Iowa's Carl Davis epitomizes the purpose of the Senior Bowl. A player who didn't necessarily garner much attention as a fifth-year player on the Iowa Hawkeyes' defensive line, he received an invite to the Senior Bowl, and after a week of work on Ken Whisenhunt's North squad, he was named the Practice Player of the Week leading into Saturday's Senior Bowl game.
An event that showcases the top talent among the senior class, the most highly scouted bowl game is the unofficial launch to the scouting season. The imaginary stock of players rises and falls based on performances in this game, and the players involved have their last game opportunity to show their skills both in practice and in the game itself.
Davis won the overall award, and Washington's Danny Shelton was named the top defensive lineman. Here's a list of the other award winners by position:
Quarterback: Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
Wide receiver: Phillip Dorsett, Miami
Running back: David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Offensive lineman: Laken Tomlinson, Duke
Linebacker: Stephone Anthony, Clemson
Defensive back: Kevin White, TCU
Tomlinson could be the highest standing of the group. A well-balanced and intelligent right guard prospect from Duke, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock came away impressed with his work against Shelton - who's almost guaranteed to be a first round pick.
The Steelers may be in the market for a guard, particularly if one can show some position flexibility. David DeCastro won't move from the right side, but finding a left guard has to be a priority for this team, with longtime fixture Ramon Foster entering the final year of his contract with a $2.1 million cap number ($1.8 million savings with $300,000 dead if released this year).
The talk surrounding the Steelers this offseason will be about the team's lack of pass rush. The Steelers' outside linebackers are put into coverage often enough that prospects need to show their ability to drop and react to receivers in zone. The lack of film on that skill from Missouri DE/OLB prospect Markus Golden may keep him a bit lower on the Steelers' board (his 31-inch arms won't help, either) but his explosiveness off the edge has to be intriguing. He's a middle round prospect, but one to watch Saturday.
Another one is Utah's Nate Orchard. He's the quintessential "tweener," a player who, on draft day, will look too small to play defensive end but also not fluid enough of an athlete to consider using in coverage as an outside linebacker. He plays with good technique and, working as a defensive end in college, has an array of pass rush moves - something sticking up the development of Steelers OLB Jarvis Jones. He wouldn't be an option for the Steelers in the first round, but don't rule him out for the second round - he'll need to show he can drop into coverage and move with more agility, but he's ahead of the curve in terms of his technique.
Hau'oli Kikaha can be filed into "work-in-progress." Think of him as a pass-rush technician, but he lacks strong run-supporting abilities. Most intriguing, he was a judo champion in his native Hawaii, and has aspirations of taking up a mixed martial arts career if football doesn't work out. A real effort kind of guy, but his background in martials arts - wrestling, too - shows in his film. He uses his hands well. He really just isn't big enough be seen as a defensive end, and teams won't value him as a first round pick, unless they see him being purely a situational player (read: loaded defenses could see him as an appealing option late in the first round).