Last week, I put together a scouting guide for Colts' fans while watching the 2013 Senior Bowl, noting a few players on both teams, offensive and defensive, that would be potential targets for the Colts in the draft.
With the game now behind us, here are a few of my favorite senior targets for the Colts.
WR Quintin Patton- The Louisiana Tech receiver was arguably the best wideout all week, impressing scouts with his hips and quick feet. Patton runs precise routes, and has the height to win jump balls at 6'2". If the Colts are looking for a starting receiver in this year's draft, Patton may be as good of a choice as any in the first round.
WR Chris Harper- This physical Cal receiver has been compared to Anquan Boldin all week by numerous scouts. After watching Boldin dominate the Colts during the wild card round, you can't help but think about the possibilities. A physical guy like that would be a perfect foil to T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. Harper has had an impressive week, but the former Kansas State Wildcat could be a great value pick in the fourth or fifth round.
G Larry Warford- Warford isn't going to be a great pass protecting guard, nor would he be ideal in an offense that uses a lot of pulling action, but if the Colts are trying to build toward a power running offense with the West Coast offense, Warford can be a mauler. He's a huge guy at 6'3", 343 lbs, and could be around in the third round depending on how the combine goes.
C Brian Schwenke- The center class isn't strong in this draft class, and Schwenke isn't even the best of the bunch. But, the center from Cal had a great week, and impressed just about everybody there. If he's still on the boards after round four, the Colts could take a look at him, using him at either center or guard in coming seasons.
DE/OLB Datone Jones- Jones was the big winner for pass rushers this week, but likely still is a late first rounder. The UCLA pass rusher is a power rusher, and has the strength and an effective bull rush to get to the passer. He was the only pass rusher to give the impressive OT Eric Fisher problems, and would be a better run defender than the Colts' previous pass rushers.
DT Kawaan Short- The Purdue defensive tackle was being mocked in the second and third rounds before an incredible week has many draftniks putting him solidly in the first round. If the Colts are looking to improve the defensive line early in this draft, Short is a player who may be able to play either nose tackle or defensive end. He dominated in both pass rush and in the run game this week, and would be an excellent piece for the future of the 3-4 in Indianapolis.
CB Robert Alford- Alford is a small school corner, hailing from Southeast Louisiana, who made a name for himself in the Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts throughout the week as a well-rounded player, and showed his return skills with an 88-yard kick return to start the game. Alford is known to have strong press coverage skills, with great agility in coverage down the field. He's been projected as a third rounder, but if he stays on the current path, he may may be gone by the time the Colts' 3rd round pick comes around.
CB Desmond Trufant- My personal favorite for an early secondary pick, the Washington corner played himself into the first round with a great week. If the Colts want to go with a corner in the first round, he's my choice at number 24. He can play man, would startimmediately, and would help solidify the secondary with Vernon Davis. He showed great hustle by running down Alford on the game's opening kickoff.
CB Leon McFadden- McFadden is another small school guy, from San Diego State. He's not as big as you would ideally want, but he's got great ball skills to make up for it and is extremely fluid in and out of his breaks. He could be a solid 3rd-4th round pick for the Colts.
S Jonathan Cyprien- The only problem with Cyprien is that he likely will fall in the second round, where the Colts' pick has been given to Miami in exchange for Vontae Davis as part of the early season trade. If he fell to the Colts' third round pick, I would be ecstatic with the Colts picking him up to replace Tom Zbikowski. Cyprien showed his energy all week both in coverage and run support, and his energy on the field would be a great change of pace after watching Zibby and Joe Lefeged all year.
So, those are my favorite seniors who participated this past week. But, not all of the seniors participated this week, and that doesn't even begin to get into the juniors.
Who are your favorite targets for the Colts? The Colts Authority staff will soon dig into our draft coverage, but before we do, we'd like to hear from you.
Who do you want to see the Colts look at, and why?
An honest question: why should a player's performance in the senior bowl change the draft prospects of that player? Admittedly, I do not watch the senior bowl so I don't know much about the level of preparation or effort put into the game. Do we really learn that much from the senior bowl and/or the preparation leading up to it?
@bradicus18 Like the others have said the practices are key, and honestly I think that the senior bowl can really affect your draft stock, competing against the top guys and showing up well definitely can bust a mid round pick up to an earlier round, or a first round pick up a couple of spots like it did with Eric Foster in his case he earned millions.
One thing is that by being in the game attention is put on you, if you are a lesser known player and show up in a good or a decently known player and show in a bad way it will cause teams to go back and analyze your tape, for some this can be a good thing and for others not so much.
@paulcareyjr @Kyle Rodriguez @AJ_ Thanks for the replies, fellas. I was afraid the Senior Bowl was more similar to professional sports' all-star games. Of course, these guys have something to play for.
However, would it seem to affect small school/conference players more so than, say, SEC players? It seems to me that the Senior Bowl performance from a MAC school player would yield more valuable information than an SEC/PAC-12 player that plays against better talent every week.
@bradicus18 The one thing I take from it is how a player plays after a move away from whatever scheme he was in at school. This of course doesn't apply if he ends up having the same coach for that game, but the point is to see him outside the confines of what he's been doing for 4 years and see how his technique is, plus how he adjusts with so little practice and attention.
And really, I only agree with changes only if the player was already wowing before and simply shows the ability to adapt to a new situation. I only agree with *dramatic* changes if there's reason to believe the player was not showing his full potential in college for a legitimate cause that gives you reason to believe it won't adversely affect his NFL career (say, playing in a bad scheme, playing with poor teammates being injured for a majority of the season and only getting healed up at the end, etc.).
Likewise, I'll only agree with a downgrade if there's reason to believe that the contrast between his college team and playing in the Senior Bowl revealed a weakness. Such as him being an insane sack artist, but really only getting numbers because some other stud lineman was tripled all the time and thus freed him up, with the result being that player showing no pass rush in the Senior Bowl.
Of course, all that requires context. Judging strictly due to one bowl game is a mistake.
In short, I view "All Star" type games to be valuable only in that they provide contrast to working within an established unit on a team. Performances there really demand a lot of context before any real judgement can be made.
@bradicus18 More the preparation leading up to it. A lot of one on ones, some live action. Gets the top level guys going against one another rather than lesser competition.
<i>"I would be ecstatic with the Colts picking him up to replace Tom Zbikowski...</i>
Man, I'd almost be willing to deal with a beach ball replacing Zibby. :(
Funny, Patton's NFL comparison was Reggie Wayne on NFL.com, I really liked what Alfred did and I think he will go in the 2nd, solely because of what he did in the SR bowl.
As far as favorites:
Dion Jordan, Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Vaccaro, Sheldon Richardson, Alec Ogletree(but hard to justify unless he can play some OLB as well), and Cooper, hopefully one is available
Chase Thomas, DJ Swearinger, Robert Woods, Kyle Long, Sean Porter, Blidi Wilson, Robert Alfred, Khaled Holmes, Zeke Motta, Marques Wilson, Trevardo Williams, Travis Fredrick, Tyrann Mathieu, Brandon Jenkins
Conner Verner, Lonnie Pryor, Sio Moore, Ray Ray Armstrong, Sanders Commings, Shamarko Thomas, Montori Hughes, Josh Johnson, Stefan Taylor(will be gone)
I personally know more about secondary, d-line, RB's, WR's and some LB's, only know about top o-line though...