I began our look at Senior Bowl week yesterday by highlighting a few players from the North squad that are worth monitoring closely throughout the week. Now I want to turn our attention to the players on the South squad - again keeping in mind this list is far from comprehensive.
But I hope it's a good brief overview of some of the players we all should pay close attention to this week down in Mobile.
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU - Some consider Dalton as the best quarterback prospect in the draft after you get beyond the top four. But he's very difficult to judge considering he's coming out of that spread offense. What I can tell you is the kid is accurate and very smart - two of the critical elements Brian Daboll said he wants in his quarterback. But questionable mechanics and arm strength as well as the adjustment period to a pro style offense makes me wary of the TCU star.
Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama - Despite being only a two year starter, McElroy has some impressive stats. What stands out? His 39 to 10 touchdown to interception ratio and his 66.3% career completion percentage (over 70% in 2010). Despite his accuracy and his high football IQ, the kid has some red flags. His lack of good arm strength and his lack of ideal height (he's a shade under 6'2) will cause teams to really be cautious when evaluating McElroy. But something we need to keep in mind is Daboll's connection to Nick Saban, McElroy's coach at Alabama. The Dolphins will surly know everything they can possibly want to know thanks to Daboll's relationship with Saban. I just don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Christian Ponder, QB, Florida St. - Please forgive me, Seminole fans, but Ponder is too much of a risk for my taste. Maybe he'll prove me wrong this week in Mobile and that at the Combine. But I have too many concerns about Ponder's durability and arm strength. Those red flags are really preventing me from forming a fair assessment on him.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia - Devine would certainly help fill that need for overall team speed, wouldn't he? The kid has blazing speed, quickness, and agility. His burst through the hole is really exceptional. And despite his size, he plays tough. But his size is a concern. He weighed in at just 5'7, 160 pounds in Mobile - about twenty pounds lighter than many expected. But the electrifying little tailback is fun to watch and will have a role on an NFL team. The question is how big that role might be.
Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky - I feel like Locke might be getting overlooked by many as the draft process begins. But Locke is going to be an interesting player at the next level. He possesses excellent speed (likely sub 4.4) and can change directions on a dime. He also has the ability to make plays in the passing game thanks to his very good hands. Those same reliable hands make him a legitimate option as a return man at the next level - another gaping hole the Dolphins have. His lack of ideal size (5'8, 186), though, is a concern. Keep an eye on Locke not just this week but in the weeks to follow.
Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee - It's hard to judge a tight end with just 85 career catches in college. But Stocker's style of play is impressive when you see some of the plays he has made. At 6'4, 255, Stocker is a willing and able blocker who, despite great speed, knows how to run good routes to get open. He's also regarded by some as having some of the best hands in the draft. I'm going to be interested to see how he performs day in and day out in practice when he has some opportunities in the passing game.
[Note: I know I didn't mention a single receiver from the South squad - not even Miami's Leonard Hankerson. That's because I don't believe that he or any of the other WRs from this South team are of the speedy, field-stretching variety that the Dolphins sorely need.]