The 2012 Senior Bowl, a proving ground for the best senior athletes in college football, was held this weekend in Mobile, Alabama. The North defeated the South by a score of 23-13, but as always in this event, the real story was told by the combatants and not the scoreboard.
Along the way, a few prospects stood out that could make sense for the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft. Here's more about some players that began to make a name for themselves in a positive way on Saturday afternoon:
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Jenkins was tackling well and showed great pursuit in coverage all afternoon. He was beaten for a touchdown by Russell Wilson in the first half in the red zone on a very tough play. Jenkins showed his versatility by contributing on special teams, making a beautiful stick on Isaiah Pead, who wasn't easy to bring down returning the ball. Jeknins had a strong week of practice, elevating his stock a bit heading into next month's combine. The Lions should definitely be evaluating him as the draft process plays out in the months ahead.
Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana Lafayette: In the second quarter, Bentley jumped a route and made a fantastic play, nearly securing an improbable interception, and was solid in coverage. Bentley was a late addition this week, but showed up and practiced well, assisting his stock and helping his name become known. If the Lions wish to take a middle round flier on a young corner they can develop, a player like Bentley could become a great option there.
Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina: Brown made a fantastic play in coverage sniffing out a screen pass, blowing the play up and sending Boom Herron for a loss. He showed some incredible speed, and was drawing comparisons to Jon Beason and Jonathan Vilma by NFL Network's on field reporter Heath Evans. If it's anything the Lions need to keep behind their defensive line, it is linebackers who are good tacklers and quick. Last week, Mel Kiper had the Lions drafting Brown in the first round, so he is a name to watch.
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State: Wagner showed some impressive athleticism by jumping for an interception and jumping to deflect passes. Wagner was also fantastic defending the screen pass, and is a sure tackler at linebacker. The Lions always need players to beef up the middle of the field, and Wagner could be a nice addition in the middle rounds like DeAndre Levy was a few seasons ago.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: Curry forced pressure off the edge on Brandon Weeden early in the game twice, one time leading to an interception. Mike Mayock discussed Curry as a potential third or fourth round pick, but admitted many scouts felt he was surging into the second round. If he doesn't rise too far, the prospect could be a nice pick for the Lions, perhaps adding yet another pass rusher to the Silver Crush "bullpen."
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: Pead's best plays were two fantastic punt returns, which he showed off plenty of speed and moves to the open field. His special teams acumen could help Pead become a target of the Lions in later rounds, as Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz never shy away from adding weapons, especially to aid a return unit which was inconsistent last season.
Mike Adams, T, Ohio State: Adams is a long, athletic prospect and kept pass rushers off quarterbacks from the North side all afternoon. He also showed well in workouts, lending many to believe he will be a first day pick. The Lions could spend an early pick on Adams to help forge some young depth within their offensive line and continue to keep Matthew Stafford healthy.
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Considering the Lions' passing game was prolific last season, a wide receiver is hardly a pressing need, but Mayhew and Schwartz routinely talk about taking the best player available regardless of position. Adams was the most impressive wide receiver on the field Saturday afternoon, breaking tackles and showing stunning speed along the sideline. He could become an ideal speed receiver in the NFL, and a fantastic complement to Titus Young, Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. Adams also has versatility on special teams, contributing this gem on a punt return. Skill players often kill, so Adams could eventually become a name to watch if the Lions choose to take a chance and upgrade their offense further. It may be time for them to find their Devin Hester on special teams.
As always, when the NFL Combine kicks off in February, more players will continue to make a name for themselves. For right now, these players asserted themselves during the Senior Bowl, and could fill a few needs for the Detroit Lions.
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