by Grant PaulsenBy Grant Paulsen

Several players helped themselves with strong showings at the Senior Bowl. I chose to highlight three of them. Why these three? They’d all fill needs for the Redskins.

NT Phil Taylor, Baylor

Standing 6-3 and weighing 337 pounds, Taylor was the heaviest player at the Senior Bowl. But the prodigious nose tackle is the antithesis of  ‘fat camp’ heavy. A muscular lineman with plus athleticism, he wears his weight well.

Draft expert Todd McShay recently listed him second on a “rising stock” list he put together. McShay called Taylor “the highest-rated two-gap nose tackle prospect for a 3-4 defense in this year’s class.”

The 22 year-old is viewed as a better run-stuffer than pass rusher right now, but the quickness and power he displayed during Senior Bowl week left most of his spectators confident that he’ll be able to collapse the pocket.  

Taylor is a local kid who grew up in Clinton, Maryland.  His college career began at Penn State, where he spent two seasons before transferring to Baylor. After sitting out a year to comply with NCAA rules, Taylor spent his final two college seasons terrorizing Big-12 offenses and climbing draft boards.

DL Cameron Jordan, California

There may not have been a player who helped himself more at this year’s Senior Bowl than Jordan.

A defensive end in Cal’s base 3-4 defense, there were questions as to whether or not Jordan could playon the  outside of a 3-4 defensive line in the NFL. His 287-pound frame is lighter than most 3-4 ends, especially when considering that he stands 6-foot-4. But he spent all week proving he’s strong enough to anchor a 3-4 front.

The son of an NFL tight end who made six pro bowl appearances in 13 seasons, Jordan lived in the backfield at several practices during his showcase in Mobile. A flexible option considered athletic enough to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 base, the CAL product is the caliber of defender who could make an instant impact next season.

A team like Washington, who didn’t have a defensive lineman with more than 2.5 sacks last season, would be a perfect fit. 

But Jordan is expected to go well after the Redskins’ pick at 10 and well before they make their second selection at No. 41. So don’t buy your burgundy-and-gold Jordan jerseys just yet.  

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State

Ponder was seen as a potential first round pick entering the 2010 season.

At the start of his final year, most draft experts listed him behind only Jake Locker among this year’s top senior passers. But in his final ACC campaign he wasn’t able to stay healthy and his decision-making was called into question. As a result, Ponder showed up in Mobile, Al. with a second round grade.

At 6-3 and 227, Ponder certainly looks the part. He’s a mobile passer with an accurate arm who has proven capable of throwing downfield after rolling out of the pocket (something he’d be asked to do regularly if selected to operate Kyle Shanahan’s offense). 

He threw two touchdowns en route to netting Senior Bowl MVP honors last weekend, but it was his consistent work in the practices leading up to the game that helped his draft stock. There are still some questions about his durability and decision-making, which Ponder will look to answer in upcoming pre-draft workouts.

Teams who like his athleticism and that think he could be a nice fit in their system might see value in selecting him in the second round.


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