No standouts among QBs
7:18 p.m. ET: The teams combined for 123 plays in the Senior Bowl, and 70 of them were passes. But the six quarterbacks didn't exactly light it up.
South quarterbacks Derek Carr (Fresno State), David Fales (San Jose State) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) were 19-of-30 for 181 yards, two TDs and a pick. Not great, but better than their South counterparts. The South's trio -- Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Miami's Stephen Morris and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas -- went 21-of-39 for just 138 yards, no TDs and two picks. (South WR Kevin Norwood also threw a pass, which was intercepted.)
None of the quarterbacks did anything to truly change anyone's minds. If you liked a guy going in, you liked him coming out. And if you didn't like a guy going in, none of the six did anything in the game to force you to change your mind.
One note: Thomas is known for his mobility, but he looked like a sitting duck in the pocket and was sacked five times.
Ford named Senior Bowl MVP
6:59 p.m. ET: It has been a good month for Auburn DE Dee Ford. He had two sacks and tormented Florida State OT Bobby Hart in the BCS championship game. He flashed his quickness and pass-rush ability during Senior Bowl practices. And he had two sacks, a pass breakup and numerous quarterback hurries during the Senior Bowl to earn MVP honors.
The South won, 20-10.
Ford made Hart look bad in the title game, and did the same Saturday to Ohio State's Jack Mewhort and Clemson's Brandon Thomas. He also drew a penalty on Notre Dame's Zack Martin, who was the most impressive lineman all week.
"I think I made a statement that I can be a complete player," Ford said on the field after the game.
The question about Ford now is whether he can be an NFL end. He measured 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds during Monday's weigh-in, and there is a school of thought that because of his size, his best position in the NFL will be outside linebacker. But his coverage skills are an unknown and it's a risk to take him expecting him to transition easily to that position. He looks like a pass-rushing end.
White a bright spot for North
6:42 p.m. ET: Wisconsin RB James White scored on a short run for the North's first TD of the day. White has played well, with 61 yards on 11 carries. He also has a team-leading four receptions (but for just 12 yards).
White shared carries with Melvin Gordon this season for the Badgers, and they became the first duo in NCAA history to each rush for 1,400 yards. White finished with 1,444 yards this season. It was the second 1,000-yard season for White, who seemingly always has been the "other" guy. It started in high school, at powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas. As a prep senior, White shared carries with Gio Bernard, now with the Cincinnati Bengals. At Wisconsin, White shared carries with Montee Ball (2010-12), John Clay (2010-11) and Gordon (2012-13).
While Gordon is far more explosive, White has good speed and can turn the corner. White also is a tough between-the-tackles runner and can be an effective receiver. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said White is the most complete back he has been around, and that includes Robert Turbin, who played for Andersen at Utah State and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Gordon is a third-day prospect, and one selling point is that because he has shared carries, he has a lot of tread left on his tires.
Don't forget the little guys
6:31 p.m. ET: For all the talk about big corners in this Senior Bowl, the interceptions in this half have come from 5-9 corners Chris Davis of Auburn, who jumped a route and picked off a pass from Miami's Stephen Morris, and Nevin Lawson of Utah State, who picked off an underthrown deep ball by David Fales.
Davis is the better prospect of the two, and his kick-return abilities are a positive. Lawson is a quick guy from south Florida who -- despite his lack of size -- plays with a physical manner. Indeed, he got dinged by some during Senior Bowl practices for being a bit too "handsy."
Reid gets to Thomas twice
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6:03 p.m. ET: Princeton's Caraun Reid made an impact with back-to-back sacks of Logan Thomas, who now has been sacked four times. Reid showed well during the week of practice, and he displayed excellent quickness in notching his sacks. He torched Baylor All-American G Cyril Richardson on the first and Miami's Brandon Linder on the second.
Reid could go as early as the second round, but the third or fourth round seems more likely. He has good strength at the point of attack and shows well against the run.
North QBs struggling
5:51 p.m.: North quarterbacks lived up to their billing in the first half of the Senior Bowl -- and that's not good.
As a group, the trio of former ACC stars -- Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Miami's Stephen Morris and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas -- often was criticized for their inaccuracy. That showed in the first half, which ended with the South leading 20-3. The North quarterbacks were a combined 9-of-21 for 43 yards and a pick; Boyd threw that on a deep floater that ended the North's first possession.Boyd was 7-of-16 for 31 yards, Thomas 2-of-2 for 12 yards and Morris was 0-of-3. But Thomas also was sacked twice, both times by Auburn DE Dee Ford, who was dominant in the first half, and didn't throw any deep passes.
The North's leading receiver? Wisconsin running back James White, with four receptions for all of 12 yards.
White and Toledo's David Fluellen did flash some in the running game. Neither is a blazer, but both run hard between the tackles and also can turn the corner.
The South QBs (Carr; Garoppolo; Fales) are outclassing their peers on the other side. Group looks more decisive w/reads & throws.#SeniorBowlâ Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 25, 2014
Carr in the first half
5:44 p.m. ET: Fresno State's Derek Carr was 6-of-9 for 44 yards and a TD in the first half of the Senior Bowl, which ended with Carr's South team leading 20-3.
Carr worked under center and out of the shotgun, and befitting a guy who worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun in college, he looked more comfortable in that formation.
As NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks tweeted, Carr had some footwork issues in the first half, which is perhaps his biggest negative overall. Carr's TD pass came on a simple crossing pattern to Colorado State TE Crockett Gilmore, who was untouched before the caught the ball and also afterward. That ended the South's first drive and gave an indication of how easy it would be for the South, which dominated the first half.
Derek Carr's footwork is inconsistent in the pocket. His overcomes his flaws w/superior arm talent, but better footwork would raise his playâ Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 25, 2014
Mizzou's Sam makes a play
5:16 p.m. ET: Hey, the North defense rises up and gets a sack from Missouri DE Michael Sam to end a South drive. Sam's quickness was too much for North Dakota State OT Billy Turner.
Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks playing end, but there is a school of thought that he would be best-suited as an outside linebacker in the NFL. Charles Davis pointed out that Sam looked ill at ease at linebacker this week and said he thought Sam could be an end in the NFL.
Fales gives South 20-0 lead
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5:08 p.m. ET: San Jose State QB David Fales' first drive results in a TD for the South, which now leads 20-0. Fales scrambled and found Alabama WR Kevin Norwood wide open for a TD pass. Earlier in the drive, Colorado State TE Crockett Gilmore made a great catch off an off-target Fales throw.
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, who is quick for a 230-pounder who used to play fullback on the FCS level, had a couple of nice runs, including one in which he ran through a huge hole created by Virginia OT Morgan Moses and Vanderbilt G Wesley Johnson.
Johnson was a left tackle at Vandy, but some NFL teams see him as a guard. He struggled at times at guard during Senior Bowl practices. Moses, who can block out the sun because of his size, had a strong week. He had issues with consistency at Virginia, but at his best, he is a bone-crushing run-blocker with surprisingly quick feet in pass protection.
South's speed dominating
4:49 p.m. ET: Logan Thomas threw a nice third-down pass to Marshall TE Gator Hoskins, but it wasn't nearly enough for a first down, as the South's defensive speed continues to present the North offense -- especially the offensive line -- with a ton of problems.
Auburn DE Dee Ford had another sack, this time while lining up at right end across from Clemson OT Brandon Thomas, and Arizona State DT Will Sutton blew past Michigan's Michael Schofield for a tackle for loss on a running play. Schofield played tackle at Michigan, but some teams think he is best suited for guard in the NFL. Alas, he struggled at guard during practice this week, and on the play against Sutton.
Sutton had an uneven week, and his weight (above 300 pounds) is a point of concern; he would be better off weighing around 285 or so.
The South leads 10-0 after one quarter.
Ford picks up sack
4:36 p.m. ET: Logan Thomas came on at quarterback for the North team, but it didn't matter, as the South defense's quickness again looked overwhelming. Auburn DE Dee Ford blew past Ohio State's Jack Mewhort for a third-down sack. Earlier in the drive, Mewhort -- who played left tackle for the Buckeyes but was lined up on the right side on the drive -- was called for holding on Ford.
FCS star Jimmy Garoppolo has come on at quarterback for the South. His quick release has drawn raves from the booth.
Carr to Gillmore for six
4:22 p.m. ET: Fresno State QB Derek Carr and his South teammates carved up the North defense on a quick TD drive on their first possession. Carr worked out of the shotgun at Fresno and was in that formation for the South; he showed off his quick release and received some help from Alabama WR Kevin Norwood and Colorado State TE Crockett Gilmore, who ran a simple crossing pattern, was wide open and gamboled into the end zone with a 17-yard scoring reception.
Presumably, Carr will line up under center as the game progresses. One of the biggest questions about the 5,000-yard passer is how comfortable he will be when he isn't in the shotgun.
Nice drive by Derek Carr. The bubble screens are lay ups, but nice read & reaction on the TD pass. Worked through progression to find TEâ Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 25, 2014
Rough start for Boyd
4:17 p.m. ET: An inauspicious Senior Bowl debut drive for Clemson QB Tajh Boyd. His first pass was tipped, and he later was picked off when he floated a pass to speedy Wyoming WR Robert Herron, who had torched his man off the line, and LSU S Craig Loston picked it off. It was an easy pick for Loston.
Boyd and the rest of the North quarterbacks were inconsistent during practices, and Boyd did not get off to a good start.
West Virginia RB Charles Sims did show well on his only carry, running for 8 yards on a play in which he was able to turn the corner. Jeremiah called him the "top guy among the running backs," and Sims showed a burst on his run.
Four in the spotlight
4:10 p.m. ET: The Senior Bowl just kicked off, and in the final pregame segment, NFL Media draft analysts Charles Davis and Dabiel Jeremiah spotlighted four players: Fresno State QB Derek Carr, Pitt DT Aaron Donald, Auburn DE/OLB Dee Ford and Notre Dame OT Zack Martin.
Carr generally was thought of as the best quarterback at the event, and Davis said he had lived up to that billing.
Martin made a big jump, but how big is the question. He generally was considered a tier below Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Auburn's Greg Robinson among tackle, but those two weren't at the event, and Martin used his opportunity to climb most draft boards.
Donald was called the "most dominating defensive player" during the week by Jeremiah, and Ford earned kudos for his pass rush and his ability to hold up against the run.
Full list of players
3:31 p.m. ET: Rosters for today's Senior Bowl are available at this link from at the official Senior Bowl web site. Unfortunately, if you care about that kind of stuff, the heights and weights listed are not necessarily the ones taken at Monday's official weigh-in. The best list of all of the weigh-in results we have found is here.
Watch out for these guys
3:22 p.m. ET: Here are five other players to keep an eye on during the Senior Bowl telecast:
» Baylor S Ahmad Dixon (North team): Dixon (5-foot-11, 204 pounds) is a big hitter who seems to relish contact. No one questions his athleticism or ability to lay the wood, but he never really has stood out in coverage. Will he show anything in that regard during the game?
» Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo (South team): Garoppolo (6-2, 219) put up huge numbers this season, throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 TDs en route to being named the FCS player of the year. He starred last week at the East-West Shrine Game, and was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster (he can thank A.J. McCarron's decision to bypass the game for that). Garoppolo is known for his quick release, which is something to keep an eye on today.
» Miami OT Seantrel Henderson (North team): Henderson (6-6, 331) is mammoth and has all the needed physical tools. But his production never matched the hype, and he admitted this week that he has had issues with marijuana. When he is focused and fully engaged, he can be dominant. Let's see what he does today.
» Wyoming WR Robert Herron (North team): Herron (5-8, 193) was a relative unknown to most fans, but not to NFL scouts. He is a blazer -- he has been clocked in the 4.3 range in the 40 -- but he also is small. He looks as if he fits best as a slot receiver. Will he produce today?
» Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers (South team): McCullers (6-6, 348) is another mammoth dude who, frankly, never did all that much for the Vols. Off his size alone, he's a first-rounder. So why is he generally considered a mid-round pick (third round or lower)? His technique frequently lapses and he plays way too high, enabling smaller offensive linemen to get into his body and move him.
Getting ready for kickoff
3:14 p.m. ET: We're about 45 minutes from the kickoff of the Reese's Senior Bowl (4 p.m. Eastern, NFL Network), and while it's true that the game won't feature that many first-rounders -- that's an impossibility, given that the bulk of the first-round picks will be underclassmen -- there still is a lot of talent on hand.
If you followed college football at all this season, you should know all about Donald. He had incredible production (28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks from a defensive tackle?) and cleaned up on the awards trail.
All season long, though, the word was his lack of height -- Donald is 6-foot -- would hamper him when it came to NFL evaluations. Based off what happened at the Senior Bowl, the height concerns have been alleviated to the point where he very well could go late in the first round, most likely to a team that uses a 4-3 scheme and expects its linemen to get upfield.
The Senior Bowl usually also features guys with something to prove. We're not talking "desperation mode" yet -- heck, we're still about four months from the draft -- but it's never too soon to impress NFL scouts. NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks has five such players to keep an eye on today.
Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.