Draft Nuggets 2016: Entry #6
By Jeff Bowers of www.draftnarrative.com
Senior Bowl Recap
The Senior Bowl is truly a unique experience and I highly recommend it for any draftnik to experience in person. Truly the season’s final college football game, the Senior Bowl provides college players a chance to get coached up for a full week by pro coaches in a great atmosphere in Mobile, AL. While the final score is really of no importance (the South won 27-16), the amount of quality access and tape accrued by coaches and scouts is vital as this is the last time many of these players will be seen up close until the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the end of February. Here is my list of players who helped and hurt their draft stock:
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State – Wentz was the story of the Senior Bowl and he did not disappoint. Showing great poise and leadership, Wentz checked a lot of boxes (6’5” 233lbs with good arm strength and solid footwork) and might have earned himself a Top 5 selection. In fact, he might be the most NFL-ready QB in this class and could be off the board before Dallas picks at #4.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State – After Wentz, most of the other QBs in Mobile were of the developmental/backup variety. All showed flashes as well as limitations. But Brissett, at 6’3” 236lbs, was the most natural passer with the potential to develop into a decent starter. Though not on the North Squad coached by the Cowboys staff, Brissett still had a formal interview with the Cowboys this week.
Kenyon Drake, RB, Alabama – While several of the other South Squad RBs put themselves on the radar of scout’s (TCU’s Aaron Green and Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington), no one had a better week than Drake. Showing impressive vision in the hole, great burst on the edge and (maybe most important) staying off the trainer’s table, Drake will be a 3rd-4th round steal who is ideally a complimentary back in a RB committee with kick return ability.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, LA Tech – While the South Team had a number of impressive runners, the North had one lead dog and that was Dixon. With 72 rushing TDs in his college career, Dixon showed he could be a lead back despite his size (5’10” 215lbs). My only concern is his career 15 receptions in 4 years at LT and 8.5” hands which led to a dropped pass in the game.
Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State – The former QB turned athlete, Miller showed his skills returning kicks, at WR and even taking some handoffs at RB in practice. While far from a finished product at wideout, Miller shows lots of promise and is probably somewhere between Percy Harvin and Cordarelle Patterson in his NFL comparison.
Jay Lee, WR, Baylor – Lee was clearly the #1 target for most QBs on the South Team in the game on Saturday. At 6’2” 214lbs, Lee showed nice route running and sure hands. I worry a little about his hands as he doesn’t give a soft landing spot often, Lee could still be a very productive #2 WR opposite a star much like Terrance Williams in Dallas.
Glenn Gronkowski, TE/FB, Kansas State – The younger and smaller Gronk brother, this Gronkowski (6’2” 238lbs) will have to find his place in a variety of rolls from TE, FB or H-back. However, He showed nice point-of-attack blocking and soft hands in space to excel in the right system.
Nick Martin, C, Norte Dame –Another younger brother, this time the Cowboys’ G Zack Martin, Nick played center for the North Team and was very solid all week. This year’s draft is unusually deep at centers and Martin is one of the reasons why.
Vadal Alexander, G/T, LSU – Hitting all the size markers (6’5” 336lbs with 34.25” arms), Alexander played both guard and right tackle and did well all week against some highly touted defensive line prospects. Probably best suited at guard, Alexander had a mean streak and looked like a quality mid-round pick.
Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky – After being dismissed from the Big 10 for several failed drug tests, Spence dominating on the field all week and recorded 1 sack and 2 QB hurries in the game. If not for the off-field questions, Spence would be a mid-1st rounder. Even still, someone will take a chance on him due to the impressive talent of Spence, likely in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Sheldon Day, DE/DT, Notre Dame – Day is an interesting study. On tape and in practice, he pops whether using strength or speed at end or tackle. However, at 6’0” 286 lbs, his fit some schemes is a question. Probably best suited as a 3 tech in a 4-3, Day is just a player, no matter the position.
Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State – After being suspended at the start of the season for the Buckeyes, Washington came to the Senior Bowl to answer those off-field questions and prove he is worthy of a 1st round choice. In a stacked DT draft class, Washington did nothing in Mobile to hurt his cause and may have succeeded in securing a 1st round choice.
DJ Reader, DT, Clemson – Though Sheldon Rankins of Louisville got more of the hype on the D-line for the South Team, Reader really shined and showed more than just a run-stuffing body (6’3” 340lbs). Moving well and getting nice push versus the pass, Reader moved up my board this week.
Kentrell Brothers, LB, Mizzou – Brothers seemed to be at the bottom of every pile for the South Team on Saturday. At 6’0” and 249lbs, Brothers looked instinctive and ready to man the middle in the pros.
Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana – Small school corners that stand out and send scouts scrambling for tape has become an annual event the past few years. Miller is this year’s guy, at 6’0” 182lbs and competing well all week.
Deiondre Hall, CB, Northern Iowa – The football factory that is Northern Iowa has done it again, with a big corner named Deiondre Hall. In a week marked with corners who don’t play the ball, Hall showed nice fundamentals and used his size well in both the pass and run defense.
KJ Dillon, S, West Virginia – Dillon’s week was more about flash than consistency, but when the flash includes bone-jarring hits in the run game and a blocked field goal it can make up for it. Dillon is a natural playmaker who will start as a special teamer and hopefully develop into a starter with some coverage coaching.
James Bradbury, S/CB, Samford – Like his fellow alum from Samford last year, Jaquiski Tartt, Bradbury is a big hybrid safety who is finding a new home in today’s pass happy NFL. Bradbury showed nice ball skills in practice and could earn a 3rd or 4th round grade with a solid combine.
Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford – I really wanted to like Hogan, as he is a smart leader and shows nice touch. But his lack of arm strength and poor footwork except when on the move is too much to overcome. Hogan could be a inexpensive backup in a zone blocking scheme similar to what Mike Shannahan ran with Jake Plummer in Denver, but otherwise is a late rounder at best.
Spencer Drango, G/T, Baylor – Drango had a really tough week, getting abused by the top D-line prospects on both squads, Drango showed he can only be a guard in the NFL and his leverage is questionable.
Shawn Oakman, DE/DT, Baylor – I hate to pick on 2 Baylor Bears in a row, but Oakman just has never lived up to his look. Never has the phrase “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” applied more to a player than Oakman. Though I wouldn’t say that to his 6’7” 269 lbs face. Even as the South Player of The Game, I was just not impressed with Oakman as anything more than a rotational 3-4 DE.
Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State- Fackrell just doesn’t seem to have a real position, not showing enough pass rush skills to play 3-4 OLB and not enough speed to play as a 4-3 SLB. Maybe he can develop, but I wouldn’t take him before day 3.
Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota – Murray spent his week grabbing onto receivers and not turning for the ball. That doesn’t fly in the NFL these days.
Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama – Though he had a nice game in the Senior Bowl, Jones looked small and weak in practice all week. Maybe he just raises his play for gameday but through Friday I thought Jones was a 4th corner at best.