Lance Zierlein's Notes from the Senior Bowl: Days One and Two

By Lance Zierlein
January 22, 2014

After the second day of Senior Bowl drills, Lance Zierlein recaps his notes from Days One and Two.

Tuesday

  • G Cyril Richardson, Baylor - Continued to struggle with his balance.  When Richardson was asked to use power, he wins.  But, his lateral quickness has been exposed as a weakness.  He’s definitely lost the leverage battle against 6’ Pitt DT Aaron Donald.  He clearly matches up better against power players like Penn State DT DaQuan Jones.
  • S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois - A group of Mobile, AL area elementary kids started a “JIM-MIE WARD” chant for homeboy and top safety from NIU Jimmie Ward.  After a wonderful career as a Husky after leaving the south, Ward was definitely a player to watch.  He’s not disappointed in the slightest.  He’s comfortable in coverage, tracking slot receivers as any safety in Mobile.  He plays with range in the middle of the field in coverage in cover one/three.  He had another solid day on Tuesday.
  • DE/OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville - Had a strong day, showing his ability to transition to a 3-4 OLB and playing standing up.  He’s proven from a movement standpoint that he can fit at that position.  He didn’t shine from a pass rush standpoint from a stand up position but that might take a little bit of time.  He was comfortable dropping in coverage and knocked down a pass after dropping on one quick throw during practice.  He’s not as violent with his hands, especially on his pass rush, but the athleticism and scheme versatility should raise his profile in the eyes of the NFL scouts.
  • WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin - Continues to get open.  All day, every day.  His route running is just so good and he’s having little trouble getting off of press coverage.  The only other receiver making more of an impact is…
  • WR Robert Herron, Wyoming - Wow. He continues to make one catch after another at every spot on the field.  Love this guy’s quicks, his route running and his LA-style toughness (played his HS ball at Dorsey High in Los Angeles).
  • C Weston Richburg, Colorado State - Has been playing well, even if not a ton of people are taking notice.  He played with a strong base, especially against some strong interior players Penn State DT DaQuan Jones and Minnesota DT/DE Ra’Shede Hageman.  He won’t be flashy, but he’s been steady, playing with sound technique against guys 15+ lbs. heavier than him.
  • DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State - Continues to play with great leverage and push the pocket from the interior.  For weaker OL, he’s a tough draw inside.  It’s been good to see him consistent as some scouts (and JH too) have questioned his week in and week out production when he was at Penn State.
  • G Brandon Linder, Miami - Had an up and down day - some great reps, some sorry reps.  He definitely looks the part at times, but questions have arisen as to whether his technique issues can be solved by an NFL staff.  A perfect example of this was when he stoned DaQuan Jones on one rep and on the next set of reps he got rag dolled by Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman.
  • One of the best match ups all day long was the pass rush battle between West Virginia RB Charles Sims and UCLA LB Jordan Zumwalt.  Sims more than held his own against the UCLA ILB, but the last couple of reps went to Zumwalt. Nothing pleases scouts more than to see guys compete at that level.
  • OL Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State - Had a much better practice on Tuesday as he adjusted to the increase in speed, size and ability.  He fought his tail off against Louisville DE/OLB Marcus Smith and La. Tech DT Justin Ellis.  Meanwhile, Virginia Tech DE James Gayle got chewed out by his position coach early in practice, but bounced back knocking Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort on his wallet in 1-on-1 pass rush drill.
  • T/G Zack Martin, Notre Dame - Showed good change of direction to handle inside pass rush moves and a strong move that jarred Virginia Tech DE James Gayle.  Martin did overset on one rep and knocked off balance by West Virginia DE Will Clarke.
  • S Deone Bucannon, Washington State - Finally was heard from on Tuesday.  And, by “heard from,” I mean literally.  He popped Wisconsin RB James White in the open field that got a reaction from the NFL people on hand.
  • LT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State - Had his fair share of battles with Stanford DE Trent Murphy, splitting 50/50 with the great Stanford DE.  Murphy got the corner on Mewhort and as we saw in the Orange Bowl, Mewhort struggled with that hard, quick and powerful edge rush.  If he’s got a coaching point to address, it’s just that.  On Murphy, he had a good, solid practice, showing good edge setting ability and the ability to defeat the shoulder of the tackles that he faced and win without being run around the arc very often.
  • T Michael Schofield, Michigan - Truly struggled in 1-on-1 drills with his core strength but in scrimmage/11 on 11 he played much better in the run game in tandem with the rest of his line.  Schofield will show better in team situations than he will when exposed and naked in 1-on-1 drills.
  • One of the tragedies of the day was what looked like a gruesome injury to Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin’s leg. He was assisted off the field and it didn’t look good.  That said, he was having a strong two days to start the Senior Bowl. Colvin suffered a torn ACL.
  • CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida - Was excellent in coverage on Tuesday.  Perhaps the best play that we saw all day long was Watkins’ interception during 1-on-1s when he was covering Tulane WR Ryan Grant.  Watkins trailed the route and then darted in front on the deep dig for a tremendous interception.  He was excellent in coverage in every phase of the practice.
  • WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama - Again, looked good in competitive aspects of the practice.  Go 1-on-1 with a corner and he lights it up.  He went deep on Auburn CB Chris Davis, high pointed the throw from the QB and came down with a tremendous catch.  He continues to shine in those situations and solid in team drills.
  • Many of the South DBs have said that Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews is the best receiver they’ve faced.  Not just here in Mobile but all year.  He continues to show that throughout the past two days.  He had some decent battles with Utah’s 6’3” CB Keith McGill but Matthews came out ahead in most of those 1-on-1 situations.
  • The South offensive line truly struggled all day long.  That unit had a couple of decent run moments during team 11-on-11 drill, but really got exposed during run/pass 1-on-1.
  • Speaking of OL problems, NDSU T Billy Turner had his worst day and perhaps the worst day that any player had at the Senior Bowl.  He struggled with Auburn DE Dee Ford’s speed.  He struggled with Arkansas DE Chris Smith’s whirling dervish, maniacal edge rush.  He struggled with power.  He lost his confidence and it was evident late in practice.  I hope he can get it back on Wednesday.
  • DT/DE Caraun Reid, Princeton - Was up and down throughout practice.  He’s definitely not out of place here in Mobile, but he’ll show some flashes and he competes like no other.  But, there are times when he’s gotten beat.  It happens, but Reid has shown that he’ll bounce back quickly.
  • T Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt - Struggled badly in run blocking 1-on-1 or half line situations, but in pass protection he was the best of the South squad on Tuesday.  During team drills, he also performed better than his South cohorts.
  • DE Dee Ford, Auburn - Hasn’t been blocked once off the edge.  He’s been unreal.  Florida State OLB Christian Jones came down to pass rush 1-on-1s and lit up the South tackles as well.  Arkansas DE Chris Smith is one of the most interesting guys on the South team.  He’s just under 6’1”, but he’s 262 and plays as low to the ground without losing his feet as any player I’ve seen.  He’s got shoulders stretching across the room.  Ford, Jones and Smith administered a proper whipping on the South OL on Tuesday.
  • G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State - did what he does best in the running game which is play with power when guys are in front of him while struggling to make cutoff blocks when asked to from the backside.  Overall, however, it was a strong day for Robinson as he consistently had defenders locked out at the end of his arms in pass pro drills.
  • G Jon Halapio, Florida - Continues to show punishing strength in his hands despite some ups and downs in pass protection.  Halapio had one of the strongest punches of the day putting a big shot on Will Sutton and consistently made his play side blocks in the scrimmage session.
  • While I’m not sure the motor revs as highly or as consistently as you would want with massive Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers, he really put together a nice body of work against this variety of offensive linemen he faced on Tuesday.
  • On tape, Virginia LT Morgan Moses looks stiff and too upright, but the fact of the matter is that he got guys blocked today while the athletic Billy Turner struggled.  Moses used his long frame and experience to get out and get defenders cut off around the edge and he showed the instincts you want to see from a guy who is up and down athletically.

Monday

  • OL Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt - Played stouter than his Senior Bowl weight of 290 and did a nice job of utilizing technique (brought his feet with him and kept defenders squared up) in all of his one-on-one drills.  With his weight and short arms it will be interesting to see if he gets snaps at center this week.
  • DL DeAndre Coleman, Cal - Coleman was impressive in run and pass drills using good leverage and quickness off the snap.  Coleman is an interesting follow this week because I see a ton of scheme flexibility with him.
  • T Ja’Wuan James, Tennessee - Smaller lower body than I expected and had some issues early on in one-on-one running drills with Virginia’s Brent Urban rag-dolling him on one rep, but he improved in pass pro drills including a lock-down effort on SEC running mate, Arkansas DE Chris Smith.
  • DE Chris Smith, Arkansas - Smith is much shorter than teams would like at DE (6’1) and doesn’t possess much length, but he had some very physical snaps and was very difficult for the South’s offensive linemen to block in run blocking drills.  Smith also had one of the biggest collisions of the day in oline/dline drills with Joel Bitonio from Nevada where Smith thumped him.
  • DL Brent Urban, Virginia - This guy looks good in the uniform and can play too.  The only problem I saw is that he looked like a world-beater in the first part of practice and appeared to gas a little bit over the 2nd half of practice.  Urban has outstanding size, but looked too much like a straight-line guy this week.  I need to see more counter moves this week.
  • OL Billy Turner, North Dakota State - Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno got into Turner with a butt-chewing a couple of times as Turner failed to execute basic functions of the one-on-one drill.  Turner bounced back with good one-on-one pass pro reps against Deandre Coleman and Brent Urban and handled himself well in the scrimmage portion at tackle and guard.  I’m excited to see how Turner continues to progress under the watchful eye of Yarno.
  • C Travis Swanson and Brian Stork - Arkansas center Swanson had a pretty average day and had trouble getting reach blocks on Will Sutton and Deandre Coleman in run drills.  I saw Swanson miss what looked like a fairly easy second level block on a MLB in the scrimmage portion.  I’m expecting a bounce back day from Swanson.
  • Stork was actually much more consistent than I expected.  I didn’t expect much from him headed into Monday’s practice, but he showed a nice, strong base and was able to hole up physically against Coleman on two different reps.  I also noticed Stork took coaching from George Yarno and did a better job later in practice at keeping his head out of his blocks in pass protection.
  • DT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee - McCullers is massive, but it doesn’t really translate to consistency on the field.  He’s was more sluggish than powerful.
  • G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State - Jackson flashed the in-line power than will have some teams excited, but I simply don’t like him as much at 339 which is what he weighed in at today.  If he can get his weight down about 10 more pounds he will make himself some money.  Jackson buried Coleman on one rep during scrimmage portion.
  • DT Will Sutton, Arizona State - Will Sutton has been falling down the draft boards this year with NFL teams who don’t like the extra weight he’s added.  Sutton came into the Senior Bowl at 315 pounds which is heavier than he needs to be, but he had a really good practice today.  Wesley Johnson struggled against him in one-on-one drills as did Joel Bitonio from Nevada.  Sutton looked quick off the snap and played with natural leverage.  This is a huge week for Sutton who needs to flash and show his 2012 form.
  • OG Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State - The Tennessee State guard played with energy, but looked a little overwhelmed from a talent standpoint.  He spent too much team leaning on defenders and needs work with technique.
  • DL Ra’Shede Hagemen, Minnesota - Active hands and looked to get up the field on every snap.  I liked how active he was, but I want to see him get up the field more consistently and defeat the man in front of him more quickly.
  • T Seantrel Henderson, Miami - As someone who has a much lower grade on Henderson than most, I was very pleasantly surprised with the way that he used his long arms and natural athletic ability to keep Stanford DE Trent Murphy locked up.  Henderson did fall flat on his face after leaning face first into a run block and that has to be corrected on his part.
  • C Tyler Larsen, Utah State - One of the problems I had on film with Larsen is that he doesn’t bend or play with as much leverage as I would like and that got him in some trouble against UConn’s DT Shamar Stephen who bull rushed him.  Larsen looked a little out of control at times and will need to tighten that up as the week progresses.
  • OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame - Martin was outstanding today and showed excellent hand placement, a wide base and good core strength.  Martin shut down Stanford’s Trent Murphy time and time again.
  • Edge rusher Trent Murphy, Stanford - I was a big fan of Murphy’s pass rushing skills including his outstanding hands, but we didn’t see much of that on Monday as he had trouble dealing with Zach Martin (who I project down to guard) and Seantrel Henderson who is the longest offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.
  • G Cyril Richardson, Baylor - Cyril Richardson had to be praying that the coaches would take Pitt DT Aaron Donald off of him in one-on-ones as it was a problematic matchup for the burly Baylor guard.  Richardson had issues moving Donald off of his spot in one-on-one run block drills and was beaten with speed and a bull rush by Donald.  Richardson needs to come ready to play on Tuesday.
  • OL Brandon Thomas, Clemson - Thomas is one of my favorite oline prospects because of his strong hands and ability to stone defenders when he gets them in his sights.  I did see Thomas struggle with change of direction on one snap when his feet got completely out of whack.  Thomas ended up having a solid practice including his patented wrestling-style toss where he dominates the defender’s shoulder and leverages him to the ground.

Comment