2018 Senior Bowl Recap — Day 1

Day 1 Practice Recap/Notes

  • Quarterbacks

Josh Allen

Arguably the biggest headliner name heading into the Senior Bowl was Allen. At the beginning of the first practice session, Allen looked very jittery as his accuracy and ball placement was wildly inaccurate. As practice progressed, he began to settle in and throw some very nice passes. The former Wyoming signal-callers clear strength is throwing out-breaking route patterns.

North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17)

Something that was evident about Allen though is that he doesn’t have a good feel on when to put touch on certain throws. All of the throws that he makes are fastballs and it took the North receivers awhile to adjust to just how hard Allen was throwing the ball.

Kyle Lauletta

The South’s QBs were an interesting bunch. Mike White entered the first day of practice with the most generated hype, but Lauletta stole the show very quickly. He doesn’t possess the most gifted arm, but he made some nice throws in the short and intermediate areas of the field during the one-on-one sessions. No QB on the South squad significantly distanced themselves from the bunch.

Kurt Benkert

The former Virginia QB was probably the best of the South participants, which isn’t saying very much because all of them were all sub-par throughout the day. Showing plenty of velocity on his throws, especially in the intermediate areas, Benkert has a chance to build on and improve upon what was considered an average day.

Baker Mayfield

Arriving just in time for practice, the Heisman Trophy winner was the main attraction during the North teams practice. Wearing a colorful eye-shield over his facemask, Mayfield’s natural confidence and swagger were evident. There was plenty of zip on his throws, but he was inconsistent with his accuracy throughout the day.

North Squad quarterback Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (6)

The majority of his impressive throws from the first day came during the team session where he showed pinpoint ball placement on seam throws. I thought Mayfield’s footwork was inconsistent throughout the day and I want to see how he adjusts to that on day two of practices.

 

  • Running Backs

Kallen Ballage

By far one of the better running backs of the day was Ballage. Showing off his big frame, nimbleness, quick cuts and reliable hands out of the backfield, I think he is a prime example of a prospect that will be a better pro than collegiate player. He checks the boxes of all the requirements of today’s NFL running back despite the lack of college production and not living up to the inital hype

Jaylen Samuels

The biggest question is what exactly is he? No one really knows what position Samuels will play on the next level, but what we do know is that any role that he was asked to play, he excelled at. He’s played running back and tight end at NC State. Samuels abilities and skill-sets were on display, as he showed his ability to catch out of the backfield and his quick burst through holes during the team session.

 

  • Wide Receivers

DaeSean Hamilton

Building off his positive momentum from the East-West Shrine Game, Hamilton continued to show off his favorable traits to scouts. Many times, cornerbacks attempted to get physical with the former Nittany Lion, but he showed his quick-twitch abilities and impressive moves off of the line of scrimmage to avoid press coverage. Once defeating them at the line, he showed strong hands at the catch point, away from his body. Hamilton had a very nice day overall.

James Washington

The reigning Biletnikoff award winner came out and had himself an impressive day. Showing strong hands, efficient route-running, and effortless vertical speed, Washington checked the boxes of what many evaluators wanted to see. The former Oklahoma State receiver was a bit inconsistent creating separation on some routes, but he made plenty of contested catches as a result of that. His reps against Levi Wallace were some of my favorites of the day.

Michael Gallup

The former Colorado State receiver had himself a day. He won every rep that he took during the one-on-one session, but the most frustrating thing about Gallup’s day was the quarterbacks inaccuracies completing the ball to him once he defeated cornerbacks. During the first team session, after beating press coverage, he caught a nice ball up the seam from Baker Mayfield.

Byron Pringle

Easily one of the best names at the Senior Bowl, Pringle flashed a bunch throughout the afternoon. Showing off his detailed routes and wide catch radius. He was consistently able to defeat press coverage and out-muscle defenders at the catch point. He’s a prospect that I will be keying in on more throughout the week.

 

  • Tight Ends

I thought this group as a whole was pretty disappointing today. Dallas Goedert and Adam Breneman both exited practice early with hamstring injuries. Ian Thomas really struggled catching the ball and had multiple drops. Mike Gesicki had troubles gaining separation and defenders were right on his hip. The only tight end that somewhat stood out was Durham Smythe, but more so for his in-line blocking abilities.

 

  • Offensive Line

Will Hernandez

One of the top candidates for my biggest winner from the first day of practices was Hernandez. You can tell when a player is dominating drills based on the reactions from others in attendance and the buzz surrounding him.

He made each and every drill look like child’s play. From my count, he only lost one rep. His brute strength and natural power were jaw dropping. His hands were like vice grips when latched onto defenders and his feet were surprising nimble, which was the biggest question surrounding him. I would like to see him be able to sustain blocks a bit longer though.

Alex Cappa

The small school standout came to Mobile with plenty of question marks. His film was impressive, but many wanted to see how he stacked up against better competition. He passed the test on the first day of practices. Cappa’s feet are a bit heavy and that was on display at times, but what I love most is that he doesn’t settle for less than finishing defenders on the ground. His physicality and mentality are traits that can not be taught.

Isaiah Wynn

One of my favorite prospects in this entire draft class is Wynn. The starting left tackle for the Bulldogs last season, he doesn’t possess the length to stay out on the edge at tackle. Measuring at 6-foot-2, 308 pounds, his traits are ideal for a guard or center. Built like a refrigerator, having natural strength, and good feet in tight areas, Wynn’s stock will continue to rise.

Mason Cole

After playing left tackle his final season in Ann Arbor, it was no secret that Cole was out of position. His most comfortable position was on the interior. Working mostly at center during the first day of practice, Cole stood out. Showing functional strength, active feet and generating movement in the running game. If he can keep continuing to build on a solid start in Mobile, he will have a chance to become a top-75 pick.

Bradley Bozeman

The biggest winner among the offensive line group was probably Bozeman. The best way to describe his day overall is “solid”. There wasn’t anything flashy about it. He just stood in there, did what he was asked to do and won every rep that he was a part of. His heavy hands were the aspect that stood out to me the most. When he places his hands onto defenders, their bodies jolted back. That’s the sign of a blocker that is in control and understands the technique of the position.

 

  • Defensive Line

Shaquem Griffin

Playing mostly as an edge rusher for the duration of practice, Griffin’s first-step and quickness stood out. From the one-on-one session to team drills, he gave the North teams offensive tackles fits. They struggled adjusting to Griffin’s speed and relentlessness. If there were any questions about whether or not he should be drafted, Griffin certainly answered them on the first day of practices. At minimum, he has value as a 3-4 OLB and special teams contributor.

 

— Harrison Phillips

A surprise to me was the standout performance of Phillips. He doesn’t have any overly dominant traits, but he has a lot of them that are just above average. An analogy that I used for him is that if he was in a lineup to be picked for a pickup basketball game, there’s no doubt that he would be one of the last selections.

Phillips doesn’t look like he has a muscle on his body at all, but his play on the field is far from that predicament. He had a stellar first day of practice, causing havoc in the backfield and consistently winning his matchups during the one-on-one session of practice.

Kylie Fitts

Fitts wasn’t a name that many evaluators weren’t paying close attention to coming into the event (including myself), but that was quickly altered. Fitts showed some impressive traits for the duration of practice. His flexible hips and ability to bend off of the edge is was stood out the most about his day.

Marcus Davenport

After having a lot of hype at the conclusion of the weigh-in and entering practice, I thought Davenport had a disappointing practice session overall. He struggled rushing from a three-point stance, which is something that’s understandable and completely foreign to him. He got pushed around a lot and his lack of strength showed multiple times today.

 

  • Linebackers

Right behind the tight ends, I thought the linebackers today were underwhelming. There were a couple glimpses of positive plays. North Dakota State;s Nick DeLuca recovered an Akrum Wadley fumble and some others flashed filling in run support in the box, but overall none of them really stood out. Hopefully that will change in the coming days.

  • Defensive Backs

M.J. Stewart

Stewart by far had the best day among the defensive backs group on both teams. Showing off his good hips, change of direction skills, and reactions in coverage, he was a clear standout. From what I saw, I don’t think he lost an entire rep throughout practice. His physicality is also another trait that stood out. He’s not scared to get dirty and challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage. Stewart looked very comfortable mirroring receivers throughout the practice session.

Kyzir White

The younger brother of former Chicago Bears 2015 first-round pick Kevin White, he showed his value all throughout practice today. White played on the roof of the defense and came down into the box as a run support player as well. A ball magnet for the Mountaineers, White showed off his play-making skills as he caught an interception during the 7-on-7 period. Beautifully baiting the quarterback and jumping a crossing route over the middle of the field.

Armani Watts

Watts didn’t flash in a multitude of ways, but I thought he had a solid overall day. His interception off of Tanner Lee during the latter half of practice was obviously the standout play of his day, but even before that point, he was putting together a solid day. The biggest question surrounding Watts is his tackling ability. That is something that we will be able to see during later practices throughout the week, as the team will have full-pads on.

Levi Wallace

My favorite story in this entire draft is Wallace. Once a flag football player in Alabama’s yearly intramural league, he went on to become a starter and national champion on Nick Saban’s talented defense during his senior season. Wallace lost during the weigh-in only coming in at 176 pounds, but his small stature doesn’t stop him from competing. As he showed on film, his feistiness and ability to mirror defenders was on full display during day one. Wallace understands that he’s not going to consistently beat receivers up at the line of scrimmage, but that doesn’t stop him from competing. He is a prospect that will be a solid depth piece in a teams secondary and a frequent special teams contributor.

Michael Joseph

On the first day of practice, the division-III standout proved that he had what it took to compete with the prospects from higher competition. Joseph’s hips were fluid, but I would like to see him get his head around more consistently and track the ball in the air on deep passes. There’s no doubt that he has the traits to be a quality draft pick though. The only rep of the day that he lost came against Michael Gallup, who was unstoppable throughout the evening. Other than that rep, Joseph had a very productive day.

 

  • Other Notes

I will be looking forward to tomorrow’s practice to see which prospects will continue to build on their positives from the first practice and to see which prospects that had a disappointing first day play better during the remaining practices.

 

Senior Bowl Schedule (Central Times)

Wednesday, January 24

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (North)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (South)

Thursday, January 25

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (North)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (South)

Saturday, January 27

1:30 pm, NFL Network

 

— The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning. Here’s a complete list of the results (Credit to DraftCountdown.com)

2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl Weigh-In Results

— I released the latest edition of my “Reiding Between the Lines” scouting journal. Included in it is my Senior Bowl preview of the storylines that I will be following closely, a brand new mock draft, and a six-pack of final thoughts about events that are happening from around the sports world.

Reiding Between the Lines Scouting Journal — January 23

 

 

For more NFL Draft news and analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.

One thought on “2018 Senior Bowl Recap — Day 1

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