2014 Senior Bowl: Day One Practice Notes

Aaron Donald impressed on day one of the Senior Bowl.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

A crazy day at the Senior Bowl is in the books. Prospects were busy all day trying to impress coaches and media, both on the field and in interviews. The day started with a weigh-in, transitioned to a physical South Practice run by Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, moved onto a North Practice that lacked intensity and flow, finally the day wrapped up with media night.

At the end of such a busy day, it’s clear some players stood out from the rest for being a cut above the rest. These are my practice notes and thoughts on day one at the Senior Bowl.

1. None of the QB play was exceptional. I heard multiple NFL personnel men suggest none of these players will be franchise QBs. The QBs on the North Squad were just flat out bad. Logan Thomas was inconsistent and couldn’t gear down on touch throws, Tajh Boyd was inconsistent and Stephen Morris was just plain terrible. It’s clear after day one that Derek Carr is a cut above the other guys. His movements and motions are cleaner, crisper, and tighter than the rest. He throws the ball with good zip and placement, on top of that he will WOW teams with his interviews. Unless the other QBs turn it on the next 3 days, Derek Carr runs away with this thing.

2. Aaron Donald isn’t messing around. He showcased ridiculous quickness off the ball and dominated Cyril Richardson on back to back plays. Donald’s quickness and hand usage put Richardson on his backside. Donald himself, referenced Geno Atkins as a player he models his game after. As he called it “an undersized, disruptive tackle”. Once the full pads go on look for Donald to separate himself even more. He’s my top guy here.

3. Princeton DT Caraun Reid plays with violence and bad intentions. During bag drills he was nearly ripping the bags apart with his violent and sudden strikes. I can tell you one thing, NFL scouts were impressed with A) How he weighed in and B) His movement skills in practice. It doesn’t hurt that he is the smartest kid in the room too.

4. The best WR for my money today was Wyoming’s Robert Herron. Jordan Matthews looked decent, but he dropped a few too many passes and struggled running past defenders. Herron caught everything thrown to him, made quick, sudden, explosive breaks, and caught the ball in traffic. Even when defenders held and grabbed him he showed strength to get open and make a contested catch. Get on board this train now, he will rise up draft boards and end up being the best slot WR in the draft.

5. It’s tough not to be impressed by Jordan Matthews work ethic. He runs everything to the endzone, shows up early to practice and stays late. He was also the most physically impressive player at the weigh-in. Probably a product of him working out with his uncle Jerry Rice.

6. Aaron Colvin was the best corner on the South squad and it wasn’t really close. He was balanced, patient, and quick when playing from the line of scrimmage and carried his coverage deep downfield. He found the ball nicely and broke up a few passes when matched up in man with Jordan Matthews. When playing off, he allowed a few receptions due to split second hesitation, but got himself in position to make a tackle. Fluid hips and mid-section, he helped himself today.

7. Dee Ford can explode off his first step and bend around the edge like none other I saw today. When he gets a jump off the ball he’s tough for the OL to get hands on with because he can bend the edge so well. He’s been knocked for lacking power and size, but he rag-dolled Vanderbilt OL Wesley Johnson and just slammed him to the ground. Ford weighed in at 6022/243 so the move to OLB has to happen.

8. Seantrel Henderson could become a superstar talent if it every comes together. He needs to go to the right spot and get coached up, but he’s probably the most naturally gifted player here. He was a weigh-in warrior carrying his 337 pounds extremely well and sporting over and 84″ wingspan. In one on one drills Henderson was able to get his hands on a defender, lock on and just annihilate defenders. He gets very sloppy with technique at the second level and loses balance. But, my god, the sky is the limit if he puts it together. The problem is, we’ve been saying this for a long time now and it’s yet to happen.

9. Kyle Van Noy had a real strong practice in coverage. He’s instinctive and showed good hands on ability at the line of scrimmage. He shadowed TEs down the slot, followed the ball, and got his hands on a couple passes. Van Noy was a great interview and comes off as a talented, motivated, smart football player driven to be great. When pads go on, he could shine even brighter.

10. Notre Dame OL Zack Martin showed why he is the most talented lineman here. He’s just solid all-around. Doesn’t have the best measurables, doesn’t look particularly good going through reps, but no one can beat him. Martin’s future should be at OG where he has an All-Pro ceiling.

11. Chris Borland looks like Zach Thomas on the field. Even the way he sits in his stance prior to the snap looks like Thomas. It didn’t take him long to make an impact. His first 7 on 7 rep resulted in a pass break-up and later he intercepted Logan Thomas when he gunned a touch pass to Charles Sims. Borland is just under 6 feet tall, but I could care less about his size. He will make an impact in the NFL.

12. Montana LB Jordan Tripp didn’t look out of place. He looked strong in coverage, reacted quickly, and made multiple plays. Don’t be surprised to see him start to rise up draft boards as people become more familiar with him.

Other things that stood out today:

– Jimmie Ward looking like and moving like a cornerback. He’s fluid, quick, and took reps at both safety positions today.

– The Billy Turner hype is real. He turned in a great performance taking on all comers. I ranked him in my top 30 Senior Bowlers and he’s already moved up that list.

– Josh Huff showcased excellent vertical speed, running right by cornerbacks and exhibiting soft hands making over the shoulder catches.

– The majority of the North corners can’t cover. It’s probably because they are all future safeties in the NFL. The one corner that looked promising is Pierre Desir. He’s got easy, deep speed, with length to frustrate offensive players.

– Jack Mewhort had a strong day and drew strong reviews for his play

– Down day for Marcel Jensen, Kareem Martin, all of the north QBs, and Daniel McCullers

– The full pads go on tomorrow and you can expect more comprehensive notes and more twitter updates.

– Didn’t get a real long look at the South OL today, but from what I saw Ju’Waun James looked athletic and quick to mirror outside rushers

– Arthur Lynch was the best TE that I saw today. Caught the ball well and separated from coverage at the top of his routes.

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9 Responses to “2014 Senior Bowl: Day One Practice Notes”

  1. newenglandsports11 says:

    What round will Dee Ford go in?

  2. brian says:

    Aaron Colvin tore his ACL today, hopefully he makes a full recovery but it can’t be good news for his draft stock.

  3. Jibri says:

    1. Ra’Shede Hageman,DT, Minnesota
    2. Calvin Pryor,SS,Louisville
    3. Stanley Jean-Baptiste,CB,Nebraska
    4. Xavier Grimble,TE,USC
    6a. Bryan Stork,C,FSU
    6b Josh Huff,WR,Oregon
    7. Chris Davis,CB,Auburn

  4. steve earle says:

    I’m loving this. The more good reports we”re getting the more I’m thinking this could be the best draft in a decade or more. Plus it’s looking rich in areas of Pat’s needs.

  5. J H TARBORO says:

    Day 2 standouts
    DT Justin Ellis Louisiana Tech
    OC Weston Richburg Colorado St.
    OT Morgan Moses Virginia
    CB Aaron Colvin OKLA.
    CB Pierre Desir Lindenwood
    S Jimmie Ward Northern Illinois

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    DT Aaron Donald Pitt is the truth! Dominated OG Cyril Richardson Baylor on speed and power moves and weighs 55lbs less.
    DT RaShede Hageman Minn. huge and dominant!
    DT Caraun Reid Princeton explosive get get off and violent hands.

  7. dslave says:

    I’m anxious to see a report on Daquan Jones from Penn St. His size, and ability to hold the point of attack, plus his ability to penetrate is something sorely lacking on the depth chart as the off season has begun. I’m not going to pretend I have a ranking for him, but from what I saw, this young man fits the Pats scheme in a 4-3 or 3-4.

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