Day 3 Senior Bowl Practice Notes:
I’m going to combine notes for the North and South squads. This time I won’t break it up by position, but rather team and just list some guys who stood out:
-It’s always tough for a running back to stand out at these practices because since there isn’t full hitting you don’t always know if the RB would make the play or if the defender would . That being said David Cobb continued to flash in practice. Whatever he was asked to do he did it and he did it well. One thing you can notice in practice though is a player’s vision and cutting ability, Cobb looked really good in both areas and has all the makings of a feature back at the next level.
-With Jeremy Langford dealing with an injury the other back to watch was Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah. Now Abdullah is definitely not an every down back, but from a quickness/speed perspective he brings a lot to the table. He can develop as a good change of pace/receiving option out of the backfield and looked the part in practice.
-Bryce Petty may win the “top QB” honor of the week (definitely on the North squad), but it is more by default than anything else. The only South quarterback who really showed himself this week was Garrett Grayson so the competition wasn’t exactly fierce. Petty was very inconsistent in this final practice and missed on a number of targets. He had some issues handling the snap (which isn’t surprising) and he was late on just too many throws. While Petty will still get drafted, he is clearly going to be a project as a team tries to get him NFL ready.
-Nick Boyle is the most complete tight end on the North squad. He’s got great size, good speed and is a relentless blocker. He’s not going to be a Jimmy Graham type of TE, but he can play and he routinely gave linebackers and safeties problems in coverage. Notre Dame’s Ben Koyack has similar size and will intrigue teams the same way, but I feel he’s a touch behind Boyle in every area except national exposure (and level of competition).
-There is a lot of good solid receiver play this week from the North squad, but two guys that I thought had a good last day were Tony Lippett and Antwan Goodley. Lippett is a great combo of size, speed and route running. There are no wasted movements when he’s running a route and it helps him to create a lot of separation against opposing DB’s. He had a strong week overall, but this final day was the icing on the cake for him. Goodley was a guy who didn’t stand out to me earlier in the week, but I thought did well this final day. He isn’t built like a traditional receiver which may give some people pause, but he still shows the requisite speed, quickness and fluidity to play the position. He was able to get open at a good rate, but at times it was wasted due to poor QB play.
-T.J. Clemmings is the best tackle on the North Squad from a draft perspective, but he really struggled in this final practice. He is of course a raw prospect overall with only 2 years on the OL, but you saw some issues creep up throughout the practice. Though he has the size, strength and quickness to play the position, he struggled with his consistency and technique. He was slow off the snap on multiple reps, which indicates that he’s probably thinking more than just doing. When he did use good technique though you could easily see why he’s earning himself consideration in the first round as he can finish blocks and take on the most talented pass rushers the North team has.
-One tackle that did continually stand out is Rob Havenstein from Wisconsin. Havenstein is not going to be a highly valued prospect, but was consistently solid throughout the week and handled the best DL the North had to offer. He might be the dreaded “RT only” type of prospect, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some value.
-Three interior offensive linemen stood out in practice: G Laken Tomlinson, G Ali Marpet and C Max Garcia. Garcia really impressed as the best center of the week and had mostly clean snaps while showing a good anchor in pass protection. Tomlinson opened a lot of people’s eyes with how physical he was versus NT Danny Shelton who was giving OL all sorts of problems. Tomlinson needs some work with using his hands better, but he showed a really nice base to go along with power to move even the biggest defensive linemen in drills. Marpet is a small school guy who quickly showed he belonged playing with the big boys. He’s a bit undersized and with him moving inside to guard he could probably stand to add 10-15 lbs, but he is a true technician at the position that would fit perfectly in zone schemes. If he adds the weight and some strength (and there is no reason that he can’t) he would be a good fit for power teams as well.
-Along the defensive line the two standouts again were Carl Davis and Danny Shelton. A couple other guys though had good final days of practice. Nate Orchard looks every bit the pass rusher you want him to be. And Hau’oli Kikaha has the athleticism to be the edge rusher from a stand-up role. But one guy who I really liked in practice was Za’Darius Smith from Kentucky. Smith shined at the Shrine Game last week and got the invite to play at the Senior Bowl. Early on in the week their was a noticeable drop in his performance, but he had a good 3rd day. He showed the ability to win with both speed and power, giving linemen problems thoughout the practice. He wasn’t making “splash plays” and it probably best suited for a left end role in a 4-3, but he showed some nice things today.
-Two defensive backs that stood out for me today were Quandre Diggs from Texas and Josh Shaw from USC. Shaw has had now two great weeks of practice at All-Star games and has had to have impressed a number of NFL scouts. He checks all the boxes you are looking for, and though he maybe lacks elite speed you don’t see him get torched that often. Diggs is a shorter corner and probably more of a slot guy in the NFL, but he came up with a number of nice plays in both one-on-ones and team drills. His size will limit his prospects, but he showed great quickness and ball skills today that will intrigue a number of teams in the mid-rounds looking for a slot corner.
-Though I though Garrett Grayson was arguably the best quarterback of the week this wasn’t his finest hour so to speak. He did have some nice throws, but he had too many throws making you wonder what was he thinking exactly. Blake Sims had probably his best practice of the week and it’s good to see him get better each and every day, but he still misses far too many throws. South QB Bryan Bennett was only making his 2nd practice and has plenty of issues of his own, but one thing I liked was how well he threw the ball on the run and his velocity in general. A lot of the quarterbacks struggled to put anything on the ball and be accurate when they were moving, but Bennett did a nice job rolling out and hitting his target.
-David Johnson of Northern Iowa had a really nice day running the football. He runs with a nice combo of speed and power and he accelerates through the hole. As a smaller school guy he showed well down here.
-Tight end Clive Walford is still the best tight end down here, he was owning most linebackers and safeties down here and just putting on a show in receiving drills. Walford had one of the best all-around weeks down here and definitely helped himself in a weaker tight end class.
-Among offensive linemen I think the two most impressive of the day were Shaq Mason and Arie Kouandjio. Both are guards with a lot of power and routinely would just shutdown the defender they were facing. Kouandjio is probably a bit more complete and balanced right now, as Mason still struggles at times in pass blocking sets, but Mason is a good prospect as well. At tackle Daryl Williams remains the most consistent player on the South squad. He has good strength and for the most part handled his assignments in individual and team drills.
-Along the defensive line In addition to Grady Jarrett and Preston Smith, I liked what I saw from Joey Mbu from Houston. He doesn’t have the hype of some other guys, but he plays with good power and was tough for guards to block one-on-one. At times he will play too high so he needs to work on maintaining leverage, but there is a lot of promise in his game as a run stopper. Owamagbe Odighizuwa is a good DE, and did some nice work on the edge, but I do question his consistency. At times in team drills he disappeared despite going up against OT’s who were struggling.
-Lyden Trail was one of the biggest winners of the week, but really had a nice final day of practice. He’s a long pass rusher, who shows nice quickness off the edge. He continued to excel in both pass rushing and coverage drills, but he got his chance to showcase his skill set on the other side of the ball in some tight end drills. Trail used his size and length to make a couple nice catches and while overall he’s better as a pass rusher some teams may be intrigued at a conversion.
-Kevin White from TCU remains one of the more impressive defensive backs down here, but a guy who really showed well today was Ladarius Gunther from Miami. Gunther is a longer corner, but he did a real nice job running with speedier receivers in coverage and using his size and length to his advantage.