Senior Bowl Notebook: Scouting The Pass Rushers; Other Early Standouts

MOBILE, Ala.– Two Senior Bowl practices in the books, and we're already getting a great look at the talent on display here.

For Tuesday's work, I took a vantage point in the press box at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and got to work. I have a hunch that Cowboys fans want to know about pass rushers, and there were plenty of them to take a look at. But I also tried to keep an eye at the various other spots on the field and how these Browns and Bears coaches were working these players.

Here are my notes from Day 1 of practice:

  • Cleveland coaches had Alabama tight end O.J. Howard lining up more as an inline tight end than what he played in school. He was a difficult match up for these linebackers and safeties to have to carry up the field in routes. He always appeared to get separation no matter who he was working against. Such an ease of movement in the way he plays.
  • Didn't know much about Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, but after this first practice, I need to give him a look. He had some quality one-on-one snaps against Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall, where he stoned him at the line and was able to hold him in place. Had some nasty to him on the finish as well. Could tell that Hall was not happy with him.
  • Outstanding start to the week for Grambling wide receiver Chad Williams. He was smooth with his routes and reliable with his hands. I didn't see him drop a pass in any of his opportunities -- even those ones that were contested. I love the way he tracked the ball on the vertical "9" route, looking over his shoulder while gaining separation on San Diego State corner Damontae Kazee. Williams has good size as well at 6-0, 204 pounds, which will help him with clubs.
  • My favorite small/short player in this draft is North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer, but a guy that's in that same boat is San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey. It's a big man league and I really don't know what you do with Pumphrey, but he was a mismatch problem for these defenders in this practice today. His explosive quickness is impressive, which allows him to get into the second level in a hurry. I love his vision along with his ability to cut. He would be a luxury for a club to take, but I would find something for him to play on my squad.
  • Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp was a guy that my scouting partner Dane Brugler thought might be a better guard in the league than a tackle. He lined up on both the left and right sides, playing both guard and tackle – and he was better inside. At 6-4, 305 pounds, he really doesn't have the ideal length to be a tackle, and at times it showed when he got caught reaching. Playing inside, his technique looked better and he wasn't off balance nearly as much. I believe that teams are going to see him more as a guard than tackle when we get near the draft.
  • The pre-Senior Bowl buzz centered around Villanova pass rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon. Measuring at 6-7, 280 pounds, he is quite a physically impressive player. What I was looking forward to in these practices is how he would match up with better competition. For a man his size, his movement skill is impressive. What was interesting is that initially he didn't look quick-footed going through the bags, but when the drills switched working against the offensive line, that changed. He was much quicker off the ball and he was able to attack the blocker, which allowed him better results.
  • I have to give Eastern Washington receiver Cooper Kupp some credit. Tangling with Iowa corner Desmond King is no easy match. King is one of the most physical corners in the draft, and when he comes running downhill, he can be difficult to block. King prides himself on his style of play, but Kupp took the fight to him blocking him out of the play.
  • Some really nice quickness from Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi in the one-on-one pass rush drill. Ogunjobi several times was able to attack the snap hand of the centers, Kyle Fuller from Baylor and Tyler Orlosky from West Virginia, to get around the edge. Ogunjobi gave no contact surface to the blockers, almost running sideways through the gap on his way to the quarterback.
  • Quite a day for both kids from Illinois – defensive end Dawuane Smoot and linebacker Carroll Phillips. There were snaps during the team portion of practice where all I saw was a blue and orange helmet blur going toward the ball and it was either Smoot or Carroll in on the play. I don't know that much about Carroll, but at 6-3, 237 pounds, I am going to see if I can find a spot for him at linebacker and maybe a nickel rusher due to his explosiveness. His ability to close was impressive.
  • I don't believe I have given enough credit to Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis. He looks short on tape and in person as well, but he's a really good player. Measuring at 5-10 at the Senior Bowl weigh-in was huge for him in the eyes of scouts from around the league. He is a feisty, competitive corner that doesn't back down from a challenge. His quickness and ball skills are impressive. I could see him going to a club and having a nice career initially playing in the slot then working outside in the future.

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