Arenas looking to finish off solid week with big game

MOBILE, Ala-Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas knows what’s at stake during Senior Bowl week.

The 2009 Associated Press All-American from Tampa wanted to work hard in practice, not just to help improve his stock for April’s NFL draft, but to get better as a player as well.

“I think I finished off strong, had a solid, solid week,” Arenas told me after practice on Thursday. “I could have done some things better. But for the most part, I was ok.”

Arenas measured in at 5085 and 195 pounds during Monday’s weigh-in. But once practice started later that afternoon, the speedy cornerback was looking to find ways to take his game to the next level.

“I learned a lot from them [Miami Dolphins coaching staff]. They are a professional coaching staff and it’s been great working with them.”

But it wasn’t just the coaches who helped Arenas elevate his game, it was the level of competition he got to face in practice this week that helped as well. When I asked Arenas if he was impressed by any of the wide receivers on the South team he’s been practicing against, he had nothing but praise.

“Every last one of them was impressive. The guys in the slot, the guys on the outside, every last one of them. They’re all great receivers. They’re here for a reason.”

In Arenas’ opinion, one of them stood out above the rest.

“[Dexter] McCluster, because he’s so quick.”

Arenas was a key member of a 2009 Crimson Tide team that went 14-0 and won the BCS National Championship earlier this month. In 13 games this season, Arenas racked up 70 tackles (46 solo), five sacks and five interceptions. He was voted 2009 First Team All-SEC at not only the cornerback position, but as a return specialist as well. Arenas returned 32 punts last year for 493 yards and one score.

Several draft experts feel that Arenas is best suited as a nickel cornerback playing in the slot at the next level, in addition to returning punts and kicks. But he looked solid in man coverage during one on one red zone drills this week, demonstrating good footwork and the ability to jam receivers at the line.

Despite the perception that he's a situational cornerback, Arenas told me he feels he can play every down in the NFL.

“Playing outside, I was comfortable this week. More comfortable than ever. I know I can play on the outside in the NFL.”

We’ll get a chance to see how comfortable he is on the outside at 4:00pm eastern today when Arenas’ South team takes on the North in the 2010 Senior Bowl.

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Here’s NFP Director of College Scouting Wes Bunting’s take on Arenas:

Javier Arenas: No. 28, CB, 5085, 195

A thick, well-built, do-it-all corner, Arenas shows up in so many different areas of the game. He’s a gifted kick returner who is dangerous in the open field. Arenas looks natural in the slot and on the outside, and he has the power to reroute receivers off the line. He’s fluid in space and has a good feel for zone coverage, finding the football quickly.

He displays the footwork and fluidity in his drop to be effective on the outside and looks good when asked to get out of his breaks. Arenas plays with a natural bend and is smooth with his footwork. He’s a strong tackler who takes good angles toward the play and consistently gets his man to the ground. He isn’t an elite size/speed guy, but he’s strong and gets up to speed quickly. His versatility will enhance his stock at the next level. Arenas looks like a gifted slot defender who could play in either a zone or man scheme.

Grade: 5.9

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