunities, but did catch two passes for 34 yards. When lined up in the slot, Tuinei took a slant and broke a tackle for a touchdown, the kind of mismatch that Kevin Walter of the Houston Texans has been able to build into a steady NFL gig.
Size alone – listed at 6-foot-5, 216 pounds this past season – will get Tuinei a look at the next level. He demonstrated at Oregon he can block effectively in the running game, but must be more consistent catching the ball. If he can, as he did this week, Tuinei might find his way onto a roster.
Georgia Southern CB Laron Scott
Demonstrating dominant form during the week, Scott didn’t much have to do in the game. With American quarterbacks completing 18 of 39 passes and the defensive line putting them under constant pressure, Scott finished with four tackles but was never seriously challenged, playing with good leverage and understanding of route concepts.
Scott is another case where size concerns could override production in draft war rooms, but he has the added advantage of his game tape against Alabama, where he contained wide receiver Marquis Maze.