Senior Bowl Day 1 – The Real Deal

QB Carson Wentz is the top prospect at the Senior Bowl. On Day 1, he did not disappoint. Wentz was clearly better than every other QB and it wasn’t close. No one isĀ  putting him in the Hall of Fame just yet, but this is a critical week and he’s off to a great start.

Wentz played his college ball at North Dakota State. That school has the double-whammy of being I-AA, but also was the heck away from everything else. Think about the state of North Carolina. A scout could go visit Appalachian State, which is 90 minutes from Wake Forest, which is 90 minutes from UNC, which is 20 minutes from Duke, which is 10 minutes from NC Central, which is 20 minutes from NC State, which is 90 minutes from East Carolina. A scout would need a few days to hit all those schools, but they are bunched up. Nothing is close to NDSU.

Area scouts have seen Wentz, but this is a whole other situation. There are coaches here. GMs are here. Nick Saban is here. Dan friggin Marino was here this morning for some reason. Mobile is the center of the football universe for a couple more days. And Wentz is the star of that universe.

Wentz didn’t look nervous at all. He was confident and looked the part of a top prospect. His throws were tight spirals with good velocity. They were accurate. He threw well left and right. To the outside and over the middle. There were times when receivers didn’t look very open, but the throws had enough on them that the DBs couldn’t get to the ball and the throws were right on target.

The test for Wentz now is to continue to play like this. Consistency is crucial for all players, but especially for QBs. Right now he looks like a Top 15 pick.

*****

Let’s talk about some OL for a minute.

Le’Raven Clark is a player that didn’t jump out at me when I watched tape. I thought he did play well today in the 1-on-1’s. He was strong enough to anchor well and athletic enough to handle moves.

Arkansas OG Sebastian Tretola had a great highlight moment when he pancaked a rusher, but otherwise was very up and down. He got beaten multiple times.

John Theus from UGA got into scuffles on 3 straight reps, all with different players. For a moment, I thought DE Noah Spence was going to punch him. The coaches broke that up and let Theus know to dial things down.

Baylor’s Spencer Drango had a good day. He is 6-6, 320 and could play OT or OG.

Cody Whitehair was up and down. He is used to playing LT and dealing with speed. Today he seemed to battle bigger guys and that got the best of him at times.

*****

K.J. Maye is a talented receiver, but he’s not fast. He caught a pass today and took off down the sideline. LB Reggie Ragland, who is 65 pounds heavier, chased Maye down. It wasn’t for 40 or so yards, but seeing a 259-pound LB catch a slot guy was impressive. Ragland has speed and plays hard. Maye is meant to move the chains, not deliver big plays.

*****

If I had to rank the South QBs based on what I saw today only, it would be:

Brandon Allen
Jake Coker
Jacoby Brissett
Daz Prescott

I thought Allen had the best motion and the quickest release. Coker is the guy I had the most interest in. He constantly looked to be holding back from letting the ball really fly. That was a bit odd Brissett was up and down. Prescott just didn’t impress me as a passer.

From what I’ve seen during the year and today, none of these guys is more than a mid-round pick.

*****

DT Sheldon Rankins got off to a slow start today, but once he got going, he was impressive. I missed the highlight moment, a terrific spin move to easily beat the blocker trying to handle him.

Clemson DT D.J. Reader is 325 pounds and he used that bulk to beat several blockers today. Plays with good pad level.

Bama star Jarran Reed was probably the most impressive DT. He was tough to block.

*****

TCU RB Aaron Green had a couple of nice runs today.

*****

I’ve already covered Wentz so what about the other North QBs?

Kevin Hogan, Jeff Driskel and Cody Kessler were all up and down. Hogan is the player I like best out of that trio, but all of them had flawed performances on Tuesday.

Kessler might be the least compelling of the group. He’s only 6-1, 224 and there is nothing special about him or his game at all.

*****

I did not get a chance to focus on OG Josh Garnett today at practice. He did speak to reporters at Media Night and was a really interesting guy to listen to. Garnett explained how he was disappointed not to be getting accolades following the 2014 season. He made a concerted effort to get better this year and was highly decorated.

Someone asked him about Hogan, his QB. Garnett could not say enough good things. And he’s a very well-spoken young man so this seemed very legit and if you weren’t readyGar to like Hogan before that talk, you are now. Garnett raved about Hogan’s leadership. He gave the example of how even when he was young and Stanford had some highly decorated veterans (OG David Yankey, LB Trent Murphy for example), all the players listened when Hogan talked to them. Hogan has a real presence about him, in the huddle and in the locker room.

*****

Duke SS Jeremy Cash is also a very impressive young man. He talked about how one of his big selling points is that he doesn’t get into trouble. He explained that teams invest big money in players and the guys they can trust the most, tend to get picked higher and/or stay employed the longest. Simple, obvious stuff, but not coming from most 21-year old kids.

*****

WR Aaron Burbridge had a rough day. Normally he’s got great hands and makes spectacular catches. Not today.

*****

There is no question that Kenneth Dixon is the top RB in town. He can run or catch. He has good moves and speed He’s got power and strength. Total package and a very impressive player. Had a couple of good runs this afternoon.

*****

TE Nick Vannett had some impressive grabs over the middle. Wentz hit him a couple of times.

*****

I only got to see half of the North practice so I’m a bit limited in what I got to take in. The Tuesday practices are at 2 different locations and the traffic between them is terrible. Starting on Wednesday, all practices are at the primary location, Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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