With a huge amount of underclassmen entering the NFL Draft this year, the Senior Bowl is of paramount importance for these seniors.  They need to answer questions, and show why they should be taken ahead of their junior counterparts.  Some did just that, making a name for themselves.  A few raised questions, and a few shot themselves in the foot.  Here’s what I noticed, and why.

Players that helped themselves:

Von Miller is one player who will climb draft boards, thanks to his play at the Senior Bowl

Von Miller, DE, TAMU- More than anything, Miller lived up to his billing.  He played outstandingly, and displayed a lot of character and toughness.  If the rest of his offseason goes like this, he could emerge as the top pick (possible landing spots: #1 Overall, Carolina Panthers-anywhere).

C. Brown- CB, Texas- No one play stood out, but he made consistent plays and excelled in coverage.  There’s not a lot of flash to him, and he is a little on the small side, but he is a solid third-round pick (Possible landing spots: Washington Redskins, #107 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers 127/128 overall)

C Ponder, QB, FSU- Ponder may have improved his stock more than anyone.  Locker’s sloppy play, and Ponder’s stellar play, may have put him in pole position of all QB’s headed into the draft.  His passes were crisp and on target, he was smart in the pocket and made his receivers look good (

A Dalton, QB, TCU- I am a huge Andy Dalton fan, and he did a great job of showing why he’ll be even better at the next level.  He is smart, has a strong arm and doesn’t make mistakes.  He will be there later in the first round, and possibly slip to the second, but he has put himself in position to be drafted by a team with the pieces he needs to succeed (Possible landing spots: Miami Dolphins, #15, Seattle Seahawks, #25 , Cincinnati Bengals, #36)

O Mereciec, FB/LB, Stanford-Another player without standout plays that improved his draft stock.  Mereciec showed that he can be a true fullback, and do it well.  Not many teams employ fullbacks, but those that do will be glad to get him.

N. Solder, OL, Col- This is a draft short on good offensive line prospects, and Nate Solder helped himself immensely in the Senior Bowl.  He was going up against some very good defensive front seven talent, and he held his own.  Look for him to climb draft boards between now and April.

Kerley, TCU- this is really one play- his TD late in the fourth.  He ran an excellent route, and worked for the score.  It’s the icing on the cake of an excellent career at TCU, and will help his draft stock.

Players that hurt themselves:

J Locker, QB, Wash- Jake Locker is that player who no one is sure about, and will change the way the draft shakes out.  The downside for him is that those players don’t usually preform well.  Vince Young, Vernon Gholston and Brady Quinn all come to mind- and none of them have preformed well.  He did nothing to answer questions about his accuracy or ability with his play today.  No one questions his strength or toughness, and he will only have opportunities to show those off.  He may have put himself in the second round or later with his performance.  He had an opportunity to silence a lot of criticism with a late drive, but he struggled to complete passes in traffic.

R Helu, Jr.  Helu is a solid back, and will be good in the NFL, but he just didn’t do much in this game.  Sometimes bad attention is still attention, and he didn’t play well enough to get more people behind him, and he didn’t play poorly enough to force scouts to look for high points in the rest of his career.

G McElroy, QB, AL