|2014 Senior Bowl Coverage|
Senior Bowl Risers/Fallers
North DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
He was the star of the Senior Bowl practices. Donald was a disruptive force in the backfield. He was dominant in the one-on-one drills. He is an undersized DT with terrific quickness. He plays with good leverage and uses his hands extremely well. He looks like a second round pick.
North OT Zach Martin (Notre Dame)
He was the best OL during the Senior Bowl. He is a good knee bender with excellent footwork. Martin plays with a nasty streak. He maintains balance and has very good strength. He would still be most effective as an OG at the next level. He could be all All-Pro there. He has risen into the first round.
South DE Dee Ford (Auburn)
He wants to stay at DE, but he is undersized for the position. He looks the part of a hybrid 3-4 OLB at the next level. Ford is better than his former teammate Corey Lemonier that was drafted in the third round by the 49ers last year. He wreaked havoc in the backfield. He has an explosive first step. He also held up well against the run.
North ILB Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
He measured in at 5'11 3/8 and 245 pounds at the Senior Bowl. But Borland plays so much bigger than his size would indicate. He has outstanding instincts and very good closing speed. He changes directions well. He just looked like a natural in coverage.
South CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
With Purifoy, Roberson and freshman Hargreaves on the roster, Watkins was almost the forgotten man. But he is a talented player in his own right. He is a versatile defensive back. He can play corner or safety. He has good speed, fluid hips and quick feet. I have moved him up to an early third round pick on my board.
North RB Charles Sims (West Virginia)
Sims was the best RB at the Senior Bowl. He showed that he is an every down back. He has the ability to make the first defender miss. He has good vision. He is a great receiver coming out of the backfield. He excels in pass protection.
South LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
He was a disruptive pass rusher during the Senior Bowl week. Van Noy is a good athlete. He played with terrific leverage and used his hands well. He looked fluid and displayed nice awareness in coverage. He is a late first round pick.
North CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)
He is a physical corner with ideal size. He uses his long arms to disrupt the timing of receivers at the line of scrimmage. Jean-Baptiste is good at press coverage. He has natural ball skills being a former wide receiver. He is raw in terms of his fundamentals, but he has an intriguing upside. After this week, I have a late third/early fourth round grade on him.
North WR Josh Huff (Oregon)
Huff was the most consistent receiver for the North squad all week long. He made some terrific catches. He showed speed and reliable hands. He ran sharp routes and demonstarted great leaping ability. He was also the best blocking receiver at the Senior Bowl.
South S Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
He displayed good speed and terrific instincts in practice. He was always around the ball. He is an athletic safety that is a willing run defender. He moves well and has fluid hips. He solidified himself as a Day two pick.
North LB Michael Sam (Missouri)
Sam had an extremely productive senior campaign, but he struggled against the top OL this week. He has an explosive first step. But he is a one trick pony. He doesn't have any counter moves and his hand usage is very poor. He also had a tough time dropping into coverage in the LB drills. He displayed tight hips.
North OG Cyril Richardson (Baylor)
He came in a bit out of shape at the Senior Bowl. He checked in at 343 pounds. Richardson had a tough time against the quicker defensive lineman. He showed inconsistent footwork. He also failed to keep his balance and didn't play with a good knee bend.
North QB Stephen Morris (Miami, FL)
Hurricanes signal caller was the worst QB during this week. He didn't make any improvements. He has a very strong arm, but he measured in at only 6'1 ¾ and 208 pounds at the weigh-in. He struggled with his accuracy and decision-making. Morris overthrew a number of passes.
South OT Billy Turner (North Dakota State)
Turner is a small school player that had a tough week. He was consistently beaten off the edge by quicker DL in pass protection. He displayed slow feet and had a tough time with his hand placement. He has ideal size with long arms, but he is very raw in terms of his fundamentals.
South CB Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma)
Colvin was the top corner in Monday's practice. He had some good battles with WR Jordan Matthews. He is a physical corner with good ball skills. Unfortunately, he went down in Tuesday's practice. He tore his ACL while coming out of his break. I had him as a third round pick heading into the week, now he will fall into the latter part of the draft.
Senior Bowl Notebook – South Practice – Day 3
By: Sanjay Kirpalani
For NFL draft geeks and talent evaluators, the Wednesday portion of Senior Bowl week is a benchmark day because it’s the last time the players on both squads will participate in full pads in preparation for Saturday’s game.
The South squad finished off their third day in action, and there were a few players who showed marked improvement from the first two practice sessions. Others continued to build off strong performances the last two days.
Since Wednesday’s practice is the last real snapshot to evaluate the players, I’ll approach the notebook a little differently today. I’ll fire off some analysis on today’s standouts by position, with a final word on which players helped their stocks the most over the last three days.
Here we go:
After a slow start on Monday and Tuesday, San Jose State quarterback David Fales put together his most complete effort of the week this afternoon.
He displayed more zip on his passes while being the only signal caller who consistently found success on passes longer than 10 yards in today’s practice.
His performance gives him a chance to salvage what had been a lackluster showing up until this point.
Derek Carr did not look like the quarterback who had shown command of the offense on the first two days. He didn’t have any glaring mistakes, but most, if not all, of his passes during seven-on-seven drills and during the scrimmage portion were short or intermediate routes. He also looked indecisive during the scrimmage, and he appeared to check down or take off running in favor of stepping up in the pocket and trying to make a play. His pocket presence was not as impressive as Fales today.
Jimmy Garoppolo struggled today. He was late on a few passes in seven-on-seven drills, and he looked indecisive making his reads. He was also the victim of a few tipped passes today. Overall, I think he took a step back after a solid first two practices.
Final Word – David Carr still looks like the best quarterback I observed over the last three days. The question now becomes will he build on this momentum and solidify a place in the first round.
The Lorenzo Taliaferro bandwagon continues to pick up steam after the Coastal Carolina standout put together another solid day of work Wednesday. At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Taliaferro continues to smash the “big-back” stereotypes by showing he can do it all. He was easily the best back in pass protection, with pass rushers unable to move him when he sets his feet and gets a strong base at the point of contact. He displayed soft hands and the ability to run between the tackles similar to what you would expect a back his size to do.
I also think Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews has displayed the ability to be a three-down rusher. He is easily the most polished receiver of the group, which is something that he displayed during his standout career with the Hilltoppers.
Even though you can tell he’s raw at the position, Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon showed some flashes today. The former quarterback is starting to look like a more polished runner, with his nimble footwork on display this afternoon on a couple of long runs.
Final Word – Taliaferro probably helped his stock the most of all the backs, due to his ability to answer questions about his skill-set. However, I still like Andrews to be the first runner taken out of this group.
After having a bad case of the drops early in the week, Texas wideout Mike Davis brought his hands today and turned in a dominant performance today. I wrote that his physical attributes are tantalizing for scouts. He’s got the speed to get deep, and the ability to run precise routes. Today, he put it all together and made several catches in traffic.
Conversely, after two straight impressive days, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews was maddeningly inconsistent today. He never seemed to get in the groove and make plays like he was on Monday and Tuesday.
Two players that jumped out to me today were Tulane’s Ryan Grant and Florida’s Solomon Patton. Grant seemed to be the most natural pass catcher of the group. He is a fluid athlete, and his game looks to have the polish of a pro receiver. The name of Patton’s game is simply speed. He explodes in and out of his breaks, but he also made some tough catches with defensive backs draped all over him.
Final Word – Despite his tough day on Wednesday, I still believe Matthews has the most upside among the receivers. The fact that he’s stayed late after practices every day to run more routes with Carr is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed among the NFL personnel in attendance.
I’ll admit that I was rough on the offensive line in Tuesday’s notebook. While I didn’t watch the individual drills closely, this group seemed to put together a decent effort in the scrimmage portion of practice.
Morgan Moses was particularly strong in the scrimmage portion, as he quieted one of the more dominant performers this week in Auburn pass-rusher extraordinaire Dee Ford (more on him later). His footwork in pass pro was impressive, especially considering that he had struggled in that area earlier in the week. Another tackle that stepped up today was Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson. His athleticism was on full display as he showed quick feet and balance during the scrimmage.
I continue to be impressed with interior linemen Bryan Stork and Gabe Jackson. Jackson may have had the best day as he continued to get a consistent push on his man on run plays.
Final Word – I’m a stickler for consistency, and to me, Jackson has been the one guy who has brought the same energy and effort in all three practices. I hate to use the word “safe,” but the team who selects Jackson can sleep easy at night knowing they have a road grader who will get the job done at his spot.
This unit has a lot of depth, and today’s most noticeable standout was a guy who I thought struggled yesterday.
Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers may be the most physical imposing player here. At 6’8”, 351 pounds, he stands out whenever he’s in the game based on size alone. However, today, he was able to get in the backfield on numerous reps and during the scrimmage. He had the type of effort that will have scouts wondering if they can mold him into a dominant player.
Dee Ford continued his strong performance lining up as a defensive end. His size has a lot of scouts and observers wondering whether he will play there or at outside linebacker. However, with his hand in the dirt, Ford has an arsenal of moves to go with a blazing first step that consistently helped him wreak havoc in the backfield.
Deandre Coleman wasn’t as dominant as he was on Tuesday, but he still flashed his ability to penetrate gaps during today’s scrimmage. The offensive line kept him somewhat in check, but overall, Coleman is a player who will be worth keeping an eye on until the draft rolls around.
Final Word – No player in attendance has done more to help his stock than Dee Ford. He’s simply had an outstanding week of practice and his versatility will be appealing to teams in search of an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
BYU’s Kyle Van Noy is another player who has performed consistently at a high level, and today was no exception. However, three players who flashed to me that I hadn’t seen in prior days were LSU’s Lamin Barrow, FSU’s Christian Jones and Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu.
Barrow impressed me with his ability to get depth in the middle of the field on passing routes. He’s looked more comfortable against the run this week, but he more than held his own today in seven-on-seven drills.
Attaochu and Jones are both versatile players who seem to be in their comfort zone coming off the edge in pass-rushing situations. Jones, in particular, was a mismatch for running backs in one-on-ones.
Final Word – This may be the easiest position to declare a clear-cut top option, and that is Van Noy. He’s brought his A-game everyday and he’s a guy making a solid case to become a first round draft pick.
Auburn’s Chris Davis stole the show today among defensive backs. The 5’11”, 200-pounder was in every receivers hip pocket during one-on-one’s, seven-on-seven’s and during the scrimmage.
He had three straight reps where he recorded pass breakups, with the highlight coming on a deep ball he jarred loose from Matthews while both were battling for the ball in the air.
Not to be outdone, Florida’s Jaylen Watkins and Liberty’s Walt Aikens also enjoyed solid afternoons. Watkins is a fluid athlete that plays bigger than his size (6’0”, 181 pounds) indicates. Aikens fits the mold of the bigger corners who are finding success in the NFL, and he’s been tough for receivers to crack due to his ability to jam them at the line.
FSU’s Terrence Brooks is another player who has been solid at every practice. He just missed snaring another interception in seven-on-seven drills, and no receivers were able to get behind him on deep passes. Also, he lined up in the box for a number of reps and was active as a run defender.
Final Word – With the injury to Oklahoma corner Aaron Colvin (who, in my opinion, was the best defensive back here prior to his injury), I believe the two players who have helped their stocks the most are Sunshine State rivals Watkins and Brooks. Both players could vault into the second round with Watkins potentially moving up the board at corner after a strong week, and Brooks elevating himself in a less-than-stellar class of safeties.
Other News and Notes
Louisiana Tech defensive end IK Enemkpali was another player who was added to the roster today as an injury replacement. He participated in today’s practice.
One scout told me after practice when asked the names on the South roster who he felt helped their case the most thus far: “Kyle Van Noy, Dee Ford and Morgan Moses.”
Among the faces in the crowd today were general managers Bruce Allen of the Redskins, Thomas Dmitroff of the Falcons and Rick Smith of the Texans. Also, Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett and Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen were among the college-coaching contingent who took in today’s practice.
Senior Bowl Notebook – North Practice – Day 3
By: Alex Khvatov
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd certainly wasn’t perfect on Wednesday, but he had the best practice of all the quarterbacks on Wednesday. He has been the most consistent signal caller on the North squad. He had some zip on his passes and challenged the defense with some deep throws. He got into a rhythm and was accurate today. Hokies’ Logan Thomas had an up and down day again. He threw a pick. He locked on to his first read and was indecisive with the football. Stephen Morris from Miami was inaccurate and struggled with his decision-making. He overthrew a number of passes.
Charles Sims from West Virginia demonstrated some playmaking ability. He is an every down back at the next level. He can make the first defender miss. He has soft hands and has been the best blocker here. He is my number one senior RB on the board. I like him better than Carlos Hyde from Ohio State who decided to skip the Senior Bowl.
Josh Huff from Oregon was clearly the best receiver for the North team. He made a couple of fantastic catches on Wednesday. He made a diving grab in the endzone. He showed great leaping ability as he snatched the ball out of the air. He was the most effective WR versus press coverage. He displayed reliable hands, precise route running ability and good body control. Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis was the best route runner that I saw during this year’s Senior Bowl practices. He just looks so smooth out there coming out of his breaks. He also has terrific hands. He had another good day although he did a struggle a little bit against press coverage. Jeff Janis from Saginaw Valley State also helped himself. He is a player that got better as the week progressed. He has great straight-line speed and displayed reliable hands. Although he does have the tendency to let the ball get into his body.
Offensive Linemen/Defensive Linemen:
Pitt DT Aaron Donald had another great day. His quickness is so impressive. He has helped himself more than any other player at the Senior Bowl practices. He looks like a solid second round pick. The only player that had success against him was C Weston Richburg from Colorado State. He is a very physical player with brute strength. He sustains his blocks and plays with good leverage. He is also an athletic OL. OT Zach Martin from Notre Dame has solidified his first round status. He has been impressive at left tackle proving his doubters wrong. He is a technician with great footwork. He also has good strength. DE Kareem Martin from UNC didn’t dominate during the one-on-one drills. In fact, offensive linemen had success against him. But in the scrimmage, he really stood out. He showed good penetration skills and a non-stop motor.
Badgers LB Chris Borland had another great day. He was all over the field. He is so good at diagnosing plays. He has great closing speed. He had a pick during the scrimmage. Louisville LB Marcus Smith stood out as well. He has good size (measured in at 6’3 ½, and 258 pounds at the weigh-in) and a quick first step. He was a DE in college and he has made the transition to LB during the practice sessions. He improved throughout this week. He made a few plays during the scrimmage.
The receivers had a very good day against the defensive backs on Wednesday. CB Pierre Desir was the only guy that stood out to me. He excelled in press coverage. He is a physical corner with good size. He was able to get a good jam on receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt their timing. His day could have been even more impressive, but he dropped an interception.
Senior Bowl Notebook – Day 2 – South Practice
By: Sanjay Kirpalani
The pads came on for the South squad in the second day of preparation for the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Temperatures were brisk hovering around the mid 50’s with a noticeable breeze throughout practice.
The players and the Jaguars coaching staff moved over to Ladd-Peebles Stadium, and the intensity picked up with the legion of scouts and coaches in attendance paying close attention to each rep and drill.
My eyes were focused on the trenches, and there’s plenty of talent on hand for Gus Bradley and his staff to monitor.
Who were among the notable standouts on Tuesday afternoon?
Fresno State’s Derek Carr had another solid afternoon. He’s been the most consistent passer through the first two days. He’s displayed touch, accuracy and zip and generally had a strong command of the offense.
While Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has flashed all the tools necessary to become a high draft choice, if there’s one area he struggled with today, it was displaying the right touch on shorter routes.
It seemed like he was pressing a bit and had the same zip on passes of less than seven yards as he would on a 15-yard out route.
San Jose State’s David Fales improved his accuracy in today’s practice. However, his passes had a noticeable flutter on them. While the wind was a factor, both Carr and Garoppolo didn’t have any similar issues.
RB jerick McKinnon had a very strong day. He played QB at Georgia Southern. He is trying to make the transition to RB this week. He had a couple of big runs this afternoon. He showed his speed and great cutback ability. Western Kentucky RB Antonio Andrews and Coastal Carolina Adam Taliaferro also impressed. Andrews is a tough, physical runner. He caught the ball well out of the backfield. He looked very good in the pass protection drills. Taliaferro is a big back that excelled in the pass protection drills. He stayed low to the ground and showed advanced hand usage. He looks like an every down back at the next level.
Alabama WR Kevin Norwood was the most consistent receiver on the South squad. He ran sharp routes, showed the most reliable hands and good body control. He made a terrific leaping catch near the sideline. Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews had an up and down day. He made some impressive catches on Tuesday, but he also dropped a few easy ones. He has good size and body control, but he is not physical enough. Texas WR Mike Davis is fast and ran crisp routes, but he has inconsistent hands.
First, let’s start off with the positives because as a whole, this group struggled today. However, that was mainly due to a strong day from a stout group of defensive linemen (more on them later).
The best performances for the offensive line today came from a pair of interior players.
Florida State center Bryan Stork and Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson both stood out with solid showings.
Stork, who also took some reps at tackle, displayed great strength and footwork at the point of attack, and that helped him win the majority of his one-on-one battles. He did struggle at times when matched up with Cal defensive tackle Deandre Coleman (more on him later), who pancaked Stork on two occasions.
Jackson was a mauler all afternoon at his guard position. He flashed a quick burst off the snap and was consistently able to drive his man and get to the second level on a number of reps.
As far as players who had a tough day, North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner tops the list.
Turner consistently got beaten off the edge by some of the speedy defensive ends in pass pro. As a run blocker, he seemed a step slow and was unable to prevent his man from penetrating the line of scrimmage.
Virginia left tackle Morgan Moses is a physically imposing player at 6’6”, 325, but he also struggled with the speedier pass rushers in one-on-one drills. He’s a player that has a lot of ability, but he needs to get better in the technical aspects of playing one of the most important positions on the field.
This group was probably the most impressive unit I saw all day.
While there were many standouts, Cal defensive tackle Deandre Coleman was the most consistently dominant player today. He flashed a quick first step and he routinely was in the backfield in a hurry. He’s a player that generated a lot of whispers from the scouts watching on the sideline.
The second best defensive tackle to me was Princeton’s Caraun Reid. The 6’2”, 305-pounder moves well for his size and he’s another name that I consistently heard as being impressive to the scouts in attendance.
Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton had an up and down day, but when he turned it on, he was another player who was hard to block in one-on-one situations.
The defensive ends also had a strong day. That group was paced by a pair of former SEC standouts in Auburn’s Dee Ford and Arkansas’ Chris Smith.
Ford has simply been a terror off the edge, and none of the tackles in attendance have been able to keep him contained. Also, don’t let his 6’2”, 240 pound frame fool you into thinking he’s solely a pass-rusher. Ford has demonstrated the ability to play physical and take on blocks on run plays.
Smith had the highlight of the day in the scrimmage portion when he abused Turner off the edge and stripped Carr.
At 6’3”, 268 pounds, Smith also consistently flashed a quick first step throughout the afternoon.
Overall, there are a lot of talented players along the defensive line who have helped their draft stocks through the first two days.
BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy had another good day here in practice. He was very active with his hands. He was able to get into the backfield on a couple of occasions during the scrimmage.
The best defensive back in Tuesday’s practice was Jaylen Watkins from Florida. He is a versatile player. He has fluid hips and changes directions well. The quick feet were also on display during the DB drills. He intercepted a pass that was intended for Ryan Grant from Tulane in one-on-one matchups. Auburn CB Chris Davis had a tough afternoon. He showed hesitation while coming out of his breaks. He wasn’t fluid in his movement. He got beat a couple of times on deep routes. Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin went down with an injury as he was coming out of his break. It has been confirmed that he has a torn ACL. It is a tough break for this talented corner.
Other News and Notes
Three players will miss the rest of the week due to injuries. Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Waun James (knee sprain), Fresno State tight end Marcel Jensen (abdominal strain) and Alabama defensive end Ed Stinson (groin sprain) were ruled out during today’s practice.
However, one player has already received a late invitation and will arrive in Mobile later tonight. Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage confirmed that Colorado State tight end Crockett Gilmore will participate in the South team’s practice tomorrow afternoon and will play in this weekend’s game.
Some notable names in attendance today included Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his brother, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and former USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
Senior Bowl Notebook – Day 2 – North Practice
By: Alex Khvatov
The North squad had a Tuesday morning practice with full pads on. It was a physical and intense practice. The weather was about 55 degrees in Mobile, but it was extremely windy.
Despite the windy conditions, it didn’t seem to bother the quarterbacks for the North team. Clemson Tajh Boyd was the best QB in Tuesday’s practice. He was accurate to all areas of the field. His ball placement was better today than it was on Monday. He showed a good arm and made quick decisions. He looked sharp on his three, five and seven step drops. Miami QB Stephen Morris showed improvement today. He has the strongest arm among the North quarterbacks. He was effective on intermediate and deep throws. He is being represented by Drew Rosenhaus who talked to him after practice. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas didn’t have a good Tuesday practice. He struggled with his deep ball accuracy. He has a long release, has a tendency to lock on to his primary receiver and needs to make quicker decisions. The upside is intriguing, but he is too inconsistent.
West Virginia RB Charles Sims impressed on Tuesday. He is a good all-around back. He showed a good burst, quick feet and the ability to make the first defender miss. He is a very good receiver coming out of the backfield. He was also the best pass blocker in pass protection drills. He has an upright running style, but he has helped himself here at the Senior Bowl. Toledo RB David Fluellen had another good day. He has terrific vision and good balance. He looked comfortable as a receiver and was a solid pass protector. Wisconsin RB James White showed big play ability. He was able to bounce it outside. But he struggled in pass protection due to his size.
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis was the most consistent receiver. He ran sharp routes and showed the knack for getting open. He displays reliable hands although he let a few balls get into his body. Robert Herron from Wyoming had an up and down day. He is the fastest WR here. He can stretch the defense as a slot receiver. He made a couple of downfield catches. But he had three drops early in the practice session. Josh Huff from Oregon was the best blocker during drills. He demonstrated a great effort and drove his guy back on a couple of occasions.
Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz was the best blocker in practice. He is a big, physical guy that sustains his blocks. He is almost like another linemen out there. However, he hasn’t stood out in practice in terms of his pass catching.
Notre Dame OT Zach Martin had a good day. He was at left tackle again. He plays with a good base, maintains his balance and has quick feet. I have been impressed with his knee bend. He plays with a nasty streak. Seantrel Henderson from Miami is a powerful and athletic OT. He excels as a run blocker. But he has some ways to go as a pass protector. He is raw in terms of his fundamentals. Center Tyler Larsen from Utah State has great initial quickness. He has quick feet. He understands angles, and his hand placement is solid. He has been the best center so far. Baylor OG Cyril Richardson had another disappointing day. He lacks quickness and gets lazy with his footwork. He looks a bit out of shape (measured in at 343 pounds at the weigh-in). Michigan OT Michael Schofield was getting beat by everyone in one-on-one drills in Tuesday’s practice.
Stanford DE Trent Murphy had a lot of success during the pit drill. He was active today. He used his strength, good leverage and active hands to get into the backfield. DT Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota is an athletic player with impressive size and superb quickness. He has great upside. He is too tall for DT. He will appeal to 3-4 teams as a five-technique. Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald had another good practice. He is too quick for most offensive linemen in practice. He also combines that with superb hand usage. North Carolina DE Kareem Martin didn’t stand out in one-on-one drills, but he made some plays in the scrimmage. He is very versatile and will appeal to 4-3 and 3-4 teams. He has good size and long arms. He is not a quick DE, but he uses an effective bull rush and is a strong run defender. Penn State DT DaQuan Jones hasn’t stood out. He has had a difficult time getting penetration into the backfield. UConn DT Shamar Stephen struggled to disengage in one-on-one drills. He needs to improve his hand usage.
Wisconsin LB Chris Borland won me over this week. He was impressive on Tuesday. He looked very fluid dropping back into coverage. He is so quick in changing directions. He relies on his instincts and has great closing speed. UCLA Jordan Zumwait has good length and has room to add more bulk to his frame. He looked comfortable in his drops. He delivered the biggest hit in morning’s practice. He has played with physicality and intensity during the practice sessions. Iowa LB Christian Kirksey is not a big guy (checked in under 6’2). But he is an athletic LB with good speed. He got into the backfield and was able to stuff the run. He also showed a non-stop motor.
Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste had a solid practice. He is raw, but I like his size, physicality at the line of scrimmage and good ball skills. He has some tightness in his hips, but he is an intriguing prospect. S Deone Bucannon from Washington State stood out today. He is a physical safety with good size. He was very effective in press coverage. Safeties Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois and Ahmad Dixon from Baylor each dropped three balls during the DB drills. Dixon also had a tough time in coverage. He had a tough time turning and running with receivers downfield. He also has a tendency to grab receivers downfield.
Senior Bowl Notebook – Day 1 – North Practice
By: Alex Khvatov
On a quick note, here is a list of the players that have opted out of the game: QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama), RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio State), OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), LB C.J. Mosley (Alabama), LB Khalil Mack (Buffalo), LB Shayne Skov (Stanford), CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State), CB Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) and DB Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State).
Here is a list of the players that are missing the game due to an injury: QB Aaron Murray (Georgia), QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU), RB Andre Williams (Boston College), RB Tyler Gaffney (Stanford), RB Marion Grice (Arizona State), FB Trey Millard (Oklahoma), WR Tevin Reese (Baylor), TE Rob Blanchflower (UMass), TE Joe Don Duncan (Dixie State), OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan), OT James Hurst (North Carolina), OG Anthony Steen (Alabama), OG Chris Watt (Notre Dame), DT Dominique Easley (Florida), DT Taylor Hart (Oregon), LB Anthony Barr (UCLA), CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech), CB Antone Exum (Virginia Tech), CB Deion Belue (Alabama), CB Jason Verrett (TCU)
Mike Smith and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff are in charge of the North squad. The players were wearing the shoulder pads and shorts the first day of practice here on Monday afternoon.
Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas was the best QB on the North squad in Monday’s practice. He measured in at 6’5 ¾, 250 pounds with a 10 ¾ hand size at the weigh-in. He was extremely accurate on short/intermediate passes. He showed a very strong arm, made good decisions and showed better footwork. He threw an INT, but that came off a dropped pass by a WR. He wasn’t perfect. He still has a long delivery and he held on to the ball for too long on a couple of occasions. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd had an average day. He showed a good arm, was effective on play fakes and accurate in the short area. His ball placement was shaky especially on the intermediate throws. He threw an INT and lost a fumble during the scrimmage. Miami QB Stephen Morris had a disappointing day. He measured in at 6’1 ¾, 208 pounds at the weigh-in. He has the strongest arm on the North squad, but he was erratic with his accuracy for most of the practice. He didn’t get into any type of rhythm. He overthrew a number of passes. He needs to improve that footwork.
RB David Fluellen from Toledo had a pretty good day. He displayed good vision and hit that hole with authority. FB Ryan Hewitt from Stanford really stood out today. He weighed in at 6’4 and 246 pounds. He is a big, strong run blocker. He showed good hands coming out of the backfield. He just looks like a jack-of-all-trades.
Wyoming WR Robert Herron was the star on the offensive side of the ball during Monday’s practice. He caught every pass that was thrown his way. He was too fast for the North’s defensive backs. He used his quickness to get off the line, located the ball well on downfield throws and made a couple of grabs in traffic. Josh Huff from Oregon is another receiver that caught my eye. He showed his speed, big play ability and ran sharp routes all day. He beat North Carolina State CB Dontae Johnson on a downfield route. He also ran a terrific stop and go route and made the catch over his shoulder while DB Dez Southward was covering him. Northwestern WR Kain Colter is making the transition to WR. He showed good hands in practice. He just needs to polish up his route running. I will keep an eye on him throughout the week. Saginaw Valley State WR Jeff Janis lacks quickness coming out of his breaks and he had one drop early in practice. But he came back strong and made a couple of tough grabs in traffic. He showed strong hands, good concentration and toughness (took a big hit in practice, but held on to the ball).
None of the tight ends really stood out in practice. Wisconsin Jacob Pedersen and Iowa C.J. Fiedorowicz each had a dropped pass.
Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort was the top OL during practice. He was so fundamentally sound. He has good size (6’5 5/8, 306 pounds) and strength. He displayed good knee bend, terrific hand usage and the ability to reset in pass pro. He won his battle against DE Kareem Martin from North Carolina in one-on-one drills. OT Seantrel Henderson from Miami was impressive at the weigh-in (6’6 7/8, 331 pounds, 34 ¼ arm length and 84 inch wingspan). He also stood out in practice. His size and long arms served him well during practice. He showed quick feet and sustained his blocks. His upside is enormous. Center Tyler Larsen from Utah State had a good practice as well. He fired out of his stance, displayed his strength, sustained his blocks well and was able to redirect defensive linemen. Baylor OG Cyril Richardson struggled against quick defensive linemen in practice. His footwork was sloppy. He lunged forward on a couple of occasions and lacked short area quickness. He failed to keep his balance on a couple of occasions because he was playing too high.
DE Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh was the star on the defensive side of the ball. He dominated in one-on-one drills especially against Cyril Richardson. He was extremely quick. He plays low to the ground, uses good leverage and his hand usage is very advanced. He is not a fit for every NFL team because he is undersized (6’0 7/8), but he is starting to prove his doubters wrong. NT Justin Ellis from Louisiana Tech was a late addition to the roster. He had a good week at the Shrine Game. He followed that up with a strong practice here. He is so strong, but he has surprising quickness as well. He plays with good leverage. Missouri DE Michael Sam had a tough afternoon. He is an undersized DE that lacked quickness around the edge. Once the OL locked on to him, he was unable to disengage. He needs to be more active with his hands.
Wisconsin LB Chris Borland is an undersized backer. But his instincts are top notch. He came with an INT during the scrimmage. He also got good depth on his drops and showed impressive lateral quickness. ILB Jordan Zumwait from UCLA looked more fluid in coverage than I expected. He was able to change directions without any hesitation. He was also the vocal leader of the defense in practice.
Most of the defensive backs struggled on Monday. Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was the most consistent guy. He is a big, physical CB with natural ball skills. He was able to break up a couple of passes. Wisconsin CB Dez Southward, NC State CB Dontae Johnson and Michigan State S Isaiah Lewis gave up a couple of big plays. Southward got too aggressive at times at the line of scrimmage. He also struggled catching the ball in DB drills. Lewis doesn’t have the speed to keep up with faster receivers. Johnson was slow in reacting and didn’t show good closing speed.
Rice K Chris Boswell showed a very strong leg during the field goal attempts. While P Kirby Van Der Kamp from Iowa State struggled with his accuracy during the punting session.
Senior Bowl Notebook – Day 1 – South Practice
By: Sanjay Kirpalani
Greetings from a beautiful day on the Alabama gulf coast. The 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl kicked on Monday afternoon, with the South squad practicing for the first time at Fairhope Stadium.
Gus Bradley and the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff were bouncing around and keeping the energy up throughout the two-hour session, which featured the players in shells (pads and shorts).
Which players stood out on the first day of practice and who were some of the faces in attendance this afternoon?
First, here’s a disclaimer. Among the positions I was watching closely today were the quarterbacks, linebackers and skill players. My reasoning is that I will get a better feel for the linemen when the pads come on.
With Georgia’s Aaron Murray (more on him later) and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger unable to participate due to injury, and the decision by Alabama’s AJ McCarron to skip the event altogether, the quarterback position is lighter on the star power than it could’ve been.
However, don’t correlate that fact into a talent deficit for South quarterbacks Derek Carr of Fresno State, David Fales of San Jose State and Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois.
The guy who jumped out to me in this group was Garoppolo. He struggled with his accuracy in the early going, but when he got warmed up, he displayed impressive touch on his long passes and he made a variety of throws that showed off his arm strength.
If he continues to perform well, as I mentioned to Alex on the sideline, he’s a guy that I think could generate some first-round buzz. That’s my opinion, but as Alex will tell you, I called the same thing with EJ Manuel last season. Garoppolo doesn’t have elite measurables (checked in at 6’2 ¼ and 219 pounds at the weigh-in), but he was the most impressive signal-caller on the first day.
In comparison to the other two quarterbacks, Fales didn’t seem to have the same zip on his ball. All three guys have similar measurables, but Fales is a guy I will study closer over the next couple of days. He just didn’t do anything that stood out.
Running Backs – The running back group isn’t exactly filled with household names either, but all three backs—Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky, Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern and Lorenzo Taliaferro of Coastal Carolina—had their moments.
Andrews was the most impressive of the bunch. He was a mismatch in the passing game when linebackers were assigned to cover him. In particular, he left FSU’s Christian Jones and Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard in the dust on a pair of option routes. He weighed in at 5’10 1/8, 225 pounds, Andrews is a three-down back who is physical enough to run between the tackles and athletic enough to be a weapon out of the backfield on passing downs.
Taliaferro is a physical freak at 6’0 3/8, 231 pounds. He carries that weight well, though. He’s more fluid as a receiver than his size would indicate. He’s another guy I plan to watch closer over the next two days. The same goes for McKinnon, who drew a few “ooh’s” when he trucked FSU safety Terrence Brooks in the scrimmage session toward the end of practice.
Receivers – Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews highlighted a decent group of receivers. Matthews looked a little slow coming out of his breaks in drills, but when the one-on-one drills and scrimmage portions of practice rolled around, he turned it on and looked dominant.
He snagged a Garoppolo deep ball by leaping in between a safety and corner to come down with a catch that was the highlight of the scrimmage portion. His individual battles with Oklahoma corner Aaron Colvin were creating a buzz among scouts in attendance, with both players impressing when matched up against one another.
Texas wideout Mike Davis has enticing physical potential, but he’s clearly lacking in the fundamentals department. On the positive side, he consistently got open. However, he dropped several catchable balls. He’s a raw talent that needs to work on refining his skills, but his potential is appealing.
Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood had a solid day overall. He looked strong getting in and out of his breaks, and he caught everything thrown his way. He’s not elite in any one area, but he’s solid across the board.
Oklahoma WR Jalen Saunders is quick, but he struggled catching the ball. He had three drops in Monday’s practice.
Corners – Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin was the strongest corner today. As I mentioned above, he was the only player who could consistently challenge Matthews one-on-one. He’s not the biggest corner at 5’11 3/8, 186, but he wasn’t afraid to be physical and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. He’s fluid in his movements and has decent ball skills when the ball is in the air.
He was the only corner on the first day that stood out consistently.
Safeties – Similar to Colvin, Florida State’s Terrence Brooks was a player that seemed to separate himself from the rest of his peers at his position. Brooks made a terrific interception on a deep ball to Matthews by turning his head around at the right time and positioning himself perfectly to make a fantastic grab as Matthews was draped all over him.
Additionally, he displayed his versatility by lining up as a nickel corner in some sets and staying with the smaller, shiftier receivers when the offense went to three wideouts.
None of the other safeties flashed like Brooks did, but I plan to get a better look at the other guys over the next few days.
Linebackers – BYU’s linebacker Kyle Van Noy had a strong first day of practice. He’s physical at 6’3 1/4, 244 pounds. However, he displayed the ability to drop into coverage and run with tight ends. He almost picked off a Carr pass intended for Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch during the scrimmage portion.
Florida State teammates Christian Jones and Telvin Smith had interesting days. Jones, who played some defensive end this season at FSU, played mostly at middle linebacker today. He struggled mightily in coverage. He also had three drops in LB drills. Smith, however, was the opposite. He excelled in pass coverage, and even when he got beat, he was in great position to make the tackle on the receiver.
Similar to Jones, Alabama LB Adrian Hubbard struggled when he was called upon to cover backs and receivers. He’s an impressive athlete at 6’6”, 252 pounds. However, he seems to have the qualities of a tweener at the next level. He has tight hips and struggles changing directions.
The first day of practices at the Senior Bowl always feature a who’s who of football experts on the sidelines.
Among the names I spotted were former Rams head coach and current Ravens assistant Steve Spagnuolo, Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his brother, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
Also, Murray was in attendance and even threw a few warmup tosses despite being two months removed from a torn ACL. He told me after practice that his goal is to be ready to fully participate in Georgia’s pro day.
If a player is listed as 6007, that would be read as 6'0 7/8. If a player is listed as 5113, it would would read as 5'11 3/8.
QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)
QB David Fales (San Jose State)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Running Backs/ Fullbacks
RB Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky)
RB Jerick McKinnon (Georgia Southern)
FB Jay Prosch (Auburn)
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina)
WR Mike Davis (Texas)
WR Ryan Grant (Tulane)
WR Cody Hoffman (BYU)
WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
WR Kevin Norwood (Alabama)
WR Solomon Patton (Florida)
WR Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma)
TE Marcel Jensen (Fresno State)
TE Arthur Lynch (Georgia)
OG Joe Bitonio (Nevada)
OG Jon Halapio (Florida)
C Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma)
OG Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State)
OT Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee)
OG Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt)
OT Morgan Moses (Virginia)
C Bryan Stork (Florida State)
C Travis Swanson (Arkansas)
OT Billy Turner (North Dakota State)
DE/DT Deandre Coleman (California)
DT Justin Ellis (Louisiana Tech)
DE Dee Ford (Auburn)
DT Daniel McCullers (Tennessee)
DT Caraun Reid (Princeton)
DE Chris Smith (Arkansas)
DE Ed Stinson (Alabama)
DT Will Sutton (Arizona State)
DE/DT Brent Urban (Virginia)
LB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
LB Lamin Barrow (LSU)
LB Adrian Hubbard (Alabama)
LB Christian Jones (Florida State)
LB Telvin Smith (Florida State)
LB Jordan Tripp (Montana)
LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
CB Walt Aikens (Liberty)
CB Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma)
CB Chris Davis (Auburn)
CB Keith McGill (Utah)
CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
CB Lavelle Westbrooks (Georgia Southern)
S Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
S Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt)
S Craig Loston (LSU)
S Jemea Thomas (Georgia Tech)
LS Marcus Heit (Kansas State)
P Cody Mandell (Alabama)
K Cody Parkey (Auburn)
Coaching Staff: Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
QB Stephen Morris (Miami, FL)
QB Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
FB Ryan Hewitt (Stanford)
RB David Fluellen (Toledo)
RB Charles Sims (Houston)
RB James White (Wisconsin)
WR Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin)
WR Mike Campanaro (Wake Forest)
WR Kain Colter (Northwestern)
WR Shaquelle Evans (UCLA)
WR Robert Herron (Wyoming)
WR Josh Huff (Oregon)
WR Jeff Janis (Saginaw Valley State)
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa)
TE Gator Hoskins (Marshall)
TE Jacob Pedersen (Wisconsin)
OG Kadeem Edwards (Tennessee State)
OT Seantrel Henderson (Miami, FL)
C Tyler Larsen (Utah State)
OG Brandon Linder (Miami, FL)
OG Zack Martin (Notre Dame)
OT Jack Mewhort (Ohio State)
OG Cyril Richardson (Baylor)
C Weston Richburg (Colorado State)
OG Michael Schofield (Michigan)
OG Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
DT Will Clarke (West Virginia)
DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
DE/DT Ra'Shede Hageman (Minnesota)
DT DaQuan Jones (Penn State)
DE James Gayle (Virginia Tech)
DE Kareem Martin (North Carolina)
DE/DT Shamar Stephen (UConn)
DE Marcus Smith (Louisville)
LB Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
LB Jonathan Brown (Illinois)
LB Christian Kirksey (Iowa)
LB Michael Sam (Missouri)
LB Trent Murphy (Stanford)
LB Jordan Zumwait (UCLA)
CB Pierre Desir (Lindenwood)
CB Marqueston Huff (Wyoming)
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)
CB Dontae Johnson (North Carolina State)
CB Nevin Lawson (Utah State)
S Deone Bucannon (Washington State)
S Ahmad Dixon (Baylor)
S Isaiah Lewis (Michigan State)
S Dez Southward (Wisconsin)
S Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)
K Chris Boswell (Rice)
LS Tyler Ott (Harvard)
P Kirby Van Der Kamp (Iowa State)
Coaching Staff: Atlanta Falcons
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