Leslie Frazier and his staff got the best of Mike Shanahan & Co. yet again as the Minnesota Vikings coaches guided the North team to a 23-13 victory over the South squad in the Senior Bowl on Saturday night in Mobile, Ala.
Frazier and the Vikings topped the Redskins, 33-26, on Christmas Eve.
Despite boasting an impressive collection of defensive linemen and an overall size advantage, the South struggled to produce key stops against the North’s offense. And the South’s offense struggled nearly all game as a lack of a running game and poor quarterback play kept Shanahan’s squad in check.
Of course, the winner and loser matters little, because this game was just another piece to the evaluation puzzle. So, despite the loss Shanahan came away from the game and the Senior Bowl week as a whole with a sense of accomplishment.
“It’s been a great week,” Shanahan said. “We’ve had a chance to evaluate a lot of players, had a chance to be around them. Very positive. You’ve got to go back and take a look at the film, but you want to see how guys play the game when the lights are on. You really don’t know how someone’s going to perform. So, this is always a plus to see them in game situations, all positions, especially the quarterback.”
Shanahan said that he and his staff now have a head start on their pre-draft evaluation process, and although he hasn’t watched film of the game yet, he has learned a lot about the players that were here this week.
“You have a feel right away,” Shanahan said. “What you do, is you’re able to eliminate people, right away. And that helps as well. You’ll go back and study the film, but the few people you eliminate, that saves you a lot of time, and there are some great feelings throughout the week if you get someone that’s really passionate and has a great attitude.”
Shanahan didn’t name which players he thought did well which players he had eliminated, but here’s an unofficial look at some players that had solid showings, as well as some that looked rather shaky.
RB Isaiah Pead – The Cincinnati product ripped off two huge first-half punt returns to set up the North team with favorable field position. The first was a 60-yard return that ended only because Pead tripped on his own inside the red zone. The second was a 38-yard runback. His 98 punt return yards set a Senior Bowl record. Pead also rushed for 36 yards on eight carries.
DE Quinton Coples – The UNC defensive end stood out all week as one of the most impressive players – if not the most impressive – in the Senior Bowl practices, and he carried that strong play over into the game, recording a sack and three tackles (two of them for a loss).
WR Gerell Robinson – The Arizona State receiver had a 41-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown early in the third quarter for the North. Robinson caught Kirk Cousins’s pass roughly five yards from the line of scrimmage on a crossing route, turned upfield, racing along the right sideline and went the distance. The play put the North up 20-6.
WR Joe Adams – The Arkansas wideout had a productive day for the South team, recording six catches for 116 yards. The 5-foot-11 Adams put his impressive speed to use to produce yards after the catch.
QB Russell Wilson – The Wisconsin signal caller fumbled two snaps, and threw an interception to start the game. But he did rebound to lead a five-play, 46-yard scoring drove that was capped with a touchdown pass to Cal wideout Marvin Jones early in the second quarter.
QB Kirk Cousins – The Michigan State product was the third North QB to get into the game, and moved his team into scoring position inside the 10-yard line. But he threw an interception in the end zone to keep the North from scoring with less than a minute left in the first half.
South QBs as a whole – After looking like the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl all week, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden got the start from Shanahan, and made some nice throws early on. But he seemed to lose his rhythm and threw a first-half interception. Then, after watching for the second and third quarters and some of the fourth, Weeden threw another pick with 4:02 left in the game, killing hopes that he could lead his team to a comeback victory.
San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley didn’t look very good this week in practice and was shaky in Saturday’s game as well. Arizona’s Nick Foles got off to a slow start as well. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Foles finally came through for his team, completing a 20-yard touchdown pass to wideout Juron Criner, also from Arizona. The three South quarterbacks combined to complete 26 of 45 pass attempts for 295 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.