This year’s Senior Bowl features four Ohio State Buckeyes, all of whom need to impress scouts, coaches and/or general managers this week to improve their stock for the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Senior Bowl, held annually at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., is the premier showcase game for NFL Draft prospects. Game participants have on-field practices in front of the decision-makers from Monday to Thursday and spend much of the rest of their time in Mobile in the meeting rooms to talk to coaches or attend football meetings. This all leads up to the actual game, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday and will be televised on NFL Network. All four OSU players are on the North roster.
Three of the four participating Buckeyes missed time this season due to suspensions. Offensive tackle Mike Adams, running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, and wide receiver DeVier Posey were among the five OSU football players (which also included former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas) suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling OSU memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Herron was also suspended an additional game, and Posey for an additional five games, for receiving payment from former OSU football booster Robert DiGeronimo for work they did not completed during a 2011 summer job.
Adams is the best prospect of the four Ohio State participants. Adams is one of the best left tackles in the nation. Measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 323 pounds, Adams has ideal size for an NFL left tackle and is also a very good athlete for his size. That said, Adams came to Mobile with something to prove. He only played in eight games during his senior season, on an offensive line that struggled up front for an offense that ranked 107th in total yards.
Throughout the week of practices, Adams has been among the standouts. He came into the week as a likely second-round pick, but after a strong week of practices, he has likely made himself a first-round draft pick. Adams has been mostly dominant against opposing pass rushers, and looks like a natural fit to be a left tackle in the NFL. Left tackle is a position of high importance, as the left tackle is the player responsible for protecting the quarterback from blind-side pass rushers. Because of the premium placed on left tackles in the NFL draft, Adams is now in position to be selected in the middle of the first round.
Herron has a very productive career for OSU, rushing for 2,872 yards and 32 touchdowns over four seasons. Unfortunately for Herron, he is a player who fails to stand out among a running back group with plenty of productive runners. Running backs do not have many opportunities to stand out during the week of practices because it is hard to gauge a running back’s abilities outside of game situations with full tackling. For Herron, the focus should be on Saturday’s game.
Herron needs to have a big performance on gameday to be selected in the first four rounds in April’s draft. He currently rates as a fifth-round draft pick.
While all four players from OSU arrived in Mobile in search of big weeks, few players from any school needed a strong showing more than Posey. Posey is a very skilled receiver with an impressive combination of size and athleticism, but his draft stock is very much in question after only playing three games in his senior season.
Posey’s on-field performance is certainly important considering the lack of game action from his senior season that coaches and scouts have to evaluate, but even more important for him during Senior Bowl week will be his interviews, in which he will need to address the off-field mistakes he has made that resulted in his being suspended for a total of ten games this past season.
Posey projects to be selected on the third day of the draft, somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.
The fourth Senior Bowl participant from OSU, and the only one of the four who played a full 13-game senior season, is center Mike Brewster. Unfortunately, while Brewster avoided off-field problems, he struggled on the field in his senior season. Brewster came into his senior season as the top-rated center in all of college football, but he has not been nearly as dominant as he was expected to be in his senior season.
Two games in which Brewster particularly struggled came against Michigan State and Penn State. In each of those games, Brewster lined up against a likely first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft (Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still), and lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. OSU only managed 178 yards of offense and seven points against Michigan State, and only 289 yards of offense and 14 points against Penn State.
Unfortunately, Brewster’s struggles have continued in Senior Bowl practices. While Brewster has looked good as a run blocker, he has struggled in interior pass protection and has had a difficult time with snapping the football. The North offense has been running many shotgun plays in their offensive drills in practice, and Brewster has struggled with accurately snapping the football to that distance, with many of his snaps going off to one side, which makes it difficult for the quarterback to handle the snap.
Brewster came into the week hoping to rebuild his draft stock to be selected in the second or third round in April’s draft, but a disappointing week should keep him from being drafted any earlier than the fourth round.
While Adams’ stock has really improved as a result of his performance throughout the practices, the other three players really need to use Saturday’s game as another chance to stand out. After the Senior Bowl, these four draft prospects will set their sights on preparing for the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held between Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis, Ind. at Lucas Oil Stadium.