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2019 Senior Bowl Winners & Losers

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  • 2019 Senior Bowl Winners & Losers

    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 seven games, he improved his completion percentage from 50 to 67, and threw 16 touchdowns and just two picks. He attributed the turnaround, in part, to better footwork, something that has caused him to struggle with consistency on shorter throws. In Mobile, we saw the arm talent and the physical skills that make him a possible first-round pick, but we also saw his leadership skills -- both on the field with his teammates and in interviews where he reportedly blew several teams away.

    Still, Lock wasn't lights out this week, he was just better than his counterparts Daniel Jones, Ryan Finley and Will Grier. But with three months between now and the 2019 NFL Draft, he has plenty of time to keep making his case as one of the best quarterbacks in this class.

    Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State

    At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, the first thing you notice about Hart is his size. That changes the moment he steps on the field. Because his quickness of the line of scrimmage, his ability to shake defensive backs or straight-up beat them deep on downfield routes -- that became the overarching storyline once practice began. A wide receivers coach in Mobile this week raved to CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco about Hart's skill set.

    That's Delaware's Nasir Adderley, a converted cornerback who could be one of the first safeties drafted in April. "Guys from small schools like [Keelan] Doss and Hart are really helping themselves," Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who is coaching the North team this week, said after Wednesday's practice. "And Isabella has got something, He is quick."

    That would be Andy Isabella, who is also 5-foot-8. Isabella came to Mobile as a player to watch and several scouts think Hart had the better week.

    Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois

    Our colleague in Mobile, Chris Trapasso, watched Saunders closely this week and came away impressed. The small-school standout regularly beat some of the best offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, including Wisconsin's Beau Benzschawel and Michael Deiter. More from Trapasso:

    Saunders repeatedly won with an explosive first step to move into the backfield on run plays [during Wednesday's practice], and he finished with a would-be sack of Penn State's Trace McSorley on a quick move to the inside in team drills. For Saunders to be as dynamic of a mover off the snap as he is at 320 pounds is impressive. For him to be comfortable utilizing his hands to beat offensive linemen when his acceleration can't is what could get him drafted in the second round.


    Players who raised more questions than they answered
    Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

    We mentioned that Lock stood out about all other quarterbacks and it wasn't really that close. Grier, who came into the week eager to improve his current Day 2 draft projection, did just the opposite.

    While he showed good footwork during drills all week, he struggled with accuracy at every level. It's a curious development because Grier was one of the most efficient passers in college football last season; according to Sports Info Solutions' data, he was among the top five quarterbacks in the country with on-target throws on both short and deep balls. You just wouldn't have known it to watch him this week.

    There's still a long way to go, of course, and he can begin to change minds starting Saturday afternoon, but it's hard to think Grier's done much to help his draft stock thus far.


    Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State

    McSorley might be the toughest player at the Senior Bowl; he battled through injuries in 2018 and was the heart and soul of the Nittany Lions' offense. But he's also 6-foot and struggled with both accuracy and velocity all week. There's a case to be made that height is no longer an impediment to playing NFL quarterback -- Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, even Patrick Mahomes are all "smallish" by conventional quarterback standards -- but those players do a lot of other things well.

    McSorley is a prototypical gamer, but he'll need to be more consistent in every way to improve his draft stock. He currently looks like a Day 3 selection.


    Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

    Long and physical, Oruwariye looks like an NFL cornerback. The questions coming into this week were whether he could run with fast receivers and if he could flip his hips while covering shifty wideouts. He had issues with both and based on three practices looks best suited for a zone scheme.

    If there's an NFL team that specializes in Cover 3 looks, Oruwariye makes sense. But if a team needs him to play press coverage late in a close game, they should be nervous about that prospect. Other big cornerbacks had better weeks -- Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson, Houston's Isaiah Johnson and Temple's Rock Ya-Sin come to mind -- but it's hard to overlook Oruwariye's physical attributes. He checks all the boxes of what teams look for, he just needs to play with more consistency.


    Players who turned down Senior Bowl invites

    Look, there was no reason for Josh Allen to be here. The Kentucky standout is a top-five pick, and his decision to skip the Senior Bowl was an easy one. But for Alabama running back Damien Harris and Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven -- two players who have plenty to prove -- they would have been better served by showing up in Mobile.

    "Obviously, I totally wanted Damien Harris here. He's a really good back, and he's an Alabama guy, and people down here would've loved him," Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy told the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday. "So, going into the fall, I wanted Damien Harris, I wanted Jarrett Stidham, those would've been big gets for us. (So) it was a disappointment. But if he doesn't see the value in it, then he doesn't see the value in it. I think if you're not the clear-cut No. 1 guy at your position, you need to be in Mobile."

    Nagy continued: "Damien turned us down and that was it. Jonah (Williams) was eligible to come, Deionte (Thompson) was eligible to come, and they just decided not to."

    Both teammates of Harris at Alabama, Jonah Williams is the top left tackle in this class and Deionte Thompson is one of the two best safeties. As it stands, Harris isn't even the best draft-eligible running back on his team. That honor goes to Josh Jacobs, the junior who declared earlier this month.

    Meanwhile, longtime draft analyst Tony Pauline reports that some scouts are confused by Burr-Kirven's decision and that he may be getting bad advice from those representing him. Like Harris, he's not the top linebacker in this class, and even before this week he was probably a third-round pick, at best. That could've changed with a good performance in Mobile, of course.

    This doesn't mean that Harris and Burr-Kirven have already ruined their NFL careers, just that it makes sense to take advantage of every opportunity afforded to them. As scouts and coaches have repeated throughout the week: This is a job interview, and players need to treat it as such.

Related Topics

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  • 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: 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
    Scott Wright's 2018 Senior Bowl Game Report
    by Nick
    2018 Senior Bowl Game Report

    3
    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.

    2
    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...
    -01-28-2018, 05:28 AM
  • Nick
    2017 Senior Bowl: Underrated South WRs, North's Reddick shine on Wednesday
    by Nick
    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...
    -01-26-2017, 02:31 PM
  • Nick
    Norris: E-W Shrine Review
    by Nick
    Norris: E-W Shrine Review
    Friday, January 17, 2014
    Josh Norris
    All Star Circuit

    Rather than breakdown the East and West rosters position by position, I decided to take this review a different way. Honestly, after the first day it was fairly obvious who the prospects were that had a chance to impress this week. Those players put on consistent performances each day, standing out in individual and team drills. With that said, these rankings are not based solely on this event (as you will see with some prospects that had “down” weeks), but rather how I rank the prospects moving forward. All postseason practices and games are used as an extra exposure, as complementary pieces, not the backbone of an evaluation.

    You will notice a trend in certain positions being listed. That was not on purpose, but I truly feel those spots generated the most talent this week and are some of the deeper positions in this year’s draft. As a side note, I will have my Senior Bowl preview posted soon along with updates throughout next week.

    1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois - There might have been certain points in the week where Jeff Mathews looked like a better prospect, but when comparing inseason action, the two are not close. Garoppolo has quick feet, quick eyes, and a quick release. As long as a quarterback can find open throwing lanes and/or throw from multiple platforms, I do not care about their height, but some evaluators were happy to see Garoppolo measure in over 6’2 and with a hand size of 9.13 inches.

    Teams will likely question his ability to work from center and hit patterns with timing and anticipation. Garoppolo certainly works through multiple reads, but there is a bit of an improvisational style to it. The progressions seem to be at his pace.

    Many offenses rely on quick decision makers with a quick release, and Garoppolo can absolutely check these boxes. Things change a bit when pressured, as the quarterback has a tendency to drift laterally rather than step up or work from a phone booth. Garoppolo will end up in the crowded tier of passers after the top four, but do not be surprised if he tops that group. He displays mobility, touch, velocity, placement and a willingness to hit receivers at every level of the field. A second day selection is within reach for Garoppolo.

    2. CB Pierre Desir, Linwood - Long, athletic corners that can match up with receivers at the catch point will be coveted during the draft process. He might be a “small school” prospect, but Desir fits the bill. Standing at 6’1/197 with almost a 33-inch reach, Desir could wind up as one of the longest corners in this class.

    I always complain about college programs not implementing more press man coverage, especially since illegal contact does not exist at this level of football. Since it is not allowed in the actual all star game, Desir was limited to off coverage situations, something...
    -01-18-2014, 06:02 AM
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