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Wisconsin's Chris Borland compared to Zach Thomas


MOBILE, Ala. -- The third day of practices at the Reese's Senior Bowl wrapped up Wednesday. Here are some of the things we learned about the top prospects here:

Murray taking part

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is the only player on hand for the Senior Bowl who is essentially being granted an exemption for a roster spot because of an injury. He already had accepted his Senior Bowl invitation before he tore his ACL against Kentucky in November, and Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage wanted to reciprocate the commitment.

"I reached out to Georgia and said, 'Hey, if he is interested in coming down to do the meetings and interviews, we'd welcome that since he committed to us,'" Savage said. "That's how that came about. We really would only do it for a quarterback, because it opens up too many questions in terms of positions, and 'Hey, I'm hurt, but can I come down anyway?'"

Murray, in turn, is taking advantage by interviewing with clubs and updating them on his fast-track rehabilitation.

Borland draws elite comparison

Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland (5-11, 245 pounds) isn't the most graceful-looking athlete by any stretch, but the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has certainly caught Smith's attention.

"I've been very impressed with Chris Borland. He reminds me of Zach Thomas, who had a great career in the NFL."

Thomas played 13 seasons and made over 1,000 tackles, nearly all of them with the Miami Dolphins. On Tuesday, Borland made a nice play to intercept a Logan Thomas pass, and is determined to show that he is capable of playing well in coverage.

Replacing Colvin

South defensive lineman Brent Urban of Virginia has been scratched, along with Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin, who tore his ACL Tuesday. New additions for the South include Boston College offensive lineman Matt Patchan and Louisiana Tech defensive end IK Enemkpali. Asked if he had an advantage over his new teammates with fresh legs, Enemkpali smiled and scoffed at the notion.

"I've been working out getting ready for the draft -- I did a legs workout just yesterday. My legs aren't that fresh," he said.

Donald = Atkins

Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald continued to improve his draft stock Wednesday with another strong performance. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah heard the same thing over and over Wednesday:

Donald said that while he can play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme, he feels most comfortable as a three-technique defensive tackle.

McCullers done with soda

If there was one player on either roster who scouts probably suspected would check into the Senior Bowl overweight, it had to have been Tennessee nose guard Daniel McCullers, who battled weight issues for much of his college career. Instead, McCullers (6-foot-7) tipped the Monday scale at 348 pounds. He said swearing off of Mountain Dew soda was a big help in his weight maintenance.


"I haven't seen anyone block him all week." - AFC scout on Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who has dominated pass rush drills.

Falcons' Smith takes a dig at himself

Falcons coach Mike Smith has used the acronym FBI (football intelligence) throughout the practice week in discussing players who have shown an ability to adapt quickly to new techniques and, in some cases, a new scheme. But when a Senior Bowl representative introduced Smith, Stanford's Trent Murphy and Princeton's Caraun Reid at a news conference by saying, "We're bringing in a bunch of smart guys today," Smith declined to be lumped into such academic company.

"That doesn't include me," he said with a laugh. "I went to a directional school."

Smith played at East Tennessee State University.

Quick hits

A few observations from the South squad passing drills Wednesday:

» Quarterbacks David Fales and Derek Carr each completed deep fly routes down the left sideline with almost perfect touch. Fales connected with BYU's Cody Hoffman over cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks of Georgia Souther, and Carr found Texas' Mike Davis over cornerback Walt Aikens of Liberty. South coach Gus Bradley said wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan of the Jaguars has been especially impressed by Davis in practice this week.

» Speaking of Davises, Auburn cornerback Chris Davis made his share of plays in coverage but was a little on the grabby side to make it happen. Davis broke up a dig route intended for Alabama's Kevin Norwood and a deep pass intended for Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. But he was also holding downfield on a few receivers, most noticeably on an out route intended for Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders.

» Florida CB Jaylen Watkins had a nice pass breakup on a slant route intended for Matthews.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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