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2018 Senior Bowl North Practice Day 1

Steve Shoup

Quarterback:

 

Baker Mayfield: While I’m not trying to make excuses, I do believe context matters so it is worth noting that Mayfield had to arrive late to the Senior Bowl due to his mother being in the hospital. Not only does Mayfield have something serious on his mind as he works out in front of 32 NFL teams, but due to the late arrival he didn’t have any time to work with coaches or get to know his targets prior to the opening practice. (Best wishes to Baker Mayfield and his family during this time, and hopefully his mother will recover soon)

 

Even without taking the added context into account I thought Mayfield had the best QB day of any QB on either squad. He was far from perfect, but he showed good accuracy and ball placement throughout the day. In 7 on 7 and team drills he threw guys open and typically read the defense properly.

 

Mayfield started the practice a little slow, though still was generally accurate as his receivers and tight ends could typically still make a play on the ball even if it was slightly off target (this was better than the other QBs who had multiple passes not even close to the WRs). As practice wore on Mayfield seemed to get more comfortable and really played well in team drills.

 

The only real knock on Mayfield throughout the day was that his velocity on passes was inconsistent. It wasn’t “bad” in the sense that it would be a major hindrance at the next level, but he didn’t have the tightest spiral.

 

Josh Allen: Allen was the other big name QB on the field yesterday and he at times showed why he has franchise QB hype, while at other times showed that he is a major work in progress and shouldn’t be considered a top 100 player.

 

Allen’s arm strength is a clear weapon from the first attempt as you saw an absolute cannon behind his throws. The zip on his ball is impressive and when he’s on target, it’s easy to see the potential and get excited. The problem is the accuracy is not there consistently as on more throws than you’d like to see he either over threw or threw behind his intended target. He also struggled to check down a couple of times. Both of these issues are things that have plagued him throughout his college career.

 

While there were definite inconsistencies and some of Allen’s bad habits were on display, by in large it was a positive practice for him. The arm talent is real and Allen moved well in the pocket, which are two key traits in today’s NFL. the accuracy is worrisome, but while not a positive for him, I don’t think the issues were as bad as some of his college tape. I don’t think that means Allen should be a top 10 pick like some are suggesting, but it was a positive first practice and if he builds on it and improves from here it could go to helping his draft stock.

 

Tanner Lee: While clearly behind the top two QBs, Lee had a positive day as well. Lee was inconsistent throughout practice and threw at least one interception on a ball he should have thrown away. Despite those negatives, Lee had a number of positives as well. Early in 7 on 7 drills he fit a ball into a tight window down the sideline to Braxton Berrios (who made a tremendous effort on the play). Later in 1-on-1’s he threw one of the best deep balls of the day to Justin Watson. There were a couple of other “wow” throws throughout the day, but the negatives did cancel out some of positives for sure. While Lee didn’t come in with a lot of hype, he handled himself well in the first practice and he could intrigue teams as a late round target with some skills worth developing.

 

Luke Falk: Falk had a pretty nondescript practice, which isn’t good when you are sharing the field with two of the biggest names in the draft. Falk didn’t do much wrong, as he was fairly accurate in the short and intermediate areas. The problem is he didn’t really wow with arm strength and struggled with deep balls. Falk looks like a pretty limited QB who will probably be capped as a back-up only.

 

Running backs:

 

Kalen Ballage: Ballage was the most impressive running back of the day on the North squad, though most of his good work came as a receiver out of the backfield. Ballage is an excellent route runner and caught everything cleanly throughout practice. He was the toughest guy to cover and linebackers have almost no shot versus him in 1 on 1 coverage. Ballage isn’t as talented as a runner as a David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell, but his pass catching ability will find him an early role in an offense at the next level. Some teams may even consider moving him off the running back position.

 

Tight End:

 

Mike Gesicki: Gesicki had a couple highlight catches, adjusting to balls that were thrown either behind him or too high. He shows soft hands and definitely can use his entire frame to offer a big target and get position for the pass. His speed looked just okay and he didn’t create a ton of separation, but overall it was a positive day for the Penn State TE.

 

Durham Smythe: Smythe had a strong day throughout, he had a couple of really nice catches and showed better movement skills than I expected. Where he really excelled though was as a blocker. Smythe looked to be the best blocking TE on probably either squad and definitely looks to be a nice in-line TE prospect.

 

Wide Receivers:

 

Braxton Berrios: Berrios started off practice early with an impressive leaping catch on the sideline. He came up a little banged up, but returned to practice after being checked out by the training staff. His first couple reps after coming back he had some drop issues, but he bounced back later in practice and finished the day strong. Even when he wasn’t being targeted Berrios showed the ability to create separation in the short area and could be a very intriguing slot prospect.

 

Allen Lazard: Lazard started out practice struggling with a couple really bad drops (worth noting that he wasn’t the only one and the sun was particularly bad at the time), later in 1 on 1 drills Lazard rebounded. He made some really impressive contested catches in the intermediate area, showcasing his size and physicality. Speed was a bit of an issue as he couldn’t separate as much deep, but overall it was good to see a player bounce back after a rough start.

 

DaeSean Hamilton: Hamilton was probably the best all-around receiver on the North squad. He has so fluid in change of direction drills at the start of practice and that carried over with superb route running in 1-on-1’s, 7-on-7’s and team drills. He found himself open a lot and was able to make a couple nice plays. Like a lot of receivers he struggled with some early drops, but overall he had a strong day.

 

Offensive Line:

 

Brian O’Neill: He came in with some hype and he quickly showed it was warranted. He’s an athletic tackle prospect and he showed that athleticism with protecting the edge versus a number of the best pass rushers from the defense. O’Neil does need to get more powerful in the running game, but he more than held his own in this area.

 

Will Hernandez: Hernandez showed excellent power as a blocker especially in the running game where he would finish blocks with authority. He did really well in 1-on-1 drills as well, which typically favor the defense. The only real concern for Hernandez is can he fit into every scheme, as he’s not going to be a guard that can do a lot in space.

 

Wyatt Teller: Teller had a strong practice throughout, and definitely surprised me with the power he played with. He wasn’t someone I was overly high on coming in, but I will be watching him more closely now as a good first day.

 

Mason Cole: Good all-around practice for Cole, who excelled at center. He started the day strong in 1-on-1’s, but I thought he looked the best in full team drills. He opened up rushing lanes and showed really good footwork and hand usage.

 

Defense:

 

Defensive Line:

 

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: Okoronkwo showed excellent burst off the edge, and looks to be a pass rush demon at the next level. He’s got a lot of pass rush moves, and showed a variety today in practice. He looked good in both 1-on-1 drills and team drills, including a major pressure that led to an interception.

 

Kemoko Turay: Turay was a pleasant surprise as a pass rusher today, he was consistently in the backfield in team drills and one a number of reps in 1-on-1s.

 

Nathan Shepherd: Shepherd had a fantastic day for the small school product, as he was extremely disruptive throughout practice. He so quick off the snap that few interior offensive linemen were able to properly set and slow him down. I liked how he used his hands to keep linemen in check as well.

 

Harrison Phillips: Phillips has a ton of power and it was on display throughout practice in various drills. While his run defense was clearly ahead of his pass rush, he was solid in getting after the QB. It won’t always be in the form of sacks, but he pushed the pocket quite a bit, which didn’t always allow for a QB to step up.

 

Defensive backs:

 

Armani Watts: Watts really looked good in coverage coming up with a nice interception in full team drills late in practice. Earlier he showed well both in man and zone coverage, and came up in run support a couple of times.

 

Kyzir White: White was the top safety of the day for me on either squad. One of his first reps in 1-on-1’s vs a tight end he was blatantly holding, but after that he was contesting just about every target and was doing so without commiting a penalty. White’s size and speed is pretty evident as he can match-up vs big tight ends and receivers and run with the faster ones.



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