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Florida State's EJ Manuel was MVP of the Senior Bowl, but he wasn't the biggest winner in Mobile.
As always, there was money to be made at the Senior Bowl, where high-profile prospects and small school gems alike look to prove their worth to NFL executives, coaches and scouts. The South defeated the North, 21–16, with Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel earning MVP honors.
But the games within the game — along with the previous week’s practice — were more important than the scoreboard. Here are the Mobile money makers as well as the players who have ground to make up heading into the Scouting Combine (Feb. 20-26) and leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft (April 25-27).
Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
Already a late first-round prospect, the 6-7, 305-pound Fisher vaulted himself into the top-10 pick conversation and “by simple math, made $4 million bucks,” according to NFL Network scouting guru Mike Mayock, who said Fisher was “(49ers Pro Bowl left tackle) Joe Staley with better feet.”
Ezekial Ansah, DE, BYU
“Ziggy” is hoping to ride the “next Jason Pierre-Paul” hype as far as he can up draft boards. Ansah’s Senior Bowl game was certainly JPP-like, with a sack, forced fumble, batted ball at the line on a screen pass and open field tackle for a loss against Michigan’s Denard Robinson. No one was more impressive on game day than Ansah.
EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
The MVP completed 7-of-10 passes for 76 yards, one TD and one INT on a tipped pass, while showing off his mobility with another TD on the ground. Manuel’s scoring strike was a perfectly thrown 20-yard touch pass over the top to Alabama tight end Michael Williams in the back of the end zone.
Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
It was a good day for small school corners, as Alford and William & Mary’s B.W. Webb both shined in coverage and as return men. Alford opened the game with an 88-yard kickoff return and finished strong with an INT in the end zone on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The best cornerback in practices showed off his straight line speed by hawking Alford from behind to make a TD-saving tackle (albeit with a facemask penalty tacked on to the end of the run) on the opening kickoff. Desmond is quickly following in the NFL footsteps of his brothers Marcus and Isaiah.
Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
The 6’6”, 300-pound former quarterback solidified his status as a first-round talent with the feet and frame to play left tackle at the next level.
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The top D-tackle in Mobile, Short was disruptive all afternoon, teaming with UCLA’s Datone Jones to form a nearly unblockable tackle tag-team.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Danny Lee Jesus didn’t play in the game itself, but the massive 6’5”, 355-pounder stole the show at the weigh-in and could be one of the fastest risers in this year’s class by the time the Commissioner is giving bear hugs.
Mike Mayock, NFL Network
One of the best in the business, Mayock was on his game yet again — calling name-dropping colleague Charles Davis “first-team All-Elevator” while providing brutally honest assessments of everyone other than Oregon O-lineman Kyle Long, the son of Mayock’s 1980 Blue-Gray Game roommate Howie Long.
Mike Glennon, QB, NC State
Showed flashes of a big league arm, but threw too many ground balls in the dirt and showed little pocket presence. The 6’7” Glennon completed 8-of-16 passes for 82 yards. Still, in a league desperate for quarterbacks, there’s probably a team already trying to convince itself that Glennon is the next Joe Flacco.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Showed no awareness, holding the ball too long, allowing the pocket to collapse around him and throwing an ill-conceived dump-off pass on 4th-and-8. Jones completed 3-of-9 passes for 16 yards, took two sacks and looked lost for much of the game.
Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan
“Shoelace” fought through an arm injury to participate in the Senior Bowl. So, in that regard, he is a winner. Unfortunately, his only real highlight was the lowlight of being caught by Ziggy Ansah for a 3-yard loss on an end-around. Denard X will need to run like lightning at the Combine to save his struggling draft stock.
John Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Never was it harder to find a man who stands 6’3” and 350-plus pounds than it was with Jenkins during the game in the Senior Bowl. But legit nose tackles are hard to find, so this boom-or-bust Dawg will hear his name called earlier than most on draft day.
T.J. McDonald, S, USC
Tim’s son was beaten badly by 270-pound Alabama tight end Michael Williams for a TD, failing to find the football in the air or make a play with his athleticism. McDonald reaffirmed the scouting report that he is an in-the-box safety with no ball skills whose last name is his best tool.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Made the brilliant move of attempting to field a punt at the one-yard-line, then nearly getting tackled in the end zone for a safety before showing off his track star speed.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The Estonian “Eastern Block” has an NCAA record 10 blocked field goals, but was confused multiple times by the same misdirection toss and otherwise overmatched against the high-end O-tackles.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Lennay is going to be pissed. Te’o skipped the Senior Bowl altogether, despite on-field concerns following his BCS national title disappearing act and off-field issues in the wake of his catfish story too big for Twitter.