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Senior Bowl 2019: Defenders who can enter first-round conversation if they impress

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  • Senior Bowl 2019: Defenders who can enter first-round conversation if they impress

    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
    @ChrisTrapasso
    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, as you can probably guess, aren't very effective.

    While he'll want to showcase his coverage skills in Mobile -- and he can man up against slot receivers with relative ease -- Thornhill has to make it known he's cleaned up his tackling. If he does that, he very well could find himself in the top tier of prospects at the safety position.

    Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion
    Another super-productive edge-rusher from a small school, Ximines doesn't quite have Ferguson's size. He's listed at 6-4 and 255 pounds but did rack up 51 tackles for loss and 32.5 sacks during his time at Old Dominion.

    Ximines is one of the most polished, developed pass-rushers in the entire class, thanks to a diverse arsenal of hand work, and smooth bend to the quarterback. As is the case with any small school player at the Senior Bowl, Ximines can catapult up draft boards if he shows he belongs against the country's best senior offensive tackles in the week of practices and/or in the game.

    Renell Wren, DL, Arizona State
    Wren has a hybrid profile, at 6-6 and 297 pounds with long arms. However, he played a lot of nose tackle for Arizona State in 2018 and possesses freakish burst off the snap.

    Pass-rushing moves? Kinda/sorta. They're inconsistent and seemingly not readily available. Wren's trump cards are his burst and length, and he should lean on those. But, in Mobile, if he demonstrates the ability to use his hands as a counter of his quickness, look out. He could land in the back end of Round 1 and be well on his way to long, productive NFL career.

    Charles Omenihu, EDGE/DL, Texas
    Draft analysts like myself had long been waiting for the chiseled 6-6, 275-pound Omenihu to break out while at Texas, and as a senior he did just that with 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

    He finally exhibited counter moves off his power rush and looked comfortable when needing to make quick, lateral movements. Omenihu is very naturally talented and showcased some polish in 2018. If his improvement translates to the field at the Senior Bowl, he will have first-round potential.

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  • 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
    @ChrisTrapasso
    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
  • 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
    The Official 2014 Senior Bowl Thread
    by Nick
    Please keep all Senior Bowl related information contained in this thread, thanks! :ram:
    -01-20-2014, 06:21 AM
  • Nick
    USA Today/NFL Draft Scout rank 2009 DL Prospects
    by Nick
    Versatility at end position: Rating the D-linemen in NFL draft class
    By Frank Cooney, Special to USA TODAY

    There is more mobility than muscle available among top defensive linemen in this year's NFL draft, which should work just fine with the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers joining the league's trend toward versatile 3-4 alignments.

    According to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com, two of the top 10 overall players are defensive ends and up to five might be taken in the first round. That is opposed to only two first-round prospects at defensive tackle and only four expected to be called on the first day of the draft.

    Teams are obviously in tune with the versatility of this year's defensive ends, as 18 were asked to go through drills as linebackers during the scouting combine. That included five of the top-10 defensive ends, led by top-rated Brian Orakpo of Texas and second-ranked Everette Brown, the athletic underclassman from Florida State.

    Last year, LSU's Glenn Dorsey was supposed to be the very best of a talented group of defensive tackles, but he didn't make much of an impact as a rookie after being drafted No. 5 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

    This year, B.J. Raji, a 6-2, 337-pound Boston College behemoth, is the best of a less-than-average group of defensive tackles and the only one from his position expected to be selected in the top 20.

    Here is a closer look at this year's top defensive line prospects (school, height and weight listed; *indicates underclassman):


    DEFENSIVE ENDS

    1. Brian Orakpo, Texas, 6-3, 263: Concerns over his durability surfaced again at the combine when Orakpo pulled a hamstring during workouts. He bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times and hopes to impress in other events at his March 25 pro day. Orakpo doesn't have a great burst off the line but manages to bully his way into leverage position and collected 11˝ sacks in 2008. He won the Lombardi, Hendricks and Nagurski awards, but scouts are not convinced his many awards are a measure of his production or that he has played up to his abilities. Even before the combine injury, they were taking a close look at medical reports because he missed time each of the past two seasons with knee issues.

    2. * Everette Brown, Florida State, 6-2, 256: He was moved all over the front seven in college to create mismatches. He might become a 3-4 rush linebacker in the NFL, especially after measuring only 6-2 at the combine after being listed at 6-4 during his college career. Brown is an explosive pass rusher who had 21˝ tackles for a loss and 13˝ sacks last season. Beyond pure speed, Brown knows how to use his hands and arms. His quick footwork and excellent balance frustrated college blockers. Assessing himself in Indianapolis, Brown said: "I feel I am the best pass rusher to use my speed, quickness and strength to get to the quarterback...
    -03-06-2009, 09:11 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
    @ChrisTrapasso
    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
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