NFL Draft Bible Founder Ric Serritella was on location at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Here are some observations from the week-long festivities held in Pasadena, California.
Austin Allen, QB, Arkansas: While he has not faced much of a live pass-rush, he has struggled with his mental clock at times. Allen must learn how to get rid of the ball much faster. Showed the ability to move around in the pocket and the arm to make NFL type throws, he just lacks the consistency. Measured nine inch hands, which was the smallest of the six quarterbacks in attendance. Received valuable coaching throught the week from Jon Kitna and will be working with Ken Mastrole at Bommarito Sports Performance in Florida leading up to the draft. His footwork and ability to execute 3,5,7-step drops was rather smooth. He brings five years of experience playing in a pro-style type of offense, which included lining up under center regularly. Does a nice job of looking off defenders. Would like to see him shift his weight better from back foot to front foot and get his lower body in sync with his upper body
more. Does a nice job of biding time in the pocket with his scrambling ability. Allen has been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Kenny Hill, QB, TCU: Was clearly one of the most impressive quarterback throughout the week in Pasadena, showcasing excellent ball velocity, a live arm and tight spirals. His footwork remains a work in progress, as he’s not used to lining up under center and his feet get tangled up at times. He needs to prove more consistent, as he continues to refine mechanics to help boost stock. There is no need to absorb some of the unnecessary hits he takes, sliding will be beneficial to his longevity at the next level, where he projects as a developmental quarterback prospect.
Peter Pujals, QB, Holy Cross: A strong showing during the week of practice left NFL scouts no choice but to circle back to his game film upon their departure. With solid footwork, to go along with his and short-to-intermediate accuracy, Pujals stated a strong case for himself with some impressive throws, squeezing the ball through some tight windows. He adapted well to some of the coaching provided by Jon Kitna and was quick to make adjustments, drawing praise for his smarts from several coaches. The tools are certainly there, while he may not be drafted, he’ll be competing for a job in someone’s training camp.
Detrez Newsome, RB, Western Carolina: The chiseled running back showcased his slashing running ability with extremely fluid footwork both in drills and during scrimmages. He possesses some nice shake and bake in the open field, in addition to quick change of direction, which is what makes him so dangerous as a return man. He saw plenty of reps throughout the week on special teams, boosting his draft value. Newsome does a nice job of keeping his legs churning upon contact and fighting for the extra yards. His performance earned him sit down meeting with more than half the NFL teams.
David Williams, RB, Arkansas: The biggest back in the event at 6-feet, 224 pounds. Williams possesses a strong build, showed the quicks to get around the edge and proved capable catching the ball out of the backfield. His vision and patience allowed the lineman to open up rushing lanes and he showed nice burst hitting the hole. You have to appreciate the way he continues his momentum on contact and falls forward. With such a deep group of running backs in this year’s class, Williams could be one of the more overlooked players in this year’s draft.
Martez Carter, RB, Grambling State: An extremely strong, stout runner who finishes on every play anytime he touches the ball. Carter can really push the pile—when met one-on-one in the open filed, more times than not, he makes the defender pay for tackle. A mini-bulldozer style of runner who could thrive as a short yardage back, serve as reliable pass catcher out of the backfield and has a running style that is reminiscent of Maurice Jones-Drew. He certainly helped his draft stock with an impressive overall performance.
Russell Gage, WR, LSU: Probably made more highlight reel catches than any player, including several acrobatic catches which showed off his body control and balance. His athleticism and agility earn him high marks. Gage has a reputation for being an effective weapon on jet sweeps, plus he brings tremendous value on special teams, as a gunner and return. His skillset makes him a candidate to hear his name called on day three of the draft.
Adonis Jennings, WR, Temple: While Jennings struggled with some catches early in the practice week, he recovered beautifully during one-on-ones, showing the ability to gain separation, while doing an excellent job using his hands to combat bump and run coverage. He certainly understands how to work the sideline and positions himself well where only he can make the catch. He made several big splash plays that turned some heads, including two of the most impressive catches during the actual game.
Davon Grayson, WR, ECU: Possibly one of the biggest winners of the week, as Grayson boosted his draft stock immensely, using his quickness and athleticism to win the one-on-one matchups, while making plenty of plays during seven-vs-seven drills. He was also one of the most requested players for interviews, meeting with nearly every team.
Brandon Powell, WR, Florida: He flashed some fancy footwork, along with the ability to create separation and get open with his short area quickness. Powell was too much to handle for many cornerbacks attempting to cover him and he was burning the defensive backs to a crisp with an impressive curl route pattern even though they knew it was coming. He would be an effective weapon on bubbles and end-arounds with his cut back ability. There is great versatility and upside to like here, as he also returns kicks and has played running back.
Brandon Shed, WR, Hobart: The DIII standout proved that he belongs, showcasing his crisp route running, while consistently winning in one-one-one isolation situations/red zone matchups. Shed gets a quick first step off the line and runs a sharp slant pattern, however he needs to learn how to get his head turned around faster on a more consistent basis. His frame and game might remind you some of Ramses Barden coming out of Cal-Poly.
Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina: Was waiting for the splash play all week but it didn’t quite come. While he is quick, his speed isn’t ultra-fast. His play was streaky at best. One plus, he played all four special teams units and did an outstanding job serving as a gunner on coverage units but did find some trouble holding onto the football in the return game. He also needs a better understanding of when to let the punt drop and when to step up and make a fair catch.
Deon Yelder, TE, Western Kentucky: One of the most improved players by the end of the week, Yelder has been suddenly popping up on NFL scouts’ radars with his athleticism and ball-catching ability. He appeared to be very coachable, applying tips from his position coach Byron Chamberlain almost immediately and tightening up his stance in order to help sharpen his blocking technique. His audition in front of NFL scouts in Cali, earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl the following week, as he continued his ascension up draft boards. His size, hands and overall skillset make him a strong candidate to be selected in the upcoming draft.
Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio State [6037/247]: He possesses pro size/speed attributes. Tends to find the open seam in the defense and does an excellent job adjusting to badly thrown balls. Was the most athletic tight end participating in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Had a strong week of practice blocking and made a strong impression with tight end coach Anthony Becht. He goes down rather easily—would like to see him fight for the extra yardage after the catch. How teams view his off-filed incidents and medical report will vary from team to team. There is no doubt he has NFL tools.
William Dissly, TE, Washington: While the Huskies used Dissly in limited fashion throughout his collegiate career, Dissly came to play, as a wide-bodied tight end with some unexpected athleticism. He possesses great size, runs solid routes and looked as if he had stick’em on his gloves, catching most everything thrown his way. He was able to work the sidelines, showed good body control and nimble balance. Dizzly will be a valuable backup in the NFL and compares favorably to Jack Doyle (Western Kentucky).
Gerhard de Beer, OT, Arizona: An intriguing blend of size and raw upside, the coaching staff on hand took akin to de Beer, you could sense their enthusiasm for his potential; he never played football until college. Blessed with prototypical size, he showed off a great first step and drew praise from ‘coach’ Jackie Slater. While he struggled at times, de Beer is a coaches dream—a sponge who absorbs knowledge and applies it to his game. His technique obviously needs some polish, especially as he continues to stop dragging his second step but the patience in developing this player should be well worth the payoff.
Jamil Demby, OG, Maine: The big, bad Demby was a force to be reckoned with, dominating one-on-ones and winning in the trenches all week long. Has stood out, shoving several defenders down to the ground with a stiff, one-armed jab. His strength and physicality were on full display, as he held his ground well at the point of attack. Demby demonstrated sound footwork, solid technique, size and athleticism. The four-year starter received a call to Mobile and he solidified himself a draftable grade.
Ben Huss, OC, Duquesne: Showed great hand placement and fundamentally sound technique, along with some run-mauling characteristics. Huss did a nice job adapting to having the quarterback setup underneath him, as he played exclusively in a shotgun-based offense with the Dukes during his 44 career starts. He’s a four-time All-Northeast Conference (NEC) honoree, including First Team All-NEC accolades three times.
Alex Officer, OC, Pittsburgh: One of the fiercest competitors manning the trenches, Officer has made his presence felt with a fiery demeanor, take charge attitude and relentless effort. At 350 pounds, he has impressed scouts with his agility and did a great job calling out pre-snap reads. One of the best matchups of the week featured LSU defensive tackle Frank Herron versus Officer, as they matched up several times one-on-one with the slight edge going to the Pitt Panther.
Michael Hill, DT, Ohio State: Due to a six-game suspension to start the season, Hill has flown mostly under the draft radar but was sure to turn some heads and garner attention with his strength and leverage. He flashed power throughout the week in drills on the tackling dummies, as well as sustaining his ground and showing the ability to stay low and split through double teams in positional work. His agent has assured us that Hill is on the straight and narrow, is drug tested regularly and will be training with Travelle Gaines in Los Angeles leading up to the draft.
Bruce Hector, DT, South Florida: Probably the most athletic interior lineman in attendance, Hector did an excellent job staying low and winning the leverage battle with great balance and active hands, in addition to the agility to split double teams. He was highly impressive with his ability to stand ground, shed blocks and make the tackle against the run, while bringing the ability to disrupt the backfield and rush the quarterback. He’ll need to increase his and knee bend during the draft prep process, as he’ll be training with Tony Villani at XPE Sports.
Frank Herron, DT, LSU: Who doesn’t like an interior defensive lineman who carries a chip on his shoulder at all times? Herron flashed a quick first step and nice burst off the line of scrimmage, while improving his draft stock with his one-on-one matchups. He possesses violent hands, a strong rip move and wide stance, making him hard to move. He understands the leverage battle, constantly fights until the end of the whistle on every play and knows how to sniff out the football. Herron also demonstrated great leadership.
Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane: One of the most exciting physical specimen here, as Aruna possesses great length, exceptional athleticism, a quick first step, a lean frame with room to bulk up 10-15 pounds and tremendous upside. He is extremely raw but worth developing and did a nice job responding to coaching. He thrived in dropping the knee to create the pile when double teamed and was also used on special teams, where he could serve as a block unit specialist at next level. With 19 career tackles for loss and 12 sacks, Aruna has too many positive traits not be selected come April—he has only scratched the surface of his potential.
John Franklin-Myers, DE, Stephen F Austin: With an imposing giant-sized frame, Franklin-Myers certainly boasts an intimidating presence and certainly passes the eye test. However, he appeared to be a step slow off the ball at times and will need to test well in order to prove that he is quick enough to make an impact at the next level. He defended the run very well, did a great job of splitting double-teams but needs to hone in some of his pass-rush technique and diversify his repertoire.
Ed Shockley, LB, Villanova: Stood out as the vocal leader of the American team defense, calling out formations and making sure teammates were lined up properly. Shockley was constantly around the football like hornets seek out honey. A solid wrap up tackler who is sure to outperform many of the players projected to be taken ahead of him. His high motor, tenacity and heart makes him a strong candidate to be selected on day three.
Al-Rasheed Benton, LB, West Virginia: This is a show time performer who came ready to play every day. Benton possesses solid size and football instincts, to go along with a true nose for the football. He has room for improvement in the footwork department (a bit choppy in bag drills) but stood out from the rest of the pack on the National side. Benton also needs to stay tighter coming around the edge when asked to blitz. He served as team captain and led the Mountaineers in tackles this past season (110).
Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane: Arguably the best player on either roster, Nickerson possesses all the traits you look for in a starting cornerback at the next level. His footwork, especially in the weave drill has earned him high praise—smooth, fluid backpedal, to go along with great change of direction. When it came time to one-on-one drills, he proved more than capable covering the top wide outs in attendance and later showcased his ability to play effectively in a zone scheme during scrimmage action. There are some concerns about his knees which could impact his draft stock.
Amari Coleman, CB, Central Michigan: One of the more impressive cover corners during one-on-ones, Coleman showed excellent mirror ability and quick recovery speed. He swarms to the football and was named All-MAC First Team this past season. Coleman has some wheels, which were on full display during kick return duties and was exciting to watch with the ball in his hands. However, he holds onto the football like a loaf of bread and needs to learn some ball security.
Ezekiel Turner, S, Washington: Drew plenty of interest amongst scouts in attendance, meeting with 26 NFL teams through the first three days of practice. A JUCO transfer with limited starting experience, Turner certainly looks body beautiful at 6’1, 210 pounds and was playing on all four special teams units throughout the week. He did an excellent job of tracking the ball and was praised by coaches as one of the hardest working players throughout the week.
Jaleel Wadood, DB, UCLA: An aggressive, physical defender, Wadood exuberates great energy during practice, scrimmage and game action but at his size (5-9/161), he may need to seriously consider switching positions and reinventing himself as a slot cover corner in the NFL. Wadood is a smart, instinctual player who will point out pre-snap reads and plays much bigger than his size, he’s more than willing to get his nose dirty and make the tackle, while showing good closing speed doing it. He will be an interesting case study leading up to the draft.
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