Before college football’s top prospects gear up for their pro days and appearances at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the Senior Bowl represented the final opportunity for players to put game tape out there for coaches, front office members, and talent evaluators to watch ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.
So before we go too far down the line, let’s sort through what happened on Saturday.
- NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Chase Goodbread team up for an all-encompassing look at the game’s biggest playmakers. They highlighted five standouts, caught up with Raiders coach Jon Gruden for his take on the game’s quarterbacks, and underlined some players who might have otherwise flown under the radar. An added bonus linked within the piece are call-backs to three days worth of anecdotes, so you might want to clear some time to get a full grasp of what was going down at Senior Bowl week.
- Among the players whose stock is on the rise is Delaware safety Nasir Adderley, who came away with an impressive interception:
- I mean, look at this hang time:
Going through my Senior Bowl notes and this INT by Delaware S Nasir Adderley was my favorite Defensive play of the day. pic.twitter.com/MDxsQM9tm0
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 27, 2019
- Big air for No. 23 is something I always love to see. But if you’re hoping Adderley will join fellow Blue Hens Matt Nagy, Brian Ginn, and Bilal Nichols at Halas Hall, it’s possible that Saturday’s performance helped launch him into the first round. And while not having a first-round pick stinks, I’d rather have Khalil Mack, a 2018 NFC North division title, and the potential of more to come in the next few seasons.
- Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller shares his winners and losers from the Senior Bowl. On the offensive side of the ball, Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin (who we were looking forward to checking out) stood out as a “big riser” who “looked better in Mobile than he did throughout his Ohio State career.” McLaurin showed an ability to stretch the field vertically, but wasn’t able to do that in college often enough to stand out. It’s possible McLaurin is one of those players who turns out to be a better pro than college player if he finds the right fit and system.
- On the flip side, quarterbacks Will Grier, Ryan Finley, Garnder Minshew, Trace McSorley, and Tyree Jackson did nothing to impress Miller or anyone else watching the Senior Bowl for that matter. I still like McSorley’s athleticism and intangibles, but that collection of signal callers was rough to watch at times.
- A big winner in our books was Memphis running back Tony Pollard:
- After making an impression earlier in the week and jumping onto our radar, Pollard scored the touchdown that officially put the Senior Bowl on ice. Pollard led all rushers with 60 yards on eight carries and added two catches for 13 yards. The blocking in front of him on his 16-yard kick return wasn’t all that great, but his willingness to give it a try knowing he had nothing to lose in that moment checked a box for me. If the Bears are looking to round out their backfield with a do-it-all back who can contribute on special teams, Pollard seems to make a ton of sense.
- Another place that could use some offseason improvement is the kicking game. And I’m sure Brett wasn’t the only one who had this reaction when he was informed that Cole Tracy (who the Bears met with earlier in the week) missed an extra point:
HE’S OFF THE LIST. https://t.co/IBGNhEOrbq
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 26, 2019
- Tracy missed the game’s first extra point, but I didn’t realize the laces were *IN* on the kick until after I re-watched the game for a second time. Oh, and his kick appeared to be tipped at the line of scrimmage. After his early misfire, Tracy went on to make field goals from 33- and 43-yards out. Good kickers must have short memories, so it was nice to see him bounce back with some confidence and success. Perhaps we’ll give him a second chance to earn our interest, but I’ll have to run it by the boss first.
- Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert was 4-for-4 on PATs, but hooked a 44-yard attempt wide left. Seibert would go on to make kicks from 20 and 29, but a successful try from 44 would have done more to catch our eyes. Maybe the kicking game simply isn’t what it used to be. Do the Bears just need to line up and go for two after every touchdown? Actually … put a pin in that and maybe it can be something we’ll dig into later in the offseason.
- Love to see good offensive line play, even if it’s in an all-star showcase:
Chris Lindstrom and Dalton Risner we’re getting fired up with each other all week. Risner said to @BenjaminSolak “I love Lindstrom. That dude’s a Guard. He’s a GUARD!” Not sure what that means but their combo blocks are pretty #SeniorBowl: pic.twitter.com/W792Cu3tfs
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 26, 2019
- If you’re looking for a late-round receiver with grit and special teams potential, I think Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow is right in your wheelhouse:
Hunter Renfrow doing Hunter Renfrow things in the Senior Bowl pic.twitter.com/KUT9WvQ5Gg
— Matt Connolly (@MattatTheState) January 26, 2019
- Admittedly, I think Jon Gruden can be a weirdo. But handing out helmet stickers for big plays (in addition to handing over Khalil Mack, obviously) makes him our kind of weirdo:
- There has to be something more than a helmet sticker for a guy who doesn’t allow a catch and is so good in coverage he is thrown at only once:
Khari Willis and Jon Gruden celebrate the North winning the Senior Bowl. Willis played about 50 snaps and didn’t allow a catch while only being thrown at once. pic.twitter.com/MiyxLUT4ca
— Matt Wenzel (@mwenzel2) January 26, 2019
- This slipped under our radar, but it looks like a local favorite needs some work:
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 24, 2019
- Luckily for Northern Illinois stud Sutton Smith, there are 88 days between now and the NFL Draft’s first day. Still plenty of time to become better and raise your draft stock, young fella!
- This is the stuff I like to read because it serves as a reminder that while these guys are opponents within the white lines, you can always help each other get better:
One of the coolest things I saw at @seniorbowl was Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin uncover in 1-on1s & make catches & then explain some of his route work to DBs between reps in order to help him. Three DBs dapped him up after 1-on-1s finished. I e never seen that there before.
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) January 25, 2019
- So what are a player’s chances to go from the Senior Bowl to the Super Bowl? Well, not bad if you happen to land on a team with its arrow pointing in the right direction. The Rams have eight Senior Bowl products on their Super Bowl roster, including three who were drafted in 2017 – the year John Fox and his staff coached in the game. The Patriots have seven, which suggests there is value in putting in one more game of solid tape on display.