The Reese’s Senior Bowl is in full swing in Mobile, Alabama and the skies are great football weather. Lots of scouts from every NFL club and most Canadian Football League teams, plus some United Football League representatives. The UFL is this year’s combined USFL and XFL.
Every NFL head coach is also here, except for the two participating in the Super Bowl. Also in attendance is every team’s personnel department and GM, plus full coaching staff.
You may not know this, but the Senior Bowl is an unofficial NFL convention. Many assistant coaches are hired here to fill in the coaching staff. The All-Star teams practice in the morning and afternoon, and in between these sessions, head coaches/GMs interview candidates for these open coaching spots. The reason is that every unemployed coach has traveled to Mobile hoping for a job interview.
Dawgs By Nature staff writer Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week being the eyes and ears for NFL draft prep for our Cleveland Browns coverage. Practices began on Tuesday for both the American and National squads.
One player who really stood out was WR Brenden Rice of USC. He has good size at 6’-3” with a long extension. You may of his father Jerry Rice. He has exceptional footwork and showed his physicality with his 210-pound frame. Good release and seems to win hand-fighting. Has excellent head snaps that made his defender start going outside when all the while Rice would go inside instead and be open.
One CB who gave Rice fits was Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo. He was able to blanket his receivers today and is rarely fooled by head bobs or hip shifts. He looks smooth and controlled and just may be the best defensive player in this game. Think Martin Emerson. Both of these players are projected as second-round picks where the Browns are selecting. Penn State CB Johnny Dixon had issues with getting fooled with jukes, and a lot of his receivers were open because of this. Dixon has great speed, and he did close nicely, but he has to learn not to get taken. CB Kris Abrams-Draine of Missouri looked comfortable in most drills and had an interception. He has a laser focus on his receiver. CB Carlton Johnson of Fresno State had trouble keeping up with receivers and then lacked the closing speed to make up ground.
Another WR turning heads is Michigan’s Roman Wilson. Almost every DB has not been able to cover him, and Wilson kept being open in most drills. Before this week Wilson had a Day 3 grade, but will certainly be on the rise and break into the Top-100. He had production this year for the National Champs and his athletic skill set is translatable to the NFL level. For now, he just gets open with nice hands. Yet another WR prospect that looked good is Xavier Legette of South Carolina. He is definitely a second-round guy who has great speed. He also does not shy away from contact and out-physically most defensive backs. Legette was able to get consistent separation during the 1-on-1 drills and made a spectacular catch at the sideline during the 7-on-7s. He is a legit receiver who should be there when the Browns draft in Round 2. WR Ricky Pearsall of Florida has a Round 7 grade but stood out in all drills. Smooth route runner and clean win off press coverage. Won every 1-on-1 drill.
Quarterback is not on the Browns menu, but Michael Penix of Washington looks pretty darn good. He impressed with his deep ball accuracy and made plays. He has durability concerns, but he should up his draft status if this keeps up. Oregon C Jackson Powers-Johnson impressed in drills and is one of the best offensive line prospects here regardless of position. He did take some snaps at guard and has the size, athleticism, and skill for the interior. He is ranked the #52 player in the draft coming into this week. He is definitely the best center at these practices. He could be there when the Browns choose in Round 2 and would be ready to step in this year.
EDGE rusher Laiatu Latu of UCLA is not a super athlete and doesn’t have overwhelming length. He does possess determination and no quit, but he has had medical issues in the past. Darius Robinson of Mizzou had a great practice and played well in space. He shined in drills and wasn’t blockable today. Another defensive end who looked good was Marshawn Kneeland (6’-3”, 275) of Western Michigan. He looks very lean but has great speed, especially his first step. I like this kid who has a projection of Round 5, but if his week continues to wreak havoc, he may go a round or two earlier. Upper body strong and plays his tail off. Has a great reach as well.
Nice patience and quickness by Guyton. Handles himself really well in space. pic.twitter.com/yafYL0hLkT— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 30, 2024
Cleveland will need a young tight end to groom with the sad seasons for both Harrison Bryant and Jordan Akins. Florida State’s Jahim Bell (6’-3”, 239 pounds) is a good blocker, and has soft hands. He didn’t get many throws his way, but in drills he will cling to his man and was able to move bodies. He also snagged a pass from QB Michael Pratt that looked uncatchable and was able to get underneath it for a nice reception in the corner. Another tight end that looked really good was Jared Wiley of TCU. He wowed everyone watching 1-on-1 drills with a one-handed catch. He is 6’-6”, weighs 253 and is a bully for a blocker. His big frame will be somebody’s best friend. Right now, he is projected as a Day 3 prospect.
.@TexasFootball OT Christian Jones had a very impressive session in OL/DL 1-on-1s. Super experienced player with 48 starts in his career. Really impressive how poised and in control he was on his reps.— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) January 30, 2024
This was one of a few clear wins from him pic.twitter.com/Gzl0X6L96j
The Browns will probably need to draft an offensive tackle for depth. Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton (6’-7”, 328 pounds) has good feet and his hand-fighting is superb. He uses good leverage. He is also a very large man who would pair nicely with OT Dawand Jones. Guyton has a #49 grade and could elevate that this week. Christian Jones of Texas had 48 college starts and looks very comfortable in drills and was able to move over or stand his ground with most of his defenders. He has control right away and begins with a nice wide stance while in pass protection. He is another bully.
New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube had a strong day at the #SeniorBowl by all accounts.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) January 30, 2024
He’s a hard competitor with good agility and great hands as a pass-catcher. Versatile piece who will play a role in the NFL on passing downs and special teams. pic.twitter.com/Zp3lOFEN4O
Will Cleveland draft a running back? I have one for them: Dylan Laube (5’-10”, 208 pounds) of New Hampshire. Hits the hole quickly and did well in passing drills with soft hands. He was the FCS leader in all-purpose yards per game for his final two college seasons. A diamond for the passing game and a nifty third-down back. Has already been invited to the Combine. He had a great burst in the 7-on-7 drills and was inserted into the passing drills and caught everything.