The Senior Bowl is one of the first events of draft season where we get to see some of the top draft prospects compete on a national stage. This gives us an opportunity to grade them against their peers and it gives the players the chance to showcase what they can do. The game itself is very important, but the practices throughout the week give us a clearer insight into what these players are capable of doing.
Keep in mind this is still a tiny chunk of the process, and we are only seeing a small sample size of these players at the Senior Bowl. We still have the Combine and pro days to get through before we hit the NFL Draft. Obviously, game-film tells a better story than what we see from a couple of practices and an all-star game. Don’t let the performances from this week’s Senior Bowl outweigh your analysis on some of these players.
Drew Lock, QB Missouri
Lock beat out heavy favorite, Daniel Jones, to start the game for the North Team. All week during practice he was able to connect with his receivers. He has a strong arm and does a very good job of improvising while he’s on the run. In the bowl game, he completed nine of his 14 pass attempts for 57 yards. He even made a creative play where he flipped the ball submarine style to tight end, Tommy Sweeney. Many people are ranking him the top quarterback out of Mobile and with his performance this week, his draft stock should be trending up.
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Tyree Jackson, QB Buffalo
The legend of Tyree Jackson grew before he ever took the practice field when he measured in at 6’7’’ and weighed in at 245-pounds. From there, he impressed everyone with his live arm. He definitely had the strongest arm at the Senior Bowl and more than likely; the strongest arm in this year’s draft class. However, his size works against him because it elongates his throwing motion. If you watch his film, you will see some of the most amazing passes you will ever see but he does need to work on his touch on short to intermediate pass attempts. There are times where he will add a little too much mustard on his throws, making it hard for the receiver to reel in the pass.
In the bowl game, he got a lot of opportunities to showcase what he can do in front of a national stage and a stadium full of NFL scouts. Jackson completed 13 for his 21 pass attempts for 165 yards and two touchdowns. There were spots where he looked really good and there were other times that reminded us that he is still a very raw prospect.
I really like watching this kid play. He has the physical tools to develop into a good player. I hope gets drafted to the right organization where he can sit behind a veteran quarterback for a few years so he can improve his game. Just get him a quarterback whisperer to coach him up and in a couple seasons, he might be able to maximize his potential.
Jarrett Stidham, QB Auburn
Stidham might have improved his stock the most compared to all of the other quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl. He came ready to play and was fantastic in all of the practices, distributing the ball to his receivers while showcasing a strong arm. In the bowl game, he completed four of his five pass attempts for 30 yards. He looked good, made decisions quickly and the ball was live coming out of his hand. He’s not a first-round-caliber quarterback, but he’s going to cause some scouts to dig into the film a little deeper after his performance in Mobile.
Wes Hills, RB Slippery Rock
The division two product showcased size and quickness in practice and the bowl game. He’s dangerous with the ball in space and does a very good job of catching the ball out of the backfield.
Nice run by Wes Hills of Slippery Rock Univ. to set up the South's TD pic.twitter.com/1Q8bMs3YGW
— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 26, 2019
I think he had the best run out of all the running backs in the entire bowl game. Here he demonstrates good lateral quickness and speed while getting the edge and outrunning the rest of the defense for a long gain. Before he limped off the field with an ankle injury, he looked like he was ready to make the jump to the next level.
Tony Pollard, RB Memphis
He showed off elite-level quickness at the Senior Bowl. Pollard has the potential to be a solid pass-catching specialist at the next level. All week, he displayed good hands and elusiveness in the open field. He’s a player to think about in the later rounds of rookie drafts this year.
Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina
All eyes were on Samuel this week and he did not disappoint. He consistently turned heads with his route running and athleticism. When it came to making plays after the catch, he routinely zipped past defenders for long gains in practice. There wasn’t a practice during Senior Bowl week where he didn’t have a few clips on social media being shared by most of Draft Twitter.
My goodness, Deebo Samuel, you didn’t have to do him like THAT 😧😧 pic.twitter.com/7xLhwTXyJm
— The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) January 24, 2019
Here’s a clip of him using his short-area quickness and sweet feet to cross up the defender and get the easy catch. He did this play after play this week. There were plays where he blazed past defenders to catch passes over his shoulder and there were other plays where he would sharply break off his route to gain separation from the defender guarding him.
He was targeted seven times in the bowl game but was only able to reel in one catch for 15 yards. The quality of targets in this game was horrible and horrific quarterback play prevented him from breaking out in this game.
Terry McLaurin, WR Ohio State
With speed for days, McLaurin proved to the scouts that he has the talent to compete at the next level. All week, he displayed good footwork and route running. He surprised a lot of people with his athleticism and his ability to easily blow by defenders. With eight targets, he was a key contributor for the North Team, catching four balls for 53 yards.
Even though he had an impressive showing this week, he’s still not a top ten wide receiver prospect. His bread is going to be buttered by special teams and his ability to stretch the field. The Combine is going to very important to his draft stock.
Andy Isabella, WR Massachusetts
Outside of Deebo Samuel, Isabella was one of the most impressive wide receivers during Senior Bowl Week. I like to consider him a plus-slot-receiver. His build and quickness help him to operate from the slot, but he has the speed and the tracking ability to play on the outside or stretch the field from the slot. Imagine Cole Beasley with a jet pack strapped to his back running routes, and you get Isabella. I think he even improved last week, limiting the number of steps needed to break off some of his routes, making him even crisper at the end of his route.
In the game, he led all receivers with seven catches for 74 yards and one touchdown. He caught all seven of his targets and he easily created separation from the defense. He also took an end-around for a 14-yard gain. Isabella is on the rise and should be a top 100 pick in this year’s draft.
Keelan Doss, WR California-Davis
Doss showed everyone that he’s a route-running-technician. He’s super smooth and impressed everyone throughout the week. In the bowl game, he was heavily used, being targeted five times and catching four passes for 55 yards (averaging 13.8 yards per reception).
Penny Hart, WR Georgia State
Hart didn’t receive much run in the bowl game, but he was money during the week in practice. He has a lot of speed and he’s dangerous with the ball in open field. Going into Senior Bowl Week, he wasn’t on the radar for many draft analysts and now he’s become a household name.
There’s more to Penny Hart than quick-twitch:
•Cut off and contacted, Hart disengages by pressing the DB’s shoulder
•Jab steps with a head fake to open the DB’s hips
•Threatens space that requires the DB to overextend his his flip and shift his weight opposite of Hart’s break pic.twitter.com/N52v5EVDIy
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 25, 2019
As you can see here, there’s a lot of nuance to his game. He’s super quick and he moves laterally very well. His footwork makes him dangerous and his long speed makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Hunter Renfrow, WR Clemson
Renfrow does what Clemson receivers do and that’s run pristine routes and get open. All week long, he beat defenders up with his route running. He made one of the top plays of the day when Will Grier threw a wobbly pass over the middle of the field and Renfrow adjusted, elevated and caught the ball at it’s highest point.
Trace McSorley, QB Penn State
McSorley had a lot to prove going into the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, he proved to everyone that he has a lot to work on. During the week, he missed a lot of throws and struggled to separate himself from the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster. He’s fun to watch and he can pick up extra yards while on the run, but he needs to improve his accuracy or he won’t be in the NFL for long.
Will Grier, QB West Virginia
Grier didn’t do himself any favors this week, failing to showcase the best parts of his game. Instead, he displayed that he’s a very inconsistent passer. He missed his mark way too many times in practices and he couldn’t rectify his bad play throughout the week in the bowl game, completing just four of his eight pass attempts for just 61 yards. In the game, he had two very ugly throws, both of them were wobbly. Luckily, Hunter Renfrow was able to adjust course and save one of those plays, but he looked ugly on Saturday. His mechanics need work as he would consistently lose his base before he throws the football. This causes the ball to get away from him. His draft stock is dropping and he needs to turn things around quickly if he wants to be one of the top quarterbacks in this draft.
Daniel Jones, QB Duke
Going into this week, Jones was considered one of the top quarterbacks in the draft and had the potential to be a first-round pick come draft day. At the Senior Bowl, those dreams quickly became nightmares. He was off-the-mark on a lot of his throws and he threw multiple interceptions throughout the week. He looked average at best and had one of the worst showings at the Senior Bowl. With that being said, he was awarded the MVP award of the Senior Bowl. Even though he won the award, his performance during the entire week is going to weigh on a lot of people’s minds.
Dexter Williams, RB Notre Dame
Williams plodded his way to 39-yards and one touchdown. The most discouraging thing is that he dropped two of his three targets. On both of those passes, the ball hit his hands and he couldn’t secure it for the catch. He only has 22 receptions on his career and the drops don’t help considering his lack of receiving production.
Jaylen Smith, WR Louisville
I don’t know how he received an invite to the Senior Bowl. He was sluggish and was unable to separate from defenders. His route running is poor and his hands are just as bad. At Louisville, he used his 6’4’’ and 220-pound frame to win on the field. He’s not going to be able to do that at the NFL level. He proved that his game is limited at best and he doesn’t compare athletically to the rest of the wide receivers on the Senior Bowl roster.