FRISCO, Texas – We’ve told you all about the practices, but I wanted to dive into the game film to get an idea of what this year’s Senior Bowl looked like.
I sat down with the tape on Monday to see if there were any guys who impressed on game day, not to mention guys who raised or lowered their stock in their final opportunity of the week.
Here’s what I saw:
· What an outstanding display of arm talent by Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson on the pass he threw to West Virginia receiver Gary Jennings, some 54 yards down the field. Jennings sprinted through the coverage, which caught Delaware safety Nasir Adderley by surprise. Adderley was focused on a different West Virginia receiver, David Sills, to his left and was only able to get his head around just at the last second -- but it was too late. Jackson put the ball in a perfect spot over the top of Adderley and right into the waiting hands of Jennings, who had tracked it all the way.
· Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat was arguably the best prospect at this Senior Bowl, but there were some questions about his ability to play the run. He looked just fine to me, as he did a nice job of rocking Boston College tight end Tommy Sweeney back in his stance and making a tackle for loss. Sweat was able to extend on Sweeney, then quickly get rid of him as he found the ball. Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams tried to bounce the ball to the outside, but Sweat planted off his left foot and then exploded to the edge to grab Williams before he had a chance to get going.
· I promise you that when West Virginia’s Will Grier launched the ball down the field, rolling to his left toward Buffalo receiver Anthony Johnson, he had no idea that Clemson standout Hunter Renfrow was going to end up making the catch. Renfrow was nowhere in the picture as Grier let the ball go, but he managed to track it perfectly and timed his leap to catch in right in front of the cornerback, who thought he had an easy interception. It was a heck of a job by Renfrow, not only tracking the ball but not giving up on the play.
· I can’t say that I really noticed Kentucky safety Mike Edwards much during the practices for the South squad, but he had an excellent snap where he carried Georgia State receiver Penny Hart up the sideline on a switch route. Not many defensive backs had been able to run with Hart in these practices and Jon Gruden wanted to see if he could get Hart open against a safety in coverage. Edwards not only avoided the pick, but he was also able to keep up with Hart stride for stride and force him wide to the sideline. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock had nowhere to fit the ball due to the coverage.
· David Sills might not have the same quickness of Cooper Kupp, but he has similar ball skills. Like Kupp, he catches everything thrown in his direction. Sills came up with a nifty back shoulder fade for a touchdown and then ran a speed out on Washburn corner Corey Ballentine with not much room to work with for an extended catch. Tyree Jackson was responsible for both of the passes that Sills caught and couldn’t have put them in a better spot.
· Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin had a nice week of practice leading up to the game. It would have been nice to see him pull in Drew Lock’s pass at the goal line that would have resulted in a touchdown. McLaurin ran a sweet route to buy himself some separation from the safety and Lock anticipated the throw, trying to fit the ball down low where McLaurin would have had a chance to make the reception. He was able to get both hands on the pass, but when he hit the ground it bounced away from him.
· Really nice game from TCU linebacker Ben Banogu. He showed some flexibility as an outside rusher off the edge -- but also the ability to drop down inside to line up as a nickel tackle. Banogu measured at 6-4, 247, but it didn’t matter if he was going against a guard or tackle, there was some quickness to his game. I’m not sure how much NFL clubs would want to play him inside, but he did give them a reason to think about the possibility.
· I don’t think North Carolina State receiver Jakobi Myers could run a better route than the one he did on Houston corner Isaiah Johnson to free himself inside the 5-yard line. Myers totally sold the out route to Johnson, and once he committed to defend, he slammed back inside wide open. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley was caught between trying to fire the ball in there or touch it, and he did neither. His stance was wide open and he threw the ball side armed, which forced it to go high and incomplete. It was a great route that went for nothing.
· Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu showed off his length on the strip/sack of Jarrett Stidham, which forced a turnover for the North squad. Stidham tried to climb the front of the pocket in order to avoid pressure from the inside, while Omenihu chased from the backside. What was impressive about Omenihu’s play was how he was able to beat a double-team block from the offensive tackle and the tight end. Omenihu was a good five yards behind the play when he began his pursuit of Stidham to club the ball out of his hand.
· I honestly didn’t expect to see UMass receiver Andy Isabella, with his small size, break tackles on a screen -- but that’s exactly what happened. Isabella took a pass on the outside from Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and ran right through two tackles on his way into the end zone. Isabella showed some power that I didn’t know he had.
· TCU defensive end L.J. Collier showed some lateral quickness to take advantage of South Carolina offensive tackle Dennis Daley, who set too wide on him. Collier felt Daley’s weight transferring to the outside and was able to jump inside on him, which put him on the path to the quarterback. Collier initially went over the top on the tackle, but he got just enough of him to force him to stumble and lose his balance,resulting in the sack.
· I have to say it was unique to see Texas A&M center Erik McCoy have the key block on his Texas A&M teammate, defensive tackle, Daylon Mack that allowed Memphis running back Tony Pollard the space needed to work his way into the end zone. Pollard also got a nifty block from USC tackle Chuma Edoga on the edge to get him around the corner. McCoy and Edoga not only played well in the game but helped themselves with their week of practice. The footwork and athletic ability that both showed was impressive.