North team turns up the intensity

MOBILE, Ala-Football fans may view the Senior Bowl as an end-of-the-year All-Star event in which the outcome doesn’t matter, but don’t tell that to the 2010 North team.

Because for these young NFL-hopefuls, this week is the first step in a four-month interview process that will determine the course in which their lives will travel for the next several years.

And that means bringing your A-game to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama every single day. Especially when dozens of NFL scouts, coaches and front office personnel are in attendance scrutinizing your every move.

“Everybody came out here and just was ready to compete,” California cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson told me after practice. “We were out here early and everybody went off the vibe of everyone else and it just clicked today.”

That “vibe” Thompson is referring to was emanating from Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who was without a doubt the loudest and most vocal player on the field during this morning’s practice-a practice that was by far the fastest and most physical session of the week for the North team.

“Weatherspoon is an innovative middle linebacker, so he got us up today,” said Maryland safety Terrell Skinner. “Today we came out with something to prove. We heard that the South team was supposed to win, so that got us amped up.”

Weatherspoon, a 6’1”, 241-pound linebacker, racked up 388 tackles, three forced fumbles, four interceptions and 12 sacks in four years at Missouri. He’s twice been named first team All-Big 12 (’08 and ’09) and was one of four captains for the Tigers this past season.

“He’s [Weatherspoon] always the loud one and that’s good motivation for a team and everybody kind of vibed off that,” said Thompson.

We’ll see how it translates onto the field this Saturday when the North and South square-off in the 2010 Senior Bowl.

And we’ll also see how that intensity pays off for Weatherspoon in this April’s draft.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Here’s what NFP Director of College Scouting Wes Bunting thinks of Sean Weatherspoon:

Sean Weatherspoon: No. 12, OLB, 6007, 241

An explosive athlete, Weatherspoon absolutely fires out of his stance. He gets up to speed instantly when asked to make plays in pursuit. Showcases a nose for the football and does a nice job reading his run/pass keys and breaking on the play. But he doesn’t display the same type of instincts inside the box and, at times, struggles finding the proper run lane to fill. Isn’t very physical at the point of attack and can be washed down the field when linemen get into his frame.

His quickness, however, enables him to slip blocks. Also, he uses his hands well to keep himself clean in traffic. Isn’t quite as fluid in coverage as you would expect. He certainly isn’t stiff, but he lacks the type of change-of-directions skills to consistently make plays on the ball in space. Doesn’t display ideal power on contact and has a tendency to overrun too many tackles. He fails to consistently break down in space. Weatherspoon is a bit on the short side, but he showcases impressive range in pursuit. He will likely find a home as a WLB in a 4-3 scheme.

Grade: 6.2

Follow Wes Bunting on Twitter: @WesBunting

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