MOBILE, Ala. -- The full-contact practices at the Reese's Senior Bowl wrapped up on Thursday, and I've had an up-close look at the draft prospects competing here this week.
Plenty of players have flashed in practices, but which players have stood out the most? Here are the 10 prospects (five each from the North and South teams) that most frequently caught my eye along with some others that piqued my interest and bear watching as the draft process unfolds over the next few months (players are listed in alphabetical order).
Miami's Denzel Perryman was the most highly regarded of the inside linebackers in Mobile this week, and deservedly so. But Anthony made quite a name for himself, too. He can flat-out run, making plays sideline to sideline. I loved watching him. When Anthony diagnoses and reacts, look out. I was really impressed watching him retreat into coverage and break on the ball. He's a tremendous athlete.
When I asked defensive backs this week who's been their toughest cover, they consistently said it was Crowder. I knew coming into this week that Crowder was an elite kick and punt returner, and the team that drafts him can count on him to deliver in that way from the jump. However, he also is a great route runner and has good hands. Crowder is well-schooled in the passing game coming from Duke, where he was coached by David Cutcliffe. He's built more like a slot receiver at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, and he's probably best-suited to play inside.
We saw more from Davis than we might have expected this week in terms of being an upfield penetrator. It might have been the defensive scheme at Iowa that kept him as more of a two-gapper, but I saw him being very disruptive in the offensive backfield this week. He gave his stock a nice boost.
You'll hear a lot about Dorsett's speed, which is overwhelming -- he expects to run a 4.3 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine next month. But he showed me all week that he's not just a guy that can run fast. He ran good routes, made good cuts and competed for the ball really well. Dorsett made contested catches, and he's not big at 5-9 5/8, 183 pounds. He's more than a one-trick pony, though, and caught my eye at every practice.
It might surprise some people to see a fullback on the list given that the position is no longer widely utilized in the NFL, but Fowler (5-11, 264) will run defenders over as a lead blocker. He also is dependable carrying the ball, not that he's asked to do so often, and has good hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. He reminds me a bit of former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman. One NFL executive told me Fowler would be a Day 1 starter for any team that still utilizes a fullback.
Orchard entered the week looking to answer questions about whether he has the traits to play as an outside linebacker after playing with his hand in the ground at Utah. I think he proved he can make the transition to standing up. He can rush the passer and is stronger than you would think -- his bull rush surprised people. I saw him walk some offensive linemen back to the quarterback using his bull rush. One NFL executive asked me to please not tell anyone that his team really likes the former Utes star. His secret is safe, but word is out that teams are intrigued by Orchard.
Some people believed coming into the week that Shelton could possibly be a top-10 selection in this year's draft, and he did nothing to dissuade them from that belief with his performance in practices. He's a big man at 6-2, 343, but he has better feet and stamina than you might think. Shelton is not just a sit-in-the-middle nose tackle. I think he can be a three-down defensive lineman at the next level -- he played against a lot of up-tempo offenses in the Pac-12 and he didn't come off the field much. Shelton reminds me of Casey Hampton early in his career with the Steelers.
The scouting report I had heard coming into this week was that Tomlinson is a good player with heavy feet. However, I thought his feet were more than quick enough when I watched him in practices. Plus, he accepted the challenge of going up against Shelton, the consensus top player at the Senior Bowl, and Tomlinson had no problem dealing with Shelton. In fact, Tomlinson acquitted himself quite nicely when matched up against him. The former Duke guard is a big, strong, forceful interior lineman with a good hand punch. I think he helped himself as much as any prospect at the Senior Bowl.
No matter who was covering Walford this week, the tight end was making plays. Many people think he's the top tight end in this draft, and he showed why this week. He's excellent getting off the line of scrimmage and runs routes well. Walford showed off an arsenal of subtle fakes that leave defenders hanging in coverage, which allows him to gain a step and run. At 6-4, 258, I think he's big enough to handle blocking in-line. Walford has a chance to be a complete tight end.
I might be a bit biased, having seen White (5-9 3/8, 180) play in person four times over the past year, but just like 2014 first-round pick Jason Verrett, White is a vertically challenged former TCU corner who doesn't let his lack of height affect him. He makes plays on the ball, gains excellent positioning, can run with receivers and will tackle. He's the complete package and is willing to battle.