Senior Bowl: Three Questions Answered
By Bill Lund
The 2014 Senior Bowl has wrapped up, and prospects are moving up and down draft boards across the NFL landscape. The three questions posed on this year’s Senior Bowl have been answered -- at least for one game. Of course, more evaluation and questions remain as we continue down the path to the 2014 draft.
1. Which quarterback will increase his draft stock the most?
Derek Carr of Fresno State had a solid day and solidified his stock in the eyes of many NFL organizations with his good decision-making. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's Senior Bowl.
In my opinion, David Fales, who battled illness and an average performance during the week, made the biggest impression on gameday. Fales went 6-7 for 104 yards and touchdown along with an interception. What was most impressive was that Fales was more adept at pushing the ball downfield, completing passes of 23, 24 and 33 yards respectively.His arm strength is a question, but his moxie and decision-making and ability to complete intermediate throws will certainly give something for scouts and GMs to consider the next couple months.
As for all of the North squad's quarterbacks -- Stephen Morris, Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas -- they all had lackluster showings, more than likely dropping them down some draft boards. Thomas teased scouts all week with his size and arm strength, impressing everyone in the stands in drills; unfortunately, when the bullets were flying, he froze, and was sacked five times during his time on the field.
2. Who will establish themselves as the best pass rusher in the Senior Bowl?
Dee Ford of Auburn rose above all and was the dominant player throughout the week of practice, as well as in the game. His first step quickness and ability to get to the edge and gave the North tackles fits all day. Ford recorded two sacks on the day and was named the 2014 Senior Bowl Defensive MVP. Ford has firmly placed himself in the discussion for first round consideration.
Trent Murphy of Stanford was the sack leader among Senior Bowl prospects coming into the game. Murphy’s week had been a bit tough, struggling in 1-on-1 drills, and he was non-existent on the edge during scrimmages and in the game. Murphy's lack of elite athleticism and speed will create a drop in his stock.
3. Can Jordan Matthews rise high enough to be the first wide receiver drafted?
Matthews was impressive at times during the week and had a solid game, but he did not separate himself as a top-tier prospect. His performance will be a dealer’s choice amongst scouts; some will be more impressed with his practice consistency, while others may scrutinize his game play more and be disappointed that he did not have a more dominant performance. Matthews was solid and is certainly a Day Two pick, but his stock as a hopeful first round receiver may hinge on his 40-yard time at the combine.