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Rang: Ten bold NFL draft predictions for the 2019 Senior Bowl

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  • Rang: Ten bold NFL draft predictions for the 2019 Senior Bowl

    Ten bold NFL draft predictions for the 2019 Senior Bowl
    By Rob Rang
    1 day
    -edited

    With perspective from scouting since 2001, Rang predicts small school stars, weigh-in winners and game's top draft picks

    With the football-loving world still buzzing with Sunday’s compelling (and controversial) NFL conference championship games, the attention will shift this week away from the excitement in Foxboro and Los Angeles and heartbreak in New Orleans and Kansas City to the sleepy gulf town of Mobile, Ala. for the annual Senior Bowl, the most prestigious amateur all-star game in modern sports and a mecca for scouts, media and top-rated prospects for the 2019 draft.

    Like the draft, itself, coverage of the Senior Bowl has changed greatly since my first trip there, back in 2001 – when future All-Pros LaDainian Tomlinson, Chad Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Steve Hutchinson and Kris Jenkins provided those paying attention a glimpse into the future.

    The perspective of having attended senior all-star games like that one for nearly 20 years is precisely what separates my own analysis (and that from NFLDraftScout.com, as a whole) from the competition.

    As such, here in descending order is my 10 Bold Predictions of what will take place over the next few days at the Senior Bowl and how it will impact the 2019 NFL draft.


    10. Duke QB Daniel Jones takes a big steps towards becoming the draft’s top QB

    Former NFL general manager Scot McCloughan told our listeners on the Instinctive Scouting Podcast that he believes Jones will answer all questions about his arm strength this week in Mobile, just as the quarterback he helped the Cleveland Browns decide on – Baker Mayfield – did last year. Jones currently ranks second on NFLDraftScout.com’s (and my own) board to Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and just ahead of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, neither of whom are participating this week.

    9. Weigh-in winners will include Wyoming’s Carl Granderson, Washington’s Kaleb McGary

    While the heavily-attended practices on Tuesday and Wednesday are the most critical element to boosting one’s stock at the Senior Bowl – even more than the game, itself – the weigh-ins provide prospects a wonderful chance at making a first impression. Many of the scouts and coaches attending the game will have not seen these players live before and measuring in well can create a buzz. Scouts out west know the twitchy long-limbed Granderson and prototypically built right tackle McGary well – and so will everyone else.


    8. Defensive line talent dominates from the get-go

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before but this year’s defensive line class is truly a remarkable collection of talent and that extends to the Senior Bowl. Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat and Boston College’s Zach Allen are legitimate first round prospects with Granderson, Iowa’s Anthony Nelson, Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines capable of jumping into the mix with impressive performances this week.

    7. Arizona State’s Renell Wren flies up the board

    The apples to apples comparison all-star games provide is especially important for small-schoolers like D-II defensive end John Kaminsky (Charleston) and the “Aaron Donald of the FCS,” Khalen Saunders of Western Illinois. While film review shows that each are legitimately draftable commodities, experience tells me that each could struggle to quickly acclimate to the greater talent they’ll see in Mobile. If you’re looking for a true sleeper likelier to turn the heads of scouts during drills, keep Wren in mind. Physically imposing and possessing as quick a first step as any of this year’s interior defensive linemen, Wren will provide Nikon-at-night-like flashes this week.

    6. DBs Nasir Adderley, Amani Oruwariye, Lonnie Johnson will prove buzz-worthy in drills

    While the defensive line and quarterbacks will get most of the attention, Jim Nagy and his staff have assembled a very intriguing crop of defensive backs this year, as well. Teams looking for a long press corner will want to check out Kentucky’s Johnson and every club in the league will be watching Adderley and Oruwariye, two loose-hipped and highly athletic defenders with plus size and ball-skills.

    5. SEC standouts Drew Lock, Jarrett Stidham prove best of so-called second tier QBs

    As mentioned previously, Duke’s Jones is currently viewed as the best of the Senior Bowl’s quarterbacks but the pecking order behind him is much less settled. Expect that to change this week with Missouri’s Drew Lock and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham “suddenly” proving more accurate now that they’ll be throwing to more reliable route-runners and pass-catchers. Washington State’s Gardner Minshew II and West Virginia's Will Grier are great stories and each possesses the accuracy and touch to also succeed here but they’ll need to get the ball out fast as they will not often see the clean pocket in Mobile they often experienced in their Air-Raid offenses at home.

    4. Weak senior RB class boosted by NFLPA Collegiate Bowl call-up Wes Hills

    After consecutive brilliant RB classes the past two seasons, the 2019 crop is as weak as we’ve seen in years, with juniors Josh Jacobs (Alabama) and Trayveon Williams (Texas A&M) the only backs to earn top 50 grades on my personal Big Board and none of the backs playing in this game expected to earn anything higher than mid-Day Three consideration. NFLDraftScout.com’s Ric Serritella attended the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practices and reported that “no improved their draft stock more this week” than Hills, an opinion clearly shared by Nagy and his staff. At a confirmed 6-0, 213 pounds, Hills offers legitimate size to go along with speed, power and good hands out of the backfield. His perceived upside makes him the one to watch among this year’s Senior Bowl running backs.


    3. NIU’s Sutton Smith is this year’s position switcher to watch

    Quick as a hiccup, Smith was among the national leaders in both tackles for loss (26.5) and sacks (15) this season, earning a much-deserved invitation to the Senior Bowl. Officially listed by the Huskies at 6-1, 238 pounds, however, he will almost surely be asked to switch positions in the NFL – just as the former running back did when making the move strictly to defense when signing with NIU. Smith’s agility, awareness and high-revving motor could lead to success as a more traditional off-ball linebacker, making him one of this year’s must-see prospects.

    2. Former top recruit Byron Cowart finally starts to live up to his hype

    One of the few players who will have even more eyes (and ears) on him this week than Smith is Maryland’s Cowart, who is making his return to the state of Alabama after transferring from Auburn a little more than a year ago. Ranked by some recruiting experts as the No. 1 overall prospect in the country when he signed with Auburn four years ago, Cowart clearly failed to live up to expectations with his statistics at Maryland (38 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks two interceptions) this season hardly eye-popping, either. The raw power and size (he’s now a chiseled 290+ pounds) is still there, however, and Cowart has shown maturity and resiliency in re-building his reputation. A splashy week in Mobile and we could be talking about Cowart as a to 100 prospect all over again, much to the chagrin of a lot of Auburn fans.


    1. Jones and Sweat will be drafted first from this game

    Proving yet again the value of the game’s most important position, Duke’s quarterback Daniel Jones will be the first offensive player drafted from this game with Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat my pick to be the first defender selected.

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  • Nick
    Dane Brugler’s Top 10 Senior Bowl storylines
    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...
    3 weeks ago
  • Nick
    Official 2016 NFL Senior Bowl Thread
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    Keeping all news from Mobile here! :ram:
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  • Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl: Here are the four most compelling storylines to keep an eye on
    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...
    3 weeks ago
  • Nick
    2019 Senior Bowl Winners & Losers
    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...
    3 weeks ago
  • Nick
    Senior Bowl 2019: Defenders who can enter first-round conversation if they impress
    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
    @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,...
    3 weeks ago
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