Senior Bowl Game Report: Offensive line

January 29, 2017

Any NFL team hoping to find a potential along the offensive line at this year’s Senior Bowl probably came away disappointed this week. That’s especially going to be the case for teams looking to upgrade at OT. UCLA’s Conor McDermott, for example, was arguably the best OT in this weeks’ Senior Bowl game, although even he ended up giving up a couple of sacks, although there were perhaps extenuating circumstances on both. In each of the two instances, the 6-8 McDermott allowed a DE to get under his pads and was trying to redirect him past the pocket when the QB took off and ran into the edge rusher. For the most part, though, McDermott did a solid job cutting off the edge as he set up nicely with a solid base, kept his feet alive, and effectively used his arms to redirect opposing rushers away from the pocket. And because he wasn’t over-striding he was generally able to plant and change direction. McDermott, though, was generally more effective in pass pro than run blocking as he struggled to get his pads down and didn’t get much pop off the snap; he also isn’t likely to be much of a factor playing in space.

For the most part, the OTs in Mobile this week looked like they might make half-decent OGs at the next level. Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton was probably the most efficient OT other than McDermott in the Senior Bowl game. Moton generally also did a pretty good job defending the edge; he’s a thick-body guy with a decent first step who plays with a solid base and gets good arm extension. He also really locked on when he got his hands on people in both pass pro and drive blocking. However, once he set, Moton appeared to lack the agility to change direction with any fluidity and ultimately gave up a couple of pressures to the outside and really struggled to redirect back inside. Mississippi State’s Justin Senior also played reasonably well, but he appeared to be more of a battler than an athlete; he was effective using his hands, but his footwork appeared to be all over the place much of the time.

Meanwhile, Bucknell’s Julien Davenport, Pitt’s Adam Bisnowaty, Troy’s Tony Garcia and USC’s Zach Banner all really struggled at times. Davenport at least looked the part with nice long arms, but he just didn’t have the strength to keep people off his pads and didn’t have the footwork to recover. For his part, Bisnowaty was solid enough drive blocking, but just didn’t keep his feet moving protecting the pocket and didn’t show much in the way of balance or body control. Garcia actually did get better as the game progressed as he started to let the game come to him and react rather than lunge, but too often he wasn’t setting his feet was pushed around way too much. The 360-something pound Banner did have a highlight play when he caught and took off with a deflected pass that took all 11 guys on the other side of the ball to get him to the ground. The bad news for Banner, though, is that it was his missed block that resulted in the errant pass, just one of several pressures he allowed as he simply lacked the footspeed to cut off the edge with any regularity.

In many way, the interior offensive linemen actually looked much better than their OT counterparts in the actual Senior Bowl game. LSU C/G Ethan Pocic had a particularly strong game as he moved well and  showed really solid mechanics including excellent balance and textbook hand placement. Interestingly, Pocic actually looked more effective during his series at OG than at C. Temple G/T Dion Dawkins also continued his solid week of practice with an efficient game. Dawkins consistently delivered some real pops coming off the snap, showed good balance in space and was stingy protecting the pocket as he moved his feet well and showed really nice upper body strength.

While nobody in the pro scouting community were surprised by the exploits of the likes of Pocic and Dawkins who were also outstanding during the week’s practice sessions. On the other hand, NFL personnel team had to be pleasantly surprised at what they saw from Miami’s Danny Isidora and Jordan Morgan of Kutztown, neither of whom notably distinguished themselves this week. However, both had very good games on Saturday. They both played with good pad level, easily slid around the pocket and showed good functional strength in one-on-battles with the result that neither gave up much penetration all afternoon. Vanderbilt G/T Will Holden also kept a clean sheet, but one might have liked to see a little more pop in initial contact while drive blocking.

Indiana OG Dan Feeney, arguably one of the top 2-3 prospects overall coming into the game, also played pretty well. Feeney showed a really quick first step off the snap and did a nice job sealing off the guys he was blocking; he also showed great awareness and agility moving around the pocket to help out his line mates. Feeney also showed some light feet in pass protection, but some of his mechanics were a little rough around the edges as he got caught playing too high on occasion and gave up too much penetration; he also let a couple of opposing DTs slide off his pads and into the path of the QB more than one would expect from a potential 1st round OG prospect.