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Reese’s Senior Bowl Diary: Linemen show out while receivers still a big part of discussion on Wednesday

Annual All-Star game is the beginning of the draft process

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 31 Reese’s Senior Bowl
CB Quinyon Mitchell
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama is in full swing with exceptional weather just right for football. You name an NFL head coach, and he is here. Well, except for the two Super Bowl clubs.

The defensive line versus offensive line 1-on-1s are very popular with an emphasis on the word “pop.” If a DL player can show he can get around an All-Conference guard or tackle, he is showing to the watchful eyes of scouts and coaches that this type of behavior can occur on their roster for years to come. If the O-lineman can keep his defender out, those are notes that signify that if their O-Line is ailing and this guy or that guy stood his ground against a Second Team All-American, then our team must have him.

Dawgs By Nature staff writer Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week watching practices, taking notes, interviewing able bodies for the Browns, and turning over every stone doing NFL draft prep for our Cleveland Browns coverage. Practices end on Friday, but Thursday will be the last day of contact whereas Friday is helmets and shorts for both the American and National squads.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 31 Reese’s Senior Bowl
WR Roman Wilson
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jerry Rice’s son Brendan Rice looks amazing. He is fluid and smooth and runs great routes. His projection is exactly where the Browns draft in the second round, but after this week he just may be a late first-round pick. He recorded the second-fastest time for receivers at 20.68 MPH. No, not a misprint. But he is the real deal. Another receiver that caught some eyes was Jha’Quan Jackson of Tulane. Not a big player at just 5’-9”, but has great speed and is a return man to boot. He shined in the 7-on-7 drills, dropped only one pass but was pretty hard to guard as he made more than one DB look at why he was open yet again. Roman Wilson of Michigan for the second day proves to be the best of the bunch. He has the moves, then another move, then his third move is when the DB can’t seem to find him.

Penn State cornerback Johnny Dixon is struggling. He waits for a move, and if the receiver doesn’t use one, he is gone for at least a seven-yard edge. Dixon can remain tight in short passing situations, but he is playing not to get beat on the deep ball. Same for Notre Dame LB Marist Liufau in coverage. His run defense is spot on as he recognizes the run almost immediately, but in coverage he takes every juke and can’t stay with his man. Another to pass on is Auburn safety Jaylin Simpson. Not sure about his tackling abilities, but he can’t stay with his receivers. As suggested yesterday, Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell is putting on a clinic on how to cover. Another Penn Stater to struggle is Kalen King, who has a second-round grade on him. He has elite speed but just can’t square up, isn’t aggressive whatsoever, and hasn’t shown any competitiveness.

I feel that Cleveland will draft an offensive tackle at some point. If in the second round, look no further than Tyler Guyton from Oklahoma who is this year’s Dawand Jones because he is 6’-7” and a beefy 327 pounds. He is a mauler and not a single defender has gotten around him yet in both practice days in the 1-on-1s. Jones practiced only one day last year, and the same occurred as if he was this impenetrable wall. Guyton has these same traits. Jones and one side with Guyton on the other? I interviewed him to see which side he plays. This dude is a puncher which immediately gets his defender rattled. He has great power, and what every offensive lineman wants but doesn’t necessarily have – finesse. Teams will be looking for mobility at the tackle position, which is what Guyton is despite being such a huge friggin’ man.

NCAA Football: Houston at Texas Tech
OT Patrick Paul
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Another offensive tackle that should be there in the second round when the Browns pick is Patrick Paul (6’-7”, 315 pounds) of the University of Houston. He did have some issues if his defender went wider and had a good first step, but he has adequate recovery skills. He appears a lot bigger with full pads on, but in a less formal setting, he is actually quite lean and looks more like a basketball player. Nice dude. Good knee bend and will project to stay at tackle instead of moving inside. He has great arm length with good leverage most of the time. He told me he loves to run block, to be able to use your will on another player. It shows with those big hands. When Cleveland drafts in the second round, Paul will be sitting there. Another player’s name I want to throw into the ring is Missouri’s Javon Foster (6’-5”, 319 pounds). He appears a developmental player but would be a great grab in Round 3. In the fourth round, Isiah Adams from Illinois has shown great things in two days of work. He has impressed and will probably move to the interior where the Browns need quality backups. Adams is aggressive and shoots his hands before his defender can work around him. He is a nasty player and even in an interview, you could tell he does not care what you think.

Jackson Powers-Johnson is the best center here this week and could project to guard. He told me he has played guard in high school and prefers center, but would not have any problem with the transition. Ethan Driskell of Marshall just doesn’t get set and squared up at all and has been constantly beaten.

Along the defensive line, Gabe Hall of Baylor stood out although I had to look at the roster to see who he was. He had good reps and was disruptive in the 7-on-7 drills making whichever QB was inserted having to move over twice because of Hall’s presence. Will make an adequate DT prospect probably a Day 3 guy, but was non-stop. A third-round guy for the Browns to take is Florida State’s Braden Fiske. One word: disruptive. In single drills and 7’s this guy just would not stop. I thought there was a screw loose with him until I spoke with him and got some insight. Seems a bit light at 295 to play the interior, but he shines there. Quick off the snap before any offensive guard or center had time to react. Excellent feet working off his blockers. He did seem to get involved too much in hand-fighting instead of using more leverage, but he is a pass rusher. Haven’t seen his run-stoppage abilities yet, but he can get in the offensive backfield.

2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas
DT T’Vondre Sweat
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

And quickly. If you want girth at DT, then choose the 350-pound T’Vondre Sweat of Texas. He appears to be more of a rotational guy, but he is a gap plugger. Has a ranking at #64 so he is going to be in earshot of the Browns in the second round. Didn’t see many moves from Sweat other than bull in China shop, but that worked well. Every offensive lineman he went against on the scene was them trying to put on brakes and Sweat pushing them backward. I know “pancake” is an offensive lineman term, but Sweat pancaked Arkansas center Beaux Limmer once that brought cheers from the hordes of onlookers. Not a lot of quickness and explosion off the line from him and he seems a bit raw. He also needs to use his length better in the pass rush. But he is a load and will be a steady run-stopper at the next level.

Staying with the defensive line, I really like Florida’s Kingsley Eguakun (6’-3”, 300 pounds). He brings good power but needs to get the pad level down a bit. Uses good leverage with tremendous physicality. Quite the opposite for DE Darius Robinson of Missouri. He seems to be a good run-stopper, but just not seeing anything from him as a pass rusher. I have heard talk of him being a high-round pick and has a grade at #113, but he is definitely struggling against some of this elite offensive line talent. Another DE to watch is Brandon Dorlus from Oregon. Love this kid. Quite lean at 272 pounds, but has great leg drive and speed-to-power ratio. Good feet with a great first step. His spin move is NFL-ready. Dorlus has already gotten many offensive linemen off balance and seems to have a high motor.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 31 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We will see how many free-agent linebackers the Browns will keep, but it is almost a certainty that they will have to draft one or two. Payton Wilson (6’-4”, 234 pounds) of North Carolina State has really shown some skills in the pass coverage game and seems to recognize a run almost immediately. I really like this kid. He has good technique and seems to have one more hit in him every play. He batted down a pass intended for Penn State TE Theo Johnson on a short sit route, and if this was live, he would have had at least one sack. Wilson is a bit of a gambler, though.

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Speaking of tight ends, you can bet the Browns will be drafting one. There are three that have stood out here this week. As mentioned earlier, Theo Johnson is a big dude (6’-6”, 257 pounds) and has shown he is very physical with blocking. He appears to be more of a possession target in the passing game rather than a field stretcher. He will gain valuable real estate, but he isn’t going to juke anyone nor blow through any tackle. He played TE2 while at Penn State so he has some developmental aspects he needs to work on and lacks bulk strength when blocking defensive ends. Jahim Bell (6’-3”, 244 pounds) of Florida State has been the most consistent and will gain good yardage after contact. He is a beast once he catches the ball. Impressive in ball searching and has deceptive speed. Has decent blocking skills, but does struggle against heavier defensive linemen.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 BYU at TCU
TE Jared Wiley
Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU’s Jared Wiley (6’-7”, 260 pounds) has the reach and length and would make a sensational Red Zone target. Runs a 4.8 in the 40 and will after defenders on the second level. Good downfield effort after each catch and he has learned how to use his large frame to ward off defenders. Is just average in blocking skills from what I have seen and will probably need to develop better feet when sitting down in zone. All three players have grades of third to fourth round.