Senior Bowl Wednesday impressions

January 25, 2017

Here are several observations made from today’s Senior Bowl TV coverage:

The unequivocal star of the day was Temple LB Hassan Reddick. Reddick is somewhat undersized, but was simply unblockable in one-on-one pass pro drills; even more impressive, Reddick who played his entire career with a hand on the ground, was really sticky in pass coverage drills. There is still an issue with Reddick as to what position he plays at the next, although an edge rushing 3-4 OLB would seem to be his best fit. However, since they only play 4-3s in Mobile, Reddick worked primarily at ILB in the team drills and showed good speed and range, although he did struggle a bit at times to fight through the traffic and get to the ball. Presumably, though, that is not what he is going to be asked to do at the nrxt level.

A close second to Reddick in scouts’ eyes today in Mobile was underrated Ohio DE Tarell Basham. Basham, the MAC’s defensive player of the year this past season when he had 11.5 sacks, was just too quick off the snap for just about every North OT he lined up across from in both individual pass protection and team drills. Basham also showed the ability to dip his shoulder and flatten out the QB, although he might need to get just a little stronger in the upper body to improve his ability to shed blockers.

At the same time, a couple of South DEs with high expectations kind of struggled a bit today as neither Daeshon Hall of Texas A&M nor Kansas State’s Jordan Willis were able to get much consistent pressure. Same story for North DE DE Dawuane Smoot of Illinois who not only struggled to get much penetration working against OTs but got stuffed in passblocking drills for the RBs and TEs. In fact, the most impressive DE on the South team was Chattanooga’s Keionta Davis. Meanwhile, it’s often tougher for interior defensive linemen to shine in an all-star setting, but several DTs had pretty good days today including Ike Rochell of Notre Dame, who had 2-3 clean pressures, along with Larry Ogunjobi and UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes.

The small-school theme extended across the line as the most impressive blocker on the day was Bucknell OT Julien Davenport. The 6-6 Davenport, a FCS All-American this past season, was smooth on his feet throughout the North workout and used his arms effectively to redirect opposing pass rushers around the pocket. Bucknell did struggle to anchor against a couple of bull rushes and likely needs to get stronger; however, he looks like the one OT in Mobile with real LT potential, although potential is very much the operative word.

Indeed, just about every other Senior Bowl OT had some kind of issues today. USC’s Zach Banner and Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton are both wide-body guys that are a long way around; however, neither moves his feet well enough to cut off the edge such that both looked destined to a move inside at the next level. Same story for 6-8 Conor McDermott of UCLA, while both Adam Bisnowaty of Pitt and Troy’s Antonio Garcia had their ups and downs. Interesting that one of the more consistent OTs in Mobile today was Canadian Justin Senior of Mississppi State, who is anything but pretty but battled to consistently stay between his man and the pocket.

Disappointing day for Indiana OG Dan Feeney, one of the top-rated players coming into Mobile who kind of hoped to take advantage of the injury to Western Kentcuky’s Forrest Lamp to re-establish himself as the #1 OG in the 2017 draft, but had an inconsistent day and his mechanics got away from him on several plays. Feeney did unload a couple of fearsome blocks and showed nice feet in space, but got caught lunging more than once and gave up several pressures.  On the other hand, Tennessee State OG Jess Dunker had a solid day as did LSU C Ethan Pocic.

This has not been a good week for receivers in Mobile as they have struggled as a group to get open; that was particularly the case during the late afternoon South practice. Indeed, the next South receiver who actually gets some separation will literally be the first. At the same time, the one receiver in Mobile who has been able to consistently get open and make plays continues to be Cooper Kupp of FCS (D1AA)  Eastern Washington. Meanwhile, while Alabama TE O.J. Howard was the star of Tuesday’s practice, a couple of other South TEs in Jonnu Smith Florida International and Ole Miss’ Evan Engram had the better days today. Both got deep a couple of times and Smith, in particular, was surprisingly effective in blocking drills, despite the fact he isn’t all that big. At the same time, Howard had a couple of the kind of drops one doesn’t like to see potential first rounders make. At the same time, neither of TEs Jeremy Sprinkle of Arkansas nor Toledo’s Mike Roberts looked especially quick or athletic.

Best player during the South practice may have San Diego State CB Damontae Kazee, a very physical cover corner who just didn’t give an inch in one-one coverage drills. In fact, Kazee was just one of several South corners to have solid workouts today along with Cam Sutton of Tennessee, Corn Elder of Miami and the White brothers (not really) Marquez of Florida State and Tre’Davious White of LSU. Meanwhile, Jourdan Lewis of Michigan and Missouri’s Aarion Penton aslo had really good days in coverage for the North. On the other hand, rangy Rasul Douglas of West Virginia looked a little stiff and tentative, while Brendan Langley of Lamar was consistently a step slow.

Other guys who made plays today included Florida LB Alex Anzalone, UConn S Obi Melifonwu, who continues to be one of the most impressive players in Mobile, 350-pound USC DT Stevie Tu’ikolvatu, Illinois OLB Connor Phillips, and Youngstown State DE/OLB Derek Rivers.