The Senior Bowl Game is tomorrow and today is a day of rest for most of us covering the game, whether we like it or not. So as I was searching for Shrine Game stats, unsuccessfully I might add, I was looking at my composite practice notes for the week. As I did so it came to me that I had seen enough from some players here to already be moving some guys into my current Top 100 list.
So let me present them to you now:
GREG DULCICH TE UCLA 6’036/248 9 7/8″H-33 7/8″A-81 2/8″ WS #85/American Squad
Dulcich was a late add to Draft Lists, at least officially, after deciding he would exit college football to head to the NFL. It’s a pretty deep and talented TE list this year for the Draft. But what Dulcich showed this week moved him right into my Top 5 in the position group, and solidly into my Top 100. He is a good sized player in all aspects, as you can see from the numbers above. And he put all those assets to work to stand out at every practice this week to my eyes. He is a smooth striding runner who gets out of the blocks quickly and accelerates steadily. He shows nice balance and runs solid patterns. Few LBs are able to stay with him upfield or on crossing patterns. He tracks the ball well in the air and adjusts his patterns to throws as needed. He shows soft hands and creates a large target area for his QB. He catches everything thrown his way and is a threat to pull away from many DB after the catch. I’d would project late Round 2, early to mid Round 3. Quick comparison, has me seeing him in the Travis Kelce class as a pro.
BRAXTON JONES OT SOUTHERN UTAH 6’051/306 10 1/8″H-36″A-84 1/4″WS #77/American
Small school player who seems to have unlimited potential. He looks quite lean, but showed good strength this week. He has natural knee bend and understands the basics of pass pro, especially hand/arm usage to keep defenders off his body. Certainly not a bulldozer in run blocking, but again he uses his arms/hands well to scream off defenders from the ballcarrier. His base could stand a bit more beef, but I doubt his frame will allow much added weight. I was aware of him prior to Senior Bowl but was pleasantly surprised after watching him all week. Round 3 with not much pretense that he starts right away as a pro. A solid, teaching OL Coach can help hm attain a starting job after a couple of years.
JEREMY RUCKERT TE Ohio State 6’5/250 10 1/8″H/32 3/4″A/79 1/4″WS #88/National
Unfortunately RUCKERT suffered a lower leg injury in the Thursday practice, so he won’t play in the game, but fortunately its not considered a serious injury. RUCKERT made himself some major money in Mobile this week. The WR room at Ohio State is always loaded, therefore the TE is not a primary target in their Offense. So don’t evaluate RUCKERT on his college receiving stats. What he did down here was outstanding and again pushed him into a Top 10 slot in my loaded TE class for the draft. Yes, he can block, and we knew that. But he is also a good route runner, and has shown firm hands and an ability to keep the ball out of his body. Steady, describes his work in Mobile this week. And I now see him as a Round 3, all-around inline TE as a pro.
*Just as an aside, with adding both DULCICH & RUCKERT to my Top 100, I now have 5 TE in that Top 100. However, it looks like there is a good chance that there may not be any of them in Round 1.
JOSHUA WILLIAMS CB Fayetteville St 6’024/193 9 1/4″H-32 1/4″A-78 1/8″WS #30/National
WILLIAMS was in my Top 200, and just on the cusp of breaking into the Top 100. I kept him out there knowing I would get a better chance to assess his talents for a week in Mobile. He showed some of the deficiencies here of a guy trying to step it up against a higher level of competition. But overall he held up well, especially in his cover skills. He also shows better ball skills than the average CB coming out of college, where soft zones still prevail. His size is highly desirable given the trend back to bigger wideouts in the NFL. His biggest deficiency is in tackling. That is a quite common case amongst cover-corners at the college level, but in today’s NFL tackling is a function that all DB are asked to add to their arsenal of talents. WILLIAMS may start a bit slowly at the beginning of his Rookie pro season, but I expect him to find more playing time as the season progresses.
My final two guys are players who had been in my Top 100, but I had bounced them out after the final list of Underclassmen eligible for the Draft was officially released. After this week’s work they are going back in.
TRAVIS JONES DT UCONN 6’043/326 10 1/4″H-34″A-82 3/4″WS #57/National
UCONN games were pretty much unwatchable to my eyes this past season… again. So underclassman declaring pushed JONES out of my Top 100. It took me less than one full practice to realize the error of my ways in rating him as a future pro. For teams who need to plug the middle of their defense with a wide body NT, this is your guy. And he is a better athlete than many NT. But let’s not kid ourselves this guy is at his best when he is a purely and simply bully pushing blockers back into the pocket to collapse it and forcing QBs off their “spot”. He was literally unblockable in on-on-one’s down here. And occasionally if the bully rush wasn’t working he used his arms and strength to push guys aside and show surprising quickness to go around them. He’s back in my Top 100 and a Day Two guy for sure in my book.
KHALIL SHAKIR WR BOISE ST 6’0/193 9 3/8″H-29″A-70 3/8″WS #14/National
Seems like this guy has been the No.1 receiver target for Boise a long time. And he was originally in my Top 100. I had second thoughts about bumping him out early last month, but when I needed to make room for 8 Underclassmen WR SHAKIR was out. He’s back in because he showed out all week. He is even adept at catching in the red zone, which is a tribute to his quickness and improved “hands” catching. He also can handle some Return chores for his new team if needed. I would project him primarily in the slot, but he could also go wide. I would say Day 2. Andy Reid and his staff could fall in luv with this guy in Round 3, if the Salary Cap forces them to walk away from some of their own VFA receivers. Quicker than flat-out fast, but he gets separation, and showed very good ball skills and ups this past week.
I think this year’s Senior Bowl will produce almost half of the players in both Rounds 2 & 3 in the next NFL Draft. I currently have 44 players who have been on Senior Bowl rosters, this week, who should be Drafted in the first 100 Picks. To my own surprise I can actually see as many as 10 Senior Bowlers in Round 1 if teams over-Draft a couple of QB prospects, as per usual. This is still, by far, the premier All-Star Football Game.