NFL Draft Bible Director of College Football Scouting Joe Everett was on location at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Below are some observations from the week-long all-star event held in Mobile, Alabama. Big shoutout to our Director of Photography, Adrienne Turzuoli who has nearly 250 pictures now available in her Senior Bowl photo album!
QB Josh Allen, Wyoming: Allen had some accuracy issues but what he’s here to do is exactly what we saw today. The Wyoming Cowboy flashed his howitzer on a number of throws, where his velocity and torque he puts on a ball is just eye opening. Josh Allen is such a specimen with his prototype build, height and bulk. He is a tough kid that take hits, stare down the gun barrel and deliver a strike. He’s the real thing and regardless of how many people want to rip apart his games against Iowa and Oregon this year, his supporting cast at Wyoming in 2017 was suspect at best. Allen has ideal measurables for a quarterback at 6’4″7/8, 236 pounds with 10 1/8 size hands and while he may have had a regrettable swan song in Laramie, his story is far from written.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: The rock star of this event arrived just before practice, as Baker Mayfield showed up “hat in hand” and there was a noticeable buzz in Ladd Peebles Stadium. The Heisman Trophy winner got off to a slow start with some location issues and a couple of throws behind his receivers but after that, Mayfield drilled an out route to Berrious, he threw a strike to Jalil Scott and hit Michael Gallup on a post route that was very reminiscent to some of the chunk gains the Oklahoma offense executed all season long. Baker didn’t have a great day but there was evidence that he is a special quarterback today and it’s more than likely that he’ll continue to improve the chemistry with his receivers all week and improve his draft stock after this event is said and done.
QB Mike White, Western Kentucky: White is a real smooth thrower of the football. His delivery is natural and effortless, he spins the football extremely well and his velocity is more than adequate. He has the required height, length and arm strength but his mobility is just marginal to below average. He’s not a statue but he’s not explosive outside of the pocket. White has given out a few tickets to the gun show, specifically on an in route that Gesicki took to the perimeter and over the linebackers for a pass that White delivered right over the second level to the tight end. White overthrew J’Mon Moore on an early pass but there was pressure applied by Shaquem Griffin on the play that forced the overthrow, which has been an issue for White throughout his career. White is the safest bet to start the game for the South team and will likely be the highest drafted signal caller from the that roster.
RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State: The Sun Devil is a big powerful runner that is capable of plowing through contact and breaking runs strength or taking the edge and beating defenders to the corner with his speed. Ballage has surprising athleticism for a player his size and terrific hands that he put on displayed today, highpointing a Josh Allen pass and hauling in another throw outside his body on another. He is an intriguing blend of power and speed that forces business decisions down the field when he gets his speed built up. Ballage has excellent upside as committee back for a team that wants a bigger runner but could also develop into more given time and coaching.
WR James Washington, Oklahoma State: He’s easily the best receiver here in Mobile and he is definitely one of the best players at this event. Washington has amazing body control and rare balance to maintain his position while locating the football and snagging it with urgency. He makes back shoulder catches look easy and the over the shoulder catch a routine. His release is as clean as it gets and he flat out made a defensive back look silly today with a post route for a touchdown. The guy is a precise route runner and if he were taller than six foot, he’d probably be a lock for the first round but he’s more of a day two value pick that could develop into a team’s number two receiver before the end of his first year. Washington is likely in store for a big showing on game day if what we’ve seen in practice translates over to Saturday.
WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State: Mr Hamilton has enjoyed two solid days here in Mobile with his sharp cuts, excellent feet and consistent ball skills. Hamilton has the capability to be a valued member of a receiving corps at the next level because he can get open and if he can maintain steady ball skills. His footwork in the receiver drills was flat out impressive and some of the hands catches he made showed off his game changing abilities. The Nittany Lion has great vision to locate the ball, he has ability after the catch and his deep speed is more than adequate. Hamilton won’t be a Top-100 selection and is more than likely a day three pick but his potential is undeniable at the next level.
WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State: Wilson showed off some great feet today. The drills specifically illustrated how quick his feet are and what kind of change of direction he is capable of. He is able to take sharp turns and make quick cuts because of his body control and lightweight frame at 194 pounds. Wilson converted on a number of passes, plucking the ball out of the air effortlessly and getting on the go after the catch. He displayed his fluid movement, his excellent ball skills and ability to get open all of day two. Wilson adjusted to a poorly thrown ball on a route into the sideline, he highpointed the football in the live scrimmage and showed off that he has a very wide catching radius. He’s going to be a great complimentary receiver that could do a lot of things well, as he has few weaknesses to his game.
WR DJ Chark, LSU: Chark put his ball skills on display today. He cleanly caught the ball in drills, Chark plucks the football and is a true hands catcher. The guy just looks the part with his sleek moves, stellar ball skills and long frame. He is a bit high cut and could use to thicken out but at 196, he’s got enough size to survive the hits at the next level as well as break through contact. Chark caught passes thrown behind him (Looking at you Brandon Silvers), he won in jump ball situations, he located the ball well on the back shoulder drills and logged an exemplary day one for himself. DJ Chark was a highly touted prep prospect and could end up being a much better pro than a collegiate player if he lands in the right spot.
WR Allen Lazard, Iowa State: I want to like Lazard but in drills and in his routes, he just looks like he’s running in cement. He lumbers through routes and rounds off a lot of his cuts. His change of direction is suspect and right now Aggies receiver Jalil Scott who is taller and lankier is making sharper cuts and more precise turns than he is. Lazard is making catches here, he winning battles but he will have to make a number of contested catches in jump ball situations because he can’t really get open consistently. Lazard needs to show he can get a release or else he’s going to slip in the draft without any quality timed speed.
WR Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State: The big man from New Mexico State showed up with some balance and body control that belies his size. He turns so well and makes space between corners with his length and quickness. He doesn’t have great deep speed and will have to make contested plays but with his ability to adjust to the football and haul in the tough catches. He is a real hands catcher and is capable of winning jump balls against the majority of corners he’ll line up against. The big man is off to a good start and should continue to build on his performance today.
WR Braxton Berrios, Miami (FL): It’s hard not to like Braxton Berrios’ game with his quickness, competitiveness and excellent hands. He unfortunately had a rough day with a number of drops and a rough double hit in practice that left him a little banged up. In Berrios’ defense there were a few passes thrown behind him and out of his catching radius but this is a guy that has made a career converting poorly thrown balls, so it’s surprising that he didn’t hit the ground running today. There’s plenty of week left and Berrios is a gamer that should improve each day here in Mobile.
TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: Even though Goedert may have left practice early with an ice bag on his leg, he still flashed his natural ball skills with those big hands (10⅛) and his rare ability to gain separation at 260 pounds and flat out get open against his man. He runs well, he has more than adequate measurables and length but his competitiveness is evident when you watch him play. There’s just a lot of “want to” and the kind of determination you get from a former walkon in this guy. Mike White found him multiple times early in the session and it’s just unfortunate that Goedert won’t finish the week because he would have likely dominated the game.
TE Ian Thomas, Indiana: I am pulling for this guy because he has a tremendous story but the bottom line is that Ian had a number of drops, he miss-timed his routes, he couldn’t get open or gain separation and appeared to be fighting the ball all day. Thomas was in slow motion on a zig route that batted down by Quin Blanding, he dropped a simple out route and he couldn’t get open against Tre Williams on a short dig. Thomas is a big athletic move tight end, he has adequate length and he’s strong in jump ball situations. Ian Thomas has the upside as well as the skills but he needs to have a strong day two, start consistently catching passes and rebound from today if he wants to salvage his draft stock.
OT Brett Toth, Army: There’s a lot to like about this guy. He’s math whizz, he’s a disciplined member of our country’s armed forces and he’s also 6’5”¾, 303 pounds with 33” arms. Toth is here after a very successful week in St Pete at the Shrine Game, where he put a few defenders in the dirt. During day two Toth matched up well against Jalyn Holmes and not only held his own but stood Holmes up on one rep and wheeled him right out on the next. He has that ideal tackle body and he’s plenty long but he’s still a very raw prospect learning a lot of new techniques at this point. He has done nothing but improve his draft stock here in Mobile and should continue to rise throughout the entire draft process.
C Cole Mason, Michigan: Mason Cole is an iron man that has played in 104 consecutive games dating back to his high school days. He has experience at tackle and center in a pro style offense but he will also get reps at guard this week as well. Cole called out protections today, he led the huddle and flashed his strength at the pivot and his skills snapping the ball. He got out to the second level on a run play and walled off Fred Warner for the inside run. He is a big tough kid that keeps fighting, he should enter the league with a lot of seasoning and will be capable of offering whatever team that drafts him tremendous versatility for their roster.
DT Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State: Not only did Shepherd show up at the weigh built like a brick shit house, the Fort Hays State product has been a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. You can audibly hear him strike people out there. His hands are so strong that he just rips right through linemen like a hot knife through butter. Today he dominated in the one on one pit drills. He destroyed Will Hernandez on an early rep and he beat up Cole Madison badly on another rep after that. In fact the only time Shepherd really got moved backward was when the team worked on their double teams in the zone stack drill. Unfortunately, Shepherd injured his hand today and will likely be done for the week but he has showed more than enough in these few days to seriously elevate his draft stock. Shepherd might not be a first round draft pick but whenever he’s taken of the board, a number of teams will groan
collectively and regret not trading up for a player that has a ton of upside.
DT Christian LaCouture, Louisiana State: The big Bayou Bengal is just hard to block with his prototype length and size. He can’t be moved when he defends the run and LaCouture consistently gets a push up field on the pass rush. He broke up a run play early in the day, he would have killed a quarterback scramble if he didn’t let up and jumped in the backfield to force another run outside. He has power and even though he’s not a dynamic pass rusher, he’s more than effective at eating up blocks and winning against interior linemen with his quick hands. Teams will like the scheme he played in and his workmen’s mentality.
DE Andrew Brown, Virginia: Brown was a highly touted prep prospect from one of Virginia’s best recruiting classes but his career got off to a slow start under Mike London. He has since turned things around and really bounced back with Bronco Mendenhall calling the shots. Brown looked really solid today with good work in the one on ones, as he killed Austin Corbett on a rep and flashed his speed off the ball in goal line work with a tackle for loss. Brown has some scheme versatility and will present whatever team that drafts him with a tremendous value going forward.
DE Kylie Fitts, Utah: The guy went full boar today. He showed he can bull rush, he flashed some violent hands and won some of his one on ones. Fitts has an adequate frame, a thick build and he has he motor that will speak out to teams. The Kyle Whittingham product showed off what the Utes’ program is known for; sound technique, hustling to the ball and bringing the attitude every play. Fitts has a chance to be a base end and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the week goes and if he has a chance to flex out in some coverage drills at all. He carries his 259 pounds well and regardless of where he gets drafted, I think he has a chance to make an impact as a situational pass rusher at the least.
ILB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State: The South Carolina State Bulldogs produced Javon Hargrave in 2016 and now they have another defender on the map with Leonard, who has had his ups and downs this week. He has struggled in coverage and doesn’t change directions extremely well but when he does find the ball and he will strike ball carriers. He made the hit of the day on Ito Smith late in the session on a check down to the corner of the endzone. Leonard read the play and leveled Smith for a real decleater that drew roars from the crowd. Unfortunately, that’s about the sum of Leonard’s highlights, so it’s to be hoped that he can limit his mistakes and cut down on the lowlightstomorrow and in the game to keep his draft stock buoyant.
ILB Tre Williams, Auburn: Williams won the day. He made two wow plays in practice, he was a tone setter in drills and brought energy on every rep. He broke through on a running play where he absolutely crushed Rashaad Penny on an inside run, drawing the “ooohs and aaahs” from the crowd and he flashed some real ability out in coverage. The guy isn’t just a down hill rusher, he has great feet and his hands are strong. He can really run and he bends well, he beats blocks and he has natural base strength. Williams is an inside backer but he has some pass rushing ability outside of what he can do in coverage and he showed that off today. Big day for the Bayou Bengal.
S Quin Blanding, Virginia: The Cavalier represented his school well today with some real closing speed, great anticipation and flat out “go get it” type of acceleration when he breaks on the ball. Blanding is a long lanky safety at 6’2” with enough athleticism to close and a real knack for finding the football, striking the ball carrier and finish plays. He broke up a pass against Adam Breneman early in the day and he batted down an attempt for Jordan Akins later. Ian Thomas was able to get open on him on one rep but outside of that mistake, the guy was just all over it today and really showed what kind of pro he can be today.
*For more can’t stop won’t stop coverage of the NFL Draft follow us @NFLDraftBible