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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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    Official 2020 Senior Bowl Thread
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    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, 03:27 PM
  • Nick
    East-West Shrine Game: 2020 NFL Draft prospects to watch
    by Nick
    East-West Shrine Game: 2020 NFL Draft prospects to watch include sleeper at running back
    These are the draft prospects you need to watch in the Shrine Game on Saturday
    Chris Trapasso
    @ChrisTrapasso
    20 hrs ago • 4 min read

    The East-West Shrine Game is the first big all-star game of the pre-draft process, and while not featuring as many high-profile prospects as the Senior Bowl, it's undoubtedly a worthwhile event in which a handful of participants will eventually make plays in the NFL. Some will become stars.

    Recent alumni include Jimmy Garoppolo, Za'Darius Smith, Justin Simmons, Terron Armstead and Shaq Barrett.

    Here are the five prospects from each team to keep a close eye on during this year's game.

    East Team

    Michael Onwenu, G, Michigan
    Onwenu is a large, heavy guard who carries his 350-plus pounds well. His frame is very unusual in that he has shorter arms and isn't imposingly tall. Because of his size, he's rarely pushed back into the quarterback and plays with high-level awareness of stunts and blitzes with just enough lateral movement to get to a secondary block when needed. Most offensive line prospects aren't "NFL strong" as rookies. It looks like Onwenu is.

    Kendall Coleman, EDGE, Syracuse
    Coleman is a technician with his hands, rarely letting offensive tackles to get into his frame, and when they do, his arsenal of pass-rushing moves allows him to counter. While not overly twitchy, Coleman is decently smooth once his momentum starts moving forward, an attribute which gives way to an effective inside move. Coleman needs to get stronger, because at times he can get manhandled. But the senior was productive thanks to his fundamentally sound hand usage during his time with the Orange.


    Parnell Motley, CB, Oklahoma
    On mostly average-at-best Oklahoma defenses, Motley stood out as a play-making cornerback. His pass breakup figures improved from nine to 11 to 13 in his final three seasons with the Sooners, and he hauled in six interceptions in that span. Listed at 6-feet and 180 pounds, Motley isn't super strong and his hips can be a little tight, but his feet are lightning quick, and he obviously plays with high-end awareness at the catch point.

    Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte
    Highsmith went into the season with a fair amount of draft hype after 18.5 tackles for loss in 2018. Then, the 6-foot-3, 240-ish pound edge rusher amassed 21.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks in 2019. He held his own against Clemson early in the year and flashed a nice blend of quickness, power, and hand use around the corner as a senior. There will definitely be Day 3 appeal with Highsmith in April.

    Garrett Marino, DT, UAB
    A strong penetrator on the inside, the 6-foot-2, 290-pound Marino tallied 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss for UAB in 2019. And he reached those figures in many ways....
    -01-17-2020, 04:57 AM
  • 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, 06:05 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, 07:21 AM
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