Senior Bowl – Day 2 – South

WR James Washington had another standout performance. He got off to a slow start, but then made play after play. He is physical and can deal with aggressive CBs. He has terrific hands and hauled in a long TD. Washington has the speed to go deep, but is also comfortable working the middle of the field. He’s got an odd build at 5-11, 210, but I’ve been very impressed with him so far.

***

DT Andrew Brown had a good day. He lists at 6-4, 294 and I wondered if some teams might view him as a 4-3 DE. He looked a bit stiff for that. He can be a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. Brown was attacking up the field today and was regularly disruptive. He’s quick off the ball and knows how to shoot gaps. He won’t fit every scheme, but he could make a 1-gap team pretty happy.

***

The South QBs are not impressive. Virginia’s Kurt Benkert had some good throws, but was frustratingly inconsistent. He made a terrific throw on a deep ball for a long TD. On the next rep, he again went deep and to the same area. That pass was out of bounds. Benkert doesn’t have a strong arm. He needs to have his feet set to get something behind the ball.

***

M.J. Stewart looks like the best CB in Mobile from what I’ve seen. He is smart and instinctive. He can lock up receivers on short and intermediate routes. He knows how to really stick with them. His big issue is deep speed. Both days a WR was able to get a step on Stewart and he just couldn’t make up the ground.

Stewart did get some work as a PR. He looked good catching the ball and it was a cold (COLD!), windy day.

***

Missouri WR J’Mon Moore struggled on Tuesday, but bounced back on Wednesday. He caught the ball well and showed pretty good speed.

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CB Siran Neal is physical. Too physical. He grabs, holds and pushes WRs on just about every single play. He did have one good PBU on a Red Zone drill. Neal needs a lot of work or he will be a penalty machine in the NFL.

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OT Alex Cappa had a good showing. I watched some of him in individual drills and team periods.

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OT Brandon Parker, another small school guy, also was solid.

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LB Shaquem Griffin did get the best of Parker on one rep. Griffin is 6-0, 223 and Parker is 6-7, 303. Griffin used an explosive burst and then stayed low. Parker had no chance to get a piece of him. Griffin is a talented pass rusher, but with his size he must be able to play off the ball. He hasn’t stood out to me in that area so far, but I haven’t been focused on him.

***

QB Kyle Lauleta had a couple of TD throws in a Red Zone session. He hit Tre’Quan Smith for one and then Marcell Ateman for the other. Lauleta made some good throws in the individual drills, but hasn’t really stood out.

***

DL Da’Shawn Hand got the best of Taylor Hearn and Austin Corbett in individual drills. He got pressure up the middle a couple of times.

***

WR D.J. Chark has had some good moments. He went upfield on one route and then cut hard to the inside and crossed the field. He easily pulled away from the CB. Chark also had an impressive catch. The wind did give him some problems when trying to field punts.

***

LB Darius Leonard has been impressive. He broke up a pass today and also made a nice play in the Red Zone. He can run, hit and looks solid in coverage. That’s what you want in a 4-3 LB these days.

***

OG Colby Gossett has good size at 6-5, 304. He anchors well. There are times when he can play too high. I don’t have a good feel for his footwork yet. He had multiple good blocks today, including beating Hand on one rep.

***

WR Byron Pringle can really snatch the ball. Love WRs that are hands-catchers.

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Senior Bowl – Day 2 – North

Josh Allen was the headliner again today, but this time for very different reasons. He struggled on Tuesday, but took a big step forward today. Allen wasn’t perfect to be sure, but he played well.

Allen and receiver Daesean Hamilton connected over and over. There were short, intermediate and even deeper throws. The passes were tight spirals thrown with good velocity. More important than anything, they were accurate. Allen looked like an NFL QB today.

Allen made the throw of the day. He “dropped it in the bucket”, as the saying goes. for a long TD to Allen Lazard. That showed touch and accuracy.

When practice shifted from individual and group periods to 11-on-11, things got rocky. Allen was back to being erratic. He threw a wobbly INT. Luckily, Allen bounced back from that and had some good throws in the 11-on-11 period. He made one terrific throw on the move. The pass was incomplete, but was 20 or more yards downfield and right against the sideline. Allen gave his guy a chance to make a play.

I still wouldn’t touch him #1 overall, but Allen showed a lot of improvement today and that was very encouraging.

***

Hamilton had a strong day. He regularly got open and caught the ball very well. He has excellent body control and is a natural hands catcher.

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Baker Mayfield had a solid showing, but wasn’t at Allen’s level. Mayfield was consistent, doing well in drills, in the 7-on-7 period and in 11-on-11. He was good on throws to WRs, TEs and RBs.

Mayfield measured in at just over 6-feet tall. That was critical for him. Teams are scared of QBs under 6-feet, no matter the resume. Mayfield hit that benchmark and it will help his draft status.

***

DT Nathan Shepherd had a good showing on Tuesday. He was playing well again on Wednesday, but broke his hand. NFL teams saw enough to know he’s not just a small school star. Shepherd is a legit NFL prospect.

I thought Shepherd held up well against double-teams on Wednesday. He’s got athleticism, strength and he’s willing to do the dirty work.

***

If you want a prototypical slot receiver, Braxton Berrios is your guy. He measured in at 5-9, 177. He is quick and shifty. There was one play today where he just faked a CB out of his shoes to create separation and get open. Berrios doesn’t have the speed or size to play outside, but he can be a valuable role player for NFL teams.

***

Army OT Brett Toth had a strong showing. He absolutely stoned a couple of DEs trying to beat him in 1-on-1 drills. There was another rep where Toth shoved Jalyn Holmes to the ground. Toth did get off-balance on one play and the DE put him on the ground. Toth spent the vast majority of his college career as a run blocker. He’s shown the ability to pass protect and run block so far in Mobile.

***

Tyrell Crosby was the Pac-12 OL of the Year in 2017. He had some good moments on Wednesday, especially when going against Jalyn Holmes. There was one play where Crosby put Holmes on the ground. Crosby has very good size at 6-5, 319.

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ILB Nick DeLuca had some good moments. He picked off a pass from Tanner Lee. I have no idea how Lee didn’t see him. DeLuca also made a good tackle of a RB in 11-on-11 period.

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DT Justin Jones had a good day. He drove Cole Madison backward on one rep. Jones got penetration on another play. He caught my eye several times. Always good when a DT does that.

NC State teammate B.J. Hill also had a good day. He got the best of Mason Cole on one rep and later did the same to Sean Welsh. Hill showed up in 1-on-1  and team drills. He is a powerful DT, but also has a good motor and will hustle in pursuit of the ball.

***

RB Kalen Ballage had some nice plays. He caught a downfield pass, getting the best of Obo Okoronkwo. Ballage had a good run in an 11-on-11 session. He has an impressive combination of size and speed.

***

Trayvon Henderson is the DB who picked off Josh Allen. It was a bad throw more than anything, but you like DBs who catch the ball when it comes their way.

***

Kemoko Turay played DE at Rutgers. He is listed at LB for the Senior Bowl. He got a chance to show his pass rush skills in the 1-on-1’s and didn’t disappoint. Turay was quick off the ball and used a good shoulder dip to get by multiple blockers. At 6-4, 252, Turay could be a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE.

***

CB Duke Dawson played in the slot and outside. He was ill on Tuesday and didn’t practice, but covered well today.

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I continue to be impressed with Jaylen Samuels as an inside runner. He is patient and has good vision. When the hole is there, he will attack it and get upfield.

***

LB Fred Warner showed his athleticism on a run play in 11-on-11’s. The offense tried to run outside and Warner flew over to get the TFL. He is a good athlete.

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Senior Bowl – Day 1 – North

The QBs are the headliners so let’s start there. Josh Allen had exactly the day you might have guessed. He threw the ball better than anyone else in Mobile. He just didn’t always get the ball to the right spot.

There is no denying the fact that Allen is a gifted passer. He can drive the ball all over the field and make spectacular throws.

While there were some impressive throws, there were too many that were off target. WRs dropped a few throws, likely due to the velocity of the passes. There was one play where Michael Gallup ran an out. He turned to look for the ball and it was already right there. He got his hands up and made the catch, as much wanting to protect his face as anything. He had no clue that ball would be there that quickly. Gallup did have a good showing.

Timing can be an issue for everyone on the first day so we’ll see what Allen does the rest of the week. I don’t think he changed any minds today. If you came to Mobile loving his arm and ability to make spectacular throws, you saw enough. If you came with concerns about his accuracy and erratic throws, you saw too much.

***

Baker Mayfield had a good day. Not great, mind you, but good. He threw the ball well and had some good connections in 11-on-11’s.

One of the things that impressed me is that he gave guys a chance to make plays. You don’t want a QB to always check the ball down. You also don’t want someone forcing the ball into coverage.

***

Tanner Lee and Luke Falk were the other QBs. Falk didn’t catch my eye at all. Lee actually had some good throws, but struggled with his accuracy at times.

***

Daesean Hamilton had some really impressive catches and showed the ability to get open. He could be a really good slot receiver in the NFL, similar in size and athleticism to Nelson Agholor.

Hamilton did have some drops. He did that at Penn State and dropped a potential TD last week in the Shrine Game. He catches the ball naturally, but sometimes just puts the ball on the ground.

***

Pitt OT Brian O’Neill had a good day. He measured in at 6064, 298. That is a terrific frame and the former TE has the length and athleticism you want in a LT. He reminds me of a more talented version of Ebon Britton.

O’Neill played both RT and LT. He was solid in the 1-on-1 drills and also the team period. He’s off to a strong start.

***

S Kyzir White had a good day. The West Virginia star picked off a pass in the team period and broke up a throw to a TE in a 1-on-1 drill. White is 6-2, 215 and we know he can hit. Showing off these cover skills will help his standing with NFL teams.

***

WR Allen Lazard struggled. He measured in at 6-4, 222. That’s a huge WR. Some teams are going to love that size. He was up and down in the movement drills. He is a bit upright due to that size.

Lazard’s big issue was drops. He really struggled to catch the ball. Hopefully he works through that and is better the next two days.

***

A couple of DTs played well. Harrison Phillips was able to win in the 1-on-1 drills using quickness and strength. One note with him…Phillips wears braces on both legs. He had a knee injury that cost him most of the 2015 season.

Nathan Shepherd, the small school star from Fort Hays State, had a good showing. He measured in at 6-4, 310, which is excellent size (height and bulk). He won multiple battles in the 1-on-1 drills.

***

I was impressed by a couple of RBs. Kalen Ballage, 6-2, 222, ran well both inside and outside. He got the ball in an 11-on-11 rep and bounced the run out wide. Impressive to see that ability and speed from a big back.

Jaylen Samuel, not so tiny at 6-0, 223, ran well, mostly on inside plays. He was patient and ran behind his pads.

***

DE Jalyn Holmes was up and down. Every time I watched him in the 1-on-1 drills, he got blocked. In the team period, he used a hard inside move to get into the backfield and blow up a run. He is big and athletic.

***

B.J. Hill measured in at 6-3, 321. He was a highly productive DT for NC State and you could see that ability. There was one rep where he just drove his blocker straight back in the pocket. Teams covet DTs with that kind of size and power.

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Senior Bowl – Day 1 – South

OT Alex Cappa had some buzz coming into the Senior Bowl. He was dominant at his level and just abused the players he went up against. It was interesting to see him go up against good competition. Cappa had a good showing in the 1-on-1 drills. He looked comfortable as a pass protector and moved well.

I thought Cappa struggled a bit in the 11-on-11’s. I saw him beaten by LB Shaquem Griffin and DE Kylie Fitts. The problem on both plays appeared to be Cappa not using his hands well.

There is no doubt that Cappa is a legit NFL prospect and has a bright future.

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I liked what I saw from OG Colby Gossett and OT Joe Noteboom. Noteboom especially caught my eye. He looked athletic in the movement drills and then blocked well in the 1-on-1’s.

***

Auburn MLB Tre’ Williams had the hit of the day. He blew up a RB in the hole. If you watch Williams tape from the season, that’s what you see. He’s a thumper who is at his best on inside runs. Unfortunately, I thought Williams looked a bit stiff in coverage today. I love his physicality, but don’t see him as a 3-down LB.

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I did like Darius Leonard, the LB from South Carolina State. He measured in at 6-2, 229. Leonard played the run well in 9-on-7 drills and also looked comfortable in coverage.

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LB Micah Kiser had a great career at Virginia. He has a thick build and I thought he moved okay in some drills. He didn’t look good in coverage.

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WR James Washington measured in at 5-11, 210, slightly different from his college program size of 6-1, 205. I thought Washington had an outstanding day. He caught the ball really well and looked like a polished receiver. He made a really impressive catch on a deep ball.

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I was also impressed by WR Byron Pringle. He was a big play receiver at Kansas State and continued that today by hauling in a deep ball. I also saw him catch several underneath throws. He wasn’t bothered by contact or tight coverage.

***

None of the South QBs stood out. I probably liked Mike White the best. He looked natural and moved well. He was good on short throws. The problem is that he doesn’t have a strong arm and also struggled with downfield throws.

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WR Tre’quan Smith caught the ball well today. Both Marcell Ateman and J’Mon Moore struggled. Moore really seemed to be fighting the ball. Hopefully he’ll be better on Wednesday. We see a WR or two every year who struggles on the first day, but gets better.

***

I was hoping DE Marcus Davenport would have a strong showing, but he failed to stand out when I watched him. He is explosive and has an outstanding dip move. When the coaches were working on some drills to get DL to use their hands, it appeared Davenport kept using the dip. He’s got to work on other moves.

***

Texas DT Poona Ford has some heavy hands. He was killing the bags in the DL drills. Ford reminds me of former Eagles DT Mike Patterson. Both were undersized, strong as bulls and quick off the ball. Ford won’t be an early pick, but he’s a talented kid.

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TE Ian Thomas measured in at 6033, 256. That’s not ideal height for a TE. He is a talented pass catcher and looked good as a receiver on Tuesday.

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CB Danny Johnson had some good reps today. He’s only 5-9, 182, but showed the ability to mirror receivers. That size likely makes him a nickel in the NFL, but that’s become a key position.

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M.J. Stewart is a smart, veteran CB. He had a solid day and you could see his cover skills. One possible concern is deep speed. He had one receiver get by him and Stewart could not catch up.

***

LB Shaquem Griffin was a dominant player for UCF the last two years. He’s awkward for the NFL because he rushed the passer a lot, but is only 6-0, 223. That’s more like a DB than a pass-rushing LB.

There is also the matter that he’s only got one hand. NFL teams want to see if he can play, but have to be concerned about that.

I thought Griffin had a solid day. He showed excellent quickness when he was rushing upfield. He took on blockers in 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. I didn’t see him in coverage.

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Draft Update

With the Wild Card games in the books, we have an update on the draft order. From PFT:

1 Browns 0-16
2 Giants 3-13
3 Colts 4-12
4 Browns (from Texans) 4-12
5 Broncos 5-11
6 Jets 5-11
7 Buccaneers 5-11
8 Bears 5-11
9 or 10 49ers 6-10 (coin flip)
9 or 10 Raiders 6-10 (coin flip)
11 Dolphins 6-10
12 Bengals 7-9
13 Washington 7-9
14 Packers 7-9
15 Cardinals 8-8
16 Ravens 9-7
17 Chargers 9-7
18 Seahawks 9-7
19 Cowboys 9-7
20 Lions 9-7
21 Bills 9-7
22 Bills (from Chiefs) 9-7
23 Rams 11-5
24 Panthers 11-5

The Bills become an interesting team to watch. Could they trade those picks to move up 10 or so spots and go for a QB. The performance of Tyrod Taylor this weekend certainly can’t leave them feeling that he’s the answer.

*****

The Bills, and the rest of the league, will have one more QB to choose from.

Jackson is a dynamic talent. He did some amazing things in college.

That’s just insane production. Jackson is a dual threat QB and this would seem to be the perfect time for a player of his skill set to be entering the NFL. More and more, coaches are adapting ideas from college football.

I’m excited to see what Jackson does at the next level. I know some people have serious doubts about him, but I see a player with tremendous potential.

*****

If you need a talented returner, there is another target for you.

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Draft Order Update

What we know so far.

The Browns have a golden opportunity with those Top 4 picks. They could add some real firepower to a team that is desperate for it.

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Early Senior Bowl Thoughts

The Senior Bowl will be coming up in a few weeks. Let’s talk about a few players of interest.

QB Baker Mayfield will be the headliner. He won the Heisman Trophy and those guys rarely play in all-star games. Mayfield is smart to do this. He can win over some teams who will have doubts about his ability to function in a more pro-style offense. The coaches will also spend a lot of time with him and that could be good. They’ll see just how driven and competitive Mayfield is. Those are key qualities in a QB prospect.

M.J. Stewart is a gifted, versatile DB. He can play in the slot or outside, and he makes plays wherever he lines up. Stewart finished his career at North Carolina with 47 pass breakups, 11.5 TFLs and 6 sacks. He can do it all. As NFL teams play more against 3 and 4-WR sets, they need DBs who can move around and be productive. Stewart is that guy.

Maurice Hurst lists at 6-2, 282, making him an undersized DT. Guys like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins have thrived in the NFL despite lacking ideal size. Hurst is the same kind of quick, disruptive DT as them. Donald is a freak and on his own level, but Hurst is similar in style. He had 25 TFLs over the last 2 years and 12.5 career sacks. Hurst is disruptive and productive. He’s also clutch. When Michigan was desperate at the end of their bowl game, he took over and got the ball back for the offense. They still lost, but Hurst did everything he could. Fun player to watch.

Jaylen Samuels is a unique player. The Senior Bowl lists him as a FB. Samuels ran for 404 yards, caught 76 passes and also returned kickoffs as a Senior. He’s only 5-11, 223 so that’s an odd build. He would need to get up to 240 pounds to be a true FB. I hope he goes to a team that has creative coaches. Samuels is a player, not a position.

ILB Rashaan Evans looks like the next stud Bama LB. He’s not in the same class as Reuben Foster, but Evans is outstanding.

Evans can play the run, rush the passer and make plays all over the field. Teams that blitz a lot will probably like him a lot.

Brian O’Neill moved from TE to OT and started 37 games there in his career. He played both RT and LT. Pitt even used him on some trick plays. He ran the ball 3 times for 39 yards and 2 TDs. Not bad for an OT. O’Neill has a thin, athletic build that some teams will love.

TE Mike Gesicki is an athletic pass-catcher. He lists at 6-6, 252. That’s an excellent frame for a TE. Gesicki is a former volleyball star and basketball player. He has terrific movement skills. Watch him run and you’ll see a giant WR, not a normal TE. The only real problem is blocking. Gesicki is not a good in-line blocker. He must get stronger and use better technique. He also needs to embrace blocking. Gesicki is another player that needs a creative coach. He can be a weapon for the right team. If you just line him up like an average TE, he’s not going to do anything special.

Here is the updated roster from the Senior Bowl.

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The Big Guns

It’s official.

Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold could be the top two picks in the 2018 NFL draft. “Could” being the key word.

There has already been a lot of back and forth as to which player is better. Honestly, this will come down to personal preference as much as anything.

Think back to the 2016 draft. The Rams had Jared Goff as the top player on their board. The Eagles had Wentz atop theirs. Both teams got the player they wanted and things have looked great so far.

Rosen is the more polished player and is a better pocket passer. Darnold can create plays on the move. He also had more team success, for those organizations that put emphasis on winning.

I could see Hue Jackson preferring Darnold. Jackson worked with Carson Palmer and loved his combination of size, passing skills and athleticism (back when Palmer was young and healthy).

We don’t know who will be coaching the Giants so it’s impossible to guess what they might want with the second pick.

It is still possible Baker Mayfield could be the first or second QB.

Let the rumor mill begin.

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A Special Back

RB is a tough position to evaluate. A great RB can carry a franchise on his back. We saw Adrian Peterson do that at times in Minnesota. Same for Barry Sanders in Detroit. At the same time, neither one of those guys won a Super Bowl.

You can find talented RBs all over the place. The Panthers used a Top 10 pick on Christian McCaffrey, who had a good rookie season. The Chiefs used a 3rd round pick on Kareem Hunt, who had a great rookie season.

Alvin Kamara went to the Saints in the 3rd round. He had an amazing season and should probably be the Rookie of the Year.

The top RB prospect this year is Saquon Barkley from Penn State. He just declared for the draft and should be a Top 10 pick.

Barkley is an amazingly good prospect. He has size, speed, strength and rare athletic ability. He is versatile, making big plays as a runner, receiver and returner. Barkley is a high character player, the kind of guy you want as the face of your franchise. He is a freak, on and off the field.

But he is also a RB.

Do you spend a Top 10 or even Top 5 pick on him?

For the right franchise, yes. You saw the impact Ezekiel Elliott had on Dallas. Barkley could have a similar effect for the right team. Tampa has a star QB. They could use a RB to pair with him. That team could also use a high character player to help transform that locker room.

The Giants could use a stud RB. They haven’t had one in a long time.

The Broncos have a terrific defense. They might benefit from having a great RB to carry the offense.

The Texans and Colts could both use a dynamic presence in the backfield.

Teams can be hesitant to spend early picks on RBs, but if you think of Barkley as Ezekiel Elliott, but without the off field baggage, someone should go for him early. You can also see what Todd Gurley has done this year for the Rams. Barkley and Gurley remind me of each other, with their combination of size, power, speed and receiving skills.

I’ll be shocked if Barkley makes it outside the Top 10.

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Underclassmen Update

Keeping with the recent trend, lots of kids are coming out early.

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