2014 Senior Bowl: 10 Risers and Five Fallers

A year ago, Eric Fisher, a relative unknown offensive tackle from Central Michigan, began his climb toward being the No. 1 overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2013 NFL draft with a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl.

With underclassmen expected to dominate this year's first round, no one from the 2014 Senior Bowl is going to match him being the top pick. However, revealing performances during the all-important week of practice and the game are certain to impact NFL draft boards.

Below are the 10 players who helped their NFL stock the most at the Senior Bowl, followed by five players who were unable to answer scouts' concerns during the Mobile, Ala., all-star game, which was won by the South, 20-10 over the North on Saturday.


Defensive end Dee Ford, of Auburn -- Ford impressed with a chiseled build at 6-foot-2, 243 pounds during the weigh-in and was virtually unstoppable off the edge during the practices. He showed excellent burst, bend and closing speed. He was the most dynamic player on the field during the game, recording two sacks and timing a leap to knock down a pass to earn MVP honors. Ford's dominant week boosted his stock at least a full round and could result in a top 32 selection.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, of Pittsburgh -- It was Donald, not Ford, who earned most of the buzz early in the week, whipping interior offensive linemen with his quickness, tenacity and underrated strength. Like Ford, Donald's size (6-foot-1, 288 pounds) limits his fits in the NFL, but his ability to pressure quarterbacks could earn him a first-round selection.

Safety Jimmie Ward, of Northern Illinois -- Scouts knew heading into the Senior Bowl that Ward possessed the fluidity and instincts to cover, but competition in the Mid-American Conference is much different than in Mobile. Athletic enough to handle deep coverage as well as slide down to cover slot receivers, Ward was the Senior Bowl's most impressive pass defender this year.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore, of Colorado State -- Gilmore came in late to the Senior Bowl as an injury replacement, but the former defensive end impressed scouts immediately with his size and overall athleticism. He really caught fire during Thursday's practice, extending to haul in an impressive touchdown and continued his stellar play in the game.

Center Weston Richburg, of Colorado State -- Arkansas' Travis Swanson entered the week as the nation's top center prospect, but an impressive showing by another CSU Ram has his stock rising quickly. Richburg showed the anchor to handle powerful bull-rushers, as well as impressive agility in getting to the second level.

Offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, Clemson -- The unquestioned top offensive lineman in Mobile this week was Notre Dame's Zach Martin, who starred at left tackle for the Irish but projects better at guard due to his short arms. Thomas didn't earn nearly the media attention but also performed well at tackle despite a frame (6-foot-3, 314 pounds) that suggests he too will be making the move inside in the NFL. Late in the game, Thomas was playing outside at tackle with Martin asked to move inside to guard.

Defensive tackle Caraun Reid, of Princeton -- The well-built Ivy Leaguer proved with a competitive week of practice that he was every bit the talent as the more well-known prospects he was facing each snap. He capped off the week with sacks on back-to-back plays during the game, showing the lateral burst and closing speed to project nicely as a three-technique defensive tackle.

Offensive tackle Morgan Moses, of Virginia -- At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Moses possesses the frame you'd expect of a dominating run blocker. He showed the ability to clear wide rushing lanes throughout the week. Moses boosted his stock this week, however, by providing reliable pass protection, demonstrating the arm length, balance and surprising athleticism teams are looking for in a top 64 selection.

Wide receiver Ryan Grant, of Tulane -- At a rock-solid 6-foot-0, 197 pounds, Grant showed surprising burst as well as the agility as a route-runner and reliable hands to out-play several more highly-touted pass-catchers. A long touchdown during Wednesday's practice drew plenty of praise from scouts.

Outside linebacker Christian Kirksey, of Iowa -- The Big Ten remains one of college football's most consistent producers of pro-ready linebackers and Kirksey turned heads this week with his athleticism and instincts. A particularly impressive tackle early in the Senior Bowl game showed off his closing speed.


Quarterback Tajh Boyd, of Clemson -- Despite media reports to the contrary, Boyd's inaccuracy throughout the week of practice and game itself has his stock slipping. He possesses plenty of arm strength but was erratic, spraying the ball over the field. An ugly interception early in the Senior Bowl set the tone for a disappointing performance from the North offense.

Guard Cyril Richardson, of Baylor -- At 6-foot-4, 344 pounds, Richardson is a massive interior presence, but he struggled with quicker defensive tackles throughout the week of practice (especially Donald) and wasn't nearly as powerful of a drive blocker as one might expect given his size.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, of Vanderbilt -- Matthews' production in the Southeast Conference speaks for itself, but he dropped a handful of passes throughout the week of practice. Even more alarming, he showed little in terms of burst or straight-line speed, struggling to gain separation from opposing cornerbacks.

Defensive tackle Will Sutton, of Arizona State -- Sutton's quickness and power helped him record a tackle for loss early in the game, itself, but weighing in at 315 pounds at under 6-foot-1 did him no favors with scouts. There is no question that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year possesses talent, but his commitment toward reaching his full potential could push him deep into the draft's second day.

Quarterback Stephen Morris, of Miami -- Morris earned the nickname "Tin Cup" from some scouts at the Senior Bowl due to his ability to make the amazing throw but struggles with the routine passes commonplace in every NFL offense. Morris boasts a strong arm and throws the deep ball with touch, but like the other two quarterbacks on the North squad (Boyd and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas), he struggled with accuracy throughout the week.

(Rob Rang is the Senior Analyst for www.NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com).

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