OK, let’s get some of this settled and clear from the get-go. I am only talking about the Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl here. Not only because they are the top “talent” games, but also because they are the two games I invested about 100 hours-plus of my life attending this year, which includes lots of practice time. Some of my notes are in the form of questions, while others are observations and impressions.
Happy to report that I have Missouri QB KELLY BRYANT sightings from the Shrine venue and multiple positives. He might get a Draft lot, albeit late, from an NFL team in dire need of some young QB talent to develop.
From the man amongst boys category, I will mention Michigan State DL RAEQUAN WILLIAMS… again. He has the body size and configuration to get your attention before they even warm up. He looks bigger than his 6’037″/287 weigh-in numbers. He dominated at times in practices, but was another guy in the game. He really needs to end up on an NFL team with patience and a hands-on DL Coach ala ROD MARINELLI.
All football players are not created equal… even some that are twin brothers. The DAVIS twins were a delight to chat with and snap a picture of. They are some big body DT prospects from Nebraska. However, watching and listening it became clear that KHALIL DAVIS was the more highly regarded prospect in St. Pete.
RICO DOWDLE, RB, South Carolina showed once again that he is a special talent when he’s healthy. He did everything well, all week long. He’s a strong runner with good burst, shows good hands and receiving fundamentals, and blocks better than most in pass-pro, however, he has a history of nicks and cuts which cause him to miss too much time to injuries.
If your team needs an edge-rush specialist to supplement the current sack crew, then keep your eyes and ears open to news about ALEX HIGHSMITH from Charlotte. He looked to have the athleticism to play at OLB during the week in St. Pete. It should also be noted that he was the runner-up to CHASE YOUNG/Ohio State in the FBS level sack leader category.
Why in the world wouldn’t some NFL team want to have MASON KINSEY of Berry College invited to the Combine after his work at the Shrine venue? I consider that to be a rhetorical question. KINSEY stood out in Shrine practices and the game. He looked to me like a perfect fit as a potential NFL level slot-receiver. He is small, but quick, though he is not too small at 5’104/198 lbs. Even his 9 1/4″ hands are not small. Now, he’ll have to try to latch onto a Pro Day spot at some college in the Southeast. KINSEY is on my short list of Combine snubs.
No offense to other guys who were banged up after the very physical National Championship game, but kudos to 3 players who showed up at the Shrine venue and put on pads to practice and play in the game that week. From LSU, we had LB/MICHAEL DIVINITY and WR/DERRICK DILLON, and from Clemson we had WR/DIONDRE OVERTON showing up to help the Shrine cause. OL SEAN POLLARD and GAGE CERVENKA flew in, but elected to cheer on their new teammates, but not don the pads.
The position transition was in full swing in St. Pete for Michigan OT JON RUNYAN. Let’s make that OG JON RUNYAN. RUNYAN played out at LT for the Wolverines and performed well, but pro scouts have looked at his height (6’041) and arm length (33″) and most see him as an OG prospect from a starter’s perspective. Put him down in your OG positional grouping, but keep in mind that he should be versatile enough to back up all along the OL if he fails to win a starting job as a pro. His dad was in town, doing a little coaching and supporting his son in general.
A lot of talent evaluators were looking for MITCHELL WILCOX, TE, USF to break out during Shrine week as a receiving threat. He showed hints of it during practice, but his college role as primarily a blocker for the Bulls’ running attack was still his forte. I would also note that he played a lot on Special Teams in the game, and recorded 2 tackles. He may not be a high pick in the Draft, but his versatility should get him drafted and stand him in good stead to earn an NFL roster spot, IMO.
ADRIAN KILLINS, the blazing fast UCF RB carved himself another couple of niches in his continuing attempt to prove he has talent value for an NFL Draft spot, and eventually a roster spot. His speed is elite and he’s a football player first, a trickster second. However, his size (5’073/162) gives one cause for pause, yet he keeps answering questions and checking boxes on scouting sheets. Despite carrying the ball as a RB once for 0 yards in the game, he came up big as the East team’s leading receiver. He was targeted 8 times, and caught 7 of those throws. He worked his way for 92-yards on those 7 catches, with a long of 37 yards. He is a proven return man on both Punts and Kick-offs. IMO, he’s primed to be a big-play, limited touch weapon as a pro.
As I have alluded to above, versatility is a big plus for players trying to go from prospects to drafted pro players. I would recommend highly that you prepare yourselves for some interesting Combine numbers from WR JOHN HIGHTOWER from Boise St. He is an explosive player, who as DANIEL JEREMIAH likes to say, ‘has some juice’ to his game. He had a productive week of practices, and then showed his versatility and “juice” in the game on Saturday. HIGHTOWER was targeted twice, catching both balls for 24 yards total. He also showed good hands, catching two punts and 1 kick-off. He fumbled twice, but recovered both, as he seemed to have a bit of a vision issue with the Trop ceiling. He also carried the ball for 12-yards on a reverse play.
This report will be continued with some Senior Bowl thoughts on Tuesday.