In what was the final practice for the public here in Mobile, the South Team went for a little bit over an hour on Thursday, as you began to see the mass exodus of scouts immediately afterwards. It was a team-vs-team heavy practice that gave a lot of opportunities for guys to make plays at close to full tilt before Saturday’s game.
This has been a really good week for Jackson’s draft stock, as the 6’7 signal caller has been consistent with his accuracy and ball placement throughout the week. For as fast as he throws the football, he also makes it very catchable. Jackson’s ability to fit the football into tight windows has drawn a ton of praise from those in attendance, both scouts and media alike.
I thought Thursday’s practice was an excellent one for both Tyre Brady (Marshall) and Deebo Samuel (South Carolina). In what seems to be a broken record, both guys have had really good practices during their time in Mobile. Whether it’s in 1-on-1s or 7-on-7s, you always see both players making acrobatic catches that have the crowd going “Oooh and Ahhh”.
Another player who has made the most of this week in Mobile has been Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. I thought he was the best corner out there on Thursday, and one of the best during the entire week. Johnson, for a 6’3 corner, is very fluid and technically sound. His length allows him to shrink passing windows and he has the ball skills to make catching the football very difficult for the wide receiver. Johnson has definitely made himself some money this week at the Senior Bowl.
I thought this was one of the more competitive periods of practice. Both sides did their fair share of damage to the other. There were a few standouts that we’ll mention below, but these two units I’m excited to see go up against the North Team, as that alone will be must see TV.
OL – Javon Patterson (6’3 314), Ole Miss: Patterson was outstanding during 1-on-1s. I don’t recall seeing him lose a rep. His footwork and hand placement was consistent and he maintained a good level of control throughout the rep.
DL – Kingsley Keke (6’4 305), Texas A&M: Keke has excellent core strength that allows him to escort an offensive lineman back into the lap of a QB. It’s the ball get off, in conjunction with his strength, that makes him impressive.
DL – Montez Sweat (6’6 245), Mississippi State: Remember the movie The Last Dragon? Well, Sweat definitely had the glow of Bruce LeRoy during Thursday’s practice. He just has a knack for making his skill set consistently work for him against the offensive linemen. If anything, Sweat has solidified his spot as one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft after this week of work.
OL – Ross Pierschbacher (6’3 309), Alabama: No one frustrated more defensive linemen during 1-on-1s than Pierschbacher. It didn’t matter how fast or explosive the defender came off the ball, Pierschbacher did not budge. He showed an excellent ability to anchor, absorb and redirect. Fantastic performance on Thursday.
OL – Oli Udoh (6’6 365), Elon: Quietly, the former Elon Phoenix and Shrine Game call up has been steady all week long. It’s been good for Udoh personally and his subsequent draft stock, to stack back-to-back strong weeks.
QB – Jarrett Stidham (6’3 215), Auburn: Stidham had a really good Thursday practice, making some nice throws during 7-on-7 period and during team periods.
RB – Wes Hills (6’2 218), Slippery Rock: It’s been impressive to see how good of a receiver Hills is coming out of the backfield. This was one element of his game that you wanted to see coming into the week, and he hasn’t disappointed. Another player who’s stacking back-to-back good weeks.
DL – Jaylon Ferguson (6’5 262), Louisiana Tech: Ferguson moves extremely well for his size and has a bit of finesse to his game to go along with his excellent strength. He’s been one to consistently give OL fits this week.
DL – Dontavius Russell (6’3 320), Auburn: I think Russell’s ball get off and ability to whip out a counter move is what made him a tough block on Thursday during 1-on-1s. He does a great job of using his own natural leverage, and stealing leverage away from an offensive lineman.
DE – Carl Grandseron (6’5 261), Wyoming: Granderson had himself a day today during 1-on-1s. Good hand usage was the reason why he won so many battles. He was also able to dip and accelerate past the OL as well.
TE – Dax Raymond (6’5 250), Utah State: Raymond had a really good day during 7-on-7 drills and during 1-on-1s. He runs really good routes and does a great job of tracking the football, looking it into his hands.
The North Team finished their Senior Bowl week practices going the full 2-hours at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. We saw 6 separate competitive periods between the offense and defense, which yielded itself to some standout performance as NFL Scouts got their last look at players before heading off to the airport.
Out of all of the running backs in attendance, you just see a different level of speed, explosiveness and acceleration coming from the former Notre Dame star. This was on display during the 9-on-7 period and in Team-vs-Team period. Williams consistently found the right lane and hit the turbo button to explode through it. He would be my pick to be the RB during the actual Senior Bowl game on Saturday to make 2-3 big plays coming out of the backfield. Williams has had himself a very impressive week here in Mobile.
Watching UC Davis wideout Keelan Doss all week, you get a great appreciate of how he goes about his craft. Doss was consistent in his entire process throughout the week here in Mobile, looking the part of a 10-year NFL vet. For a 6’3 206lb WR, Doss does a great job of sinking his hips and getting in-and-out of his breaks with ease. He also shows strong hands in snatching the football out of the air. Earlier in the week it was his body control that was impressive, for the rest of the time here at the Senior Bowl, it’s been the rest of his arsenal that has impressed as well.
Not too many corners have had as solid of a week as Washburn’s cornerback Corey Ballentine. The 6’0 204lb DB looked solid in 1-on-1 drills on Thursday, using all the traits needed to be a successful corner, hips, hands & feet, to be successful during the 1-on-1 period. He’s quietly been a really good player here at the practices and definitely has caught the attention of plenty NFL Scouts.
Wide Receivers Penny Hart (Georgia State) and Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) once again shine during practice. Hart has proved to be one of the more difficult receivers to cover during 1-on-1s and in 7-on-7. His quickness, suddenness and burst has given defensive backs fits throughout the week. McLaurin has performed as if he already had the answers to the test before arriving here in Mobile. Everything has looked both smooth and easy for him when facing defensive backs throughout the week. McLaurin has no issues catching the ball over his shoulder, sprinting across the middle of the field, or going to the ground.
This is always impressive when you watch an all-star game practice: which units quickly builds cohesiveness. Well, for the North Team it has been the offensive line. Chris Linstrom (Boston College), Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Garrett Bradbury (NC State), Chuma Edoga (USC) and Beau Benzschawel (Wisconsin) have looked outstanding. This group was strong during 9-on-7 period on Thursday, while also doing well individually during OL/DL 1-on-1s.
Boston College’s Will Harris, Michigan State’s Khari Willis and Delaware’s Nasir Adderley stood out on Thursday during Team-vs-Team period. It’s easy to see how much of an impact these guy can have as blitzers, force players and run defenders. I thought they excelled in those capacities at one point or the other during the day.
FB – Alec Ingold (6’2 242), Wisconsin: Ingold was gold during Blitz Pickup drills. The former Wisconsin Badgers fullback did a fantastic job in stymieing oncoming rushers. He showed really good technique in that regard.
LB – Germaine Pratt (6’3 242), North Carolina State: Pratt was also impressive during Blitz Pickup period, using a variety of ways to get past the blocker. His key to success was constantly getting his hands on the offensive player first, subsequently controlling him afterwards.
CB – Kris Boyd (6’0 195), Texas: Boyd has been solid all week long. He’s been consistent in 1-on-1s, showing himself to be a good man defender. I really like how he closes on the ball, making things very difficult for the receiver in the process.
CB – Jordan Brown (6’1 195), South Dakota State: During 7-on-7s, I thought the former SDSU Jackrabbit had his best day. You got the chance to see him be patient and use his length to his advantage as he made plays on the ball.
QB – Drew Lock (6’4 225), Missouri: In my opinion, Lock has been the best QB on the North Team. He’s not afraid to make any throws and during the Team-vs-Team period of practice on Thursday, he was able to get rid of the ball multiple times, avoiding what would’ve have been sacks.
DT – Greg Gaines (6’2 316), Washington: The former Huskies DT was great on Thursday, winning many of his 1-on-1 battles in addition to being very disruptive during Team-vs-Team.
DT – Khalen Saunders (6’2 310), Western Illinois: Saunders’ ball get off is special. He explodes into the offensive linemen and is able to easily drive him back into the QB/backfield. He had another good showing in 1-on-1s.
RB – Tony Pollard (6’0 205), Memphis: Pollard has a similar level of acceleration and burst as Dexter Williams. During both Team-vs-Team and 9-on-7, Pollard found a couple of lanes and made the defense pay miserably.
The 2nd practice of the day here in Mobile, was sort of a damper (pun intended). As the North Team took the field for the first time, the weather started to become a factor as it went from a slight drizzle to a consistent one. This made things a little bit challenging for the passing game, both for QBs and WRs alike. Didn’t matter much to the OL and DL, they’re built for this and it’s no surprise why they fared better than their perimeter counterparts throughout the day.
It wasn’t all lost for the QBs during the bad weather practice, as each one showed something unique or flashed a trait that caught your attention. For Duke’s QB Daniel Jones it was his ability to hit the deep ball. His high arching rainbows are easy to track and catch if you’re a receiver. Drew Lock’s well documented arm strength was on display as well. He was able to drive a deep shot on a rope to UC Davis WR Keelan Doss. I was impressed with how NC State’s Ryan Finley was able to make the right decisions during 7 on 7 and in team periods with the ball. And Trace McSorely’s ability to throw on the move helped him complete some passes in 7-on-7 as well. It’s unfortunate with the Wednesday practice being moved indoors that we (media) can’t see how these guys would perform and start to separate themselves in ideal conditions.
During the OL/DL 1-on-1 drills, I saw an impressive display of both discipline and patience by the offensive line. Guys like Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary (Washington) and Dalton Risner (Kansas State) did a really good job of not allowing the defensive line to either bull rush their way through, or beat them with speed. You can see some of the frustration grow throughout the period, which only made things interesting during team-vs-team period.
Here’s where you saw payback from the defensive front of the North Team. The offensive line found it difficult to get movement up front and get the ground game going. Boston College’s Zach Allen, Arizona State’s Renell Wren and Oregon’s Jalen Jelks I thought did a fantastic job against the offensive line in this portion of practice.
DL – LJ Collier (6’4 276), TCU: It was fun to watch Collier essentially be the only defensive lineman to have sustained success against the offensive line. He’s super quick off the ball and brings his hands with him immediately as well. A big reason why he was able to find success on the interior during 1-on -1 drills.
LB – Dre Greenlaw (6’0 227), Arkansas: During the team periods, it seemed as if Greenlaw made every tackle on the inside. He consistently got great run fits and was able to trust what he saw, attack downhill with confidence and make the play.
WR – Penny Hart (5’8 180), Georgia State: In my opinion, Hart was the only receiver that seemed to be running on a dry field during Tuesday’s practice. The former GSU Panther explodes out of his breaks and is able to quickly accelerate once he makes the catch to pull away from the defender. I thought he had a quietly strong debut to the week.
RB – Karan Higdon (5’10 202), Michigan: Higdon was the best back during the day, especially in team period. He’s got an extra burst to his game and runs with decisiveness. He’s a compactly built runner that was able to explode through a couple of arm tackles during the period.
WR – Keelan Doss (6’3 206), UC Davis: What was impressive about Doss’s Day 1 practice was the level of body control he displayed on a wet field. He was able to stop on a dime and come back to the football many times throughout the day. Whether it was in 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s, or team drills, once the ball is in the air, Doss does whatever it takes to get himself in position to make the catch.
WR – Terry McLaurin (6’1 205), Ohio State: McLaurin, like Hart, was operating on a dry field. He has a really good feel for spacing in relation to where his is on the field. McLaurin was able to win most of his reps in 1-on-1s, showcasing the ability to stack & accelerate past the defender. He had the best day of all the wideouts in my opinion.
LB – Ben Banogu (6’4 245), TCU: I really like how Banogu moves for a linebacker. Very good sideline-to-sideline speed and takes really good angles to eliminate or neutralize the outside run. He closes really well on the ball carrier also.
North Team Takeaways
Senior Bowl practices got underway Tuesday afternoon in Mobile, AL. It was an overcast day that turned rainy at parts during the South practice, so the field, and ball conditions were a factor as practice went on. But, that didn’t stop a lot of guys to make their presence felt during the 2-hour workout.
During the WR/DB 1-on-1 period, the South team secondary balled out. Led by Temple Corner Rock Ya-Sin, the corners and safeties really did a great job frustrating the South receivers throughout the drill. Immediately you became impressed with the excellent footwork and press skills of many of the defenders. Ya-Sin, Kentucky’s Lonnie Johnson Jr., and Isaiah Johnson of Houston, really stood out in this capacity.
Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) was a late add to the game, as he declared later than most for the NFL Draft. Coming into this week, it was well known that this was a huge opportunity for him to showcase his skills and hopefully answer some questions about his game overall. He answered a big question during the media session earlier in the morning. Jackson brought up working with QB coach Jordan Palmer for his draft prep, and Palmer wanting him to focus on his lower body mechanics, which will help him improve his overall passing. Jackson stated that to expect his mechanics to be slower than normal during the week of work, as he’s working through changing, or emphasizing correct mechanics, to improve his accuracy and placement in the shorter-to-intermediate areas of his game. I’d say the instant results were great as he had the best day of the South Team QBs throwing the football. Jackson was accurate, decisive and the placement was where it needed to be. Also, the benefit of having such large hands helped him out as the day went on and the weather started to deteriorate. It’s going to be interesting to see how he stacks good performances after one another, because if he can, then his stock will definitely soar after this week.
I thought the collective group of West Virginia Mountaineers participating this week on the South squad had an impressive Day 1. QB Will Grier was able to show really good velocity on his passes. Wide receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings showcase excellent speed and acceleration. Both also were able to get past and stack defensive backs throughout the day. And tight end Trevon Wesco had a pretty solid day in 1-on-1s. I was impressed with his ability to work himself open. Defensively, LB David Long was impressive during team periods, taking proper, and aggressive angles to the football. So, needless to say, the boys from Morgantown came into Mobile on a mission.
WR – Deebo Samuel (6’0 210), South Carolina: Samuel was one of the only receivers to have sustained success throughout the day. He was also able to win vs Rock Ya-Sin, who was in the midst of pitching a shutout. What stood out yesterday about Samuel was his suddenness. That was my major takeaway. He was Jarvis Landry-like in that regard.
OT – Tytus Howard (6’6 311), Alabama State: Outside of one viral rep against Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, Howard more than held his own throughout the day. During 1-on-1s, he was able to effectively handle bull rushes and speed rushers throughout the period. He has a powerful and patient punch, and move really well laterally for a bigger lineman.
RB – Ryquell Armstead (5’11 215), Temple: Armstead caught the ball well in 1-on-1s, and really showcased his value during the team periods. There’s no wasted movements when he gets the ball in his hands. When he sees it, he hits it at full speed.
DE – Jaylon Ferguson (6’5 252), Louisiana Tech: Ferguson plays a pro game in my opinion. I like how strong and stout he is at the point of attack. He has a good initial punch that puts him in a position of control often. He was excellent throughout the day.
TE – Josh Oliver (6’5 250), San Jose State: Oliver had the best day of the Tight Ends in my opinion. He caught virtually everything thrown his way, from many different platforms. We saw him catch the ball over his shoulder, falling away, outside of the framework of his body. Very impressive start to the week for Oliver.
Day 1 South Team Takeaways
It was a heavy situational football approach for the West Team on Day 3, as we saw 4 sets of team drills throughout the day: Team Run, Team 3rd Downs, Team Regular, Team 2-minutes. This gave you a good look at the quarterbacks and how they can lead a drive to either move the sticks or come away with points. In that regard, I thought Fresno State QB Marcus McMaryion had the best day out of the QBs as he was the only one to lead his unit down the field for a touchdown during Team 2-minutes.
I like what I saw from former Northwestern Wildcat corner Montre Hartage (6’0 195) during 1-on-1s. He has really good closing speed on the receiver, his hands stay active and he able to smoothly flip his hips and run with the wideout. He’s been really good so far here.
Oregon Ducks LB Justin Hollins (6’5 242) has been stellar throughout the week for the West Team. He’s having a Uchenna Nwosu-type all-star week, where you constantly see him popping up against the run, winning rep after rep in OL/DL 1-on-1s, he’s been everywhere. Hollins has definitely made himself some money this week.
It’s becoming a broken record in talking about Kansas Jayhawks defensive lineman Daniel Wise and Texas Longhorns DT Chris Nelson. They’ve been two of the practice stars this week at the Shrine Game. Wise’s quickness and explosiveness off the ball has him in the backfield a ton. Walker has excellent hand strength/usage that allows him to get off blocks on a consistent basis. Both have been tough to block throughout the week.
LB – Cody Barton (6’2 230), Utah: Barton does a great job against the run. He takes proper angles to the ball, gets good run fits and doesn’t allow the back to get outside. He’s been assignment sound all week.
RB – Nick Brossette (6’0 221), LSU: Brossette had an excellent day in the Team Red Zone period. He caught the football well, and has done so all week. I also thought he ran with good patience during Team Run periods, always finding open space within the defense.
RB – Devine Ozigbo (6’0 235), Nebraska: I like the way he attacks a lane when he has one. Ozigbo can really pick’em up and put’em down when plants his foot in the ground and heads up field. He had a couple of nice plays, both run and pass, during the practice.
OG – Lanard Bonner (6’5 315), Arkansas State: Bonner fires off the ball with the type of attitude and aggression that you want to see from your interior offensive lineman. Today he was stellar during the Team Run periods. He fights hard and competes to get the most out of every rep.
CB – Donnie Lewis Jr. (6’0 195), Tulane: Impressive day for the Green Wave corner. Lewis made a few plays during 7-on-7 and in Team 2-minute, ending a drive with a pass breakup. He plays bigger than his already bigger listed size.
P – Jack Fox (6’2 224), Rice: There is a certain sound that you hear when a punt is a good one. Fox is able to strike that chord each and every time. He’s been punting the ball extremely well.
Team-vs-Team 3rd Down
Team-vs-Team Regular & 2-Minute