Senior Bowl game review

By | January 28, 2018

This year’s Senior Bowl wrapped up with a pretty wide-open game in which the South dominated 45-16. And there were a relatively large number of quality performances on Saturday that may have earned the respective players a little money come draft. Needless to say that group includes several players that put up big numbers in Mobile on Saturday including Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta, who earned Player-of-the-Game honors, along with receivers D.J. Chark of LSU and Central Florida’s Tre’quan Smith, neither of whom was particularly well known outside their own programs. In no particular order, the following players also had pretty good games on Saturday, although one should never put all that much how well players perform in an all-star game setting:

Western Kentucky QB Mike White: While Richmond’s Lauletta walked off with MVP honors, a pretty good case can be made that WKU’s White looked the better pro prospect. White, who has near prototype size for an NFL pocket passer, was really smooth sliding around the pocket, appeared to do a good job going through the required progressions and displayed a really easy delivery. There likely will still be some questions about White’s overall arm strength, but he consistently showed nice touch and accuracy while throwing a very catchable ball.

Texas San Antonio DE Marcus Davenport: Davenport came to Mobile as possibly the hottest prospect in the Senior Bowl, but had a bit of an up-and-down week. In the game on Saturday, though, he was easily the most disruptive defensive player on the field as he was in the North backfield on just about every snap he took. One would still like to see a little more explosion off the snap, Davenport was able to get to the pocket using a nice combination of strength and closing speed and also used his long arms effectively to disengage from blocks. And the North offense may have paid him the ultimate compliment when they started chipping and double-teaming Davenport on numerous plays.

South Carolina State LB Darius Leonard: With somewhat smaller LBs with real speed now all the rage in the NFL, Leonard was all over the field on Saturday showing sideline-to-sideline speed and range, as well as the athletic feet to work through the trash. And while he’s not a prototype thumper, Leonard was a solid wrap-up tackler who didn’t allow much yardage after contact.

Oklahoma ER Obo Okoronkwo: One might worry whether Okoronkwo is a bit of a one-trick pony in that he is an undersized edge rusher who gets by totally on speed and quickness, but that trick was pretty impressive in the Senior Bowl as one would have needed a second hand to count the number of times he cleanly beat South OTs to the corner and put pressure on the pocket.

UTEP OG Will Hernandez: Already a solid early second-day prospect coming into the week, Hernandez did nothing to hurt his grade as he dominated at the point of attack. He’s a wide-body guy who really locked on when he got his hands on people; while he also appeared to be a better athlete than advertised as he showed excellent balance and body control as well as better than average short-area quickness and agility in the Senior Bowl game.

Appalachian State OG Colby Gossett: Gossett gets our unsung small-school sleeper of the game award after he pitched a virtual shutout; Gossett isn’t necessarily the biggest interior offensive lineman out there but he was very quick, agile and aggressive.

San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny: Forget the fact that Penny was one of the stars of the game with a 34-yard run and a 73-yard TD reception. What Penny showed Saturday on a couple of occasions was some real speed as he pulled away from some pretty quick defenders. For Penny, that’s important because every NFL team knows he is a talented cut-back runner with excellent vison and instincts, but if he’s also got a real burst!

South Alabama DB Jeremy Reaves: From the local kid makes good file, Reaves, who plays his college football right in Mobile at USA, was another South defender who seemed to be all over the field on Saturday making plays including an interception and a drive stopping stuff on a 4th down gamble.

Oregon LS Tanner Carew: Hey, long-snappers are people too, although they usually only get invited to all-star games because somebody has to snap the ball on FGs and PATs. However, Carew had a day for himself when he chipped in a couple of solo downfield tackles and also downed a couple of punts inside the 10.

Honorable mentions:

LSU RB Darrel Williams

Southern Miss RB Ito Smith

Clemson OG Taylor Hearn

Michigan C Mason Cole

UCLA C Scott Quissenberry

Ohio State DE Jalyn Holmes

NC State DT Juston Jones

Michigan LB Mike McCray

BYU LB Fred Warner

North Dakota State LB Nick DeLuca

Hawaii SS Trayvon Henderson

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all peaches and cream on the field Saturday and several players had disappointing days, although generally that doesn’t affect their grade all that much, although it may send scouts back to their regular game tapes just to make sure they didn’t miss something.

The biggest disappointment may have been Pitt OT Brian O’Neill who came to Mobile looking to move up into the opening round with a strong Senior Bowl week, but never found his footing. In the game itself, O’Neill gave up way too many pressures as he seemed a tad late off the snap and just didn’t anchor well once he got into his slide step, although one could see the potential when he did get himself properly set. On’Neill wasn’t alone though as it was a day all-around for the OTs following a bad week all-around.

It was also a disappointing day for Alabama DE Da’Shawn Hand who really struggled to get off blocks. And while they each made some plays, one was actually expecting more perhaps from Ohio State DE Tyquan Lewis and Stanford DT Harrison Phillips.

And while we would also like to report that the Senior Bowl game was another chapter in the fairy-tale story of one-handed Central Florida D/ Shaquem Griffin, unfortunately it wasn’t. Griffin showed plenty of speed and some intriguing spin moves, but just didn’t make any plays. Still, he should get an invite to the scouting combine.