Senior Bowl South Team Notes: Day 1
-It was just a two quarterback day as Auburn’s Nick Marshall switched positions to defensive back. Alabama’s Blake Sims struggled throughout the day with his timing and accuracy, some of that could be explained by working with new receivers, but a lot of times his passes were just off. After measuring under 6’0″ at the weigh-in, Sims is going to have his work cut out for him the rest of the week to improve his draft stock. Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson benefited with the extra reps and looked pretty good with his deep ball throws for much of practice. Not all of them were complete, but most were either within reach of the receiver or just out of his grasp, but in front of him. Deep ball passing is low percentage to begin with, but Grayson showed a nice ability to attack the sideline’s vertically. Grayson was a little less accurate on throws underneath, and it is an area he is going to have to work on.
-Backs worked on a lot of blitz pick-ups in the first practice and both David Johnson and Cameron Artis-Payne showed well in these drills. Blitz pick-up is such a crucial part of the game at the next level and being able to do it is one of the best ways to get yourself on the field. The fact that both backs showed an ability to absorb contact and protect the QB will be impressive to most teams.
-A mixed day for some receivers. Sammie Coates showed exceptional quickness and the ability to separate, but his route running was rough and he had multiple drops. Phillip Dorsett had similar drop issues, but he shined with his speed and route running. Central Arkansas’s Dez Lewis shows nice size and catching ability, he doesn’t separate as well, but he figures to be more of a possession receiver. Josh Harper had a good day as well flashing in all areas. The receiver that stole the show was Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett. Lockett showed tremendous speed and quickness and made multiple circus catches.
-Clive Walford was the most impressive of the TE bunch and he showed well in all areas. Walford measured in with really nice size and looks to be a big physical target who can block. There were maybe some questions about how healthy Walford was, but he proved he’s 100% in this first practice. He really excelled as a blocker, both against blitzing LB’s/DB’s and against defensive ends as well. Walford got reps in both an H-Back role and inline TE role for pass blocking and looked polished in both areas. He was very physical at the point of attack and kept a nice base to wall off defenders, while absorbing contact when they tried to go right at him.
-A mixed day for some of the offensive linemen. Two of the biggest names La’El Collins and Ty Sambrailo both struggled at times throughout practice. Both had their moments as well, but Collins struggled with some quickness/speed moves while Sambrailo was susceptible to power rushes. Tayo fabuluje has the size teams covet, but he’s extremely raw as a prospect. He lost the edge on a number of rushes. Two guys that impressed me more than I thought they would were OT Daryl Williams from Oklahoma and tackle/guard Austin Shepard from Alabama. On the rushes where I watched them they showed good strength and did a nice job controlling their guy.
-The defensive line talent is typically good at the Senior Bowl and that is no exception this year on the South squad. Gabe Wright, DT, from Auburn was living in the opponents backfield and was showcasing a great first step and nice power. Grady Jarrett from Clemson was another DT who impressed with his pass rush and run defense today. The most consistent edge guy on the South appeared to be Markus Golden from Missouri, though a number of guys flashed.
-Though they are listed at linebacker there are some interesting edge rushers in this group. Louisville’s Lorenzo Mauldin shows some nice edge ability to get after the quarterback. Perhaps the most impressive though was small school guy Lyden Trail from Norfolk State. Trail is extremely long and he uses that to his advantage to get tot the quarterback. He’s also very quick off the snap and is going to appeal quite nicely to 3-4 teams looking for edge help. Inside backer Denzel Perryman had a couple really nice blitzes in pass rush drills early on.
-TCU’s CB Kevin White might be undersized, but he’s got everything else you are looking for in a corner. He’s got speed, quickness, natural stickiness, he can back pedal, flip his hips, and do it all. Now he will get knocked due to his size, but if you can use him in your system, he is a really nice option for NFL teams. Senquez Golden is a similarly smaller corner, while he doesn’t have the same skill set as White, he flashed some as well and is a very physical and willing tackler. He’s probably limited to the slot, but he’s a guy that is intriguing in the later rounds. Imoan Claiborne from Northwestern State flashed some as well and is an interesting small school guy to watch. Among the safeties Cody Prewitt looked the best and most polished. His hips are maybe a bit tighter than you’d like for a free safety, but he displayed really nice range and reaction in coverage playing single high safety. Prewitt also showed a couple nice reps in blitz drills as well showing balance to his game. Clayton Geathers from Central Florida was probably the 2nd best safety of the bunch. I don’t think he stood out in any one area, but he always seemed to be around the ball and was strong in coverage. One really interesting guy is Jaquiski Tartt from Samford. He’s playing strong safety and could get some looks there, but he might be best as a hybrid LB/SAF who excels in nickel packages. Tartt was great in defending shorter-to-intermediate routes, particularly vs RB’s and TE’s, and he also stood out in run support. When he was challenged more vertically though or by quicker receivers he noticeably struggled. In DB drills his hips showed a lot of tightness, which is going to hurt him vs receivers. He’s a sleeper prospect, but he has some nice tools to work with if he’s used correctly.