While the Senior Bowl is the crowning event of the collegiate all-star games, there is still another left to be contested. This weekend, The NFLPA hosts Texas prospects as they take on the Nation in San Antonio as the second and third-tier talents compete to make a name for themselves in advance of the scouting combine. A lot of these guys will end up being the JAGs that complete the roster for a couple years, some will have steady careers and every once in a while you find a gem. The Cowboys Sean Lissemore participated in this game last year and received very positive reviews from his practice time.
Coverage for the game is few and far between as most of the sporting world is focused on North Texas and some obscure postseason game called the Super Bowl or something. Let's take a look at what is being written about this year's defensive line participants.
Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton (GO PIRATES! GO JAMAICA!)
6'5" 340 lbs. Ranked 5th best 3-4DT by Drafttek.com, 155th overall.
Pass rush: Might not put up huge sack numbers as quarterbacks will be aware of his presence inside. Shows good quickness off the ball in obvious passing situations. Can bull rush when single-blocked by extending his arms or swim over defenders reaching to engage him using quick hands. Uses long arms and big hands to cloud passing lanes but hasn't actually tipped many passes (one in his first two seasons at Hampton). Keeps his eyes in the backfield while engaged by a blocker. Will go to the sideline to chase scrambling quarterbacks or get off blocks to follow screens. Wants to play finesse game, as if he's a light and agile tackle, trying to spin or run around blockers, instead of overpowering and destroying blockers. Runs by mobile or pocket-savvy quarterbacks on his initial burst but does show hustle on secondary rush.
Run defense: Looks like a run-stuffer and can play the part, but surprises with his agility and foot quickness. Agile enough to move with blockers on zone plays; can disengage to prevent cutback lanes. Holds up double teams to eat space but can also penetrate into the backfield. Can push back two defenders when keeping his hips low and churning his feet. Good hustle for his size, especially when rested as part of a regular rotation. Chases down plays to the sideline, as well as from behind even if they go 15-20 yards downfield when rested (even in the fourth quarter); he is not credited with many stops in those situations, but is in position if his teammates can't stop the ball. Spins off double-teams to grab ballcarriers coming through the hole or funnel toward linebackers. Has nimble feet to jump over fallen blockers but is susceptible to the cut block because of his height. Has difficulty regaining his balance. Runs past ballcarriers because he fails to break down quickly.
National Football Post's Wes Bunting's Notes:
If I'm going to put money on which prospect comes off the board first from this year's game, my bet goes on Hampton DT Kenrick Ellis. At 6-5, 336 pounds, he does a great job sitting into his stance, exploding off the snap and keeping his pad level down through contact. He was really tough to move off the football during team sessions today and really uses his length well to keep himself clean on the move. Now, he is a character concern and does have inconsistent awareness off the snap. But he's a real talent and overall there's not much physically separating him from a guy like Baylor's Phil Taylor.
He is a man-child with great size and uncommon strength. He has long arms, and when aggressive he can jolt and drive offensive linemen backward. He works to the whistle--and a little beyond. His production doesn't match his talent because of raw technique; if he can't win with power, he is eliminated too easily.
Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss
62" 328 lbs. Ranked 3rd best 3-4DT by Drafttek.com, 93rd overall.
Powe showed the foot quickness, strong hands and athleticism to beat most offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. He also displayed the raw physical strength and ability to hold his ground vs. double-team run blocks.
Powe had another strong day, consistently winning one-on-one blocks in pass-rush drills. In one sequence, he beat his man with a club move on one snap and then beat the next guy with a bull rush. In team drills, he displayed strength and hand usage to stack up blockers at the point of attack.
I honestly have not been real impressed with Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe this week as he's simply just a limited big body run defender inside. He isn't real sudden laterally as a pass rusher, does have a compact club when trying to shed initially, but allows his pad level to get upright when trying to make his way up the field and struggles to fight his way through contact. He's still tough guy to move off the football inside during team drills vs. the run and can eat up space inside. But if you're looking for anything more than a two-down run defender, Powe isn't your guy.
Roberto Davis, DE, Northwest Missouri
National Football Post Two-day Notes:
Another small-school standout who has also really flashed at times this week was Jones' teammate, DE Roberto Davis. Davis is an undersized pass rusher at 6-2 and 247 pounds, but he's got good length for his size - 32-inch arms - and has done a nice job the past two days getting after the passer. He displays an above-average first step, gets off the ball on time, has some bend when asked to flatten out around the edge and does a nice job maximizing his length when trying to keep himself clean. He loves to work a violent swat toward the corner and also plays the run game with integrity, keeping his pad level down when shooting through the C gap, keeping his pad level down and working his way toward the ball. He's been a tough block for just about every lineman on the Texas squad during the first two days of practice and looks like a potential intriguing late round/priority free agent.
Sporting News Tuesday Notes:
He showed speed and dip to win consistently around the edge as a pass rusher in one-on-one and team drills. He showed he can play with good leverage and has good speed and good movement.
TCU DE Wayne Daniels
National Football Post Two-day notes:
Really hasn't impressed either down here this week. He possesses only an average first step, a decent initial pop as a bull rusher, but again only average lateral quickness on his counter. He plays hard, but just doesn't have any real dynamic quality to his game from a physical standpoint and because of that seems like a guy who will have a tough time making an NFL roster, and if he does looks more like a reserve-only to me.
South Carolina DT Ladi Ajiboye
National Football Post Wednesday Notes:
had a tough time disengaging from blocks today. The guy is a good straight-line athlete who has some explosion off the ball and can threaten gaps inside. However, despite his length, he doesn't use his hands well to disengage from blocks through contact and can easily be engulfed/held up inside. And when you get an undersized lineman who is as linear as he is, despite his intruding length - 34 1/8 - he doesn't look much more than a priority free agent in more of a one-gap scheme.
Grambling State DE Christian Anthony
National Football Post Tuesday Notes:
It was good to see Grambling State DE Christian Anthony back on the field today after a heart condition took away his 2010 season. However, at the same time, he looked like a guy who hasn't played football in about a year. To his credit, the guy has some natural power when asked to anchor and took on pulling linemen well when run at. However, his overall balance was poor through contact all practice, he didn't use his hands well enough to disengage and just seemed rusty overall - which is expected. Obviously, there is a huge medical concern with him, but the natural power is there for him to at least get a chance to develop as a practice squad guy at the next level, but he's going to be a work in progress.
Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee State.
Sporting News Tuesday Notes:
Lattimore has zero chance to play defensive end in the NFL, and at 218 pounds is wasting his time playing end here. In order to have any chance, he needs to move and be given reps at outside linebacker. Not only does he lack the size for an end, his technique is terrible.