What to look for at the Senior Bowl

The game kicks off today at 1:30 central time today.

The game kicks off today at 1:30 central time today.

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.










33 Responses to “What to look for at the Senior Bowl”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    2) QB/WR Braxton Miller-Ohio St.
    3) DE/OLB Charles Tapper-Okla.
    3) comp OT John Theus-UGA
    4)CB Maurice Canady-Virginia
    5) comp SS Jayron Kearse-Clemson
    6) LB Victor Ochi-Stony Brook
    6) DT DJ Reader-Clemson
    7) RB Devon Johnson-Marshall
    7) FB/ST Soma Vainuku-USC

  2. Bolt100 says:

    my mock draft:

    2-Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
    3-Artie Burns, CB, Miami
    3-Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
    4-Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford
    5-Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Kansas State
    6-Alex Barr, G, N.C. State
    6-Elijah Shumate, S, Notre Dame
    7-Silverberry Mouhon, DE, Cincinnati
    7-Byron Marshall, WR/RB, Oregon

  3. Russell says:

    MIKE; I have a prospect for you to consider, Joe Gore Right Tackle Clemson 6’6 300 lbs. He has a TE type body (looks 290lbs) with long wing span. Very athletic, quickness and good foot work. Time in the 40 yd. 4.94-5.04, hand use OK, reaches a little to lose balance. Solid run blocker use’s good angles, gets to the second level. Two years experience, knee injury early in his career. Out of high school listed as #28 in the country as a DE by Rivals, #16 by 247sports.com. listed as #20 OT in the country, with a large body of tape. Missed a couple blocks in Alabama game, but showed quickness to stop edge rushers. NOT NFL ready but a Patriot type prospect currently listed 6-7th round draft pick. I think 4th-5th round better place to get him. I list him as an over-all scout grade of 5.7 (Tuerk is 5.6 by other scouts,) I think Tuerk depending on rehab is more like 6.0. (Tuerk is currently at 271 lbs)

  4. steve earle says:

    The more I think about the poor performance of the OT’s at the Sr.Bowl the question that comes into my mind is why? Were the edge rushers all just that good or were the OT’s just that bad? All these guys were extensivly scouted and given pretty good grades by the scouts. Are the scouts at fault, did they just follow the hype by the schools pr sections? Something doesn’t seem right to me, don’t know what, or maybe it was just a strange game? Any thoughts out there? Is it just me?

    • Russell says:

      STEVE: I think it’s better to look at team’s game tape, (agains’t Alabama, Clemson, etc.) of a large body of work, not just the senior bowl. The Defense is “all-Pro” at the senior bowl, but it’s worth remembering O-Lineman play better the more they play together as a group. Senior bowl is different system, coaches, QB’s etc.
      The only thing I look at the Senior Bowl when “scouting” is; hand use, Balance, footwork, nasty-ness, (Theus was the best) and ability agains’t better players. At OT- Spriggs (my grade 6.1) was the best of the group, it drops-off after that, but Theus ( my grade 5.4) was next on my list, both at Left Tackle.

  5. Jeff says:

    On Drango, the consensus seems to be that he sucked at tackle this week, but that he could still move to guard. Does he project as a good guard, with his only issue being his movement at tackle? With the Pats first pick at the end of the second, guard is one of the only positions that they might still get a good chance at a good starter. Receivers, tackles, and cornerbacks are all going to have at least some significant question marks at that point in the draft. Is Drango worth a 2nd if you don’t want him playing guard?

    I think one of the problems for the Pats in the AFC championship was that even when our tackles pushed the DEs wide into the backfield, Brady had no space to step up because our guards were giving up so much ground in the pocket on nearly every play. Denver’s interior line is very good, but not so elite that our interior guys should have struggled that badly. Without a high pick, this may be the time to try to get a really good interior lineman that can create space for Brady to step up when the tackles can’t get a wide enough arc on the DEs.

    • steve earle says:

      This is only my take on you question of Drago Jeff, but I think there are a number of OG’s in the draft already that would be rated higher then Drago and as is usual OG’s do not draft real high and a number of them could be available where we will pick in the 2nd. That’s not saying Drago will not be any good just that if your looking only at this one guy at the exculision of all others it’s probably a mistake. You are right that the elite OT prospects will go early, they always do, that doesn’t mean none can be projected as developmental players just not year one guys. These would be mid round picks or later. As for skill positions it’s generally considered that a couple WR’s, Sterling Shepherd and Pharoh Cooper could be available to us in the second. These guys do not fit the desired size pereferance but both are productive and well regarded otherwise. Either with a couple inches added to their height would draft late first, early second.
      On your game observations I saw it differently then you. Our OT”s seldom were able to push the outside rushers out and away from Brady. Volmer and co. were lucky to get even one weak handed push on rushers which did little or nothing to change their course directly to our QB. This observation does nothing to say our OG’s didn’t have their finest hour. Yet for most of the season our line did a decent job pass blocking where we failed was at run blocking. I see no excuse that pro linemen on an otherwise top NFL team should provide the worst run blocking in the league. jmo.

  6. Ryan says:

    My first mock of the year:

    2nd: RB Alex Collins
    3rd: WR Rashard Higgins
    3rd: OT Joe Haeg
    4th: LB Joe Schobert
    5th: DT Matt Ioannidis
    6th: OT Tyler Johnstone
    6th: WR Devin Lucien
    7th: OG Joe Dahl
    7th: CB Ken Crawley

    • Russell says:

      Good looking Mock. Schobert will have a great Combine wait and see!! Not sure about Tyler Johnstone injuries have slowed him down, not sure he could make it in the NFL.

      • Ryan says:

        Schobert seems like a hidden gem right now. Johnstone seems like he could’ve been a 2nd or 3rd rounder without his injury. I think a good compromise at tackle is the risk of Johnstone coupled with the potentially lower ceiling of Haeg. Right now, Collins seems like one of the only reasonable options for our 2nd-rounder, as the top tackles will be off the board by that point and no position besides running back has as dire a need.

        • steve earle says:

          I was interested that you chose RB Collins in the 2nd. Looked him up and if his habit of fumbling can be corrected ( like bill did with Faulk) he sounds like a nice possability. Good job Ryan.

    • steve earle says:

      And it’s a good one. You made good picks at the right spots covering positions needing reenforcements. Nice job Ryan!

  7. Russell says:

    I think it’s Important to remember, one senior bowl game does not equal a season’s worth of game tape. OT Kyle Murphy played LOT most of his career, he was moved to ROT for the senior bowl. Coach Belichick stated once, “some guys can move from the left side of the O-line to the right, others have more difficulty with that type of change.”
    Other players were playing different positions as well, which should be noted.
    CB Canady looked better playing up tight, with hand fighting. His college tape is 90% playing off coverage as part of the scheme at Virginia.
    I think it’s important to evaluate every thing you see, when trying to judge a prospect.

    • steve earle says:

      That’s a good point Russell, I hadn’t considered that at all. What’s your eval of Murphy’s ability to move to RT in the long view? My other OT mocked was LaRaven Clark. He was playing his usual LT so that excuse can’t be valid for him. One straw I grasping at is perhaps playing with a “hand in the dirt” effected him. What do you think? Still I think LaRavin moved down on my board.

      • Russell says:

        oooh I would stay away from OT Clark, great size, 36″ arms! But he needs a lot of work, I would not go there…
        Murphy at ORT may not work for him, one game and some practice’s hard to judge. I think his feet are just not that quick.
        Interestingly Cody Whitehair did not get very high interesting in the senior bowl with short arms 31″. BUT if your read his scouting report they talk about him being a safe draft pick and an “All-Pro”, with a grade of 6.4 I think he’s a G but will watch his status. Green Bay will likely draft him in the 2nd round.
        The best two O-lineman with quick feet that could be Patriots, are; Tuerk, and Westerman, and only Tuerk could be an OT.
        Still thinking LB Joshua Perry is the 2nd round pick. Coach Belichick could surprise and move-up to get him.

        • steve earle says:

          Yea I have Clark down in my 6th box behind two others there right now. Agree Murphy looked real bad at RT and hes back into a 4th box now, still wonder if he could make the transition after some time and good coaching? I’ve taken your advice and moved Tuerk up to top of my 3rd box where I had Murphy. Not a day one starter but has some upside.

  8. Jose Marques says:

    my mock 2.0 :

    2-Jerald Hawkins OT LSU
    3-Scooby Wright lll LB Arizona
    3-Maurice Canady CB Virginia
    4-Leonte Carroo WR Rutgers
    5-Glenn Gronkowski FB Kansas State
    6-Alex Barr G N.C. State
    6-Theiren Cockran DE Minnesota
    7-Quinton Jefferson DT Maryland

    *Outro jogador que tem mostrado muito potencial é o WR braxton miller mas eu penso que ele será escolhido mais cedo. outro jogador interessante e bastante semelhante ao braxton seria Keenan Reynolds QB/RB/WR é um jogador com potencial necessita de trabalho ao mais alto nivel e os patriots seriam a equipa ideal.

    • Jose Marques says:

      *Another player who has shown great potential is the WR Braxton Miller but I think it will be sooner chosen. Another interesting player and quite similar to Braxton would Keenan Reynolds QB / RB / WR is a potential player needs to work at the highest level and the patriots would be the ideal team. Sorry in english now

  9. steve earle says:

    Mike, did you miss Eric Murray? Yes he gave up one long catch but he was hitting guys all over the place, swing passes outside runs. He’s one of my favorites, soft spot for CB’s that come up and wack people.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Eric Murray was the exact same player that I scouted earlier. Physical player that can be too grabby at times. I want to see what his 3 cone is at the combine because while I think he has good speed and he shows good burst coming back to the ball he still looks limited to me in his overall COD.
      He did have a nice week, still seems like a Day 3 guy, but earlier rather than later. Could sneak into the late 3rd, but like him better in the 4th.
      He has to get better with his hands. WAY too grabby downfield. He will make Brandon Browner proud with all the penalties he will rack up if he doesn’t clean that up.

      • steve earle says:

        I could see him in our 3rd, thats will almost be a high 4th, if you think that grabby buisness can be reduced by coaching, or is it to ingrained? I do like the way he comes up and wacks guys.

  10. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft.
    2 Ryan Kelly C Alabama
    3 William Fuller WR Notre Dame
    3 John Theus OT Georgia
    4 Tyler Matakevich ILB Temple
    5 Glen Gronkowski FB/TE Kansas St.
    6 Justin Simmons S Boston College
    7 Dwayne Washington RB Washington
    7 Jason Fanaika DE Utah

    Pats will be stronger than ever next year time to move on
    from LaFell, Stork, Silga, Chandler. Chandler Jones should be signed very talented and will
    only get better. Very much liked new Guards they will only get better. Garoppolo will have
    a lot of trade talk as he is better than any Quarterback in 2016 Draft.
    Bring on the Red Sox and David Price!

    • steve earle says:

      Interesting mock Dan but I know you can do better. About all those guys your letting go, some are still under contract and we take a cap hit it we release them and they don’t get picked up. At least that’s the way I think it works? I do agree with your list though just wish we had more space under the cap.
      Russell keeps thinking Mayo may retire giving us a little more room. As I understand it Mayo got an extension and is under contract til 2018 but if I’m right Pats have an option on last two years. Not sure exactly what if that entails? Can Pats just void last two and get out from under cap hit?
      Anyway, if Mayo “retires” and becomes Pats LB coach I’d suggest that Rolando McClain is a UFA. 28yo experanced vet. not a huge contract right jnow. Could Bill be interested?

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        Here is my best adjustment on recent draft and some players I think we should try
        and get some late round picks for. It would be nice if Patriots could bring back
        Dante’ Scarnecchia he seemed to really develop offensive lineman. I like
        Shea McClellin of Bears as possible free agent.

        Mock Draft.
        2 Jason Spriggs OT Indiana
        3 Kenny Lawler WR California
        3 Jack Allen C Michigan State
        4 Wendall Smallwood RB West Virginia
        5 Glenn Gronkowski TE Kansas State
        6 Justin Simmons S Boston College
        7 Rodney Hardrick ILB Oregon
        7 Quinton Jefferson DT Maryland.

        I had to keep same 5th and 6th as I like those picks.
        Take Care.

        • steve earle says:

          Yea Dan. Told you you could do better. I love Spriggs if he’s available there. We didn’t believe Brown would slide down to us last year so it’s possable. OC Allen is a quality guy but with two young OC’s already aboard are you thinking he moves to OG or one of them do? I say yes to Smallwood, Gronkowski and Simmons, all good prospects. Don’t know much about your two 7ths, have to look them up. Overall a fine mock.

    • steve earle says:

      As I think on it Dan it probably to soon to move on from Stork. Give him a year or two more to prove himself I think. Pretty sure we have see the last of Blount, LaFell, Windell, and Wilson though.

  11. steve earle says:

    Cripes! Both the OT’s I mocked (Murphy and Clark) looked like they had lead boots on their feet half the snaps. This draft looks like it’s going to be really hard to find any OT’s that we could have any real hopes for. Better to look for a FA or go late rounds and pray.

  12. Russell says:

    I don’t get NFL network but I did see a little of the game, OT Spriggs getting beat around the edge by Spence. Spriggs looked slow and gave up…..Murphy was sad, Theus not much better.
    Patriots clearly are not interested in this group of OT’s. These guys just don’t move their feet well. Gee sad, Spriggs did well in practice but…..
    Tuerk looking better all the time, he maybe light, but gee he move his feet.

    • steve earle says:

      Could be right on Tuerk, how is he on rehab now? He has the height and might be able to add some mussel weight when 100%. Moving him up on my board and hoping he’s able to do the job.

  13. Mike Gerken says:

    You are right on Spriggs, he was the best. He is struggling a bit in the game, but I agree, I think he goes 1st round and maybe even the 3rd Tackle off the board.
    Deon Jones has had a nice week and a nice game so far as well.

  14. Russell says:

    Good report, but you missed OT Jason Spriggs. He was the best OT by farrrrrrr. very impressed with him, should be a 1st-early 2nd pick.
    DT Vernon Butler also impressed me very strong quick for a 325lb guy! Also a 1st-2nd round pick.
    TE Nick Vannett was better than I projected, on tape his blocking is very good, but his ability running routes looked sharp and catching the ball was good ,BIG hands. I think 2nd-3d round for him.
    Jihad Ward looked very good as Mike points out. His College tape has him playing DT, he would have been better at DE. He hurt his ankle and will not play. He helped him self for sure, I moved him up my Patriots draft board. 2nd round.
    The only CB I though stood out was Maurice Canady, and I would say he helped himself. (unless he gets smoked in the game)
    Good report Mike thanks for keeping us up-dated!!

    • J H TARBORO says:

      good eye Russell, DT Vernon Butler was my favorite player of the Senior Bowl. He was one of the biggest, strongest, and most disruptive of the game. Flying under the radar is Clemson’s DT DJ Reader, i re-watched the national championship game ALA vs. CLEM. DJ really anchored that DLine well.

  15. steve earle says:

    Drago has been getting that kind of eval’s sense this time last year as I recall so not a shock. Kyle Murphy on the other hand I expected a much better performance from. Darn, there goes my mock the other day. Looks like it’s Antwione Williams for my 3a spot now. Really though that’s not such a bad thing espically if Mayo retires or otherwise is not playing for us this year.

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