The Senior Bowl is in full swing amidst spring-like weather in Mobile, Alabama with a high of 74 degrees and sunny skies. Players are doing their best to impress the approximately 700 scouts, coaches and full media.
Tuesday’s practice held several impressive players, some not so much.
DBN’s Barry Shuck is at the Senior Bowl taking notes and looking at all the talent first-hand.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is like an NFL convention. Every NFL head coach is in attendance along with their staff, personnel directors, and scouts. About 45% of Rounds 1 and 2 will have played in this game in an attempt to bump their draft status. This one week is also a time for head coaches to interview and hire men to round out their coaching staff since all the unemployed coaches are in attendance.
The advantage for players in this one game is that the Senior Bowl is extremely selective of all the college senior athletes. This means that players practice against the cream all week so if they can shine, their draft position is a certainty to escalate. Which means more money starting out.
Here is what transpired on Tuesday:
Both squads were in full swing. The media for the practice sessions for this event just keeps getting larger by the year. It helps when athletes such as Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Chase Claypool, Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Daniel Jones, and Tony Pollard were all recent Senior Bowl participants.
These rosters for ions were labeled “North” and “South”, giving the hometown crowd an extra incentive to cheer for their lads. But now they are called “American” and “National” ever since Reese’s came on board as the main game sponsor. This enabled the players to be intertwined as needed and not have to worry so much about being a school that doesn’t fit in with the demographics. If the North team, now National, is in need of a quarterback because one canceled after being injured, then no problem getting the next best one on the list regardless of school.
Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker showed up for the South, um, American squad wearing a knee brace and not suiting up. He could be an interesting addition to the Cleveland Browns. Although he is 25 years old, he has a similar skill set as Deshaun Watson and is a very good runner. Despite all of his college accolades, his projection is for Round 4 due to his age and last year’s major injury.
Cleveland owns the #111 and #130 picks in that round.
The defensive line/offensive line 1-on-1’s are always a favorite to watch. They line up three guys on one side of the line with a center, guard and tackle. Then a DT or DE lines up on only one player, then the snap and it is total chaos for two players. The defense has an odd number so each time an offensive lineman gets ready for the snap, it is a different dude to deal with.
Tackles Jaelyn Duncan of Maryland and Alabama’s Tyler Steen really stood out. With the four or five guys that lined up in front of them, there wasn’t any penetration into the backfield whatsoever. On the flip side, DE Byron Young of Tennessee and LSU DT Ali Gaye were both stonewalled with no chance of getting past their man.
Not sure if the Browns are going to retain KR Jakeem Grant who sat out all season with an injury, but I have found a good one. Receiver Derius Davis from TCU had no issues with punt returns and is not only fast but has some great shifty moves. Houston WR Nathaniel Dell fumbled twice and then had no clue what to do once he recovered. Davis runs a 4.36 in the 40 and if Cleveland drafts him they also get a receiver.
It would appear a third tight end is on the horizon, and there are three names that are clear winners here. The first is Alabama’s Cameron Latu who had some injury issues last year after a hot start. He has excellent blocking skills and catches everything thrown his way so far. Has great size at 6’-4” and is a beefy 248 pounds. Davis Allen of Clemson is consistent on just about everything he does. He won’t wow anyone in the passing game, but he makes catches. The wow factor with this position is reserved for Luke Musgrave of Oregon State. He is a beast at 6’-5 1/2” and get this: tips the scales at 255. I didn’t talk to him, but he is on my short list.
Linebacker Henry To’oTo’o of Alabama was an accepted invite and is slotted to be drafted around the Browns’ pick in the second round at #43. But he withdrew with an undisclosed injury. That was a bummer, was looking forward to interviewing him as he is a sure tackler and is one of those players that fit DC Jim Schwartz’s scheme.
A name to watch in the secondary is Boise State safety, J.L. Skinner. In the receiver/defensive back drills, he was glue on whichever receiver he was teamed with. He is a strong hitter and would be a great addition to Cleveland’s secondary. He dominated Michael Wilson of Stanford and also Michigan’s Ronnie Bell. Skinner looks like an early third-round pick. Another safety that impressed me was Florida State’s Jammie Robinson who could be there in Round 4.
Usually, all the QB’s have good height except for when Russell Wilson played in this game in 2012. Here are the measurements: Jaren Hall – BYU: 6’-1”; Malik Cunningham – Louisville: 5’-11”; Jake Haener – Fresno State: 6’; Clayton Hune – Houston: 6’-2”; Tyson Bagent – Shepard: 6’-2”; and Hooker 6’-3”. The Senior Bowl could certainly bring in another signal caller to replace Hooker.
I would like to see the Browns draft a backup offensive tackle. There are several available for Round 3. Ohio State’s Dawand Jones is an absolute mountain of a man at 6’-8, 375 pounds. He can actually move quite well for such a large torso, and nobody has gotten around him so far. It is going to take a speed guy to get a great first step because once he engages, it is over with. I also was impressed with Ryan Hayes (6’-6”, 305 pounds) of Michigan, Mississippi’s Nick Broeker (6’-4, 305, pounds), and Asim Richards (6’-4, 307 pounds) from North Carolina.
I have seen a few mock drafts with Cleveland taking a center. Maybe if they don’t re-sign Ethan Pocic, but Michigan’s Olusegun Oluwatimi (6’-2, 308 pounds) is having a great week so far.
Wide receivers that have popped include Grant DuBose from UNC-Charlotte and who is catching everything thrown his way is TCU’s Puka Nacua. He has good moves after the catch and will contort his body to make the catch.
Jayden Reed from Michigan State showed off his speed and seems to have star appeal. He was the fastest player during Day 1 of practice and eclipsed 20 MPH.