Posted: 7:53 am Saturday, January 25th, 2014

5 players to watch in the Senior Bowl today 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

MOBILE, Ala. – In addition to heavily scouting the offensive and defensive linemen, the Falcons came away from their week of Senior Bowl practice impressed with three safeties.

(Also, there was more than a little buzz in personnel circles at the Senior Bowl that the Falcons covet Buffalo free safety Jairus Byrd, who could become an unrestricted free agent if he can’t reach a contract extension with the Buffalo Bills.)

The Falcons had the opportunity to work with Washington State’s Deone Bucannon and Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon. Also, Vanderbilt free safety Kenny Ladler from Stephenson High, who will play for the South, impressed the Falcons.

After chatting with Bucannon, you can see why the Falcons are impressed with the bright young man.

“I think my best skill is my knack for making plays,” Bucannon said. “My football I.Q. is high and those are things that safeties need. I also feel that my instincts are also there as well. I feel like coaches only need to tell me something one time for me to understand it and process it. That helps me learn the defenses.”

Deone Bucannon at the Senior Bowl. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Deone Bucannon at the Senior Bowl. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

And, he’s also humble.

“There are things I need to work on as well,” Cannon said. “I need to work on my (not audible) and my flexibility. Those are the things I need to work on. I’m going to do whatever it takes. Whatever team I’m blessed to be picked by, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get on the field.”

Here are five players to watch in the game at 4 p.m. today on the NFL Network. They impressed the Falcons during Senior Bowl week and could end up in Flowery Branch. The Falcons have selected 14 Senior Bowl players since general manager Thomas Dimitroff took over in 2008:

Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: The All-Big Ten pick is 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds. He was disruptive in practices and difficult to block in the one-on-one drills. He has size and explosion for his size. “He has brunt strength and is as strong as all outdoors,” defensive line coach Bryan Cox said. “He’s done a really good job.”

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: He was dynamite in practices. He has a knack for splitting double teams. He’s 6-1, 288 pounds. He should spend most of his time in the South’s backfield Saturday. He would like to be drafted by the Falcons after spending a week with Cox. “I love the way he coaches,” Donald said. “He doesn’t let you slack at all.”

 

Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler play at Stephenson High and is from Stone Mountain. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Vanderbilt’s Kenny Ladler play at Stephenson High and is from Stone Mountain. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

 

Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt: Ladler, who played at Stephenson High before going on to star for the Commodores, was an all-SEC selection. He has a nose for the football. He was the only FBS player last season with five interception and five forced fumbles. He impressed the coaches with his ability in the classroom.

Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State: Falcons coaches lamented the fact that they won’t be able to blitz, per game rules. But Bucannon picked things up quickly and showed some good range.

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor: He moves with great fluidity as his hips turn with ease. He was an All-American safety and three-year starter, made 288 career tackles, 12 breakups and four interceptions. He was a member of a senior class that played in four straight bowl games for first time in school history and earned program’s first Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl berth in 2013.

33 comments
zuzu331
zuzu331

Here were the top performers according to NFL.COM:Dee Ford Auburn DE,Chris Borland Wisconsin LB,Caraun Reid Princeton DT. Unfortunately no OL prospects stood out.

Its very strange that with Tony Gonzalez leaving,absolutely no mention of any TE at the Senior Bowl. Colorado State TE Crockett Gilmore deserves attention with 5 catches,61 yards and a touchdown. 

Home Grown UGA TE Arthur Lynch had an outstanding week of practice yet no mention.Strange.




redleg24
redleg24

North team played just like the falcons last year.  First play, run up the middle. Second play, run up the middle.  Also played with a lack of energy.  Dull, dull, and duller.

JODILYN
JODILYN

GOODBYE   DECOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  U STINK

JacketMan
JacketMan

While not recognized by any of the "pundits," Jemea Thomas had one of the best games of anyone at the Senior Bowl Saturday. He played such good coverage that the QB's virtually totally avoided passing near his side of the field any time he was playing. He jumped a WR screen causing the QB to eat a pass, allowing for a sack. He provided great run support. When Jemea was out of the game, the QB's felt VERY comfortable passing to areas Jemea HAD been covering when playing.

I guess the fact Jemea was a basic "non-factor" in the game meant he really was a big factor that went unnoticed.

gfw
gfw

UGA76 says: "The sad reality is Atlanta is 2 years away from returning to the upper tier of teams because well over half of their starters aren't in the top 2/3 of the NFL starters at their position. "


Good point---and it IS very sad.  Maybe sadder is that we have no reason to believe that the MacKay-Dimitroff-Smith triumvirate will even get us to No. 1 in our division 2 years.  Saddest of all is that Blank doesn't realize this.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Hi joeT---who is Johnny Fottball?


The North  looked like the loser Falcons did all year.  Sorry coaching!

Better get a OL if the want to win.

JSSN
JSSN

Regarding the performance of the losing North Squad:

"You gotta compete, (I told them) this is your DNA. This film is going to be more scrutinized than any other tape you put out there. I thought the guys did a very nice job int the second half. We had a lot of three and outs. I think there was a string of six or seven consecutive three and outs."  -- North Coach Mike Smith, Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons 


He just can't stop himself!

JSSN
JSSN

Wow, Smith and company really coached up a storm in Mobile! Man, the I-10 bridge is looking mighty tempting for who ever coached those North QBs! Nolan may need to jpin 'em, he's made Derek Carr a very rich young man!

ErnestB
ErnestB

 Is it wise sharing the names of prospects the Falcons may have interest in during draft time?  i thought the advantage of our coaches being there was to get advanced intelligence on players.

ErnestB
ErnestB

Is it wise sharing the names of prospects the Falcons may have interest in during draft time?  i thought the advantage of our coaches being there was to get advanced intelligence on players.

UGA76
UGA76

1.  Dimitroff needs to be fired before the draft because he has no clue about either offensive or defensive lineman.  Does he even know that a team HAS to have 5 OL to start a play?  That's only over 45% of your offensive players and TD has ignored the position or been totally inept at addressing the line.

2.  The sad reality is Atlanta is 2 years away from returning to the upper tier of teams because well over half of their starters aren't in the top 2/3 of the NFL starters at their position.  They need to replace at least 4OL, 4DL, 1LB, 1S, IRB and 1TE.  This doesn't address any depth issues.     

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

Regardless of who the falcan'ts draft, MSmith and his staff will find a way to convert him into a draft bust.

GEAUX SAINTS!!!

JacketMan
JacketMan

If the Falcons can't find a way to protect the $100M+ QB investment, then why did they make that deal in the first place? My point is that Ryan was getting killed last season because his offensive line pretty much stank up the field. So first, and foremost, the Falcons need to address that need, either through Free Agency or the Draft.

Next, since the Falcons spent their first two picks on Corners LAST season, and have All-Pro Safeties on the roster (unless they plan on letting them walk away as free agents), the one would think the Defensive Line and Linebackers would be areas that should be seriously looked at, again, either through Free Agency or the Draft.

I'm not sure what happens first; the start of Free Agency or the Draft. Whichever it is, I think it will be safe to say that the Draft will be heavy in the area the Falcons DIDN'T try to address in the FA market, at least I pray so. However, based on last year's strategy, I can't say that I'm very confident.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

The player I'm watching is Scott Pioli as he advises TD to go grab him a coffee with Rich MacKay while they sit on a nearby bench to watch somebody that actually KNOWS how to evaluate college talent!

jalford
jalford

The Falcons need a new beat writer!!! He is the absolute worst!!!!

Hemmorid_Sufferer_2
Hemmorid_Sufferer_2

“He has brunt strength and is as strong as all outdoors,” defensive line coach Bryan Cox said.


Bryan Cox actually said "brunt" strength?


Can't get much dumber than that.......Oh wait.....This is a Ledbetter blog.....My guess is he said "brute" strength and it was written as "brunt"......Again, more middle school discourse from the AJC. 

Camaro-Bob
Camaro-Bob

The heck with all that the Flacons need 2 trade up 4 Johnny Fottball!

RangeRover
RangeRover

In a word, lineman; specifically offensive lineman.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

The Falcons better be looking at the OL candidates...unless they want Ryan in the hospital...or Ryan paying for his own line!

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

I like these DT's you put on the board DLed.....and that rumor....real nice!

Camaro-Bob
Camaro-Bob

@58Supersports iF U dont no who Johnny Fottball is than U are 1 dum preson. He is the next NFL rokkie of the year and futrue HOFr

Elvis_Is_Alive
Elvis_Is_Alive

Let's see Smith is now 4-17 plus another loss in the Senior Bowl.

I heard a clip where he is telling the kids that playing in this game is a job interview!

I hope Smith listens to his own advice.

And whoever believes Dirk Koetter is a genius needs to be "besties" with Joe Tess!

3 and out is a disease that Smith cannot find a cure, except to make continued excuses saying he'll fix it!

A string of six or seven 3 and outs is identical to the Offensive ourput for the Falcons.

How's that seat feeling Smith? A little warm?

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Hahaha

In fairness, the South had the superior squad butt yea it was rich watching Koetter's offensive systems implode w/o Falcons logos on the helmets.

Carr already had his resume polished for the League. His last name is holding him back. Poor kid, his brother did him no favors unlike Peyton for Eli. He's better than that Bortles & Jameis guy.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@SeenThatB4 Yeah,Saints,'geaux' into the kitchen and get more soda n' chips to watch the big game with the rest of the spectators!!

While youre at it,make me a sammich!!!

 

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

Free Agency starts early March. The draft is in May.

UGA76
UGA76

I can't rate him but he seems way to caught up in the hype positions and doesn't get that over 45% of the offense is lineman.  Atlanta needs 4 new ones to become starters. 

Dman
Dman

I disagree, I like the professors articals...

zuzu331
zuzu331

@MummyHead Who knows what Cox said,He probably was on his fifth plate of BBQ wings when he said it...Dled had just gone to fetch him some more 'wetnaps'....

Camaro-Bob
Camaro-Bob

@AnsweredTHIS Shut yur pie whole U looser

Trackbacks

  1. […] Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State; Ja’wuan James (OT), Tennessee; Marcus Smith (DE), Louisville; Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt and Darqueze Dennard (CB), Michigan […]