MOBILE, ALA. - When Leslie Frazier first worked alongside Brendan Daly with the Vikings in 2007 and '08, he was impressed by the young defensive line assistant's brainpower and gusto, identifying him as "a guy who was coming." Daly has spent the past three seasons as the defensive line coach in St. Louis but has now returned to the Vikings. And so far at this week's Senior Bowl, Daly has been his energetic self with the North linemen.
"He does [have a fire about him]. A lot of energy. A lot of enthusiasm," Frazier said. "That's contagious. That carries over. We need that."
Frazier continues to note the influence Daly seemed to have in Chris Long's growth in St. Louis. Former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, a friend of Frazier's, also provided a glowing endorsement of Daly's development.
"Just watching the maturation of Brendan has been so impressive to me," Frazier said. "And then I've had a number of people who have called me and told me how good of a coach he is from St. Louis. And that's encouraging. Because whenever I'd watch them on tape, when we'd play a common opponent, I'd see that defensive line of his and I'd go, 'Man, those guys are playing hard.'"
The hot corner
Frazier said he's keeping a close eye on two positions of need this week: cornerback and wide receiver. And it just so happens his North squad features budding corner Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska, a quick and strong defensive back who still could be on the board when the Vikings pick near the top of the second round.
Dennard, measured at 5-10 and 203 pounds Monday, is slated as the No. 25 overall prospect overall and third-best cornerback in ESPN's draft rankings.
Dennard has enjoyed playing for Frazier and his staff so far.
"The Minnesota coaches are real," he said. "Coach Frazier put a lot of fire in our eyes. I like the way he talks. He let us know this was a big step and that we need to go hard every play all day long to stand out."
When told the Vikings had serious interest in finding difference-making corners, Dennard smiled.
"Now that I know that, I'm going to try to step it up even more for them to see my true strengths," he said.
Rewinding a year
So just how much value can the Senior Bowl have as teams evaluate prospects? Last year, the Vikings wound up drafting five players who participated, including Senior Bowl MVP Christian Ponder.
As for the two teams who coached the 2011 game? Cincinnati drafted two Senior Bowl players: quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round and guard Clint Boiling in the fourth. Buffalo selected three Senior Bowl players: linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in the third round, safety Da'Norris Searcy in the fourth and linebacker Chris White in the sixth.
Four of those five players wound up starting at some point as rookies, White being the lone exception.