Day 2 of the Senior Bowl was a flurry of activity. Weigh-ins, meet the media, and the first on-field practices. Let’s dive right in with my notes from the day.
The first half of the day consisted of various media availability for all the players, as well as the coaches.
I had a chance to talk with Vance Joseph, TE Dallas Goedert, OT Brian O’Neil, DT Harrison Phillips, EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and OG Will Hernandez. I’ll have more in depth pieces from each of those interviews coming, but for now, here’s some highlights.
Called the opportunity to coach at the Senior Bowl a “great advantage” and said it’s hard to miss on prospects when you spend this much time with them and really figure out who they are up close.
Continued to reiterate that they need to be focused on “players first, scheme second”. Said it “makes no sense” to take guys from, say a spread scheme, and ask them to do something completely different and out of their comfort zone. He said they needed to adapt as coaches, and also mentioned that his big learning from last season is that he needs to be better at “coaching the coaches”.
Joseph continues to emphasize "players first, scheme second" says that to take a guy out of a spread scheme and then ask him to do something totally different "makes no sense. We have to change as coaches."— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) January 23, 2018
Ogbonnie Okoronkwo - EDGE
Okoronwko loves Von Miller models his game after him. Said he’s watched Von Miller highlight reels “at least 100,000 times”.
Will Hernandez - OG
Will spoke very highly of his former head coach, Sean Kugler and said Denver got a good one when he came over to coach the offensive line.
Hernandez said he would love the opportunity to rejoin his former coach and play for Denver, but is happy to be drafted by anyone.
Harrison Phillips - DT
Phillips specifically called out Denver’s defense as one he likes schematically and thinks he could fit in at any of the 3 interior defensive line positions on Denver’s front.
Dallas Goedert - TE
Said he has played all over the formation at SDSU. Lined up at X,Z, inline, slot, and backfield. He’s the modern tight end prototype.
For the South practice, I mainly focused on the wide receiver/defensive back battles.
The quarterback talent isn’t near the level of the North team, so that affected the drills some as the balls were not on time or on target all the time. However, there is good corner and receiver talent on that roster.
Here’s my quick hits:
- James Washington from Oklahoma State was an absolute monster. He caught every ball he got his hands on, consistently beat his man in 1on1 drills with speed and superior route running (and no one was particularly close to covering him).
Washington checked in under 5’11”, but measured at 34” arms which is the same size as most 6’4” offensive tackles, so just looking at his height is deceiving. Those arms were definitely on display on one rep where he tracked a deep ball in the corner of the end zone and came down with the catch with both feet in bounds; was the catch of the day. He reminds me a bit of a Doug Baldwin out there.
He helped his stock more than any prospect on the South team today. I overheard that scouts were “blown away” and “teams were super impressed with him”.
- DJ Chark on the other hand struggled today with some key drops and was unable to get a lot of separation. He had one big catch to rally and end the drill on a high note, but overall wasn’t a good day for him.
- Levi Wallace, cornerback from Alabama looked good to me. Mirrored well in coverage and made some nice pass breakups in the 1on1s.
- Siran Neal, cornerback out of Jacksonville State impressed me as well. The only receiver who beat him on a 1on1 was Washington. Otherwise Neal was sticky and showed good speed.
- Shaq Griffin looked quick and smooth in drills. He rushed from the edge a few times in team periods and looked good. That’s not his natural fit at the next level, but he showed he can be effective as a blitzer off the edge on occasion. I was really looking for him to show his coverage ability, and he didn’t disappoint looking fast and playing with good eyes in zone.
- Didn’t see Marcus Davenport much today (trenches 1on1s were on the other side of the field during the WR/DB drills) but hearing him after practice in interviews, he continues to impress me with his humility and willingness to learn. Very teachable.
Both the headliner quarterbacks took the field for the first time for the North team. Baker Mayfield arrived shortly before practice, missing the first portion of the event due to his mother being in the hospital. When asked after practice about it, Mayfield emphatically replied “family first. Always.”
I’ll say this before diving into the quarterbacks: I don’t buy into the whole “Mayfield won the day”. “No Allen won the day” that happens during these things. I don’t think there’s enough sample size to make any judgments that we haven’t already seen on tape from these guys.
That said, here’s my quick hits from the North, starting with the quarterbacks:
My gosh Allen has an arm. No wonder everyone is trying to explain away his completion percentage. Hearing him talk and watching him throw, it’s easy to fall in love with this guy. He made some nice throws throughout the 1on1 drills and had an absolute beauty in the team period. A rusher was coming, he side stepped, and put a 15 yard out perfectly outside the numbers on a rope.
You can definitely see that there’s something special about the kid. He did remind me a bit of Colin Kaepernick or other strong arm QBs who just rip it in there and that’s their only mode. He overthrew a seam route when it needed a little more touch, and not to be on a line.
Overall I thought Allen had a good day and showed why he’s a guy everyone is talking about. However, some of his misses looked just like what you see on tape, but that’s to be expected. It’s not like he’s magically going to fix that overnight in a few drills.
Baker Mayfield after his first practice at the Reese's Senior Bowl pic.twitter.com/Z4286cBtEs— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 23, 2018
- Mayfield threw the ball well and showed good arm strength driving the ball outside the numbers accurately. I’m not sure where the comments about his lack of arm strength come from. He looks fine in that regard.
It’s clear he’s not comfortable under center, and he continued to rep under center handoffs in between drills, and every free second he had, which impressed me. He never wasted a second while waiting for his turn in drills, he was repping footwork.
Baker stayed after practice along with Luke Falk to take extra reps under center, which speaks volumes about both of those guys and their commitment to learning.
Overall, Baker looked like he always has. Missed some throws in the 1on1 drills and was shaky at times, but in the team periods, looked like the best player out on the field. The guy is just a football player at his core.
Mayfield: "Everybody wants to portray a Johnny Manziel, but that's not who I am. I just love football." pic.twitter.com/ZgLCfEfNSj— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) January 23, 2018
- Safety Armani Watts out of A&M looked impressive with some nice pass breakups, and had an interception in the team period. Look for him to have a strong week.
- Harrison Phillips showed good pass rush moves during the 1on1 drills, something he specifically wanted to showcase since he wasn’t that productive in that aspect at Stanford.
- Tyrell Crosby looked smooth in his footwork and looked the part of a left tackle out there during team periods and 1on1s.
- Will Hernandez is a wall, the guy threw the defender down to the ground at least 2 or 3 times today. The only person to beat him was...
- Remember this name folks: Nathan Shepherd. Shepherd jumped into my notes from the first team period where he burst through the line for a run stop. He carried on his dominant day into the 1on1s and consistently earned praise from Bill Kollar and “wows” from those watching. Specifically heard Kollar yell “I like that sh**” after one of Shepherd’s reps. Shepherd consistently won with relentless violence at the point of attack and showed good moves inside to win a variety of ways.
Shepherd is a small school prospect from DII Fort Hays State. He put himself on the map today. This is what the Senior Bowl is about, flash in practice and get noticed.
I stood next to his agent for most of the 1on1 and team period and afterwards he said his phone began blowing up. Teams took notice and are all wanting to talk to him. Additionally, his agent said Shepherd is killing it in his team interviews and clubs are coming away very impressed with the way he carries himself.
Keep an eye on him all week as he’ll likely begin climbing up draft boards.
Winners after Day 1
That’s all I have folks! Keep up with all the action in real-time by following @MileHighReport on Twitter, or @JeffreyEssary