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Ups and downs

'Bama's Darby rises in Mobile; WVU's McLee falters

Posted: Wednesday January 24, 2007 8:25PM; Updated: Wednesday January 24, 2007 8:37PM
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Utah defensive back Eric Weddle (right) has made an impact at the Senior Bowl.
Utah defensive back Eric Weddle (right) has made an impact at the Senior Bowl.
AP
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By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com

MOBILE, Ala. -- Wednesday at the Senior Bowl is always the most important practice of the week. The fields are lined with more scouts, coaches and general managers than any other day of the week. And as has been the case since Monday, a number of players are watching their draft stock rise while some are seeing it slide.

Here's the breakdown:

Risers

Ken Darby/RB/Alabama: After a bitterly disappointing campaign Darby took advantage of his final opportunity to play football in front of NFL scouts. Explosive carrying the ball, he broke several long runs and was tough to bring down.

Michael Griffin/S/Texas: The Longhorn defensive back has been exceptional in both pass coverage and run defense. A rangy centerfielder who makes plays in every direction, Griffin has constantly been around the ball all week.

Martrez Milner/TE/Georgia: Another athletic tight end from the Bulldog program, Milner has looked sharp catching the ball all week. Running good routes, he's displayed the speed to break into the secondary and his blocking has improved.

Arron Sears/OL/Tennessee: Sears is finally putting it together after a rocky start. Controlling opponents, he's showed a lot of strength and versatility as well. Sears' play in Mobile could vault him into Round 1.

Eric Weddle/DB/Utah: The versatile defensive back started making a lot of plays on the ball Wednesday. Truly a hard-working player, he broke up several passes and was constantly around the action.

Sliders

Kevin McLee/OLB/West Virginia: The hard-working Mountaineer linebacker has given a lot of effort all week but just can't matchup with the players in Mobile. McLee is slow to the sidelines and has been consistently blocked from the action.

Kolby Smith/RB/Louisville: A physical specimen, Smith has not stood out in any aspect this week. Looking like an ordinary ball carrier, his blocking has also been lacking the few times he lined up at fullback.

Kareem Brown/DT/Miami-Fl: After a good start to the week Brown's play has come down to earth. Unable to disengage from blocks, he's been easily tied up at the point by opponents the past two days.

Tim Duckworth/G/Auburn: The interior blocker has not showed much in the way of balance, movement skills or footwork. The strength of his game, the ability to knock defenders off the ball, has also been lacking.

Chase Pittman/DE/LSU: Pittman has given effort but the undersized and slow defensive end has not made many plays this week.

Senior Bowl Notes: There were two replacement players today as Delaware tight end Ben Patrick filled in for the injured Clark Harris of Rutgers while running back Thomas Clayton of Kansas State did the same for Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois. Both players distinguished themselves and had scouts talking. Clayton showed a lot of power and speed carrying the ball, beating some of the North's top linebackers around the corner. Patrick, meanwhile, made several great stabs throughout the day. Numerous players are starting to come around, shaking off the rust after not playing football in a number of weeks. Marcus McCauley, who was getting burnt with regularity in the early practices, made several positive plays at cornerback. Ditto for Virginia Tech safety Aaron Rouse who had a nice interception in practice.

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