Thursday, January 27, 2011

Senior Bowl: One day you're up, one day you're down

In recent years, the Senior Bowl, it seems, has become the most important primer for the NFL draft.

Draft stocks are boosted or busted during the all-important week in Mobile, Ala. Of course, the Combine in Indianapolis in February is important as well, but down south there are controlled practices, then a game.

At the Combine, it's more about drills, interviews, and workouts. At the Senior Bowl, it's game week, and it's all about the preparation. With that preparation comes perception.

Enter Ricky Stanzi, the Iowa quarterback from Lake Catholic. He's one of six QBs at the Senior Bowl and perhaps the biggest mystery. Two seasons ago, he threw 15 interceptions, but rebounded in a big way as a senior, throwing just four picks and 25 touchdowns.

How is he doing this week? Depending on the online report, it's a toss up. The Sporting News reported on Monday Stanzi bombed on his first day of practice. Later in the week on the National Football Post's Web site, Stanzi was reportedly one of the QBs who has shined during practice.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the NFL draft, where every player has a flaw. The good news for Stanzi: All it takes is one team to show an interest and pull the trigger on draft day.

The day I'm most interested in is Saturday, the day of the Senior Bowl game. I never understood why so many say the week of practice is more important than the game, but what do I know?

A few years ago, Philip Rivers of North Carolina State was lights out in the Senior Bowl and that performance buoyed him in becoming a first-round pick, so there's proof bringing it on game day has value.

Whether or not Stanzi has performed well in practice this week in Mobile, Ala., is debatable. The good news for the QB is he help can himself and his draft stock on Saturday when the ball is kicked off.

- Mark Podolski

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