Standing Out From the Crowd

Sedrick Ellis

Scout.com's NFL insider Adam Caplan takes a look at selected players whose play stood out from both sides of the ball.

NFL personnel men make their annual pilgrimage to Mobile, Alabama to see the nation's top senior prospects. What they hope to see is what they saw on film when they scouted these players during the season.

Would their film study agree with what they saw on the practice field this week? That's always a big issue for scouts.

We did our own scouting this week so lets take a look at who stood out on the practice field.


Offense

Note that an extensive report on the quarterbacks will be posted in another article.

Jacob Hester/FB-RB/LSU - Here's a fun player. Hester may not have great speed or a ton of athletic ability, but he has a good sense of the game. He understands where to line up and where to be. Hester made an outstanding one-handed catch in seven-on-seven drills during one practice earlier in the week. He'll be a solid utility player at the next level. 

Matt Forte/RB/Tulane - This player was one of the nice surprises of the week. Forte has good size and looked to be a cross between former NFL backs Rodney Hampton, Eddie George, and Dorsey Levens. Forte ran with great power and vision and was very patient on his runs. While he's still a bit of a high runner, Forte is the kind of downhill runner that teams will covet at the next level. There are few players who helped themselves this week more than Forte.

Justin Forsett/RB/California - Here's a smallish type of back that runs with great speed and lateral quickness. Forsett was almost impossible to tackle at the point of attack and ran to daylight quite easily. He projects to be an excellent change of pace back. In fact, he reminds me a little of Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook who competed in Senior Bowl week back in 2002. If he can find a coach who knows how to use him (much like Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid with Westbrook), Forsett has a chance to be a big surprise at the next level. Forsett could be devastating if used properly in space.

Chauncey Washington/RB/USC - The backs stood out this week and Washington was no exception. He ran with good power and surprisingly good quickness. And another surprising trait was that he showed a little shiftiness. Washington is yet another back that helped his draft stock this week.

Donnie Avery/WR/Houston - He was one of the three most impressive receivers on the field this week from both squads. Avery seemingly got open on every route and for the most part, didn't drop a pass that was catchable. His route running was very impressive as was his speed. In fact, he got to the second level pretty easily and defensive backs were trailing him for most of the week. Avery had the catch of the week on the first day of practices when he timed his jump perfectly on an out route and came down with two feet in bounds.

Andre Caldwell/WR/Florida - Caldwell was very smooth all week and got open repeatedly. He ran good routes and did well with running after the catch which could catch the eye of teams that run a West Coast offense. Caldwell runs better than his older brother, Reche.

Harry Douglas/WR/Louisville - While he has a thin frame, Douglas can flat out fly and was able to beat defenders down the field on several occasions. He probably projects to a special teams returner at the next level because of his slight build.

Jordy Nelson/WR/Kansas State - He was one of the most intriguing prospects this week. Nelson, while not a burner, ran better than his listed 40-time. He has a big frame and did a really good job of sealing off defenders--something which will be important at the next level since he's not fast.

Eddie Royal/WR/Virginia Tech - Like Donnie Avery, Royal was another receiver who really stood out. Royal caught just about every thing his way and he ran really good routes. He also had good timing with his quarterbacks during passes over the middle. That's usually an issue because these players, for the most part, have never worked with each other previously.

Lavelle Hawkins/WR/California - Hawkins was terrific for the most part and caught everything thrown to him. In fact, he caught several passes that were underthrown or were a little off the mark by adjusting his route. That's something that we've rarely seen in recent years here. Hawkins really helped his draft position.

Fred Davis/TE/USC - Davis was good as advertised. He's a true move tight end that will excel in a West Coast offense because he can really move well up field. He'll do quite well at the next level against cover-2 defenses where he'll get matched up on a middle linebacker who can't move as well as he can.

Kellen Davis/TE/Michigan State - Much like Marcedes Lewis in last year's Senior Bowl week, Davis proved to be a huge target for quarterbacks. But the difference is that Davis moves a lot better. And what also stood out is he's a willing blocker and has the size and skills to get on the field early in his career at the next level.

Chris Williams/OT/Vanderbilt - There were few offensive linemen who really stood out but Williams really did. What's interesting is they lined him up at RT and LT during the week and he didn't lose a thing. He's a mammoth sized tackle who has really good feet and is quite strong. There seemed to be no offensive lineman who helped himself more than Williams.

Heath Benedict/OL/Newberry College - Small school linemen usually struggle in Mobile but not this guy. In fact, one scout said he planned to go back to the office and watch his tape as soon as possible. He had a nasty streak in one-on-one drills which scouts love. He's probably better off inside at guard than outside at tackle. He's now on the radar of several teams after a string of solid practice performances.


Defense

Sedrick Ellis/DT/USC - He had to be the most dominant defensive player of the week by far. No one offensive lineman could handle him. Ellis has an incredible first step and quickness. He also is very strong. His low-to-the-ground build helps him get good leverage. Offensive linemen couldn't get their hands inside his chest at all which helped Ellis get to the quarterback.

Andre Fluellen/DT/Florida State - He moves even better off the snap than his former teammate, Brodrick Bunkley. Fluellen has a great first step and got good leverage at the point of attack for most of the week.

Jeremy Thompson/DE/Wake Forrest - The end position didn't see a lot of outstanding play during the week but Thompson's play stood out. He was quick off the snap for guy his size and he did a decent job against the run.

Dan Connor/LB/Penn State - Connor did a good job of getting through the trash all week and to the running backs. Connor rarely got caught out of position. While he's not a solid in coverage, he also moves much better than his former teammate, Paul Posluszny, who competed during Senior Bowl week last year.

Shawn Crable/LB/Michigan - He was one of the most physically impressive defenders that took the field this week. Crable really moved well for a guy his size--much like Kamerion Wimbley two years ago. While he tended to lose his place at times in coverage, his pursuit skills were noticeable.

Ben Moffitt/LB/South Florida - He really can run and that was evident all week. While he can tend to get out of place in coverage from time to time, he also could keep up with the tight ends or backs who were coming out of the backfield on pass routes.

Patrick Lee/CB/Auburn - He might have been the best defensive back all week. Lee was like glue stick--no one could get more than a few inches away from him. He looked to be an excellent cover defender who also could run with the receivers while not losing a step. He really helped his cause in Mobile.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/DB/Tennessee State - Small school defensive backs for the most part will tend to struggle in practices. But Rodgers-Cromartie seemed to gain confidence with every snap he got on the field. For a big defensive back, he did well with his back peddle and he moved his hips well. That's usually an issue for taller cornerbacks. Rodgers-Cromartie got lined up some at safety and cornerback so it will be interesting to see where he lines up at the next level.

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