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2017 Senior Bowl: Underrated South WRs, North's Reddick shine on Wednesday

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  • 2017 Senior Bowl: Underrated South WRs, North's Reddick shine on Wednesday

    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 the ball into his body at times, but he also flashes the reliable hands to snatch away from his body. He doesn't have an ideal frame for the position, but has been better than expected as a blocker during drills. His draft arrow is pointing up.

    Several evaluators project Western Michigan's Taylor Moton (6-foot-5 3/8, 330 pounds) inside to guard, but he has held up well as an offensive tackle during practice. Moton started at right tackle his first two seasons in Kalamazoo before moving inside to guard as a junior and then back outside to right tackle as a senior, so he is experienced in both spots. A move inside to a smaller area will not help mask some of his issues, but he is a wide, well-built mover who can anchor and use his raw power to dominate rushers once he engages. Entering the week, Moton was viewed by scouts as a top-100 prospect, and that shouldn't change based on his practices so far.

    Just like every football field he has played on since high school, Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp (6-foot-1 1/2, 198 pounds) isn't the biggest or fastest player at Ladd Peebles Stadium this week. But that has never stopped him from producing before, and it certainly isn't stopping him during Senior Bowl practices. Kupp is routinely creating separation from cornerbacks with field leverage and route savvy, giving quarterbacks a window to deliver a catchable pass. The NCAA's all-division record holder in receiving yards (6,464), Kupp might be a better football player than athlete, but let's not overthink this: That isn't a bad thing.

    Underrated Williams, Scott catching on for South
    Inconsistent quarterback play, a talented defensive back class and an unconventional practice led by the Cleveland Browns coaching staff has made evaluating the receivers on the South team at the 2017 Senior Bowl a little more challenging than normal, but that has not slowed down Grambling's Chad Williams or Clemson's Artavis Scott, each of whom entered the week overshadowed by "other" pass-catchers on the roster.

    Williams (6-foot and 5/8-inch, 204 pounds) was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster, but he has made the most of his opportunity, emerging as arguably the most consistent receiver for the South team over the first two days of practice. He made one of the more impressive catches of the week on Wednesday, showing impressive timing, body control and concentration to snatch a deep ball between SEC stars Cam Sutton (Tennessee) and Justin Evans (Texas A&M) for a touchdown early in practice and has consistently made difficult grabs look easy, stretching his long (32-inch) arms to corral passes outside of his frame.

    Scouts expect players coming from small schools to be raw and Williams, unquestionably, is that, showing inconsistency as a route-runner and letting his emotions get the better of him. Williams had to be physically restrained by teammates and the Cleveland coaching staff after a brief scuffle with Miami safety Rayshawn Jenkins at the end of practice.

    Whereas Williams is fighting the "small school" label, Scott is hoping to shed the misconception that he was a secondary target for the national champion Clemson Tigers. It was an uphill battle to generate much buzz at Clemson with mega-watt stars Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams generating most of the attention, but Scott (5-foot-10 1/4, 193 pounds) has fared well, using terrific quickness and balance to generate consistent separation and the most reliable hands of any of the South's receivers. Scott also comes with impressive intangibles, earning his degree from Clemson in just three years, making him the first three-year player to ever compete at the Senior Bowl.

    More observations from Wednesday's South practice:
    While Williams and Scott have perhaps helped their cause the most among the South's receivers, North Carolina's Ryan Switzer and Texas A&M's Josh Reynolds have also fared well. Switzer (5-foot-8 1/2, 184 pounds) is arguably the quickest player attending this year's Senior Bowl, projecting as an immediate impact slot receiver and punt returner. His lack of height, however, made it virtually impossible for the South's quarterbacks to drop passes over the top when he ran routes towards the sidelines. The nearly 6-foot-3, 187-pound Reynolds is a polar opposite from a build standpoint and shows impressive quickness in and out of his routes for his frame, as well as good straight-line speed to challenge deep. He has made some splashy catches thus far this week but does not consistently play up to his height, failing to win on jump-ball situations over smaller defensive backs.

    The South's receivers generated some buzz among scouts Wednesday, but the best pass-catchers on this squad remain tight ends O.J. Howard and Evan Engram. As noted in this space yesterday, Howard is the best player on this roster. It is worth noting that he dropped two deep passes Wednesday, both of which he was unable to corral as they floated over his head (one looking back into the sun), but he has been virtually impossible for defenders to cover and made one particularly impressive catch in which he reached out, snatched a ball with a defender near and tucked it away in such a fluid motion that drew an audible gasp from scouts in the stands. At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Engram is a Jordan Reed clone, and he certainly looked like Washington's Pro Bowler on one deep post late in practice against double-coverage, extending and plucking a ball that appeared out of his reach. Some see Engram as more of a slot receiver in the NFL, which is really just semantics given how rarely he was asked to block at Mississippi (like Reed).

    Longtime SEC fans may have a hard time believing it, but Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs threw the ball very well on Tuesday. The 6-foot-3 1/4, 216-pounder has always possessed a strong arm, as well as the mobility and intelligence scouts are looking for but he has struggled with accuracy over his career. That was not the case Tuesday, however, as Dobbs threw accurately and on time on a variety of pro-style routes, including slants, outs, post-corners and deep balls. California's Davis Webb and Tiffin's Antonio Pipkins were significantly less consistent with their accuracy on Tuesday.

    Unfortunately, three of the highest rated offensive linemen for the South team suffered injuries on Tuesday and reportedly will not be able to participate the rest of the week. Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp (high ankle sprain), Utah's Isaac Asiata (hamstring) and San Diego State's Nico Siragusa (dislocated thumb) fared well prior to suffering the injuries and drew rave reviews from scouts who interviewed them Tuesday night. The injuries are not considered serious enough to endanger their draft stock. Each is a legitimate top-100 candidate.

    In 16 years of covering the Senior Bowl, I've never seen a team run a practice quite like the Browns. There are periods of time in which the club utilizes the traditional one-on-ones and scrimmages like other teams, but a disproportionate amount of time has been spent asking defensive linemen to "run the arc" around giant hula hoops, as well as receivers and defensive backs being asked to track, pick up and lift medicine balls during special teams exercises. A trick play with five receivers and offensive line split out wide was also practiced. The exercises do illustrate the athleticism and ability of players to take to coaching but the non-traditional techniques have left more than a few talent evaluators in the stands grumbling.


  • #2
    Originally posted by Nick View Post
    [B]...
    ...
    ...
    ...

    In 16 years of covering the Senior Bowl, I've never seen a team run a practice quite like the Browns.
    .... The exercises do illustrate the athleticism and ability of players to take to coaching but the non-traditional techniques have left more than a few talent evaluators in the stands grumbling.

    So all the scouts hate the Browns, huh?. .. .. whoa wait wait. This actually explains A LOT!

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