MOBILE, Ala. -- The third and final day of Senior Bowl practices was much quieter than the previous two days. A lot of NFL coaches and evaluators still came to Ladd-Peebles Stadium, but attendance was notably lower.
Those who left early missed another good showing from TCU cornerback Kevin White. Yes, there are two players in the 2015 NFL Draft named Kevin White. The other one, the West Virginia wide receiver version, turned down the Senior Bowl.
White put together a consistent week of quality practices where he showed off his instincts and ability to play against bigger receivers despite being just over 5'9 and 180 pounds. When asked about holding up against bigger receivers after Thursday's practice, White just chuckled.
"I like to use my speed and instincts against those guys," White said. "I feel I have good footwork and time my jumps against those guys."
When the two Kevin Whites played each other in November, the cornerback came out on top by helping hold the wide receiver to just three catches for 28 yards.
"I think it helped me elevate my game playing a big body receiver like that," TCU's White said. "It was a good game for me and it was fun to compete against him."
On Thursday White showed his skill to break on the ball in a hurry. Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson underthrew a pass and White closed on it for an interception. The cornerback may not have the top 15 draft ceiling the wide receiver does, but he should get picked higher than expected.
Introducing Ali Marpet
Unless you attend tiny Hobart College in New York's Finger Lakes region, you may have never heard of Ali Marpet. After his performance at the Senior Bowl, get used to the name.
This week Marpet was moved from tackle to guard and thrived. He was notably more aggressive than the other players on the field and played with a mean streak that turned heads. Marpet made a concerted effort to show his aggression coming out of a Division III school.
"I'm a competitive person, so I'm always trying to take the fight to someone," Marpet said Thursday. "Sometimes it was harder at this level this week because they're so much quicker off the ball, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job of that.
"I wanted to show I can hold my own and dominate the competition. I'm not just here to be OK. I'm trying to excel."
Excel he did for the North team. In just three practices, he went from unknown to being a likely draft pick.
"It's hard to grade someone who is going against Division III talent, so it's hard to get a grade on them because of the level of competition," Marpet said. "So hopefully I now have some new tape and the scouts can evaluate me accurately."
The continued evolution of Nick Marshall
Auburn's Nick Marshall is in the third day of his transition from being a college quarterback to an NFL cornerback. Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who is coaching Marshall's South team, has been impressed by his progress.
"First of all, you had to get him in the right stance. Now you’re seeing him transition pretty well with his footwork with his poise and his patience," Bradley said. "It’s three days, so it’s hard to evaluate, but you do his progress."
It's easy to see that Marshall is playing catchup at the position. He likes to use his hands in a way that may get him penalized in a game setting and his timing on jump balls isn't quite there yet. Still, some team is going to use a pick on Marshall in hopes of developing his athleticism.
Florida center Max Garcia made the most of his opportunity after being a late addition to the roster. Garcia is a taller center, but he still manages to get low and play with good power. Want some true praise? Along with Duke guard Laken Tomlinson, defensive tackle Danny Shelton said Garcia was the toughest player he went up against.
Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail made some waves lining up at tight end on Thursday. Trail has been lined up at linebacker in coverage drills, at traditional end and now tight end. During a red zone drill for the South team, Trail caught a touchdown. The look at tight end came at Trail's request. At 6'6 and 262 pounds, he strikes an imposing figure as a tight end. This time last year there was some thought Larry Webster could switch from defensive to tight end coming out Bloomsburg, but he stayed on defense. Trail may not be a two-way player, but some teams do view him as a tight end.
Minnesota running back David Cobb had extra carries on Thursday thanks to minor injuries to Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska and Jeremy Langford of Michigan State. Cobb took full advantage. He decisively hits the hole and showed much better burst than he did playing for the Gophers. Cobb may not get picked until the third day of the draft because of position devaluation, but he could be one of those steal picks in the fourth round.
Ibraheim Campbell is listed as a safety, but on Thursday he looked like a cornerback. In consecutive reps in a press drill he knocked around wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Devin Smith. A few reps later he pulled in an interception. Campbell is a player who won’t get drafted high, but he looks like he can contribute as a backup free safety in the NFL.
With Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson closely watching, Southern California middle linebacker Hayes Pullard breezed through footwork drills. Pullard's quick feet are one of his better traits. He can move around the field effortlessly and that helps him get in position to make plays. He's also shown this week that he can be aggressive when closing on the ball carrier. He also intercepted a pass later in practice during one-on-one drills.
Some credit has to be given to Harvard linebacker Zack Hodges. During those same footwork drills on the North team, Hodges was noticeably slow due to a knee strain. He still finished every drill and worked some in scrimmage situations. On one play he crashed down and set the edge as well as you could ask. When he got back to the sidelines, though, he was limping.