MOBILE, Ala. – Fans came from all across the country Saturday to get a glimpse at their favorite college players in the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl. This year's game sold out in record time as a fan favorite, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, was set to play in the game. However, it wasn't Tebow that stole the show. The stars of the game were two prospects that the Baltimore Ravens scouts were watching closely all week; Brandon Graham and Mardy Gilyard.
Mardy Gilyard, the play-making wide receiver from Cincinnati, was an absolute star on offense. Though he had an up and down week on the practice field, Gilyard came alive under the game lights. Proving that he is a versatile threat, Gilyard recorded 52 yards in kickoff returns and 24 in punt returns. Gilyard showed excellent vision as a returner, but excelled even more as a wide receiver. Mardy caught five passes for 103 yards and one touchdown in the North's dominate 31-13 victory over the South.
Eric DeCosta and his team of scouts were in Mobile this week and Gilyard fits the profile of what they're looking for on offense; an explosive playmaker. Gilyard isn't the fastest player on the field, but he can read a defense well and finds ways to get open against a defender. His abilities as a return man make him an even more interesting option for the Ravens. With Brandon LaFell deciding not to participate in the Senior Bowl, Gilyard has shown that he is the top senior wide receiver in this year's draft and a play-making option that the Ravens might be interested in.
Earlier this week, Gilyard spoke about the possibility of playing on the Ravens offense.
"It would mean a lot," said Gilyard. "Just to be able to play with a leader on a team like Joe Flacco, I mean, he owns that offense. He really, really does a good job at controlling that offense."
When asked if he had talked to the Ravens scouts yet, Mardy replied "They definitely told me that they're interested in me."
Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham was a force to be reckoned with for the North as the offensive linemen of the South team just couldn't seem to block him. Graham spent a tremendous amount of time in the backfield, recording two sacks and forcing a fumble from Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson. Graham was named the game's MVP, and was well deserving of the award.
Graham has dominated in practice all week, showing quickness off the line of scrimmage and an array of pass rushing moves that can leave an offensive lineman's head spinning.
"I just want to let [scouts] know that my motor just keeps going," Graham said. "I love football and I just want to make plays and sack the quarterback."
After a strong performance this week, Graham may have secured a position in the first round of the draft, but the ceiling is still high for the former Wolverine. There's a chance that he could already be off the board when the Ravens are on the clock at No. 25.
While the Ravens have a lot of options when draft day rolls around, it's hard to ignore the talents of Graham on defense and Gilyard on offense. The Ravens are looking for play makers on both sides of the ball to provide the explosive plays needed to reach a Super Bowl, and both Graham and Gilyard could fit that bill.
No matter what happens, both players can rest assured that they've helped themselves climb the Ravens' big board.
Will Spencer is the lead writer at Draft Breakdown (www.draftbreakdown.com) and a draft contributor for BaltmoreRavens.com.