MOBILE, Ala. – It always feels strange to leave before the game, but we’ve seen what we came here to see.
Three practices are in the books at the Senior Bowl, and it’s time to head back home and add these notes in to our overall evaluations of this 2019 NFL Draft class.
Wednesday’s practices were off limits due to some bad weather, but the conditions at Ladd-Peebles Stadium were perfect on Thursday, and these teams did not disappoint with a chance to show off. Here are my notes from the final day of practices:
· Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin continues to do things during practice to impress the scouts. He took Texas cornerback Kris Boyd on a double-move in the red zone that left Boyd scrambling to recover. Where McLaurin has had his success is with his route running. He has the quickness you look for, but he also has the smoothness in his routes that allows him the ability to work himself open.
· There’s good and bad with Georgia State receiver Penny Hart. His lack of length will be a problem for him when he runs routes up the field -- especially up the seam. He doesn’t have the reach to extend for those passes that go over the top of the defender. It’s just too hard for him to adjust. Where Hart is good is when the ball is on him across the field. Jon Gruden has figured out that running him through trash is a plus. He has a real feel for how to find space and separate.
· What an impressive day from Boston College safety Will Harris -- not only from a coverage aspect, but as a blitzer, as well. Harris had an interception while in man coverage on UMass receiver Andy Isabella where Isabella couldn’t get away from him. Later in the practice, Harris perfectly timed a safety blitz that would have blasted North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley if it had been a game situation.
· I had a fan of “The Draft Show” ask me if Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders had some similar traits to Aaron Donald. My first reaction was that it’s hard to compare any player to Donald, but Saunders did have a snap where he reminded me of Donald with his upper body power and pop to rock a blocker back in his pass set. Saunders was on Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter before he knew it, and then -- much like Donald -- carried him back into the quarterback. Saunders has shown up well during these practices.
· It’s not often you see a defensive back carry a receiver all the way across the field, but Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye was able to do that with UC Davis receiver Keelan Davis. One of the traits I look for when evaluating a corner is his ability to not get beat to the inside. What was impressive is that Oruwariye gave Missouri quarterback Drew Lock no space to deliver the ball and his coverage forced Lock to eat the ball.
· Thanks to my “The Draft Show” partner Dane Brugler, I took a peek at USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga during practice. What had impressed Brugler about Edoga had been his footwork -- and he was spot on. Edoga does have the type of footwork that you look for in an NFL tackle. His ability to get away from the line of scrimmage allowed him to keep several potential rushers wide during drills and team periods.
· Two pass rushers, Oregon’s Jalen Jelks and Boston College’s Zach Allen ran a nice twist stunt to get home on Chris Lindstrom and Dalton Risner. Allen got such a push up the field that it forced Lindstrom and Risner to account for him. Jelks then took advantage of the situation by quickly working around the double-team to attack the pocket. Allen might not be much of an edge rusher, but when you put him at defensive tackle he tends to make things happen.
· Nice instincts by Delaware safety Nasir Adderley out of the slot to read the quick screen to Penny Hart and knock the ball away. Adderley saw the play the whole time and reacted accordingly. Coming into the Senior Bowl I thought Adderley was the best safety prospect in the draft and he didn’t disappoint. You have to like a safety that plays with cornerback skills and instincts. He appears to be completely comfortable playing the slot, much like the Cowboys’ own Xavier Woods did in his rookie season.
· South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel put on another show during the practice for the South team. In the red zone he made several receptions where he lined up in the slot and on the outside. It didn’t matter if he faced Isaiah Johnson or Lonnie Johnson, Samuel was able to come up with the ball. Where Samuel did his best work was in tight spaces. There were several snaps where Samuel faced press coverage and he was able separate along the end line to make the reception.
· I am not going to claim to be an expert when it comes to field goal kickers, but Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert would get my draft consideration if I needed one. There is some power and pop when that ball comes off his foot. The ball just doesn’t die over the bar -- there is some height and distance to it. His kicks from 38 yards look just the same as his attempts from 52 yards. Cole Tracy is the other kicker here at the Senior Bowl, and to be honest, it isn’t even close who has the stronger leg.