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Senior Bowl Diary: Thursday

NFL coaches and scouts have an up-close look at prospects

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is not the last day of practice at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, just the last day of any type of contact. Fridays are busy with walk-thrus and then different fan-based activities.

The game will broadcast this Saturday on NFL Network with a kickoff at 2:30 (EST). The entire coaching staff of the New York Jets and Detroit Lions are this year’s NFL representatives, and you see their team logos at every glance.

The starting lineup is usually decided by Friday’s helmet and shorts day, but all players play in the game. The starting QB usually will play into the second quarter, but there have been times where this ends up being the entire first half while the other two come in and play a quarter each.

Just like the Wednesday practice, the Thursday practice had inclement weather again. It was announced that the practice sessions would be moved to the University of South Alabama’s indoor football practice facility, but for some reason, they relocated it beneath the canopy of a pavilion. So, due to limited space, they only allowed a certain number of media inside which ended up being not that many. I was not one of them. Maybe it was the barbeque sauce stain on my shirt from eating ribs at Dreamland BBQ – which if you have been you are nodding your head.

Anyway, this is what I have accumulated through different texts, tweets and asking around.

There were a few players added to the game, which there always is. Usually a guy will get nicked or worse and drop out, and so they bring in another willing body. But that is boring stuff so let’s just get past that.

Standouts today include RB Dameon Pierce of Florida. I realize the Browns don’t need a running back, but hey, I got something. Apparently he has shined all week although I have not spent any time with the RB groups.

I have written about receivers all week and Christian Watson of North Dakota State impressed today as well. So far, I would have to say he has stood out among all the rest. He would fit nicely into the Browns rotation. He is 6’-5” and 208 pounds and has this great reach. His bio includes being named First Team All-Mountain Valley State his final two seasons. His official 40 time is 4.4. I have seen the Patriots and Vikings personnel around him after practices. This is a common practice for assistant coaches and scouts who ask these guys a ton of questions. Watson is very quick for a man his size including the deep third. In addition he is a dangerous kick returner. He looks like a third-round pick to me.

Other players who stood out today are WR Khalil Shakir of Boise State, Miami of Ohio S Sterling Weatherford, DT Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma, Baylor S Jalen Pitre, Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning and Missouri RB Rachaad White.

I have written about Pitre all week. This guy would solve a lot of issues with that safety position with the Browns. Love this kid. Was impressed with Winfrey and had several notes on him on the other days as well. Cleveland will need a big body on the inside of the defensive line now that Malik McDowell has tanked.

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder had issues on his first practice, but looked great yesterday and now today according to several tweets. He has good touch. My thinking is that the Browns will move on from backup Casey Keenum and his $6 million salary and draft a young guy in the third through fifth rounds. Most likely someone with wheels. QB Malik Willis is making a good case of being available in the second-round. If someone can teach him how to take a snap from center, he has all the tools and is a good scrambler.

Another signalcaller to get rave comments was Carson Strong of Nevada. He is just been so-so for me all week and is just inconsistent with accuracy.

Along the defensive line Uconn DT Travis Jones was praised today. He is 6’-4” and 326 pounds so he appears to be a player that could make plays against the run. Was a four-year player in college so he has good game experience. He has the size obviously, but is very athletic and has plenty of power. His presence in the A-gaps is going to make the defense better right away.

Another DT Eric Johnson from Missouri State has been a menace all week. He is quick and has a great spin move.

WR Calvin Austin of Memphis has been one of the best receivers as well and is just stupid fast.

I can see him paired with Jarvis Landry and DPJ. Wow, that would blow the lid off any defense. To say that he has had a nice week is not stating just how good this dude is. He has exceptional speed, will gain separation and is deceptive.