The Senior Bowl is an elite proving ground where reputations are built, and occasionally ruined.
Although the NFL scouting combine, private workouts and Pro Day campus workouts will all loom large in the draft evaluation process, the practice sessions this week in Mobile, Ala., can leave lasting impressions with decision-makers around the league.
Here’s a look at which draft prospects’ stock got a boost and who fell
heading into Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peeples Stadium:
ON THE RISE
Imposing, talented North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples aced the
Coples blends ideal size, speed and strength at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds,
drawing several comparisons to Julius Peppers.
He made up some ground toward altering the perception that he would
take plays or even entire games off to protect himself against injury.
Coples had a stellar junior season, but his production dipped as a
senior because he shifted to the right side and got double and
Coples dominated blockers during drills, locking out tackles,
disengaging with his upper body strength and lightning quick first step
and accelerating to the football.
Look for him to go in the top seven to nine selections of the first
round in April, perhaps even to the Carolina Panthers.
Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw is extremely explosive and
difficult to block.
He displays the speed and toughness that NFL teams covet from pass
Upshaw recorded 17 ½ career sacks, 36 ½ tackles for losses and six
forced fumbles, earning All-American and All-Southeastern Conference
Another pass rusher who had a strong week is South Carolina standout
Melvin Ingram, a consensus All-American.
Ingram recorded 10 sacks and 15 tackles for losses as a senior. He also
scored a touchdown on a fake punt against Georgia.
Ingram is powerful, but short.
NFL teams are still trying to determine where Ingram fits best in the
NFL, whether that’s defensive end, outside linebacker or as a
gap-shooting defensive tackle.
He shapes up as a force on the next level.
Florida wide receiver/running back Chris Rainey has blinding speed and
has the versatility and ball skills in the open field that NFL teams
are looking for. He’s a natural athlete who plays with a lot of
Northern Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins had a solid week on the
field and has done a good job of being candid with NFL personnel about
his off-the-field issues that ended his career with the Gators program.
Jenkins knows how to control his body to get in position to make plays.
Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner had his moments. He’s capable of
dominating and showed the ability to separate and make
It was a positive week for Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver LaDarius
Green, Iowa’s Marvin McNutt and Arkansas’ Joe Adams.
McNutt had some dropped passes early in the week, but shook it off to
have a good Senior Bowl.
North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown has running back speed and was
very productive last season.
However, he needs to add more bulk without sacrificing speed.
Brown had 105 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, three interceptions and three forced
fumbles last season.
In general, Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams had a strong week.
He’s looking like a strong projection for the second half of the first
He had trouble dealing with Marshall defensive lineman Vinny Curry’s
Nevada linebacker James Michael Johnson showed leadership skills and
toughness playing Mike linebacker.
North Carolina State linebacker Audie Cole is another tough guy. He’s
got a nice pedigree as a former high school quarterback and Gold Gloves
Receivers don’t come much bigger than Arizona State standout Gerell
Robinson. He’s a good, not great athlete, but gets in and out of breaks
well for a large wideout.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson helped himself this week with his
outstanding mobility, escaping from pass rushers.
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden’s arm strength and accuracy
were big pluses all week. Not to mention his maturity as an older
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins has a gun and can fit the
football into tight windows.
Boise State running back Doug Martin has an NFL physique and projects
well as a potential all-purpose back and kick returner. Keep an eye on
him in the third round or second round.
Virginia’s Cam Johnson is an intriguing 4-3 or 3-4 possibility as a
hybrid defensive end-outside linebacker.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore is severely undersized, perhaps so
much so that it will prevent him from being drafted until the later
He was unimpressive physically, but throws an accurate ball. He’s a
West Coast Offense candidate and likely only as a third-stringer or an
Nick Foles was inaccurate, too.
Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn is massive at 6-5, 346 pounds,
but needs to improve his footwork and quickness to be an effective pass
blocker on the next level.
Glenn battles, though, and could be a nice draft target.
Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders got shoved around and was
flailing as he tried to combat pass rushers.
He may project better inside as an offensive guard.
North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones has a lot of tools: size,
speed and leaping ability.
He needs to gain polish in his pass patterns, though.
Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard didn’t live up to expectations.
Some analysts even said he might need to play safety if he can’t loosen
up his hips.
It wasn’t a particularly strong week of drills for Miami linebacker
Sean Spencer as he had his issues in coverage against running backs.
Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller had a rough week, dropping
five consecutive accurate throws during one stretch.
And Washington running back Chris Polk has a long history of durability
issues and could stand for some more time in the weight room.
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for profootball.scout.com
Follow him on Twitter: @RavensInsider