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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.