Graham shines at Senior Bowl
Michigan's Brandon Graham was a disruptive force throughout Saturday's game
Geno Atkins parlayed a great week of practice into a great Senior Bowl
Mardy Gilyard, a receiver at Cincinnati, was the offensive MVP
MOBILE, Ala. -- After a week of grueling practices, it was time to finally play the game. When the final seconds ticked off the North had defeated the South 31-13 in a lopsided affair. There were several outstanding performances that scouts will remember, including the play of two defensive linemen. Here are the games' top performers:
Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham was named the game's Most Valuable Player after a dominant performance. Graham collected five tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss and forced a fumble. He was omnipresent for four quarters. On his first sack, Graham beat West Virginia tackle Selvish Capers around the edge with a speed move. Later in the game, he showed his strength while bull-rushing Ciron Black of LSU. Graham was exclusively used at defensive end in practices and during the game but his position at the next level remains a question. On Monday he measured 6-foot-1 and 263 pounds during weigh-ins, measurements which neither fit the defensive end nor outside linebacker positions. Do NFL teams envision Graham in the role of Denver Broncos star Elvis Dumervil or is he a modern day version of the Colts' Dwight Freeney? His workout at the combine next month should make things a little clearer.
Geno Atkins continued the momentum of a great week of practice with a terrific showing in the game. Like Graham, Atkins was a disruptive force all evening. Despite being double-teamed by the likes of Matt Tennant of Boston College and Idaho's Mike Iupati, Atkins made several plays behind the line of scrimmage. At one point, his opponents resorted to holding Atkins in an attempt to slow him down. Atkins leaves Senior Bowl week with improved draft stock.
After an up and down week Vladimir Ducasse of Massachusetts had a solid game. The small school prospect did a terrific job protecting the quarterback from his left tackle position.
Mardy Gilyard was listed as 'riser' during our practice report on Monday. The Cincinnati receiver wrapped up a good week by catching five passes for 103 yards. Gilyard was named as the game's offensive Most Valuable Player. He grades as a top 40 selection and hopes fast times at the Combine will push him into the first round.
Terrance Cody showed flashes of ability and had a solid performance in the contest after a disappointing week of practice. He displayed power and collapsed the pocket. Therein lies the problem. Instead of being the consistent force he should be, Cody teases scouts by flashing dominance, then disappearing for stretches.
Auburn's Antonio Coleman is another who performed well in the game but also another who frustrates scouts. Coleman looked like a star during his sophomore season with the Tigers but turned in disappointing campaigns the next two years. He was solid all week in practice at both defensive end and outside linebacker and continued his effective play on Saturday. Scouts must now decide if Coleman is rounding back into form or turned in a one-off performance he can't duplicate.
Lonya Miller had a tough time seeing the ball last season at Fresno State with junior sensation Ryan Matthews getting the bulk of the work for the Bulldogs. Yet during the game, Miller reminded scouts why they gave him an early-round grade before the season began. Miller displayed power on the inside carrying the ball, yet at the same time broke several long runs by shaking defenders off with an elusive style. Miller led the North with 44 yards on nine carries.
Jarret Brown of West Virginia impressed scouts during the game. The athletic signal-caller showed a strong arm and the ability to effortlessly get outside the pocket then deliver the pass. He still needs work, but a number of teams project Brown as a red-zone passer early in his NFL career based on his ability to score passing the ball or running with it.
NFL Truth & Rumors