Football analyst Bryan Broaddus talks a look at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Here’s Part 1 of some observations after watching the game tape of Saturday’s game in Mobile. Part 2 will continue on Tuesday.
- The player that during the week of practices leading up to the game, who was receiving the most attention was Pittsburgh defensive tackle, Aaron Donald. For teams that play the 4-3 scheme, Donald is the ideal fit as that three technique that can play up the field and be disruptive in the middle. He also showed that he could also slide over to the one and play with power as well. In the game, I thought that Mississippi State guard, Gabe Jackson did a pretty solid job on him. There were several plays where Jackson had Donald one-on-one and he was up to the challenge. Where Donald was able to get Jackson one time was on a straight bull rush, where he carried Jackson back to the quarterback which was a nice display of power and leverage on his part. Aaron Donald will not be for all teams because of his lack of height at just a shade over 6-foot but there is no question of the explosive quickness that he was able to show in the game for the North side.
- The best matchup during the game was when Notre Dame tackle, Zack Martin was working against Auburn defensive end, Dee Ford. What was interesting is that when Ford rushed against Martin, he didn’t have the type of success in the game that he enjoyed against the other North tackles. In talking to coaches and scouts around the league, they believe that despite what Martin was able to show at tackle, he will play guard in the NFL. Martin doesn’t remind me of those Notre Dame linemen that we have seen in the past that struggle with power and quickness. He is more than able to adjust, bend and play with power. While his teammates for the game struggled with Ford, he was not bothered by him at all. There were even points in the game where the Jacksonville coaches flipped Ford with Chris Smith to get some rushes on Seantrel Henderson out of Miami. Martin was able to handle the first step quickness of Ford and once he was able to do that, then it became a battle that Ford was not going to be able to win because Martin would just sit down on him. It’s a nice game to watch for Martin as the scouts build their boards because Ford will put some heat on you.
- While watching practice during the week, I thought that the defensive tackle that was steady in his approach and play was DaQuan Jones from Penn State but I have to say in studying the game on tape, Princeton’s Caraun Reid took the award for the outstanding player not named Aaron Donald or Ra’Shede Hageman. Reid was able to generate back-to-back sacks with two separate pass rush moves. The first one was against the All American guard from Baylor, Cyril Richardson, who he beat with a quick inside move which Richardson was slow to adjust to and Reid was on Logan Thomas before he knew it. On his next one, he moved over Miami guard, Brandon Linder and at the snap, he quickly works to Linder’s right shoulder which gets him to put all his weight on his right foot, then he crosses his face to break free back inside. Linder has trouble adjusting and Reid has another free run at Thomas for the sack. For Caraun Reid it was a step up in weight class and he did nothing to make you believe that he does have the tools to be a guy that can play inside in a rotational system in a 4-3 defense.
- If you are looking for the best safety in the group for either team, Northern Illinois, Jimmie Ward is your guy. There is plenty to like about Ward and his approach to the game. I believe that he is one of those safeties that sees the field well and once he does see it, he is gone. There are plenty of times where you see safeties over run the play, take a bad angle or must a tackle in the open field, Ward is not one of those guys. There were only a few coverages that these coaches were allowed to play, so that meant that the safeties had to figure into playing against the slot and when Ward was on the field, Falcons defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan was not afraid to walk him inside and let him cover from there. Even while playing at normal depth, Ward was able to read the tight end on a crossing route from left to right, timing his arrival with that of the ball causing an incomplete pass. Ward was also able to show a physical side of the game with nice open field tackle on a receiver after a catch in the middle of the field. What I am looking forward to seeing is if Jimmie Ward can put himself in that mix with safeties like Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor as we begin to build this draft board.