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Stock rising for Senior Bowl standouts


BC defensive tackle B.J. Raji (90) dominated the competition in a standout week at the Senior Bowl.

Here's a look at whose stock is on the rise after a week of practice for the Senior Bowl, which was won by the South team 35-18 on Saturday behind West Virginia quarterback Pat White's MVP performance. Most scouts, coaches and general managers from around the NFL departed Mobile, Ala., late Wednesday, which was the last day of full-pads practice.

Though the Senior Bowl is just one piece of the puzzle in determining a player's draft value, the following prospects gave scouts plenty to think about as teams head back to their respective home cities to evaluate film. Next up on the pre-draft docket is the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 18-24.

Defensive standouts

DT B.J. Raji (6-2, 334), Boston College: No player in Mobile garnered as much buzz as Raji, who often was unblockable in one-on-one practice drills against top center talent such as Cal's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger. Raji is a stout player who can disrupt the line of scrimmage against the run and push the pocket against the pass. Scouts know that Raji is no one-week wonder, as he has four years of film to back up his superb Senior Bowl showing.

LB Brian Cushing (6-3, 243), USC: All three of USC's linebackers – Rey Maualuga, Cusing and Clay Matthews – were impressive, but it was Cushing's name that seemed to come up most often in my conversations with scouts and other observers. There are concerns about Cushing's injury history at USC, but he turned heads from day one of Senior Bowl week when he was among the most chiseled prospects at the player weigh-in. During practice, Cushing showed great speed and a consistent ability to make plays all over the field. He has the versatility to line up at any linebacker spot.

CB Darius Butler (5-10, 178), UConn:An all-star game like the Senior Bowl can be invaluable for players from off-the-radar schools, and UConn's Butler made the most of his time in front of scouts this week. A cover corner with great athleticism, Butler showcased good transition out of breaks, lateral quickness and excellent footwork. A cousin of Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee, Butler doubled as a productive kick returner at UConn and showed flashes in the return game this week. Other cornerbacks who boosted their stock in Mobile were Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith (5-9, 183) and San Jose State's Coye Francies (6-1, 185).

Offensive standouts

RB Andre Brown (6-0, 224), N.C. State:Brown didn't have the most productive college career, never totaling more than 767 yards in a single season, but he might have had the best showing of any running back in Mobile. Brown hits the hole hard and showed that he isn't afraid to be physical and fight for yards after contact. He also looked solid catching passes out of the backfield. At this point, Brown looks like a solid third- or fourth-round draft pick.

WR Juaquin Iglesias (6-0, 204), Oklahoma:After a strong week in Mobile, Iglesias cemented his place as one of the elite receiver prospects in this year's draft. He consistently wowed scouts with his strong hands, whether in traffic over the middle or out in space near the sidelines, and showed the ability to get separation in the red zone. Iglesias was the best of a talented receiver bunch at the Senior Bowl.

WR Ramses Barden (6-6, 227), Cal Poly:Barden didn't have as strong of a week as the players listed above, but of all the small-school prospects at the Senior Bowl, he drew the most attention. Along with his height, Barden has long arms and strong hands and did a good job using his massive frame to shield himself from defensive backs during the week. He is unrefined as a route runner and will need to polish that aspect of his game to be successful at the pro level, but Barden's size and growth potential make him an intriguing prospect.

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