The Senior Bowl offers a lot to gain for evaluators, both on and off the field. While most of our notes made our daily reports during our Senior Bowl coverage, some stuff was just too ancillary to be fit in anywhere in particular, and some stuff were week-long takeaways that took all of the practice to gather.
Here’s our week-long notes about the game, including special teams notes, combine projections and expectations, leadership roles, and a final note on drug use during the all-star circuit.
-As someone pointed out to me, revisiting the invite process of the Senior Bowl this year produces surprising results. First off, it's amazing that Jimmy Garoppolo was a late invite, as he left the event as clearly one of the three best passers there. He replaced AJ McCarron, who would have needed to be REALLY bad to not be one of the best 2-3 passers there. Aaron Murray didn't participate due to injury, but the fact that he was there likely helped his goodwill with teams, and likely leaves the event as the 4th best quarterback who attended, despite not throwing a pass.
-Telvin Smith had a strange incident to start the week. At his weigh in, where he had a slight frame, he cruised (almost with a hop to his step) past the scale where he needed to be weighed, despite seeing over 50 players follow the path he needed to take. When his weight was official (a mere 215 pounds, awfully low for a linebacker), Smith put his hands up like he won a boxing match. I don't know what exactly to make of it, but combining that with his personality, attitude, interview notes, and more leads to more questions than answers about what's going on in the head of Telvin Smith.
-Utah State’s Nevin Lawson was really impressive all week as a gunner on punt return and seemed to take kickoff very seriously. He was arguably the best special teamer of the week from what I saw. Combine that with his physicality as a nickel cornerback this week, and Lawson may have earned a draft spot after Mobile.
-Aaron Colvin’s injury was terrible to see. As the receiver cut on a deep post, Colvin turned on his knee awkwardly and went down. His torn ACL diagnosis is frustrating, and may push him well into Day Three despite having a strong week before. Still, this shouldn’t be a detraction for future players to attend the game. One freak injury shouldn’t out-weigh the value the game provides.
-Adrian Hubbard was rendered position-less after practice this week. He has awesome size and body type, but he simply looked lost playing any defensive position. He’s too stiff to play linebacker, doesn’t have success as a pass rusher, and seemed to lack defensive football IQ on the field. He’s earned a 7th round “flier” grade for us.
-Georgia tight end/H-Back Arthur Lynch looked very slow as a route runner. Potentially too slow. He looked like a 5.00 tight end prospect, which, in this tight end class, could push him almost out of the draft entirely.
-Crockett Gilmore was a Shrine Game call up, and he really wowed as a blocker on Wednesday. The Jaguars coaches were very impressed, and they joined NFL scouts near the fence in laughing at how successful he was against Adrian Hubbard.
-Representatives of Will Sutton told me that he played at 285 his junior year when he was productive. The coaching staff asked him to bulk up to 325. Since the end of the season, he’s dropped 10 pounds, aims to be at 300 or less by the Combine. If that’s the case, Sutton’s grade may be more worthwhile to get from his junior film than his unexpectedly average senior film.
-Wesley Johnson struggled mightily at tackle during the week, and he showed during practice that he’s strictly an interior zone blocking lineman. That being said, he could be a solid rotational/depth interior lineman, including potentially offering value at center and both guard spots.
-Auburn’s Dee Ford was very impressive in pass rushing drills thanks to his elite quickness initially and speed off the edge for the position. However, keep in mind that edge drills like that almost always favor speed rushers. Offensive tackles in that drill are in a very tough position because they can’t account for where their QB would like to roll to in the pocket, don’t have any tight end help, and don’t have the luxury of a running back chip.
-Michael Campanaro of Wake Forest caught punts as well as any during the week of practice. At one point, he caught a punt…with a ball already in his hands. Not an easy task.
-Jimmie Ward is from Mobile, Alabama, so he had local support. Ward actually had a cheering section on Tuesday and Wednesday that was heard throughout the stadium. Imagine if AJ McCarron had attended the event.
-Ra’Shede Hageman of Minnesota and Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska looked uninspired during drills at different stages of the week, and was constantly yelled at for not finishing drills.
-I always do my best to note which players take leadership roles during the week of practice. Tajh Boyd, Derek Carr, Will Sutton, Kyle Van Noy, and Jordan Zumwalt all appeared to garner respect from the teammates they practiced with.
-The following players were Shrine Game to Senior Bowl call-up. All of them not only made the most of their Shrine performances, but actually raised their draft value even higher in Mobile: Pierre Desir, Justin Ellis, Jemea Thomas, Gabe Ikard, Will Clarke, and Crockett Gilmore.
-I’ve heard from a source that one player was caught with an illegal drug during the week of the Senior Bowl, and a handful of others were smoking during the Shrine Game week. The Senior Bowl name wasn’t disclosed to me, but it’s a cautionary tale to potential NFL players: If you’re stupid enough to do something illegal during the biggest interview of your football career, you’ll learn the lesson that NFL teams almost always find out what they need to on you.
-Check who the Senior Bowl annouced as their practice winners this year. Last year, the featured winner was Eric Fisher.