Here is today’s final set of notes. Thursday’s practise was moved indoors and limited to a select few media, so there isn’t as much footage available of the two sessions. What I’ve been able to watch is based on NFL Network coverage and some short clips posted online.
I would recommend checking out my previous notes if you missed them:
— During National Team scrimmages, there was a really nice seal block by Trey McBride to spring a rushing touchdown in the red zone. He cleaned out the right hand side to present a nice big running lane for the back. I’m not sure McBride has done enough to elevate himself into sure-fire top tight end contention because he lacks suddenness but teams will surely appreciate his willingness to get involved with the blocking side of the game (and do it well).
— Daniel Faalele looked dreadful again in scrimmages. He gave up an easy inside move in red zone drills. No footwork, no mobility. He’s just too big and can’t move off the spot to deal with quickness and speed. He can’t redirect. I’m not sure how you fix this at his size.
— Greg Dulcich has incredible quickness in his release, he separates when running routes and he looks the part. He scored a great touchdown during the red zone sessions too. We’ve been talking about him since September and it seems like the media are finally latching on to him. He looks tremendous and he has every opportunity to be an impact player at the next level.
— Cole Strange had a good win against Travis Jones. Strange’s feet were quite wide which isn’t ideal but he presented a strong base, got a hand inside underneath the neckline and finished the block. He has some talent as a center project.
— Logan Hall showed power on one rep to drive his blocker back into the quarterback. On the second he got away from the same opponent with a nice spin-move. He was just too quick and drew a holding penalty to go with his free run to the QB. His defensive team mates enjoyed these two reps.
— Tyreke Smith did a really good job chewing up space with a great burst in a 1v1 against Trevor Penning. It was a really poor rep from Penning who was slow to slide and got absolutely nowhere near Smith. In the rematch, Smith ran right into Penning who easily grabbed him and tossed him to the ground. Penning then battered Smith on the helmet at the end of the rep, drawing the ire of the Ohio State defender leading to a scuffle.
— Abraham Lucas — easily the most underrated player from the week of practise, ran Arnold Ebiketie out of range with a perfect kick-slide. In the second rep, Lucas completely shut-down Ebiketie with a wonderful block — latching onto his frame and giving no ground. Superb. Lucas is a tremendous talent.
Perrion Winfrey had an easy win in his first rep with a nice swim move, showing off great agility and quickness to dominate his opponent for Fordham. On the second rep he drove him deep into the backfield and it was no contest. Tyreke Smith came over to congratulate Winfrey on his two wins.
— Zion Johnson lined up at centre, stayed square against Travis Jones and easily won their first matchup. On the second rep, Johnson’s footwork was all over the place and Jones swam away from contact and then buried Johnson into the turf. Another ugly rep for Johnson, the most overrated player from Mobile this week.
— Marquis Hayes had a couple of really good wins against his Oklahoma team mate Isaiah Thomas.
— Bernhard Raimann was catching in 1v1’s and his technique has looked off all week. There’s no doubting his athleticism and he’ll be a great tester at the combine — but he looks like someone who needs major technical work when he gets into camp.
— Myjai Sanders had two poor reps against Faalele. He was too upright and just ran right into him. No bend, no real counter. It felt like he was going through the motions and didn’t have much of a plan. It was frustrating to see because Sanders has played with nice quickness off the edge for most of the week.
— All of Logan Hall’s 1v1 reps have pretty much been the same. He’s very busy but doesn’t have refined technique. He’ll try a bit of everything — a spin, a swim, he’ll put his head down and try and bulldoze his way through blocks. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t — but you kind of want to see a little more technical refinement and better hands. There’s no doubting he flashes some power and quickness but if he can’t engage/disengage, push/pull, swim/rip consistently with technique then he’s not going to have many wins at the next level. There’s a ton of potential here but as with some others — he probably needs time in camp to work things out.
— Andrew Steuber had a win against Travis Jones by just stepping back and pulling him to the ground. On the next rep, though, Steuber lunged at Jones and he easily beat him to the angle for a pressure. He hasn’t won every 1v1 rep but Travis Jones has been one of the big winners this week.
— Boye Mafe looks so smooth rushing the edge and had a couple of really good wins during 1v1’s. I’d like to see him combine that with a bit more aggression at times but he’s a silky athlete who looks like a NFL edge rusher.
— Zach Carter had a wonderful edge-setting rep against Max Mitchell during scrimmages. He stood him up with a powerful two-handed punch to the chest. On the same rep, John Ridgeway did a terrific job riding the center, then disengaging to make a play on the running back. Ridgeway looks powerful with great size when he lines up inside. I’m not sure how well he’ll test at the combine but he looks big, powerful and difficult to move.
General Senior Bowl takeaways
— I am not as convinced that Trevor Penning and Bernhard Raimann will go as early as I’ve been projecting. I think Abraham Lucas will go much earlier than the media thinks — because I thought he was terrific in Mobile. Yet I understand others have come away with mixed reviews of his play.
It’s important to remember the league is still desperate for quality offensive linemen. Over recent years, players who test well in the explosive drills (vertical, broad, bench) go very early in the draft. That’s just the way the NFL works. I expect Raimann and Penning to be explosive testers and therefore, they could easily secure the kind of top-10 or top-20 placing I’ve been suggesting. Lucas will run very well and have strong agility marks. That too could promote his stock. So ultimately, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much that any of the three might last to #41.
However, I would say after the Senior Bowl it’s more likely than not that someone like Bernhard Raimann might be there. And if the Seahawks are serious about fixing their pass rush, they might look to address that in free agency and then target a left or right tackle early in the second round.
— I don’t see any chance of Devante Wyatt lasting to #41 based on what he showed. If he runs in the 4.8’s as expected, he could go much earlier than people are currently suggesting (I had him at #22 in my latest mock draft). I think there’s relative depth at defensive tackle though that could present options in rounds three and four. I don’t think Phidarian Mathis did enough to believe he should be a high second rounder. Logan Hall’s lack of technical refinement could keep him on the board in round two. Travis Jones and John Ridgeway showed enough to think they could provide genuine value in the middle rounds. Perrion Winfrey was given a good press in Mobile but his lack of consistency could keep him on the board into the second day. There are good options here.
— Clearly there’s a whole bunch of defensive ends who warrant serious consideration. I hope the Seahawks target major upside — because testing does matter at the position. They hit a home-run with Frank Clark — who ran a stunning 4.05 short shuttle and jumped a 38.5 inch vertical. Had Darrell Taylor been healthy enough to do any pre-draft testing, it’s easy to imagine him performing well. L.J. Collier, on the other hand, did not test well. They went against their common approach when they drafted him — seemingly in a bit of a blind panic with the way the 2019 draft unfolded. Many of the big name pass rushers performed very well in Mobile — but if the Seahawks are going to draft one, let it be someone with the highest possible upside.
— In recent years the Seahawks have tended to prefer experience on the O-line and youth on the D-line. That will clearly change if they target a Chandler Jones or Akiem Hicks type and leave tackle for the draft. The early money should probably be on the opposite. A typically quiet start to free agency — with experience added (or retained) at the tackle spot, setting up the Seahawks to add another pass rusher at #41. That would be aligning the needs with the options available. I would rather see this team be aggressive in free agency and sign star talent — but that hasn’t been how they’ve operated.
— I think we’re going to see a second round run on tight ends with Trey McBride, Jeremy Ruckert and Greg Dulcich all coming off the board — along with junior Jalen Wydermyer. Don’t be surprised if Dulcich is the top TE on some boards. Testing in the short shuttle and three cone will be a difference maker at this position at the combine.
— I’ve not focused on the quarterbacks that much (and the footage of their throws has been limited). However, the impression I got is that this group is as distinctly average as expected. Kenny Pickett just doesn’t excite you. There’s very little pop in Sam Howell’s throws. Malik Willis has the physical tools but his technique on tape, plus his total inability to read the field and go through progressions, make him a serious wildcard for the next level. Desmond Ridder showed a good arm in Mobile but also the same inconsistencies you see for Cincinnati. My expectation is that a very aggressive veteran quarterback market is about to emerge with desperate teams acknowledging the only way to get better at the position is going to be via trade. If Matt Stafford wins the Super Bowl, plenty are going to want to try and copycat the Rams.
— Dameon Pierce has a culture-developing presence that plenty of teams will want to tap into. He might never be a league-leading rusher but he’ll be explosive, he’ll drive through contact and he will give you absolutely everything.
— This week at the Senior Bowl confirmed that while it might not be a great year to have a top-10 pick — I still think it’s an excellent year to have multiple picks in the first two rounds. This class can be a foundation builder — with strengths in the trenches, at cornerback, at tight end and with some particularly impressive characters to go with the talent. A team like the Eagles, for example, could set their roster up for the future (although they won’t solve their question marks at quarterback which in turn could hold them back).
Players who really impressed in Mobile
— I can’t believe how little attention Abraham Lucas has received. Not only does he have a fantastic looking tackle frame — he was by far the best tackle in his kick-slide, he has tremendous agility and quickness to handle speed and he shut down many of the better speed rushers. Did he win every rep? Absolutely not. Yet Zion Johnson had far more ‘bad’ reps and he’s been hyped up to the extreme. Lucas to me was a big winner and if he tests as well as I expect at the combine, he should be a top-15 pick.
— Clearly Jermaine Johnson showed he is a complete pass rusher, capable of winning with speed off the edge, power with his hands and he has plenty of tricks to keep blockers guessing. I thought he was a top-15 lock before the Senior Bowl and he could easily go in the top-10 based on this performance. He’s a good combine away from elevating himself into the top-tier of prospects. He was unstoppable in Mobile.
— Perrion Winfrey is a complete enigma on tape. There are snaps where he looks gloriously disruptive. His extreme length, brilliant frame and clear athletic skills warrant first round consideration. Yet there are so many ‘bad’ snaps on film. Plays where he should finish and doesn’t, or just looks hesitant, or is taking forever to pick his spot to make a play. He’s on his tip-toes and hunches over as he runs, which is odd. In Mobile, with a bit of NFL guidance, he got stronger and stronger as the week went on. By day two and three he was straight to business, more decisive and was making a lot of eye-catching plays. He’s also a high-energy, emotional player — which I like from defensive linemen. You want passion and angst in the trenches. The lack of consistency on tape will hamper him and he will be a major boom or bust prospect. He showed in Mobile, though, that he has the talent to be disruptive.
— Devonte Wyatt just looked exceptional. He’s so quick and powerful — and the fact he isn’t as big and tall as some of the other tackles works in his favour. It’s really hard to get into his frame and when he connects with you — he has the know-how to engage/disengage, rip/swim, find the angle to break into the backfield and shoot through gaps. A tremendous week.
— In a loaded D-line class to begin with, Travis Jones perhaps was the biggest surprise. There were so many reps where he bullied opponents in 1v1 drills — driving them right into the pocket. He has brute force and strength and the way he pushed people around up front reminded me a bit of Tony McDaniel. Seattle has needed someone like that for a while. He also showed well in the figure-of-eight test and he flashed some quickness too — so he might not just be a powerful nose tackle. The combine will be interesting for him.
— I think how team mates respond to others is a key factor in the Senior Bowl evaluation. Watching how everyone rallied to Dameon Pierce on his 1v1 rep — plus the bruising, physical style he brings to the table every day, will not have gone unnoticed. I am convinced he’ll go a lot higher in the draft than people think. Round two is a possibility.
— Greg Dulcich stood out among the tight ends. He blocked well to begin the week and then showed an extra gear when running routes that the other TE’s don’t possess. He’s been a blog favourite from week one of the 2021 college football season and it shouldn’t be a surprise if he nails the forty and agility testing at the combine and leapfrogs some of the bigger name prospects at his position.
— There are plenty of defensive linemen who had good weeks — I want to highlight Florida’s Zach Carter. He’s well sized at 280lbs, won reps with speed and power and should a good range of pass-rushing moves.
— In a bad year for the center position, Cole Strange showed an ability to adjust to the position and maybe have a future there. He had some ugly reps and some very positive reps this week, so he’s a work in progress. For a smaller-school player though, there’s plenty you can work with. He’s well sized with decent length. He might not be an immediate year-one starter but given the weakness of the center position in this class, I think he helped himself.
Players who leave Mobile with question marks
— As mentioned earlier, I don’t think Trevor Penning and Bernhard Raimann did enough to convince teams they deserve to go as early as I’ve been projecting (top-15). They both have serious technical flaws and need work. That said, if they test well in the vertical and broad at the combine — they will still be high picks. The league loves explosive offensive linemen.
— Daniel Faalele got a lot of attention for his size but he had a poor week, he struggles to redirect and I’m struggling to think of a way he makes it at the next level. He’s just too big.
— Max Mitchell was really assured on tape against Texas. I never really saw it in Mobile though. He’s undersized and had a few issues in 1v1’s and scrimmage reps. There’s definitely some natural talent on offer as a blocker but I don’t think he elevated his stock here.