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2017 Senior Bowl: SEC defenders, Michigan's Lewis shine in Tuesday drills

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  • 2017 Senior Bowl: SEC defenders, Michigan's Lewis shine in Tuesday drills

    2017 Senior Bowl: SEC defenders, Michigan's Lewis shine in Tuesday drills
    But no player looks like a better NFL prospect than Bama TE O.J. Howard
    by Dane Brugler & Rob Rang Jan 25, 2017 8 min read

    The first practice of the 2017 Senior Bowl started a tad slow as expected with the Cleveland Browns coaching staff walking the players through numerous positional and team drills. By the second hour, the pace of practice picked up, especially during one-on-one drills. And several of the SEC defenders in attendance this week stood out.

    The "other" pass rusher at Texas A&M, Daeshon Hall (6-5, 265, 35-inch arms) was unblockable for most of the day, using lateral quickness and body control to cross the face of blockers and knife through gaps. He is able to generate terrific momentum from his initial get-off to convert his speed to power and uses various spin moves to make it tough on blockers to land punches.

    A basketball player growing up, Hall is still developing his technical skills as an edge rusher and doesn't have eye-popping production. With Garrett commanding so much attention at right end, Hall should have been the beneficiary at left defensive end, but he managed only 4.5 sacks in 2016 and is still figuring out how to efficiently use his gifts to consistently disrupt the pocket.

    Even though he requires some maintenance, Hall showed in practice what he also flashed on tape -- the explosive traits to pester the pocket in the NFL.

    In the secondary, it was impossible not to notice LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White. When Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker taught different drills to the cornerback group, he used the former LSU Tiger on the first rep each time because he knew he would only have to say the instructions once. A four-year starter in Baton Rouge, White carries himself like a seasoned veteran off the field and that maturity also translates to the field.

    In one-on-one drills vs. receivers, White showed terrific anticipation and balance in off-coverage, staying on top of routes and not allowing much separation. Although he might not be the best athlete on the roster, his experience (47 starts in the SEC) is definitely paying off for him.

    While watching the cornerback drills up close, I caught up with a defensive backs coach for an AFC team and asked his opinion on the group.

    "Honestly, I haven't seen a lick of these kids yet. But LSU (White) is making a real nice first impression."

    More observations on the South practice
    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (6-6, 249, 34-inch arms) entered the week as my top-rated player in Mobile and he didn't disappoint on Day 1. He was a mismatch waiting to happen with his combination of speed, fluidity and receiving skills, including several one-handed grabs. There might be a player or two who will challenge him, but it's tough to think Howard won't leave Mobile as the top prospect in attendance.

    One of the few players who will push Howard for the top spot is Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (6-4, 305, 31 1/8-inch arms). A four-year starter at left tackle, he took snaps outside at tackle during practice to mixed results, including one rep when he found himself off-balance and was tossed by Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon. But when Lamp moved inside to guard, it was a different story as he was routinely dominant in one-on-one's, anchoring and controlling the point of attack vs. talented interior rushers like Clemson's Carlos Watkins. Lamp has very impressive tape at left tackle, but with his square-blocking style and 31 1/8-inch arms, he is a NFL guard and Tuesday's practice only backed up that idea.

    A prospect who entered the week with considerable buzz, Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia (6-6, 293, 33-inch arms) had an up-and-down practice. On a positive note, he showed the hand strength to halt and control edge rushers in one-on-ones. But he also struggled with speed, lunging and getting off balance mid-shuffle. Garcia showed several of the concerns that also show on his game film -- concerns that won't keep him from being a future pro, but issues with his core strength and technique that need addressed before he is ready for consistent NFL snaps.

    There are several notable wide receiver prospects on the South squad, but it was a late addition and little-known pass-catcher who impressed the most: Grambling State's Chad Williams (6-1, 204, 32-inch arms). He didn't get much separation at the top of patterns and it was telling that his development as a route runner will be the key to his next level success. But he is a good-sized athlete with strong hands to secure contested grabs and also track over his shoulder to finish downfield. Williams has some off-field baggage and is raw in areas, but it didn't take long for him to show he belongs on this field with the other Senior Bowl receivers.

    Michigan's Jourdan Lewis steals the spotlight
    It is already clear that the most gifted positions at the 2017 Senior Bowl are cornerback and tight end.

    After LSU's Tre'Davious White and Tennessee's Cameron Sutton stood out during the South practice earlier in the day, it was a pair of former Big Ten stars who stood out in the afternoon with Michigan's Jourdan Lewis and Iowa's Desmond King each turning heads -- though for very different reasons.

    Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.
    Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.

    While Lewis wowed with his raw athleticism, it was the physicality of King that stood out.

    After winning the Thorpe Award as a junior in 2015 with eight interceptions, King developed a well-earned reputation as a ball hawk. Tuesday, however, King instead used his hands to corral receivers as they attempted to gain separation and to quickly shuck them as they tried to block him in the running game. At one point, King fought through one block and even forcibly pushed a Chicago Bears' assistant coach out of bounds who was playing the part of an opposing running back on the play.

    King's feisty play (and lack of elite speed) is among the reasons why some scouts are projecting the cornerback to switch to safety in the NFL.

    More observations on the North practice
    Eastern Washington's Kupp was the most impressive and consistent receiver during the North practice. While there are questions about his straight-line speed, Kupp accelerates smoothly and changes directions efficiently, showing terrific balance and burst to create separation. He also uses his 6-foot-1 , 198-pound frame well to shield defensive backs from the ball. Perhaps most important, Kupp possesses excellent hands. He extends his hands to snatch the ball out of the air, not allowing a single pass to get his chest plate -- though he did drop one pass early during drills. Kupp's strong showing was all the more impressive given that he saw a lot of action against the ultra-smooth Lewis and West Virginia's Rasul Douglas, who at 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, is the biggest cornerback on the North squad. Kupp was not as impressive when asked to block defensive backs in the running game but his polish as a receiver -- especially for an FCS player -- left a positive impression on the scouts I spoke to Tuesday.

    Several other pass-catchers on the North squad had flashy moments, though inconsistency from the quarterbacks made it difficult for any of them to achieve the same kind of consistency as Kupp. Pittsburgh's Nate Peterman was the most accurate of the bunch but he does not possess ideal velocity. C.J. Beathard has the quickest delivery but sprayed passes, forcing receivers to make tough adjustments and too often opted for check-downs. Colorado's Sefo Liufau is the most physically impressive quarterback on the North roster at 6-foot-3 and 3/8 and 240 pounds but he will occasionally air-mail passes high over the heads of his receivers and struggled when the pocket collapsed around, dumping off short (and too often inaccurate) passes to teammates in part because quarterbacks were being asked not to scramble during these drills -- which is one of Liafau's relative strengths.

    One player to take advantage of the inaccuracy from the quarterbacks was Lindenwood linebacker Connor Harris, who stepped in front of a late throw to the left sideline from Liufau to intercept a pass and return it for a pick-six. Frankly, Harris needed to remind skeptical scouts in the stands of his instincts and playmaking ability after he looked out of place alongside the imposing athletes from Power Five schools during the weigh-ins. Harris measured in at a blocky 5-foot-11, 241 pounds, drawing some raised eye-brows from scouts. Making plays is something that Harris has certainly shown throughout his spectacular career for the Division II Eagles, as his NCAA record 633 career tackles can attest.

    The tight ends on the North squad may not be as gifted as those on the South (highlighted by Alabama's O.J. Howard, who was simply the best player on the field Tuesday), but the three-headed monster of Jonnu Smith (Florida International), Michael Roberts (Toledo) and Jeremy Sprinkle (Arkansas) held their own. Smith opened eyes during the weigh-in with a chiseled 6-foot-3, 245 pound frame and showed good agility, speed and hands Tuesday. Roberts is not as polished but possesses intriguing traits, including the biggest hands (11 5/8) of any player invited to this year's game. Sprinkle is a polar opposite of Smith, lumbering off the ball and showing limited burst out of his breaks but he is one of the few tight ends with the length and strength to move people at the line of scrimmage as a run blocker. The trio each project as Day 3 picks but only reinforce the growing belief among scouts that the 2017 class of tight ends may be as deep.

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  • Nick
    2017 Senior Bowl: Underrated South WRs, North's Reddick shine on Wednesday
    by Nick
    2017 Senior Bowl: Underrated South WRs, North's Reddick shine on Wednesday
    NFL teams have different plans for Haason Reddick, and he's showing he could fit anywhere
    by Dane Brugler & Rob Rang 21h ago 8 min read

    NFL teams value versatility. But there is a difference between being versatile and then not having a true position. Temple linebacker Haason Reddick (6-foot-1 1/2, 237 pounds) is trying to show that he belongs in the former of the two categories with his performance this week in Mobile, Alabama.

    And through two practices, Reddick, who debuted at No. 38 overall on my initial top-50 board, has lived up to expectations.

    Reddick was primarily used as an edge player this season at Temple, standing up or rushing with his hand on the ground as a defensive end. He would occasionally stand up as an off-ball linebacker, but mostly as a spy, limiting the opportunities for scouts to evaluate him in coverage.

    During Wednesday's practice, Reddick was used on rushing, blitzing and off-ball linebacker drills, showing his wide range of abilities. As a rusher, blockers had a tough time slowing him down thanks to his initial burst and flexibility to dip around the edge. He got the best of Pittsburgh offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty on a quick inside move that left the Pitt blocker helpless to counter. During pass pro drills for the running backs, Reddick blitzed from different angles and made several of the backs attempting to slow him down look silly.

    The telling test this week for Reddick is his ability to hold up in coverage drills. It is obvious he is still feeling out the position as an inside linebacker, taking things slowly as he figures out where his eyes need to be. When asked to cover running backs out of the backfield, Reddick was a tad wild with his lower body, but even though he gave up initial spacing, his athleticism allowed him to recover in flash, knocking the ball away.

    Some teams will view Reddick as an edge rusher while others will look for him to make the full transition to inside linebacker. Regardless, he has shown this week that his athleticism allows him to be a quick study with new responsibilities.

    Temple has produced only one NFL player drafted in the top 50 over the past two decades (Muhammad Wilkerson, 30th overall to Jets in 2011), but Reddick is on his way to being the second.
    More observations from Wednesday's North practice:

    The tight end group on the South squad receives most of the attention, and rightfully so, with a roster that boasts O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and Gerald Everett. But Florida International's Jonnu Smith (6-foot-2 3/4, 245 pounds) deserves praise thrown his way for his performances this week during practice. He is an athletic route runner with a smooth release and sharp footwork in and out of his breaks to create room to work as a pass-catcher. Smith is guilty of allowing...
    -01-26-2017, 02:31 PM
  • Nick
    CBS Sports 2018 Senior Bowl Articles and Practice Reports
    by Nick
    Senior Bowl 2018: Winners and losers from Tuesday's weigh-in at Mobile
    Chris Trapasso
    CBSSports.com Jan 23, 2018 3 min read

    Senior Bowl festivities kicked off early Tuesday morning with the perpetually awkward weigh-in session in which all participants walk across a large stage and get measured in front of hundreds of team employees and media members.

    And while draft-stock fluctuation will mostly occur during the week of practices and the game on Saturday, there were some winners and losers from the Mobile weigh-in, as the physical measurements remain an important part of the pre-draft process.

    Heights are listed in "6023" form, with the last number representing eighths of an inch. So, 6023 would be 6-foot-2 and 3/8 of an inch.

    Winners
    Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

    Weigh-in: 6057 / 259 / 34" arms

    Some believed Davenport's listed size at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds was slightly exaggerated. Turns out, it wasn't stretched that much. Combine his nearly 6-6 frame with long, 34-inch arms and you have one enormous defensive end.

    Perspective: Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter measured in at 6051 and 251 pounds with 34 1/2-inch arms at the 2015 combine.

    Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma

    Weigh-in: 6013 / 243 / 34 1/2" arms

    For an "undersized" outside rusher, Okoronkwo measuring in at over 6-1 and north of 240 pounds is important. For many teams, those are the thresholds for edge-rushers. Beyond that, Okoronkwo's 34 1/2-inch arms are tentacle-like. Relatively speaking, the Oklahoma star is still on the smaller side of the outside pass-rusher spectrum, but his length can be likened to other, much bigger NFL pass-rushers.

    Perspective: At last year's combine, Cardinals' first-round pick Haason Reddick measured in at 6012 and 237 pounds but only had 32 3/4-inch arms.

    Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC

    Weigh-in: 6020 / 245 / 33 1/2" arms

    Nwosu is the other "smaller but productive" outside linebacker in this class with fringe first-round talent and collegiate film. For him to hit 6-2 and 245 pounds is a huge win for him. His 33 1/2-inch arms mean he has enough length to keep offensive linemen off his frame.

    Perspective: Von Miller's official size at the combine was 6025 and 245 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms.

    Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama

    Weigh-in: 6003 / 176 / 33 3/8" arms

    Ok, so Wallace could stand to gain some weight at the next level. And he will. That won't be a problem for an NFL strength and conditioning program. But those arms will be tantalizing to many scouts, general managers, and defensive coordinators. Length at the cornerback spot is often seen as the catalyst for plays on the football. Wallace snagged three picks and knocked down 15 passes in 2017. ...
    -01-28-2018, 05:30 AM
  • Nick
    The Official 2016 East-West Shrine Game Thread
    by Nick
    The East-West Shrine game is scheduled to take place on January 23rd after a week of practice that hardcore draftniks follow to get information on depth players in the 2016 NFL Draft class.

    Rosters for the EW Shrine Game cane be found here: http://www.shrinegame.com/Teams/EastRoster

    Will do my best to post practice reports as they come in next week!
    -01-11-2016, 04:16 AM
  • Nick
    The East-West Shrine Game
    by Nick
    Interesting notes from Sporting News on the East-West Shrine game practices (game to be played on 1/20)...

    TUESDAY

    -Miami (Fla.) defensive end Baraka Atkins stood out as the best defensive linemen on the East, clearly at an athletic level above the other linemen. While NFL types are still trying to figure out if he fits best at end or tackle, he showed that he has the quick feet, quick hands and agility to beat offensive tackles when rushing the passer from the edge.

    -Texas A&M linebacker Justin Warren grabbed attention with his build (6-2 1/2, 245) upon first sight and continued to impress throughout practice. He showed very quick feet and the speed to chase down most plays. Warren also got aggressive and physical when battling blockers in run-stopping drills.


    WEDNESDAY

    -Hampton linebacker Justin Durant had another good day of practice Tuesday. He showed the speed to make plays sideline-to-sideline and blew up lead blockers at the point of attack. He played with the energy and emotion NFL coaches prefer. He did, however, struggle to shed blocks consistently.

    -Fresno State wide receiver Paul Williams has been nothing but inconsistent in two days of practice. He shows the athletic ability and speed to be an NFL starter, but he has struggled to run precise routes and has not caught the ball consistently. He is better than what he has shown so far this week.

    -Texas defensive end Brian Robison was active and disruptive Tuesday and made plays all over the field. He uses his hands well, usually plays on the offense's side of the line of scrimmage and consistently defeats the offensive lineman blocking him. He also plays with the intensity NFL teams covet and is a vocal leader.

    -Fresno State center Kyle Young really struggled Tuesday. He is thick-legged and struggled to move his feet quickly to negate quick pass-rush moves. Despite his natural bulk, he was consistently jolted by aggressive bull rushers and driven backward into the pocket.


    WEDNESDAY - JOINT PRACTICES

    -The star of the day, without question, was Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston. He caught many passes without any drops, including four deep passes that would have been touchdowns. He ran excellent routes and showed the burst to get separation and the speed to stretch the separation and run away from cornerbacks deep.

    -Miami defensive end Baraka Atkins had another great day and has gone a long way toward showing that he can play either end or tackle in the NFL. He is very polished in his pass-rush moves and consistently beat offensive tackles in one-on-one drills, inside and around the corner with equal frequency.

    -Central Michigan defensive end Daniel Bazuin had his best day of practice yet. Despite lacking explosiveness to burst off the ball and beat offensive tackles around the corner, he...
    -01-18-2007, 11:43 PM
  • Nick
    Risers and Fallers from East-West Shrine practices
    by Nick
    Risers and Fallers from East-West Shrine practices
    Jan. 20, 2010
    By Chad Reuter
    The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Three days of intense practices at the East-West Shrine Game concluded Wednesday with prospects trying to make a lasting impression before many NFL scouts skipped town for a few days leading into next week's Senior Bowl.

    Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o Nesheim continued to impress with his motor, while Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless looked fluid as a receiver and blocked with aggression. South Florida linebacker Kion Wilson was strong as a run-stopper in the middle. But those three solidified reputations they built during their careers.

    The following players did the most to enhance -- or hurt -- their draft stocks during this week's practices. For those with disappointing showings, the film from Saturday's game has become all the more critical to be considered for late-round draft status.


    Risers

    OT Roger Saffold, Indiana
    It's hard to argue anyone but Saffold was the best player on the field this week. He was strong, moved his feet well in pass protection and when drive-blocking gave good effort through the end of plays, and was mobile enough to hit targets at the second level. Some scouts will project him inside, but it appears the 3-year starter at left tackle should at least get a chance to prove he can handle those responsibilities. A third-round selection seems likely for Saffold at this point in the process.

    DT Torrell Troup, Central Florida
    Playing near his home UCF campus, Troup had his way with Canadian guard Matt Morencie and West Liberty center Ben Staggs in one-on-one drills, using his strength and violent hands to knock them backward or to the side on his way to where the quarterback would be in the pocket. Morencie and Staggs are fair athletes but lack the strength to handle Troup -- they shouldn't worry too much, however, as the Golden Knights' foes found him a tough ask all season long.

    WR Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green
    With the East quarterbacks lacking great accuracy, Barnes received many chances to show off his ability to catch the ball outside his frame. He extended to snatch a fastball from Fordham's Josh Skelton over the middle, earning affirming nods from scouts watching the play. In contrast to some of the other receivers on the field for the East team, his strong hands and crisp routes were eye-opening to those not familiar with Barnes' game.

    WR Verran Tucker, Cal
    A hamstring injury ended a promising week for Tucker, who looked quick and sure-handed over the first two days of practice. The 6-1, 194-pounder ran better routes than expected, coming back to the ball and catching from his body. Fellow Pac-10 receiver Terrence Austin took Tucker's spot, and while not very quick off the line, displayed good...
    -01-21-2010, 03:36 PM
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