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Though it appears that Kenny Vaccaro won't participate as planned, two Longhorns played well during the first day of Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Alabama on Monday.
Continuing momentum from a dominant Alamo Bowl performance regarded by some as the best by a Texas defensive lineman in years, defensive end Alex Okafor was universally hailed as one of the top performers from the first day of practice in preparation for the 2013 Senior Bowl, in turn getting ready for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Alex Okafor making a case for the player of the day today. The DE has adjusted well as a rusher, attacking quickly off snap.— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 21, 2013
Texas DE Alex Okafor had a big day today. Most complete defensive end on the North roster— Shawn Zobel (@ShawnZobel_DHQ) January 21, 2013
The major knock on Okafor is that he's a bit stiff in the hips, which makes it hard to run the arc or demonstrate the type of explosiveness first step that NFL defensive ends need to beat opposing offensive tackles with their pure pass rush.
On Monday, Okafor at least put himself in the best light in that regard:
DE Alex Okafor showing burst initially, sink and bend on outside. Looked maybe the best among DEs.— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 21, 2013
6. Pundits call Alex Okafor stiff, but AFC scout told RW after practice they love his "ability to flatten." #Longhorns— RosterWatch (@RosterWatch) January 22, 2013
Even a former rival agreed that Okafor had a fantastic day:
4) Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson said the best pass rusher he went up against was Texas DE Alex Okafor. Really nice dude.— Eric Dellaratta (@EricDellaratta) January 22, 2013
Okafor is trying to sneak into the last part of the first round and could be able to do so if he continues to play well. In some ways, he probably is who he is right now in the eyes of a lot of NFL scouts as a who has some limitations out of his two-point and three-point stances that may be a result of some hip stiffness, but can rip and club and bullrush from a four-point stance with the best players in the draft.
Being able to execute his best move against some of the top college players could help prove that he can quickly and effectively translate what he does well to the NFL and triggering that ego effect of every NFL staff that will believe they can teach him do some things better to make him a more complete player consistently executing against the run.
For one of the most definitive takes out there, check out SB Nation's own Battle Red Blog's take, one that will apparently find its way into the hands of some NFL teams, for good reason.
Okafor isn't the only Texas player in Mobile, though Kenny Vaccaro isn't participating, as planned -- wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is coming off of one of his best games as a Longhorn, like Okafor, but the stakes are higher since he's trying to improve on his mid-round projection.
Marquise Goodwin struggled to get off press when good technique was used. But showed great quickness in/out of breaks, separation downfield— Sam Mitchell (@samhmitch17) January 22, 2013
Marquise Goodwin (WR Texas) having a good day catching the ball...looks more natural than I expected— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) January 21, 2013
Marqise Goodwin is impressive. Catching everything underneath.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 21, 2013
Goodwin's speed playing well with scouts is hardly a surprise. Pair it with some other solid traits making plays and the early word is that the Olympic long jumper has already helped himself:
Marquise Goodwin showing off Olympic Stride. He's shooting up draft boards out here.— Alex Dunlap (@AlexDunlapNFL) January 21, 2013
For a school that has struggled to land skill position players on offense in the NFL draft, Goodwin making a big move is only a good thing for national perception, which, uh, isn't at its highest level right now.