2011 Senior Bowl: Reading the hype meter

Running back Derrick Locke #20 of the South Team runs for a fist down against the North Team during the second quarter of the Under Armour Senior Bowl January 29 2011 at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour)

As promised, there's plenty more 2011 NFL Draft prospect hype from yesterday's Senior Bowl game today. Florida State QB Christian Ponder is getting the lion's share of it, but for our purposes we'll stick with players that best fit the St. Louis Rams' draft needs. 

Scanning the analysts, here's more download on the Senior Bowl standouts.

From Rob Rang

Few players this week have sparked more interest than Miami WR Leonard Hankerson. With a big question marks after the first two receivers on the board, Hankerson's play will be of interest to teams looking for a receiver, especially the Rams. 

As he has done throughout his career and this week of practice, Hankerson allowed too many passes into his pads, resulting in one drop and a few double-clutches, but his deceptive build-up speed, size and body control made him the game's most productive receiver. Hankerson caught five passes for 100 yards, including the 18-yard TD from Ponder in the first quarter and a 48-yard bomb even earlier in the game.

It's hard to tell what's going to happen with receivers in that second tier. Will Hankerson slip into the second round? 

Here's Rang on Miami LB Colin McCarthy:

The Hurricane linebacker supplied some of the game's most explosive hits on defense and special teams, but it was his surprising speed that will catch the attention of scouts.

He's one of those linebackers whose best spot on the outside is yet to be determined, but if he has some speed and range, you have to wonder if the Rams could make him into a weakside answer. 

Moving on, Walter Football has a list of players whose stock jumped in the wake of yesterday's action. Here's WF on Florida State G Rodney Hudson:

Rodney Hudson had a great Senior Bowl. Shifting between the left guard and right guard positions, Hudson constantly blasted open huge holes for his running backs. After a poor start to the week, Hudson finished extremely well, perhaps cementing his Round 2 status.

Still, weighing less than 300 lbs would be a concern, and guard is a position where the Rams can find value later in the draft than round 2.

We've talked about Derrick Locke a great deal recently. Here's WF:

We all knew Derrick Locke was fast, but he showed off his lateral quickness and great vision in the Senior Bowl. If teams aren't concerned about his durability, Locke could sneak into Round 3. There's some Darren Sproles potential.

A big play threat for 10 carries a game, paired with Steven Jackson and whatever wide receiver help the Rams can pick up between now and September could make this offense a real force. Round three...amazing, prior to this week some experts had him as a seventh round pick. He's still one of those players that could split pundits wildly, especially with the workout-focused Combine, where he figures to put on a show. 

WF put Miami DE/DT Allen Bailey on their stock down list, along with everyone else at the Senior Bowl this week. Bailey has the physical tools and athletic ability, but is a long way from putting it all together...an Al Davis special. 

I had to check the participation report to see if Bailey even played in the Senior Bowl. Bailey is really athletic, but he's just a project at this point.

My question is this: could the Rams afford to take a "project" player at DT? In truth, probably not. Were they to lose Fred Robbins, based on the current roster, the team would have real problems in the middle of its defensive line. I think Spagnuolo and his coaches make some sense for a "project" pass rusher like Bailey, but the Rams are probably another year away from having the roster spot to do so. 

Moving on to the NFL Draft Bible...here's their report on North Carolina CB Kendrick Burney:

Heard his name called more than any other player this week and received praise for his man-to-man pass coverage as he was inside opponents underwear. Displayed enough versatility to be cover two corner or play the slot. He was also in on special teams.

I don't know realistically how many more young corners the Rams need on their roster (honestly, experience depth, i.e. what Kevin Dockery should have been) might be more of a need. Still, Spags comes from the mind that you can never have too many good cornerbacks, and given the Rams troubles this year defending the slot someone like Burney might make a great third corner for the Rams. 

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