NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Today’s Senior Bowl marks the last time any of these college players will be in pads until their first rookie camp after the draft. For the past few days we have been able to watch these guys in practice, including individual drills. If you have followed the coverage on TV or read anything from the various draft enthusiast that are actually in Mobile, then you already know some of the players that have stood out. Here is some things that stood out for me and what I will be looking for from today’s game.
Getting down to Mobile and experiencing Senior Bowl week is definitely on my bucket list, but for now the TV coverage will just have to do. Besides the practice getting moved back and my DVR cutting off a portion of the first practice, I feel like the coverage was pretty good and we were able to get a good sense of what players were excelling and which ones may have disappointed. For me, here are some guys that I thought helped and hurt their stock this week.
Braxton Miller, WR– There may not be a player who helped himself more than Miller. From what I can see and what I read, he was virtually unguardable. He showed amazing agility in and out of cuts and displayed really good hands. For a player who has limited experience at the position, he was clearly the best WR down in Mobile this week. I think he has a real chance to be drafted in Round 1 come April.
Noah Spence, DE– Spence was the most dominant player on the defensive side of the ball this week. He showed explosive speed and bend off the edge and solidified himself as the best pass rusher in this draft. If teams are comfortable that his drug issues are in the past, then he is a borderline top 10 pick.
Sheldon Rankins, DT– Rankins was constantly getting into the backfield from his interior position. He showed active hands and a heavy punch with surprising quickness and agility for a guy his size.
Harlan Miller, CB– A small school guy that I had put on my list of guys I really wanted to watch this week and he did not disappoint. He has very quick feet and loose hips to get in and out of cuts smoothly. Even though he is from a smaller school, he did not let the jump in competition get to him. He was physical and aggressive in all the drills.
Jihad Ward, DE/DT– Ward showed great speed and power down in Mobile this week. That, along with his impressive size (6’5″, 297 Lbs.) makes him very intriguing going forward. He did not really show up in Illinois game tape, so that is a bit concerning, but if he can show teams that his performance in practice was not a fluke,then he could move up.
Bronson Kaufusi, DE– Kaufusi might have been my favorite player I watched this week and I cannot wait to go watch some BYU games. He has a great combination of size, speed, and power. He was very active and a very smooth mover for his size. Kaufusi is what I think people want Shawn Oakman to be.
Others who impressed:
Nick Vannett, TE
Darian Thompson, S
Tavon Young, CB
Reggie Ragland, LB
Jerell Adams, TE
Spencer Drango, OT– Drango really struggled with speed this week and I think he is going to have to move to Guard to play in the NFL.
All the QB’s (except Carson Wentz)– Besides Wentz, none of the QB’s did anything to impress me. They all seemed slow with their reads and either struggled with arm strength or accuracy.
Shawn Oakman, DE– Oakman really lacks power in his lower half of his body to generate any sort of push. He was one of the few guys who struggled to win in the individual drills and despite his impressive size, I just don’t think he has the strength to be an effective every down player in the NFL.
Kyle Murphy, OT– This one hurt a bit personally. I was high on Murphy coming into the week, but he seemed to struggle in one on one drills as well. To be honest, most of the Tackles did this week, which was disappointing. Murphy seemed to get off balance and bend at the waist far too much, which didn’t really show up on his tape. I will be interested to see how he plays in the game today.
Others who left me with more questions than answers:
Kyler Fackrell, DE/OLB: not sure they put him in the best position this week
Leonte Carroo, WR: up and down week it sounded like
Deondre’ Hall, CB: Love his size, length, and competitiveness, but looked a bit stiff in and out of cuts.
Those are just a few observation I had from the week of practice. There are other players that flashed both good and bad, but the guys listed above are the ones who I felt did it consistently throughout the week. It will be interesting to see who excels when the action is live.
Who are you guys looking forward to seeing today? I am looking forward to seeing the Running Backs because I think practice is tough for them to show off their skills. I also will be interested in watching some of the Wide Receiver vs. Cornerback matchups.
Happy Football one last time.