How much did former UGA defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens help themselves at the Senior Bowl?
So much that they possibly could become late first-round picks in this year’s NFL draft, according to Russ Lande, a former NFL scout who evaluates players for Sporting News.
Both Owens and Atkins were identified by Lande “and his team of former NFL scouts” among seven players who helped their draft stock at the Senior Bowl.
Writing in today’s edition of Sporting News Today, Lande said Atkins’ strong performance will move him into the second round of the draft and, if sustained in spring workouts, could get him into the bottom of the first round. Owens, Lande writes, was considered “a likely third- or fourth-round pick” before the Senior Bowl practices and game but is now seen “as a definite second-rounder, with a good chance to move into the first round.”
It was a week of good reviews for Atkins and Owens in Mobile. A few days ago, Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano — coach of the South squad for the Senior Bowl — was quoted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on the UGA DT tandem: “They’re both certainly high-energy guys that play with great fundamentals. Really are fundamentally very, very good. Do a super job that way. I enjoy watching those kind of guys play that play with that kind of energy, run around pretty well, give you fits up front offensively, show good strength at the point of attack, those type of things. They’re a handful for some of those linemen. They’ve done a nice job this week so far.”
Here’s the full analysis on Atkins from Sporting News’ Lande:
Atkins (6-1, 286) came to Mobile viewed as an undersized lineman who would struggle matching up against much bigger NFL guards. But after an excellent week of practice and a strong showing in the game, we are confident he has eliminated those doubts.
He consistently showed the rare quickness and explosiveness to shoot gaps and blow up plays in the backfield. As a smaller tackle, he shocked many NFL people with his strength against much bigger blockers. Atkins’ strong Senior Bowl will move him into the second round. If he can sustain his performance in spring workouts, he could move into the bottom of the first round.
And on Owens:
Owens did not have a dominant college season in his return from a season-ending knee injury in 2008. As a result, NFL people wondered if he would ever get back to being the player he was before the injury. Owens erased many of those concerns by shining at Mobile.
He dominated at the point of attack with strength, hand use and the explosiveness to jolt blockers. But what grabbed the NFL’s attention most was Owens’ ability to beat one-on-one pass blocks with very quick pass-rush moves. Before the Senior Bowl, Owens was considered a likely third- or fourth-round pick. Now, he is viewed as a definite second-rounder, with a good chance to move into the first round.
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