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Scouting The Senior Bowl: Linebackers, Running Backs Who Shined On Day 2

MOBILE, Ala. – Two days into Senior Bowl week, we're gradually gaining a better understanding of the prospects on the North and South squads. Here are my observations from watching Day 2 of practice here in Mobile:

  • DaeSean Hamilton (WR, Penn State) had another nice day running routes. He is one of the few receivers on the North squad who has consistently found ways to get open and finish. His body control and balance has been outstanding. The closer he gets to the sideline, the more that he has shown the ability to work in tight spaces. I have been impressed with how natural his hands have been.  
  • Was expecting more for Armani Watts (S, Texas A&M) from a coverage aspect, but it just wasn't there today. There were a couple of different snaps where Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State) turned him around badly where he was in no position to even recover. I was hopeful to see him have more success in this area, but it just hasn't been the case. I believe that Dane Brugler has described Watts the best by calling him a 'sometimes player.' That appears to be true.
  • Had some folks before the Senior Bowl tell me to take a look at Akrum Wadley (RB, Iowa) as a prospect. I have to say that I have been impressed with what I've seen so far. Wadley has the traits of a complete back. He has shown the ability to take the ball either inside or out with effectiveness. He's a nice combination of quickness and power with the ball in his hands. I've been very impressed with his running style. Most of the time his runs to and through the hole have been before the defense has had a chance to react.    
  • Sure do like the way that Isaac Yiadom (CB, Boston College) gets his eyes around when playing the ball down the field. There are too many times where you study these college players and they don't help themselves by finding the ball. Yiadom has made his fair share of plays during 1-on-1 and team periods just by playing this way.
  • If you're looking for a downhill linebacker, Mike McCray (Michigan) would appear to be that guy. Really liked the way that he flowed, then attacked the line of scrimmage to finish the play. At 6-1, 241, he is well built and more than stout enough to handle the workload. I need to see on his college tape whether he can cover to be a three-down player.
  • Guy that caught my eye today during the North practice was Nick DeLuca (LB, North Dakota State). DeLuca had a nice read and react interception during 7-on-7 out of a zone drop and came back later in the practice with a tackle for loss on a toss sweep where he made the play from the inside/out with range. Like McCray, DeLuca as some size at 6-3, 243, along with similar movement skills.
  • Brandon Parker (OT, North Carolina A&T) had some nice reps in 1-on-1 adjusting to various rushers. Liked his ability to carry his man wide, then smoothly adjust back to the inside off movement. His balance and body position was right where it needed to be to successfully execute his block. Parker is a long, rangy blocker at 6-7, 303, and he lined up at both tackle spots. I like him as a guy that could potentially be a down-the-line swing tackle.
  • Ian Thomas (TE, Indiana) is growing on me as a prospect. His college coaches used him as more of a "H" back than a true inline guy. The Texans coaches are doing the same thing with him, which is playing to his strength. He is a "loose" player when it comes to his movement skills and you see it as a route runner. He has also been productive on the edge, where they've used him in pass protection staying in. He done a nice job of blocking defensive ends.
  • I don't know if he was guessing the snap count or he was really that good coming off the ball, but Andrew Brown (DT, Virginia) was impressive. Brown lined up at both tackle spots and was difficult to handle when he hit the gap, no matter where he lined up.[embeddedad0]
  • I could see someone falling in love with Darrel Williams (RB, LSU). He's big enough to handle the load (5-11, 229) as an every-down runner if you wanted to go that route. But where I could see a team using him is as a sub back. His ability to physically run the ball is outstanding, but catching it is his real strength. LSU is a program I watch quite a bit, and they didn't use him nearly enough in that role. During the practice, I lost track of how many times he made receptions, both easy and difficult, in the field or in the red zone.
  • Justin Jones (DT, North Carolina A&T) doesn't have many pass rush moves, but he has tremendous upper body strength. I saw twice where he walked his man right back into the quarterback easily. I was waiting for one of the blockers just to try and sit down on him but it never happened. He was just too overpowering to handle.  
  • Tyler Conklin (TE, Central Michigan) had a nice day catching the ball. When the ball went his direction, I didn't see it hit the ground. The reason I believe he had so much success was his route running. He didn't have to make any contested catches due to the fact that he was so open. He really did a nice job of getting in and out of his breaks without any wasted motion. As a route runner, he doesn't labor at all to finish the play.
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