Posted 07 May 2011 - 06:24 AM
i did not find a more substantial senior bowl thread so i'll bump this one.
so i watched the senior bowl practices and the senior bowl again this week. i'd rather have been watching a minicamp with the new draftees and UDFA's but i guess i'll have to settle for watching stuff from the past for now. watching the practices and especially the game itself is a pleasant thing in hindsight, knowing the players that would eventually be drafted by the panthers. honestly, each of the panthers' drafted players had a good showing in this game. it was annoying that the large majority of the practice time shown on nfln's coverage was spent on the south team, because 3 of the 4 players drafted by carolina were on the north squad.
there are a few quirks with the senior bowl rules that effect how you look at players in the game. for instance, there are no blitzes and no line-stunts for the defense. so you're going to see one-on-one or double team matchups pretty much down the line. it looks like defensive players are on the field for an entire series at a time before rotating, whereas offensive linemen alternate quarters. i didn't pay attention to the quarterbacks' substitution patterns because who gives a poo.
terrell mcclain - looked really good in the monday's practice. he is definitely quick and can dominate one-on-one matchups with guards and tackles. stamina is definitely an issue with this guy. for some reason he did not play at all in the second half of the game. i don't know if he was dinged up, or if it was a matter of trying to get other guys some snaps, or if he was just gassed, but he was nowhere to be seen after halftime. however, in the first half, he was consistently getting pressure on the qb and forced at least two inside runs to the outside just because the guard (hello, 1st rd pick danny watkins) simply could not handle him one-on-one. when double-teamed mcclain was easily gobbled up and walked straight backwards, but it's hard to complain about a guy keeping two blockers busy, no matter how ugly it looks. get this guy in a pro strength and conditioning program and i think he can absolutely be a capable starter who can make the left or right guard sweat and maybe jiggle loose a little room on the edge for the ends and the occasional linebacker blitz. you can see the potential for an impact player on the downs that he is on the field.
lee ziemba - speaking of "no matter how ugly it looks," this guy is the king of the ugly but effective pass block. it's going to be hard to get a good photo of this guy for a football card, but at least in this game he got the job done. he lets the defensive end on multiple occasions get up under his arms and cause him to kind of do some odd jujitsu type moves to slow his momentum, but it works. he was isolated at least twice against terrell mcclain and managed to slow him up just enough for the quarterback to get rid of the ball. looking at him in his uniform, to put it nicely, he's "country strong" i.e. not exactly a well-defined physique. run-blocking he was a bit too eager to get to the second level with his blocks and allowed a tackle (i think the guy from notre dame) to split his double team and take down the quarterback for a loss. other times he was definitely effective in run blocking and sealed the crashing defensive end on the edge nicely.
lawrence wilson - this is a guy that, before watching senior bowl festivities, i was not very excited about. after watching the practices and the game, i can definitely see the appeal in this player. he was easily the best linebacker in pass defense during practice. he picked up the route and glued himself to his man (often a halfback) very well. i like the way his instincts are tied to his first step. in the game, on running downs, he proved to be a classic mike linebacker in that he was able to swim around traffic and be around the ball carrier at the time of tackle, if he wasn't making the tackle himself. he has kinda sneaky speed in that his ability to diagnose plays disguises maybe a lack of elite burst and that last gear that players like thomas davis have. he had this nice not-really-run-blitz late in the game that nearly resulted in a tackle for loss. however, he can get swallowed up stupid easy by guards and tackles running to the second level in run blocking. he's going to need to gain some strength in his entire body to be able to play more than 3rd downs on defense anytime soon. i get the feeling he's going to be a very useful special teams player in the meantime. veeeeery much like james anderson when he was first drafted by the panthers. not bad for a 5th rounder. watching him in action shifted my perception of him.
and the guy who i think was easily the most impressive panthers draftee in the senior bowl - sione fua. you want a nose-tackle? you got a nose-tackle. this player will definitely command double teams in the NFL for a long time. he doesn't look like a giant man but he definitely plays that way and simply will not allow one man to disrupt his center of gravity and leverage. even against double teams you can tell he is experienced and comfortable not allowing either of them to slide off his side and get to the next level. he was keeping guard/center combinations occupied for 4-5 seconds easily on both running and passing downs. i counted at least 3 times when the offensive play was an inside run and the play died right at his doorstep because he was standing in the same place that he was before the snap when the runner got there. he even broke through the pass blocking a time or two, but you're not going to see this guy getting more than a sack or two per season, even in his prime. against single blockers he got into the chest of his man consistently and walked him back into the pocket with ease. now i'm not saying this guy is some elite all-pro kris jenkins type player. but he's going to perform so sweetly for being the last pick of the 3rd round. (i know jenkins was a 2nd rounder) i think he's going to have the chance to start immediately, and i would say he's certainly got a better chance of starting right away than mcclain. he was lined up at the 0 gap and the 1 gap and disrupted from both spots. maybe the senior bowl was just a good week for him but you can definitely tell he is comfortable at the NT position and knows the basic moves to gain and maintain leverage and overall fug things up in the middle of the o-line. very happy with watching him in game action for the first time fully paying attention to him.
as for other players in the game, i didn't really care about the players drafted by other teams because really, what's the point at this juncture. i'm not a panthers scout so i'll just wait to watch them on sundays against the panthers. however, kendric burney, the corner from UNC, could be a useful player, especially for an undrafted player. i'm not sure he gives you much more than captain munnerlyn would give you, but he's going to hustle down the field on punts and kickoffs, he's not afraid to get in there and make tough tackles in the running game, and as long as he's not bolting down the field on a fly route, he's a tough pass defender who competes with more explosive athletes. i don't know why he didn't get drafted to be honest, because he was worth some sort of pick if you ask me. if the panthers pick him up when free agency starts up again, i'll take it as a sign that they see a lot of useful skills in him like i did.