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Purdue's Kerrigan among prospects flashing elite skills

MOBILE, Ala. -- Here are my observations from Day 3 at the Senior Bowl:

» Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan is the real deal as a pass rusher. He comes off the edge with an exceptional first step, and has the capability to turn speed into power on bull rushes. As a relentless, high-motor rusher with strong hands, he has a knack for quickly shedding blockers. He repeatedly overwhelmed the opposition with his energy, and his ability to get to the quarterback has been impressive. Although there might be other pass rushers with more physical gifts in the draft, Kerrigan has the potential to consistently put up double-digit sacks on the next level.

» Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo has emerged as the top offensive tackle at the Senior Bowl. He is a polished technician with good feet and hands. He does a great job of staying in front of athletic rushers and his accurate hand placements allow him to quickly gain control at the point of attack. Even though he has split time at both tackle spots, it is obvious after watching his stellar play this week that he has the goods to play left tackle as a pro.

» It has been an up-and-down week for Colorado's Nate Solder, but he still ranks as one of the top offensive tackle prospects. He has struggled against speed rushers off the edge and his inability to keep his hands inside has led to a few potential holding calls in drills. In spite of those struggles, he still possesses the potential to be an elite left tackle. He is an excellent athlete with prototypical size (6-foot-9, 315 pounds). His ceiling remains high because of his physical gifts. If he can show more consistency during the latter part of the week, Solder can solidify his stock.

» Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray is causing scouts to reconsider his potential as an every-down back. He had been pegged as an ideal change-of-pace option due to his exceptional speed and quickness, but he has surprised many with his blocking ability. He has shown better than anticipated toughness and tenacity while taking on rushers in team drills. His ability to hold his own as a blocker will lead some teams to push him up the charts as a potential three-down player.

Senior Bowl on NFL Network:
[internal-link-placeholder-1] On Saturday, Jan. 29, top senior college football players compete in front of NFL talent evaluators at the 2011 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Coverage begins on NFL Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.

» Marshall TE Lee Smith didn't receive a lot of notoriety prior to the Senior Bowl, but scouts are buzzing about his ability to be a premier blocking tight end. At 6-foot-6, 267 pounds, he nearly possesses the size of an offensive tackle, but with better movement skills. He does an effective job of sealing the edge on outside runs. He also has strong hands, which make it tough for undersized defensive ends to escape his clutches at the point of attack. Although he has some limitations as a pass-catcher, the fact that he can dominate in the running game will help his stock.

» Miami WR Leonard Hankerson has helped himself tremendously this week. He has been the most consistent playmaker on the South squad, and his skill set makes most scouts believe that he could eventually become a No. 1 receiver. He has the speed and quickness to run all of the routes in the route tree and flashes some sneaky explosiveness with the ball in his hands. With few wideouts capable of being a lead receiver, Hankerson is an intriguing prospect to watch during the run-up to the draft.

Offensive line talent runs deep

Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod is among a talented group of blockers trying to separate himself from the pack at the Senior Bowl, says Pat Kirwan.

» Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State is showing promise as a potential left tackle. He has good size, athleticism and movement skills for the position. He also shows a decent initial punch. He doesn't overpower defenders with his strength, but maintains good body position and is a solid finisher. With more teams utilizing zone-based schemes with a variety of pass protections, Sherrod's balance and body control make him an ideal fit at left tackle.

» Arkansas TE D.J. Williams will likely be used as an H-Back as a pro, but he should make an instant impact as a between-the-hashes pass-catcher. He has a knack for getting free from tight coverage and shows good hands in traffic. Even though he is not necessarily a big target at slightly over 6-1, 236 pounds, his athleticism and receiving skills will make him a hybrid weapon.

» Miami DE Allen Bailey will be a tough evaluation for scouts because he has exceptional talent, but he is unrefined with his rush moves. He is solely dependent on his raw power to get to the quarterback. While he has been productive throughout his college career, he has struggled getting to the quarterback in one-on-one and team drills. He is better suited to play as an interior rusher in nickel packages.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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