For those that weren’t tuned in to the 2014 Pro Bowl festivities over the last couple of days, your attention was likely focused on the significantly more important Senior Bowl. This week’s practices were one of the rare opportunities to see the top upperclassmen prospects display their talents against other NFL-caliber talent, under the supervision and direction of NFL-caliber coaching. For some next-level hopefuls, these Senior Bowl practices were merely the first step in the long evaluation process leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. Next, they’ll show their wares at the actual Senior Bowl (this Saturday), have their Pro Days, perform at the Combine, and, if they are lucky enough, be invited to some individual workouts with a handful of teams.
So, with that week of practice out of the way, who stood out? For that, we spoke with Bruce Brooks (@BBdaram), an active member of Rams Nation that was lucky enough to have actually attended to workouts throughout the week. Here are his thoughts on a handful of the top prospects that might intrigue the Rams on Draft Day.
Josh Huff, WR (Oregon)
5’11 tall, 211 lbs., Overall Rank: 100 (15th WR), Round Projection: 3rd
Huff stood out instantly. The ability to run routes will be the key to his success. He showed he could get out of his breaks easily and he could challenge bigger defensive backs on fade routes. His 40-time and shout “shuttle” performance could very well help him climb up the board by a round or two in April.
Mike Davis, WR (Texas)
6’0 tall, 193 lbs., Overall Rank: 108 (16th WR), Round Projection: 3rd-4th
Davis will be the steal of the draft. His ability to run routes and his raw vertical speed were on full display in Mobile during this week of Senior Bowl practices. Davis’ impressive combination of speed and agility will keep defenders honest, and his ability to take the top off the defense and gain separation with the double move are an asset that any team should want.
Cyril Richardson, OG (Baylor)
6’5 tall, 348 lbs., Overall Rank: 43 (3rd OG), Round Projection: 2nd
While some may say that the NFL has transformed into a “passing league,” we know that games are still won in the trenches. Cyril “Big Rich” was an immovable object. The Baylor interior lineman was rarely beaten (if ever) during one-on-one drills throughout the week, using all of his 340 lbs. to prevent others to get in the backfield. For a big man, he displayed excellent footwork, and showed impressive quickness and athleticism on plays that required him pull and get to the “next level” of the defense.
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT (Minnesota)
6’6 tall, 318 lbs., Overall Rank: 22 (2nd DT), Round Projection: 1st
Ra’Shede Hageman stood out as soon as he stepped onto the field, both literally and figuratively. Despite his gargantuan frame, the Minnesota prospect was able to get lower than most offensive linemen, and regularly over-powered his opponent during one-on-one drills. During live 7-on-7, he was consistently three yards deep into the opposing backfield on, seemingly, every play. More importantly, he proved that he could beat the “double team” with ease, making him a nearly unstoppable force on the North squad. Hageman stated that he patterns his game after Bengals’ All-Pro DT Geno Atkins. That is a high bar to set, but if he can be anywhere near as dominant, he will make some team very, very happy in 2014.