The 70th Annual Senior Bowl Preview

It’s officially Senior Bowl week! This week, the top senior graduates will get to showcase their talents to all of the National Football League’s 32 teams, as well as all of the sports media and any of #DraftTwitter that will be in attendance. (Sadly, I will not be in Mobile, Alabama, or the event due to academics, but I will be there in spirit). Consider the Senior Bowl, as my good friend Carter Donnick would say, as basically a glorified College Football all-star game. Players from Slippery Rock to Clemson will have a chance to improve their stock for the NFL Draft on April 26th through the 28th.

The North team, led by prospects like QB Drew Lock and SAF Nasir Adderley, will have Jon Gruden and the Raiders coaching staff while the South team, led by WR Deebo Samuel and EDGE Montez Sweat, will be coached by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers coaching staff. This may be an advantage for both teams, as they could be drafting a prospect from either squad come April.

I will admit, I haven’t watched maybe 40 to 45 percent of the prospects in Mobile so this week will be my first exposure to a lot of these guys.

As you can see above, I have already tweeted out my top prospects at each position. Every one of the players is either Top 5 or just outside of it at their respective positions. This year’s Senior Bowl has a lot of really good talent (however, next year’s will have better * insert shrug emoji*).

Now it’s time to highlight the prospects I’ll be watching very closely for this week. From the top prospects to the sleepers, here are my rankings!

Top 12 Prospects

  1. SAF Nasir Adderley, Delaware – Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that an FCS guy is your top prospect for the Senior Bowl? Why, yes I do. Not only is Adderley the best safety in Mobile, but he’s also the best prospect there, period. When you turn on his tape, it’s a damn highlight reel. Adderley possesses an elite combination of range, athleticism, coverage skills, and physicality. A big-time showing this week could make him a Top 15 selection.
  2. OT Yodney Cajuste, West Virginia – Now here’s a guy everyone loves. Yodney Cajuste is no-question one of Top 3 offensive tackles in the draft. Cajuste has excellent length, power, size, and mobility that teams crave on. He is not necessarily the best technician, but he can get the job done. Don’t piss him off, though, because he’ll sucker punch you…literally.
  3. EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State – Sweat is arguably the best pass rusher in Mobile and rightfully so. He’s a true 4-3 defensive end who can shut down the run and use an array of pass rush counters to get the QB. I’m excited to see him go up against Dalton Risner one again. REMATCH!
  4. EDGE Charles Omenihu, Texas – I’ve been pretty high on Omenihu for quite a few weeks now. Want a guy that can play anywhere on the defensive line? Omenihu is your guy. With an elite combination of length and explosiveness, he’s gonna wreck havoc on opposing lineman.
  5. iOL Dru Samia, Oklahoma – While he may be undersized, Dru Samia is a DAWG up front. He has amazing technique and athleticism plus he thrives as a space blocker. Samia has held his own against the likes of Omenihu and the elite Bama duo of Raekwon Davis and Quinnen Williams.
  6. iOL Dalton Risner, Kansas State – For many, Risner is the best interior offensive lineman in the draft and in Mobile. Risner is a very versatile prospect who can play at all five positions up front. He’s big, powerful, and very mobile with a high-level starter ceiling. I think he’s gonna dominate those that dare face him.
  7. iOL Michael Deiter, Wisconsin – Michael Deiter is the best prospect from Wisconsin’s talented OL. Like Risner, Dexter can play tackle, guard, and center, plus he has starting experience at all 3! In the NFL, I think he fits in a run-first offense with play-action at left guard. More questions should be answered throughout this week.
  8. CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State – Oruwariye is and has been in the discussion for CB1 of the NFL Draft. Crack open the tape and you will see why. Oruwariye has great closing-burst and length that teams would make the Seahawks front office drool.
  9. WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina – Samuel is the best receiver in Mobile, as we speak. The former Gamecock racked up 62 receptions for 882 yards and 11 TDs while showing off an excellent combination of route running skills and YAC ability. Samuel suffered an ankle injury that ended his 2017 campaign, which was probably the reason why he wasn’t as explosive and speedy as he was earlier. When healthy, Samuel is a big-time threat as a receiver, runner, and returner on special teams. Look for him to make a big impact this week.
  10. SAF Darnell Savage, Maryland – When I turned on Darnell Savage’s tape, I saw a dude that can play some football. His versatility is underrated as a defender, in my opinion, as I think he can play in the box or single-high in the MOF (middle of the field). Savage has the burst to make plays at the LOS and that’s what I’d be looking for in safeties if I were a coach. The only thing that concerns me is his ability to read and diagnose a play on a consistent basis. That’s something I will be keeping an eye on this week
  11. SAF Juan Thornhill, Virginia – If I could, I’d have Thornhill higher on this list. I love his versatility, ball skills, and physicality. He’s smart and has a very high football IQ. There are so many things to love about Thornhill as a prospect. However, he doesn’t have the range you want in a safety and he just looks kinda stiff on film. If he can put on a good showing in Mobile, no doubt he will be a Top 3 safety for me when all is said and done.
  12. DL Isaiah Buggs, Alabama – Isaiah Buggs seems to be the forgotten man from Alabama’s insanely talented defensive line. When Buggs is on, he’s ON. He dominates the line of scrimmage like nobody’s business and has violent hands and strength to knock opposing lineman off-balance. But can he consistently do that at the next level? That’s something to watch for during practice and the game on Saturday.

Top 5 Senior Bowl Prospects with the Most to Prove

  1. QB Daniel Jones, Duke – Jones is easily one of the favorites on Draft Twitter and has been for months. They praise his accuracy and decision-making. But when I’ve watched, I’m left with wanting more. I was high on Jones earlier in the season and he did suffer a shoulder injury, which might be why he seemed passive at times. A big showing this week could evaluate his draft stock tremendously.
  2. SAF Nasir Adderley – I know, he’s my top prospect at the Senior Bowl. So what does he have to prove? Many folks would like to see how Adderley’s play translates to playing against FBS-like competition compared to the FCS level. If he checks out, he’s going to walk out of the Senior Bowl as one of the most talked about prospects from Mobile.
  3. EDGE Charles Omenihu – So…notice how I have Omenihu as an EDGE rusher and he’s listed as a defensive lineman on the North’s roster? That’s what teams are concerned about with him: what is Omenihu’s true place on the defensive line? I currently see him as a 5-technique with the ability to play at a 1 or 3-tech if needed. The teams and scouts want to see where he’s most comfortable this week. Either way, it could mess with his draft stock just a bit.
  4. DL Daylon Mack, Texas A&M – After dominating during the Shrine Game practices last week, Mack got the call to Mobile. The former 5-star recruit will finally get his chance to show his talent and potential to all of the NFL world this week. On film, Mack showcases incredible burst off the snap, hand usage, and athleticism. But his pass rush plan is still a work-in-progress. Mack is currently as a late 3rd-round value for me at the moment. A good, promising week could make that 3rd-round value higher
  5. CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple – You know what they say: you can’t teach length and size. That’s what Rock Ya-Sin (a Top 5 draft pick if we are going off best names) is all about. He has a good ability to track the football and has great coverage skills in zone. But he’s more of a liability against the run and just looks stiff in the hips from what I’ve seen of him. Like Daniel Jones, I’m sometimes left wanting more from him and that is what I want to see this week.

10 Senior Bowl Sleepers

WR Jakobi Myers, N.C. State – Missed out on A.J. Brown in the draft? Myers is your guy. He’s a big slot receiver who is a very nuanced route runner with reliable hands (92 catches for the Wolfpack this season). Look for him to emerge as a mid-round favorite.

iOL Erik McCoy, Texas A&M – McCoy is someone that I haven’t watched enough to have an opinion on, but my guy J.T. Olson has him as iOL1. From the clips I’ve seen on Twitter, McCoy is big and powerful at the point of attack. The Senior Bowl will be my first exposure to McCoy and I’m excited to get my first true look at him.

OT Dennis Daley, South Carolina – Daley’s tools are very intriguing. He shut down guys like Josh Allen and Clelin Ferrell this season. I love his strength and technique, but his footwork is a mess. In other words, he’s the other Greg Little of this the draft. Expect him to receive more hype after this week.

CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky – Yo, Seattle! I found the perfect corner for you guys. At 6-3, 206 lbs, Johnson Jr. is easily the biggest corner in Mobile. I haven’t watched enough of him to have a solid opinion, but his length and size is fascinating. Like to see how he does in 1v1s against guys like Deebo Samuel, Hunter Renfrow, and Gary Jennings. Speaking of Jennings…

WR Gary Jennings, West Virginia – Jennings is the 2nd best receiver in Mobile in my opinion. I love his combination of size and athleticism plus his versatility on offense. Jennings could very well help improve not only his draft stock, but Will Grier’s as well.

RB Ryquell Armstead, Temple – I saw a Maurice Jones-Drew comparison for Armstead the other day and it fits perfectly. He has great burst and quick feet as a runner. I like him as an early Day 3 pick and he could provide depth at the RB position for anyone.

TE Donald Parham, Stetson – Can you say freak of nature? That’s exactly what Donald Parham is. At 6-8, 240 lbs, Parham was one of the unstoppable forces in the FCS. He is very raw but has the tools to be a future starter at the next level.

EDGE Bryan Cowart, Maryland – Cowart is a former 5-star who didn’t really get things together until he landed in Maryland. He could be one of the most gifted athletes in the draft. This week will be my first exposure to Cowart.

My Favorite Prospect That No One Is Talking About: CB Mark Fields, Clemson

As a Clemson fan who has watched every one of their games, I can tell you that Mr. Fields is talented. He didn’t get a lot of playing time, but he got the call to Mobile for a reason. Despite being a smaller corner at 5-11, 185 lbs, Fields has great length and intriguing man coverage skills that he showed in the National Championship against the Crimson Tide with a few key PBUs. I can’t wait for him to match up against Deebo Samuel in 1v1 drills.

5 Prospects I’m Keeping a VERY Close Eye On

OT Oli Udoh, Elon – One word to describe Udoh? HUGE. At 6-5, 356 lbs (!), He’s easily the biggest offensive lineman in Mobile. He dominated the Shrine Game last week in Tampa and I’m glad he got the call to the Senior Bowl. Expect Udoh to get reps at both tackle and guard this week.

QB Tyree Jackson, Buffalo – I’m old enough to remember the Tyree Jackson-Cam Newton takes that were made back in the summer. Jackson has a lot to prove to in terms of mechanics, footwork, and field vision. Jackson, though, is a great with the football when he has the opportunity to run with it plus an absolute CANNON of a right arm. If Jackson can show improvement this week, the hype for him will get very, very loud.

iOL B.J. Autry, Jacksonville State – Yes, Carter, Autry is a UNIT! I love his power at the POA and how he just destroys whoever dares face him. He’s very mobile for a guy his size and he looks like the perfect run-blocking interior offensive lineman. Be on a lookout for him on the Jon Gruden-led South team.

WR Andy Isabella, UMass – Isabella is basically your typical slot receiver…but he can FLY. He was a track star in the 100m in high school and could legit run a 4.3 second 40-yard dash. I love his soft hands and nuanced route running. As long as he doesn’t have to make a contested catch, he’s gonna be a nice slot guy in the NFL.

DL Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois – Saunders doesn’t just do backflips, he dominated defensive lines on a consistent basis for. His go-to pass rush move is the swim move that you can see in the clip above. For someone that’s 310+ pounds, this dude is quick and athletic. Watch his draft stock skyrocket after this week. He’s good, folks.

That’s it for my Senior Bowl preview. This year’s group is deep with talent at every position. This week should be fun to watch and the game on Saturday should be even better! I wish I was there this year, but I will definitely attempt to come next year without a doubt.

If you have any questions about the Senior Bowl or the draft, shoot me a tweet or DM me @JrodDraftScout.

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