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Scott Wright's 2018 Senior Bowl Game Report

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  • Scott Wright's 2018 Senior Bowl Game Report

    2018 Senior Bowl Game Report

    Some were surprised to see San Diego St. RB Rashaad Penny ahead of bigger names like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in my first set of rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft. It probably makes more sense to anyone who watched Penny go for 152 all-purpose yards in the 2018 Senior Bowl, including a catch he took 73 yards for a touchdown. For his efforts Penny was named co-Most Outstanding Player for the South team with L.S.U. WR D.J. Chark.

    Up to this point Penny hasn’t received as much attention as he deserves despite rushing for 2,248 yards (7.8 avg.) and 23 touchdowns as a senior. Perhaps it’s because he played on the West Coast and most of his games started so late. Whatever the reason, this performance should bring Penny’s name to the forefront and I expect the hype to continue to build as the draft approaches. Penny needs to improve as a blocker because no coach is going to put him on the field if he’s going to get their quarterback killed, regardless of talent. With that said, Penny is a dynamic playmaker as a runner, pass catcher and return man with the prototypical size (5-11 / 224) to be an every-down workhorse at the next level. Penny is my early pick to be this years Day 2 selection who dramatically outperforms his draft slot, a la Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara.

    After a good week of practices Chark really took it up a notch for the bright lights of gameday, finishing with 5 receptions for 160 yards 1 touchdown. That’s an average of 32 yards per catch! Poor quarterback play hindered Chark during his college career in Baton Rouge and he only caught 40 balls as a senior. Chark made the most of those limited opportunities though, averaging an impressive 21.9 yards per catch. This performance is a strong indication / confirmation that there’s a lot of untapped potential with Chark and he could wind up being a better pro than college player. The buzz should only continue to grow as Chark is expected to run in the 4.4 range in pre-draft workouts at 6-2 5/8 and 196 pounds.

    Nobody entered the 2018 Senior Bowl week with more hype than U.T.S.A. DE Marcus Davenport. Unfortunately his week of practices were relatively underwhelming and many came away disappointed. The physical tools were obviously there, but the results weren’t. That started to change toward the end of the final practice on Thursday and Davenport was able to carry that momentum over to the game. Davenport was outstanding, generating consistent pressure off the edge and racking up 0.5 tackle for a loss, 0.5 sack and returning a fumble for a score.

    Whether or not Davenport will ultimately be the Top 10-15 overall pick that some have projected remains to be seen. One factor working in his favor is the drop-off at defensive end after Bradley Chubb of NC State, who is widely expected to go in the Top 3-5. At this point it would appear Davenport and Sam Hubbard of Ohio St. are jockeying to be the next guy off the board at the position, and we all know how in demand pass rushers always are on Draft Day.

    The low-end of Davenport’s range in the draft is probably Top 50, which equates to a late-first or early-to-mid second rounder. There is a lot working in Davenport’s favor though, including a standout senior campaign, the way he finished strong at the Senior Bowl, the fact that he plays a premium position and of course immense potential. When all of that is taken into consideration, the middle of the first round is now sounding as plausible as ever.

    All of the attention was on Josh Allen of Wyoming and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma this week, but it was a quarterback out of Richmond, a FCS program, who was named Most Outstanding player of the 2018 Senior Bowl. Everyone, meet, Kyle Lauletta.

    Even die-hard draftniks barely knew who Lauletta was before he got added to the Senior Bowl roster. There were little or no expectations for Lauletta when he arrived in Mobile and he was a relative afterthought compared to the big showdown between Allen and Mayfield. Lauletta has made a name for himself now though and most teams around the league will likely be taking another look at the sleeper signal caller. Lauletta isn’t going to wow anyone with his sheer physical tools, but he has decent size at 6-2 5/8 and 217 pounds and while his arm is fringy it’s adequate. Intangibles might be the most crucial ingredient for a pro quarterback and Lauletta is going to earn high marks in that category. For example, he majored in leadership studies.

    Lauletta won’t be a perfect fit for everyone and you will probably hear the term “system quarterback” mentioned in the coming months. There may be a degree of truth to that, but beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL Draft . I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some team bought into Lauletta in Mobile, AL this week.

    It’s important not to get too carried away because Lauletta profiles as a backup in the NFL. However, I do believe he’s going to be selected at some point on Day 3 and you never know what can happen in the right situation. In fact, Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly recently detailed Lauletta’s background and broke down why he seems to be a perfect fit for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. They did find one potential successor to Tom Brady at the Senior Bowl in 2014 with Jimmy Garoppolo, another small school standout like Lauletta. Maybe they try again since they’re in need of a new heir-apparent.

Related Topics


  • Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl Winners & Losers
    by Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl week winners and losers: Sweat, Samuel, Lock improve stock; Grier among those to struggle
    While it was a big week for some players, others failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to impress
    By Ryan Wilson
    CBS Sports Writer 1m ago • 8 min read

    MOBILE, Ala. -- The practices are over, the general managers, scouts and coaches have left, and all that remains is Saturday's Senior Bowl game. And while the players here still have much to prove when the ball kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET, the scouting departments of all 32 teams will pour over the hours of practice footage in the coming weeks as they formulate their draft boards.

    With that in mind, here are some of the players that did the most to help themselves this week.

    Players who improved their stock

    Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

    It sounds like a broken record at this point in the proceedings but Sweat has been lights out from start to finish. He came into the week with gaudy college numbers -- he logged 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss his last two seasons -- but the big question mark about Sweat's game was if he had the flexibility to consistently beat offensive tackles around the edge.

    Well, he answered that question and plenty of others in Mobile.

    We've had Sweat as a late first-round pick in our mock drafts dating back to October but if the next few months play out like Senior Bowl week, he'll be a top-15 selection. He's been that good.

    Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

    We loved Samuel in 2017 when he got off to a red-hot start but a broken leg ended that season. He flashed some of that talent in 2018, when he played in 12 games but had just 62 receptions for 882 yards. Good numbers, for sure, but just not great. He can line up outside, in the slot, in the backfield, he can run the jet sweep, return kicks -- anything a coach could dream up. Samuel can run every route and he does it aggressively, but scouts have expressed concerns about his deep speed.

    Samuel, for his part, isn't worried. "Today I was smoking," he told us after Tuesday's practice, regarding his ability to blow past defensive backs in one-on-one drills. And he wasn't joking. According to the Senior Bowl, he was one of the fastest players on the field that day, hitting 21.1 mph. As it stands, Samuel is a second-round pick, but if he continues to tear up the predraft circuit -- the combine, pro days and private workouts remain -- he could work his way into the first round.

    Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

    Lock may have had the smallest hands among all the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl but it certainly didn't affect his ability to spin it better than anyone else here. The Tigers standout got off to a slow start to his senior season, going 0-3 at one point with one touchdown and five interceptions. But over the following...
    -01-25-2019, 02:16 PM
  • Nick
    Dane Brugler’s Top 10 Senior Bowl storylines
    by Nick
    Dane Brugler’s Top 10 Senior Bowl storylines: Drew Lock vs. Daniel Jones the main attraction
    By Dane Brugler Jan 21, 2019 19

    For​ one week every January,​ the​ NFL​ invades Mobile, Ala.,​ for the annual​ Reese’s Senior​ Bowl. The​ all-star exhibition fields​ the top​​ senior college prospects for an audition in front of hundreds of NFL scouts, coaches and evaluators.

    The Senior Bowl game is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26, at 2:30 p.m. ET at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and will be aired on NFL Network. However, it is the daily practices throughout the week that truly matter for the NFL evaluators in attendance.

    The North Team will be coached by the Oakland Raiders and the South team will be coached by the San Francisco 49ers.

    Below are 10 storylines to track during Senior Bowl week.

    10. Washington State’s Andre Dillard is the top offensive lineman in Mobile — does he live up to that high billing?
    Evaluating Washington State offensive linemen can be a difficult task with the wide splits and the quick-strike design of the offense. Nonetheless, left tackle Andre Dillard is one of the most impressive blockers I have studied on tape this fall, projecting as the top senior offensive lineman on my draft board.

    With his light feet, body flexibility and core power, Dillard is rarely beat around the corner, maintaining his balance in his movements. His lack of length is a concern, but he uses quick reflexes and a violent swipe to eliminate the reach of rushers. Dillard’s ability to process and play under control will be vital traits during practice drills.

    A strong week in Mobile could help Dillard go from a possible first-round pick to a probable first-round pick. But it won’t be easy going up against the quarterback assassins on the South squad like Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines, who also is looking to prove why he belongs in the top-32 discussion.

    9. Premium pass rush talent ready to steal the show
    Regardless of the names on the back of the jerseys, the quarterbacks are always the main attraction at all-star games. However, the quarterback hunters off the edge like Ximines will attempt to change that this week during Senior Bowl practices.

    The NCAA’s all-time sack leader, Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson, surpassed Terrell Suggs’ record with 45 career sacks and is looking to make it back-to-back years with a first-round Conference USA pass rusher (Marcus Davenport). It is easy to spot Ferguson on film because he is routinely the first defensive lineman out of his stance, using his quickness, motor and length to get blockers off schedule. If those traits show during practices, he will cement top-40 status in the eyes of some scouts.

    Although he is a better run defender than pass rusher right now, Boston College’s Zach Allen has the violent hands and contact balance to win off the edge. He projects as more of a base...
    -01-22-2019, 05:05 AM
  • Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl: Offensive prospects who'll have great value later in 2019 NFL Draft
    by Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl: Offensive prospects who'll have great value later in 2019 NFL Draft
    These offensive prospects likely won't go early in the draft but will have great value when they're picked
    By Chris Trapasso
    Jan 17, 2019 • 3 min read

    The 2019 NFL Draft will feature a defensive-heavy class of prospects, and many of the top offensive players are underclassmen.

    That means this year's Senior Bowl isn't oozing with first-round picks on the offensive side of the ball. So what? How about zeroing in on some prospects who'll ultimately come with outstanding value later in the draft? Those are always fun to identify.

    Keelan Doss, WR, UC Davis
    After emerging as a budding star in 2016 with 10 receiving scores, Doss put back-to-back 110-plus catch seasons on his collegiate resume, and he topped 1,300 yards in each of the last two years.

    At 6-foot-3 and around 210 pounds, he has an athletic frame that allows him to explode off the line, quickly gain then sustain speed downfield, contort his body to make receptions on inaccurate passes, and morph into a tall running back after the ball is in his hands.

    It'll be interesting to monitor how much difficulty Doss' combination of length and athleticism gives the Senior Bowl cornerbacks next week.

    Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
    Armstead plays with a lot of controlled power. What I mean by that is he doesn't simply look for contact and lower his head every time he carries the football. When defenders get to him, they bounce off because he runs so hard. Armstead is a north-south back with light feet capable of delivering a quick spin move or efficient jump cut at the second level to make linebackers miss.

    He's quicker than fast but sneaks through crevasses in the line between the tackles. Armstead won't hit many 50-yard home runs, but he's a blue-collar runner with deceptive athleticism who can be a quality No. 2 ball-carrier in the NFL because of his vision, wherewithal, and twitchiness.

    Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
    Dillard needs to get stronger. There's no doubt about that. But he probably got more pass-protection reps than any other left tackle in the country over the past three seasons playing at Washington State, and his amazing athletic gifts allow him to stay under control and extraordinarily balanced essentially every time he's asked to block on a pass play.

    He'll likely be tested the most against bull rushes, but if Dillard shows improved anchoring skills in Mobile, the Washington State star will prove his worth as a high-quality value pick in the 2019 class.

    Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
    All Gaskin did in his four-year career with the Huskies was piece together four-straight 1,200-plus yard seasons with 57 rushing scores at a hefty 5.6 yards per pop.

    He may not hit the 200-pound threshold,...
    -01-22-2019, 02:22 PM
  • Nick
    Senior Bowl 2019: Defenders who can enter first-round conversation if they impress
    by Nick
    Senior Bowl 2019: Defensive prospects who can enter NFL Draft first-round conversation if they impress
    Three edge-rushers and two defensive backs can move into the first-round discussion if they impress in Mobile
    By Chris Trapasso
    Jan 16, 2019 • 3 min read

    While just a week of practices that precede an exhibition all-star game, every year an assortment of draft prospects see their stocks fluctuate based on what happens on the field at the Senior Bowl.

    The annual showcase takes place in Mobile, Alabama and boasts an impressive list of early-pick alumni, including Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz, Von Miller, and Aaron Donald.

    This article examines the defensive prospects who start the pre-draft process in the Day Two conversation yet can jump start an ascension into Round 1 with strong showings at the Senior Bowl.

    Kris Boyd, CB, Texas
    Boyd had 15 pass breakups in 2017... and followed that up with 15 more pass breakups as a senior on a feisty, relatively stingy Texas defense. At 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, Boyd has good, not great size to play on the outside in the NFL, but he's a twitchy plant-and-drive player who's very aggressive when the ball's arriving to its intended target, as evidenced by his high pass-breakup numbers.

    The Senior Bowl will be vital for Boyd as he tries to move into the first-round tier at the position. He's not a man or zone specialist necessarily, but his sticky coverage skills and the speed at which he closes on the football will be tested in Mobile. If he thrives in coverage, knocks away some passes, and shows the same tenacity stopping the run as he did in Austin, he could be on the fast track to Round 1 status.

    Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
    Ferguson's production speaks for itself. He had 67.5 tackles for loss and 45 sacks in his four seasons at Louisiana Tech and has NFL defensive end size at 6-5 and 262 pounds. But his counter moves are more impressive than his initial moves off the snap, meaning it can take him extra time to get to the quarterback. Also, he's not a bendy edge-rusher despite being a good, relatively explosive athlete.

    If Ferguson can piece together a solid week in Mobile, and does it by winning his reps quickly, landing in Round 1 will not be out of the question whatsoever.

    Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
    Thornhill made the switch to full-time safety in 2018, and it paid off. He went from 63 tackles to 98. His interception total increased from four to six, and he still defended seven passes after knocking 12 to the ground in 2017. At 6-0 and 212 pounds, Thornhill has legitimate NFL safety size and is a fluid mover too who isn't timid about flying downhill in run support. However, despite his excellent range (that comes from his acceleration and sustained speed), Thornhill has a tendency to make out-of-control tackling attempts that,...
    -01-22-2019, 02:24 PM
  • Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl: Here are the four most compelling storylines to keep an eye on
    by Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl: Here are the four most compelling storylines to keep an eye on
    The focus in Mobile will be on the quarterbacks and a handful of defensive prospects
    By Chris Trapasso
    Jan 21, 2019 • 4 min read

    Still coming down from those ridiculous NFC and AFC championship games? Yeah, me too.

    As you're probably fully aware, essentially outside of Fourth of July week, there's always something happening on the NFL calendar, and Senior Bowl week is upon us.

    The annual all-star exhibition is an important event at the beginning of the pre-draft process relative to it consisting of three practices per team and a singular game on Saturday.

    These are the storylines to follow from Mobile, Alabama this week.

    Can any QBs generate serious buzz to catch the top underclassmen passers?
    We're not yet to February, and talk of Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins is ubiquitous. It's like the group of senior quarterbacks are invisible.

    Drew Lock, Ryan Finley, and Will Grier, your opportunity to change that awaits in Mobile. Compared to one-year starters Murray and Haskins, the seniors are grizzled veterans who enjoyed thoroughly productive careers.

    Oh, by the way, Lock's currently my QB1. His accuracy, decision-making, and pocket presence improved in his final year in Columbia, and he has the best arm of any quarterback in this class. Finley sat atop my signal-caller rankings for a large portion of the season, but antsy movements when pressure mounted along with a limited arm led to a late-season plummet. His film is, however, loaded with high-quality, pinpoint accurate tosses.

    Grier doesn't have traditional NFL size -- which is increasingly mattering less -- and a weak arm. He's coming from an Air Raid system -- which is increasingly becoming more of a luxury than a deterrent -- that greatly boosted his statistical output. At times, Grier can be amazingly patient in the pocket and methodically progress through his reads. In other instances, he panics, runs into pressure, and makes bad decisions his arm can't neutralize.

    A lot of those strengths and weaknesses apply to Duke's Daniel Jones ... but he's 6-5 and has more arm talent than Grier.

    With a strong effort in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar receivers, one -- if not more -- of these quarterbacks should be talked about in the same first-round conversation as Murray and Haskins.

    Will Nasir Adderley, Andy Isabella, and Sutton Smith prove they belong?
    Adderley and Isabella are two small-school prospects heading into Senior Bowl week with a serious amount of buzz.

    With good reason.

    Adderley's explosive, springy athleticism pops on film, whether it be on a play where he ranges from center field to break up a downfield pass or when he flies across the field to stop a runner in his...
    -01-22-2019, 02:27 PM