Senior Bowl Preview

Introduction:

The 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl is right around the corner, and with it, the unofficial start of the “pre-draft” process. For anything and everything Senior Bowl related, I hope to have you covered below.

What is It?

Now, the simplest way to describe the Senior Bowl is as a “glorified” College Football All-Star game. In reality, however, it’s so, so much more than just that. A week long event tailored to the dratnik community, what once was a low key proceeding has evolved throughout its 69 years into a full-scale tradition. Ever expanding and ever improving, the occasion rewards the top CFB Seniors in the nation, and gives them a platform to show off their skills in hopes of an NFL career. From Small-Schools such as Slippery Rock to collegiate powerhouses like Alabama, prospects from far and wide are invited to come attend, and it gives everyone an equal opportunity to prove their worth. The week involves interviews, weigh-ins, the aforementioned game, and most importantly full day practices, which is where most of the scouting takes place. Not just for prospects, it also gives media members the chance to interact face to face, and get up close and personal with the players they’ll be evaluating.

Coaching Staffs:

One of the most unique parts of the Senior Bowl is the fact that NFL Coaching Staffs run each competing team of prospects. Ultimately this is an advantageous opportunity, as the organizations that are chosen get a clear and decisive look at a variety of prospects who will be considered for their draft slots. Usually this honor falls to the two worst teams in the league (with returning staffs), and this year is no different. Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders staff will be manning the North Team, while Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers will get the opportunity to handle the South roster. All in all, these might be the most compelling staffs in recent years, and there’s a multitude of reasons as to why.  Watching Gruden try and control the media circus and Shanahan work his Offensive guru magic certainly top that list.

Prospect Rundown:

As is the case in most years, some of the more highly sought after invitees have declined to attend, given injury or stock concerns. However, from the 100+ prospects that remain, their is still immense value to be found, and a variety of potential 1st Round selections amongst the field. I’d like to say I’ve gotten to tape on every participant, but it just wasn’t possible to reach before the event begins. That being said, I am proud to have watched about 70%, of the attendees up until this point, and there are many who have caught my eye. Here’s a quick run-down on an abundance of prospects I’ll be keeping close tabs on in Mobile…

Top 10 Overall:

  1. Nasir Adderley S Delaware

Scout the player not the helmet. In the case of Delaware Safety Nasir Adderley, this proves more true than ever. Yes, he played at the FCS Level. But Adderley did so in such a dominant fashion that it’s near impossible for him to NOT top this list. He’s versatile. He’s instinctive.  He’s athletic. He’s got elite ball skills. And most importantly, he’s got that swagger and burning intensity that every team craves out of their Defensive Backs. Expected to get plenty of reps at Corner and Safety throughout the week, excelling against adjusted competition will go a long way towards silencing his doubters.

-Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina

Deebo Samuel may not be most vertically gifted wideout. But what he lacks in height he more than makes up for in in his competitive spirit, explosive tendencies, and elite Yards-After-Catch ability. A prospect who simply excels with the ball in his hands, Samuel’s vision, return ability and compact frame remind of current Philadelphia Eagle Golden Tate. It may be high praise, but he’s the IDEAL complimentary WR in today’s day and age.

-Charles Omenihu DL Texas

Length. Athleticism. Versatility. Charles Omenihu is the entire package, and probably the least talked about 1st Round prospect in this year’s class. Freakishly nimble and mobile for a man of his 6’7, 275 pound statue, he can play all along the line, and his positionless nature is part of what makes him so appealing. I’ll be interested to see just how well he’s able to bend, but he’s a freak show sure to put on a show.

-Amani Oruwariye CB Penn. St.

A prospect who I’ve warmed up to more and more as time has progressed, Oruwariye is a lengthy and fluid corner with blue-chip caliber ball skills. He takes risks and can get burnt as a result, but Defensive Backs with his movement skills don’t grow on trees. Call me a fan.

-Andy Isabella WR UMass

Let’s get one thing clear. Isabella is not your stereotypical “White Receiver”. A 4.3 forty track star, Andy is an absolute burner, and lord help me if someone calls him ”sneaky athletic”, I will throw hands. The UMass product’s microscopic frame will draw many comparisons to players such as Cole Beasley, and judging by his play, those seem very warranted.  Just ask the Georgia Bulldogs.

-Michael Dieter OL Wisconsin

Wisconsin Lineman are usually plug and play type prospects.  Michael Dieter is no exception. Having played OT, OG, and even a little bit of Center throughout his Badger career, Dieter is an exceptionally versatile prospect with near elite athleticism and a legitimate mean streak.  It’s also important to note that as far as pass protection goes, his tape is about as good as it gets. Anchoring vs. power and showing his run block ability will be Michael’s biggest tests this week, as a permanent kick inside is likely.

-Garrett Bradbury C N.C State

If you want plug and play Lineman with very few holes, Bradbury is your guy.  A favorite amongst seemingly the entire draftnik community, the Wolfpack prospect is an elite zone blocker with exceptional coordination skills.  How he anchors versus power prospect such as Daylon Mack will be something to keep an eye on.

T8. Dru Samia OG Oklahoma

Want a bit of a throwback lineman?  Samia is your guy. The Oklahoma Guard is a tough, get in your face prospect, despite a somewhat undersized stature, and has very underrated movement skills.  Very efficient in pull, stunt, and zone concepts, I’ll be interested in seeing how he responds to the quicker and more explosive prospects available in 1 on 1’s.

T8. Dalton Risner OL Kansas St.

Every year there are a few O-Lineman who are talked about as potential Guard converts.  Risner is one of those Lineman. A powerful mauler with a nasty demeanor, Dalton excelled at Right Tackle throughout his collegiate career, and is one of the safest and most polished Lineman in this draft class.That being said, given his measurables and somewhat clunky movement skills, many, including myself, think a kick inside is best for his pro career. Excelling in reps against top EDGE rushers would go a long way in convincing evaluators he can stay outside.

  1. Montez Sweat EDGE Mississippi St.

Length and bend.  That’s the name of the game when it comes to the Bulldogs’ Montez Sweat.  A lanky outside presence with the ability to round the corner and turn speed to power, Montez uses his frame to the best of his abilities and it shows on a consistent basis.  The Robin to Jeffery Simmons’ Batman at Mississippi State, Sweat certainly isn’t the most explosive or flashiest of players, but he’s being severely overlooked in such a deep EDGE class.  I’d go as far as to say he’s a Round 1 candidate.

  1. Zach Allen DL Boston College

Zach Allen may not be the most talented fluid, bendy, or athletically gifted kid. But his work ethic, relentless motor, and pro-ready hand usage make for a very appealing prospect. Not too dissimilar to current Washington Lineman Matt Ioannidis (comparison courtesy of @AJDraftScout), I’m still not quite sure whether Allen will need to kick inside at the next level, but I want him on my football team.

Top 10 with Most to Prove:

-Drew Lock QB Missouri

An uber skilled, extremely inconsistent signal-caller, Drew Lock has the opportunity to prove he’s the best Senior signal-caller in the nation this coming week. In order to do that, however, he’ll need to show scouts he’s continued to refine his game since the conclusion of the CFB season. After all, he’s a mechanical mess and needs massive improvement in seemingly all aspects. Development and success on a national stage like this mean everything for his NFL career. No pressure.

-Kris Boyd CB Texas

Long, athletic, and extremely physical, Kris Boyd was a prospect extremely high on my board entering the season, and rightfully so. He looks every bit the part of a shutdown NFL corner. However, Boyd took massive steps backwards this past season, and a frustrating lack of ball skills is a big reason as to why. Showing playmaking ability and ball tracking is a must if he wants to get back on my good side.

-Tyree Jackson QB Buffalo

If Drew Lock is as raw as blue steak, Jackson is probably still part of the cow.  That’s just how much work the Redshirt Junior needs. With that being said, his skillset is as tantalizing as any, and the 6’7 QB is a true wildcard in this class. He’s a mess. But one well worth watching.

-Anthony Johnson WR Buffalo

Jackson’s top target at Buffalo, Johnson is a production ace who has an NFL ready body type. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a clear selling point in terms of how he’ll “win” vs. NFL caliber DB’s. Already having struggled against Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin earlier in the season, this is of serious concern. 1 on 1’s will be big for his stock.

-Oshane Ximines EDGE Old Dominion

An uber-productive rusher who stuffed the stat sheet at Old Dominion, Ximines is a polished defender with exceptional hand usage.  Unfortunately he seems like a marginal athlete on tape, and struggles to bend and dip on outside moves. He needs to show some improved flexibility from his tape if he wants to win me over.

-Khalen Saunders DL Western Illinois

Khalen Saunders did more than just dominate his low-level competition over his collegiate career. He obliterated it. Playing vs. actual Lineman will be a definite adjustment, but he’s got a good chance of earning himself some serious cash throughout the pre-draft process. Big, versatile, and athletic is what every team is craving down the middle, and Khalen is just that. Oh, and he can do backflips.

-Max Scharping OT Northern Illinois

Like many of the players on this list, Scharping is a prospect with pretty high potential.  But also like most of the players listed, he’s a mess right now. And that might be sugar-coating it. A lumbering presence on the football field, he’s very uncoordinated, specifically with his back pedal during pass sets, and tends to struggle with speed rushers as a whole.  Over aggressive in his punches, Scharping is also a candidate to he on the losing end on many 1 on 1 reps this upcoming week. Ultimately he’s a potential starter with quality athleticism and an ideal frame, but I’m very wary at the current moment.

-Byron Cowart DL Maryland

A former #1 Overall Recruit, Byron Cowart never lived up to his drastically high Collegiate expectations. The talent is still there, however, and this is as big an opportunity as ever to prove he’s on the right path. @TampaBayTre does a fantastic job profiling Cowart and his Senior Bowl shot in an article linked below.

Senior Bowl Gives Byron Cowart One Last Shot At Redemption

-Chris Lindstrom OG Boston College

Highly regarded by many as the top interior lineman in Mobile, I’m not as high on Lindstrom as some, given I’m not yet sold on his pass protection ability.  That being said, he’s elite in the run game, and a pure people pusher with a polished, pro ready game. Zone ability is also a question mark.

-Isaiah Johnson CB Houston

The prototypical “Seahawk” Defensive Back, Johnson is a 6’4 corner with length and speed for days. His hip fluidity is my biggest issue in his current evaluation, and he needs to show improved and smoothened technique during practices. Showing these could result in a skyrocket up my board, as he has the upside and physical profile of a starting zone corner.

Top 10 Favorite Players:

-Hunter Renfrow WR Clemson

Hunter Renfrow may be 82 years old, but all the Senior does is come up clutch in the biggest of situations. Beating the odds as a former walk-on, Renfrow isn’t exactly the most talented, but is an elite route-runner and natural hands-catcher. He won’t ever be a star, but he’ll carve out a decade long career in the NFL.

-Gardner Minshew QB Washington St.

A poor, poor man’s Baker Mayfield, Minshew was one the best feel good stories of CFB this past season. Transferring from a lowly Eastern Carolina squad, he put on an absolute show in his only year with the Wazzu, showing off moxy, swagger, and a high on-field IQ in Mike Leach’s exciting Air Raid system. His velocity is a question mark though, so seeing how the ball leaves his hand live is something I’ll be paying close attention to.

-Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple

Name aside, Ya-Sin is a prospect who I couldn’t help but fall in love with.  Extremely smooth and fluid for a 6’2 corner, the Temple product has wicked ball skills and outstanding awareness, making him an ideal starting man corner at the next level.  Rock solid in coverage (pun intended), don’t be shocked if Ya-Sin starts receiving 1st Round buzz.

-Darnell Savage S Maryland

A box safety with nickel capabilities, Darnell can quite literally be summed up by his last name; Savage. Possessing thumping type tendencies and a confident swagger, the Maryland DB is a very quality po prospect. And he certainly knows it.

-Germaine Pratt LB N.C State

This LB class has been a frustrating one to evaluate.  After all, it seems like there are two very distinct groups amongst the prospects.  One is filled with elite athletes that have a lot of holes in their game. The other is polished, intelligent players that lack quality traits.  Thankfully, Pratt just happens to combine the best of both. A former Safety, expect Germaine to put on a clinic in movement drills.

-Terry McLaurin WR Ohio St.

Crafty, balanced, and nuanced.  Three of the more underrated aspects of the WR position, and McLaurin exudes all to the unpteenth degee.  He’s not expected to go until Day 3 come draft time, but I actually prefer Terry to any other wideout on the Buckeye’s roster last year.  That’s high praise given Parris Campbell and K.J Hill were on that roster. But I believe it’s warranted.

-Jakobi Meyers WR N.C State

A former QB turned wideout, Meyers is one of the more underrated WR prospects in the entire class. Lanky and agile, the Wolfpack member product has very few holes, and will hope to have a big week without his star teammate Kelvin Harmon there to steal all the attention. Him and McLaurin are two guys I’ll be sticking my neck out for come April.

-Alex Wesley WR Northern Colorado

If you want speed, look no further than Alex Wesley. A track demon and small-school standout, Alex is a pure glider in the open field, and shows off gazelle-like qualities. I want to see improvement in his hands and a more detailed route-tree, but he’s about as fun a prospect as you can watch. Think Will Fuller.

-Karan Higdon RB Michigan

Higdon may run like he’s trying to constantly escape a tornado, but it doesn’t stop him from topping the RB group attending. After all, he’s the type of tough, angry, and efficient runner that fits seemingly any scheme. His elite contact balance and under the radar lateral agility should be on full display in Mobile.

-Elgton Jenkins OL Mississippi St.

Elgton Jenkins is an Anchorman.  Okay, maybe he isn’t a broadcaster in San Diego, but the Senior is an imposing interior presence with arguably the strongest anchor in the class.  A jack of all trades, Elgton has started at 4 of the 5 OL positions throughout his career, and his ultimate worst case scenario is as an elite swingman.  Personally I think he’s easily one of the safer Line prospects in the class, with the potential to be a long time starter down the middle.

Top 10 “Sleepers” to Watch:

-Donald Parham TE Stetson

I just got to Parham’s tape the day before writing this piece, and boy, was it ever enjoyable. A 6’8 behemoth, Parham is more agile than you’d ever expect of a man his size, and simply toys with defenders given his freakish abilities. He’s raw, but is a complete match-up nightmare with sky high potential. I can almost guarantee you that by the end of the week he’ll be a household name.

-Gary Jennings WR West Virginia

A late add to the event after Emanuel Hall unfortunately dropped out, Jennings is a quality wideout prospect who was often overshadowed at West Virginia. Fellow teammate David Sills received most of the media attention, but in my opinion Jennings actually had the better tape with the Mountaineers. Fortunately both are attending which means this debate between the two will only grow.

-Penny Hart WR Georgia State

Another late add, Hart is the type of quick and shifty slot receiver who usually excels at events like these. His catch radius and hands are both issues, but he’s got a lot of Andrew Hawkins in his game, particularly when it comes to his excellent footwork.

-Renell Wren DL Arizona St.

A gap wrecker and fine dresser (might be making that last part up), Wren is an explosive inside presence with an elite motor and quality pursuit.  Although his body type is a bit odd and he isn’t the greatest of athletes, Renell has put together some extremely strong tape.

-Deshaun Davis LB Auburn

Davis is the epitome of solid.  No, he won’t wow you, especially with his physical qualities, but his instincts, read and react ability, and sound tackling make him a refreshing change of pace in a LB class that solely lacks mental and processing skills.

-Marquise Blair S Utah

There aren’t many prospects in this class who are potential single high Safety options.  If they are, there’s a strong that they’re going to be draft fairly early on come Draft day.  Blair possesses Free Safety capabilities, but at a fraction of the cost. He’s also especially good at timing designed blitzes.

-Daylon Mack DL Texas A&M

A thick and compact nose tackle with shocking burst and a strong anchor, Daylon Mack was a high end recruit who never really met collegiate expectations.  However the Aggie turned it around in his Senior year and his stock is soaring as a result. Already a darling of the pre-draft process having excelled at the East-West Shrine game, Daylon is looking to build off that success with another big week.

-B.J Autry OL Jacksonville St.

You’re going to be hard pressed to find a bigger and stronger human being than B.J Autry. He may move about as well as molasses, but the Jacksonville State product is a mauler.  And there’s no denying it. Once he gets his hands on you it’s over. Unfortunately given his lack of mobility, that just doesn’t happen a whole lot.

-Bruce Anderson RB North Dakota St.

A main catalyst in NDSU’s historic FCS Championship run, Anderson is a quick cut, tough runner with some exceptional burst. He’s somewhat stiff and upright in his movements, but he’s got the potential to be a solid committee back at the next level. Think Alex Collins.

-Mike Edwards DB Kentucky

In an ever-growing passing league, the Nickel position has become just as valuable as an outside corner role. Thankfully for Mike Edwards, that is exactly where he excels. Expect him to show off well against some of the quicker and shiftier wideouts the Senior Bowl as to offer.

Conclusion:

Hopefully this has provided a bit of insight into the workings of what goes on in Mobile, and a somewhat detailed look at the prospects playing in Alabama this week. After all, the Senior Bowl isn’t just an event. It’s an experience.

cdonnick

NFL Draft fanatic and writer for @DFF_Devy #DevyWatch. Just a kid wanting his opinions heard, who happens to love his Seahawks, Jets, and Jazz. Follow me at @CDonScouting. #DraftTwitter

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