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2017 Senior Bowl Preview: Scouting Notes for All of the South Roster

By: Optimum Scouting’s Staff

 

Quarterbacks

  1. Davis Webb, California
    Reminding in many ways of a lesser Brock Osweiler prospect out of Arizona State, Webb is a tall passer with a release point and footwork that needs ample work before he’s able to maximize his upside. His arm talent is good, not great, but he thrives as a mid-field touch passer, especially using his height and patience to work on the move. Not an overly fluid mover, he can finish throws from multiple platforms or possessions. He thrives as a mid-field YAC set-up passer that will need time to adjust in the NFL. 
  2. Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
    Dobbs is a very smart, headsy player that runs the offense. No undeniable lack of athleticism coming from this dual-threat quarterback. As a passer Dobbs does a great job of reading the defense and has a strong arm that can zip almost any NFL style pass. The weaknesses as a passer are his footwork clearly needs work and he often doesn’t get his feet set to make throws limiting his accuracy. There are also a few mechanical issues in his throw that need to be adjusted. A terrific athlete with great arm strength, Dobbs could be a boom or bust prospect.
  3. Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin
    A surprise addition to the Senior Bowl, likely thanks to George Whitfield’s impact in a lackluster quarterback class, Pipkin offers plus arm talent and a plus-body type and not much else as an NFL ready passer. He throws a pretty downfield pass and can finish on the perimeter and in the vertical seam, but his pocket footwork isn’t game-ready, his finishing ability when pressured at all in the short and mid-area leaves much to be desired, and he relies too often on arm talent to make up for slow reads or late decisions.

 

 

Running Backs

  1. Jamaal Williams, BYU
    He’s physically built the part, has tremendous second level burst and vision, and offers value as a pass catcher and blocker. If not for age and carry load issues, Williams may be perceived as a top-50 worthy running back in the NFL draft process. His versatility and second-level patience/acceleration combination make him a potential high impact rookie and three-year starter at the NFL level. 
  2. Matt Dayes, NC State
    Dayes missed a good chunk of 2015 due to injury, but returned as NC State’s feature offensive weapon in 2016. When healthy, he is a downhill runner. He flashes the footwork to switch lanes with fluidity, but that is not a strong suit overall. He lacks explosion and creativity in the open field. He only gains the yards that are given to him. He’s a top flight pass catcher and should be able to add third down value early in his NFL career.
  3. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
    Pumphrey will be all over the record books, and most of the all-time single season leaders have gone on to succeed in the NFL. He offers good quickness working to the perimeter and can turn the corner with speed, and his toughness despite being undersized is something to appreciate. His read steps to the hole are patient but at times a bit too lengthy, and he firmly relies on his offensive line’s initial push to give him the spring to maximize his burst. But Pumphrey — measurable are 5’8, 166 pounds, 28.5 inch arms and 8 ¼ inch hands — doesn’t have the body type of an NFL running back. While he offers extremely quick feet as he approaches the line of scrimmage and can accelerate as he hits the open field, he doesn’t offer much elusiveness at the second level. With a thin lower half and his best NFL playing weight likely in the mid 170s, Pumphrey has few NFL comparisons. He likely will surpass DeAngelo Williams’ college career carry total next week, but Williams weighed 214 pounds and posted 25 bench reps. Pumphrey’s running style and non-Power 5 production compares to last year’s fourth-round pick Tyler Ervin out of San Jose State, but he doesn’t have the receiving experience Ervin did coming out of college. 
  4. Freddie Stevenson, Florida State

 

 

Wide Receivers

  1. Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
    Taylor offers great vertical speed to stretch the defense and is rarely caught using wasteful steps when creating separation. He is a smooth route runner with fluid hips and accelerates away from coverage especially well on both the post and corner routes. He has great concentration and will bring in passes while attacking the ball at the high point despite tight coverage or being in a high traffic area. He is a very natural athlete and does not break stride when making a tough catch over the middle. 
  2. Travis Dural, LSU
    Dural offers top flight acceleration as a vertical route runner and when working after catch or after reverse. Not an overly shifty open field runner, Dural’s ability to get to his top speed quickly and work through arm tackles is what allows him awesome running ability. Dural is a plus vertical threat, especially when he gets work in the slot, but his refined short-area route movements, steps and hand separation skills (especially on quick slants) is his most NFL-ready skill set. As a West Coast-plus receiver with vertical upside, Dural could offer Jordy Nelson-like style early in his career.
  3. Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
    Reynolds has a magnificent combo of size and speed at 6’4” and can run a 4.4 forty. Can get by almost anybody due to quickness off the line and above average top line speed. Wins jump balls and can even go across the middle. Played his best games against tough competition and in big games. Weaknesses include a simple route tree ran. Needs more diversity. Needs to improve his run blocking on the outside. 
  4. Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
    Switzer is a menace with the ball in his hands. Both as a receiver and as a returner, he makes defenders miss time and time again. His fluidity and agility make him nearly impossible to tackle 1-on-1 in space. He is an explosive, crafty route runner who gets in and out of his breaks with efficiency. He is a playmaker in every sense of the word and should be able to damage in the slot early in his NFL career, but has the capabilities to separate as a perimeter receiver as well. 
  5. Artavis Scott, Clemson
    Working as both a slot and outside receiver, Scott has plus burst after the catch and proved to be a reliable interior receiver for Deshaun Watson this year. He’s a three-year starter who has developed into a reliable hands catcher and with high football IQ to attack, settle and adjust to zone and different coverages.

  6. Fred Ross, Mississippi State
    Ross offers good size and speed to stretch the field. He offers a plus catch radius to catch passes along with a nice ability to high point passes. Played in the slot, but is a good-sized athlete with a natural ability to accelerate off the line and mix his gears to create after the catch. Isn’t the best hands catcher all of the time which is a huge negative. Despite that, Ross is a great route runner who separates in space. 
  7. Chad Williams, Grambling State
    Grambling’s best receiver on a loaded roster that should see at least 2-3 draft picks over the next two years, Williams dominated the SWAC with plus finishing ability away from his frame, great timing as a perimeter receiver and the speed/after catch control to finish big plays into long gains and touchdowns. He’s certainly in the mix to be a draft pick after getting the Senior Bowl call-up.

 

 

Tight Ends

  1. OJ Howard, Alabama
    Long regarded as a top prospect tight end, Howard hasn’t been a focal point of the offense until the National Championship. He always showed glimpses as a receiving threat with a  breakaway speed and size combo that can be a matchup nightmare. With Howard on the field you have an extra big play threat across the middle and up the seam. Howard is an effective run blocker who knows how to seal the edge. 4-down player. With his size/athleticism combination Howard should be the top tight end drafted in 2017. Remarkably high character and an expected leader at the NFL level. 
  2. Evan Engram, Ole Miss
    Three-time all-SEC selection is more of a Jimmy Graham type tight end rather than a traditional in-line end. Has the size to outduel safeties and the speed & quickness in the short area to blow by linebackers. This mismatch will make a great fit in a pass heavy offense. A true hands catcher, Engram has excellent release in and out of his breaks especially as a safety blanket in the flats or across the middle. A willing blocker, but needs better strength to challenge stronger edge rushers. Big time difference maker.
  3. Gerald Everett, South Alabama
    Labeled as an oversized receiver, Everett is an athletic freak at tight end displaying elite body control and acceleration. A skilled route runner, Everett gains separation in coverage after the catch showing his above average acceleration and physicality. The Senior Bowl invite has been a trendy pick as a top three tight end in a strong position group.

 

 

Offensive Tackles

  1. Antonio Garcia, Troy
    It’s not hyperbole to compare Antonio Garcia to Tyron Smith, as his movement fluidity and controlled and in-sync upper and lower half movement fit Smith’s style and tremendous value at the NFL level. His athletic testing will decide if that comparison holds water, but his lateral control, patient yet powerful set-up steps and balance throughout his kick slide, coupled with well placed hands as he works as a run blocker all speak to his ability to be a potential first-round offensive tackle in the 2017 class.
  2. Justin Senior, Mississippi State
    Started in the past at guard and right tackle, Senior is a tough evaluation because the length and footwork in pass protection are promising, but issues with bend and body control may be difficult to correct. Senior has talent, but his ceiling might be tied directly to whether a team allows him to sit while an offensive line coach works to correct the technical flaws that limit his effectiveness. His best spot may be right tackle.
  3. Conor McDermott, UCLA
    For a left tackle with his height and length, McDermott is a very fluid upfield and initially lateral mover. He’s able to dip and fire upfield for second-level blocks, tracking his initial assignment effectively. He sinks at the knees well and rarely reaches away from his frame to pass block. He times his punches well and rarely over-exterts and reaches too early in pass protection. He’s active and willing to reposition as a hand fighter, holding his blocks consistently in pass protection. He can over-anticipate rush moves, trying to beat lineman to their potential spot, forcing him to start off off balance when he missteps and forces himself to recover with his length and bend too much.

 

Offensive Guards/Centers

  1. Forrest Lamp Western Kentucky
    Lamp may be this year’s Justin Pugh, a guy who earns first-round grades despite being shorter than 6-5 as an offensive tackle prospect. Lamp is an awesome mover who plays with tenacity, and he’s athletic enough to work as a zone-blocking and pass-protecting tackle or guard. After getting work at left tackle in his career, his movement in space and finishing ability as an athletic blocker should earn him first-round grades. 
  2. Nico Siragusa, San Diego State
    Ideally built and without a sloppy frame for a massive interior blocker, Siragusa wins his battle at the point of attack with power highlighted by strong hands with appropriate placement to control his matchup. In the run game he gets out quick to serve as a lead blocker with a head of steam in the open field. 
  3. Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State
    One of the best FCS offensive linemen the last two seasons, Dunker has been on NFL radars for sometime now. He plays taller and more physically away from his frame for a 6’4 left tackle, and his kick inside to guard should only help his projection. Playing with plus power in his hands and finishing downfield with intensity, Dunker has looked like an SEC blocker at the FCS level for two years and should have little issue transferring his strength and blocking upside to the NFL level. 
  4. Isaac Asiata, Utah
    Asiata plays with awesome tenacity and motor, driving downfield after initially engaging and working to finish blocks at the second level. Flexible in his upper half, he’s able to arch and keep a wide base as he works both upfield and laterally. He flashes as a quality spread offensive lineman passer. He can be a bit over-aggressive with his hands and can lose against quicker rushers or initially explosive interior players. 
  5. Ethan Pocic, LSU
    Pocic is a bigger center than normal at 6’7” that is a 3-year starter with experience at guard as well. An excellent run blocker that can pave the way up front on isos and dives. Gets on defenders quickly off the snap and uses a violent hand punch to get defenders off balance. Has a great reach that allows him to control the point of attack and does a great job of finishing blocks before getting to the second level. Excellent anchor. Potentially the best center in the draft with his size and versatility. Zone blocking scheme would be best fit, but should fit into any scheme. 
  6. Jon Toth, Kentucky
    Strong lower body with a feisty aggressiveness. Sustains blocks well in the run game and has a solid leg drive. Above average pass blocker who works better vs bull rushers. Lacks initial quickness and sometimes takes poor angles. Connects on defenders on inside rush well and can even be moved over to guard at the next level. Should be a top 6 center drafted. 
  7. Danny Isidora, Miami (FL)

 

 

Defensive Tackles

  1. Montravius Adams, Auburn
    Adams comes in with great size that can play him at either end or tackle at the next level. He’s added weight as a senior without losing his athletic upside and it’s only helped his NFL draft projection. He can play three-downs with a specialty rushing the passer from the inside on passing situations. Great initial quickness at the snap and follows that up with a natural strength that allows him to rip by blockers. Finishes plays and disrupts the backfield often. If he can stay on the field with the same intensity throughout the entire game he can be a potential pro bowler. 
  2. Carlos Watkins, Clemson
    Clemson uses Watkins as a space eater. He tends to get some sort of push off of the line of scrimmage, whether he be rushing the passer or defending the run. He is rarely washed out of a play. There is a lot of strength and stability in his lower body. At the same, Watkins does not have explosion or energy, disabling him from being a playmaker up front.
  3. Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
    Tomlinson plays with remarkable vision and anticipation of running lanes on the interior at nose tackle, three-technique and five-technique while engaged and when working down the line, and rarely over-extends to allow him to be pushed, especially against zone blocking schemes. He doesn’t penetrate initially with quickness, and can stay stationary and over-read the defense at times, waiting too long to react laterally. He plays with great anticipation of throwing lanes, bubble screens and working alongside his teammates, and his focus on positioning likely stems from his high-level wrestling background. While he’s not an overly fast mover, his range value down the line (and potentially as a 5-technique) stems from lateral balance and control and the ability to extend away from his frame. He sheds with his hands and arms very well in space, and will remain engaged longer than needed to control the running back and force running lanes. Tomlinson’s production as a pas rusher and time in the backfield was hampered by his patient style on the interior, devotion to setting up teammates with delayed rushes and stunts, and the sheer talent around him.
  4. Tanzel Smart, Tulane
    Smart’s most intriguing quality is his activeness with hands, offering quickness initially better than most senior interior rushers in the country. he welcomes double teams, stays powerful in push, and engages/re-engages well. He offers very active feet, stays wide against double teams, and works as a counter rusher with plus spin technique (though not overly laterally quick). He also boasts plus rip/swim move rushes. Smart is able to stay balanced in run defending pursuit. Listed at 6’1, his lack of length may be an inhibitor of starter-level value. But Smart works hard to split defenders frequently, offers a plus first step, instantly penetrates, and constantly bullies as double team embracer. 
  5. Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

 

 

Defensive Ends

  1. Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M
    A former basketball player who only started playing football after moving from Seattle to Texas and dunking in front of his future high school football coach, Hall has grown into a tremendously built frame as one of the country’s best defensive end prospects. With tremendously long arms and a wide frame capable of adding even more onto his 270-pound body now, Hall has remarkable flexibility and knee bend to still sink and bend around the edge and drive with great leverage as an engaging interior rusher. He can be a bit of a slow starter off the snap and doesn’t offer top-end explosiveness, instead relying on his flexibility and developed pass-rush moves for success. His lack of great initial burst, however, can inhibit his ability to win against more capable pass blockers who can win with initial hand placement. Hall doesn’t disengage consistently well, and needs to slap and adjust away using quicker arm movements. He’s had some issues holding the edge and being a reliable and trusted edge run protector. He needs to play with better anticipation and control on the edge. While it’s not a substantial concern moving forward, it’s been an issue the last two seasons and has put his linebackers in difficult positions against the run. His hip fluidity and sinking ability has allowed him to rush and play proficiently at the 3-, 5-, and 7-technique as well as a standup rusher just in 2016 alone, and he’s played those positions capably for a still-developing edge player. 
  2. Keionta Davis, Tennessee-Chattanooga
    Davis offers NFL-level defensive end build and edge athleticism to grow into an NFL starter. Though still very raw and edge-setting dependent, Davis is still a developing edge rusher who will have a chance to emerge as not only a draft pick, but potentially a top-four round consideration. His hand violence and speed-to-power flashes lend themselves to ample and sudden growth in the future. His game against Alabama stands out as his ability to handle top-level offensive tackles at the major school level. 
  3. Jordan Willis, Kansas State
    Willis’ most effective pass rushing move is his swim move. He uses his hands to keep blockers off his body and then uses his swim move to get into the backfield. Willis keeps his eyes on the quarterback and gets his hands up to knock down passes. Willis also uses his leaping ability on special teams to block extra points. Willis can improve wrapping up quicker running backs, but he is able to bring quarterbacks to the ground when he gets a hold of them. Willis does, however, struggle changing direction and breaking down to make tackles. 
  4. Josh Carraway, TCU
    Carraway is an athletic end who can bend around the corner, but I didn’t see a player who played with much power or physicality. However, his athleticism jumps off the screen. I saw numerous times where he got up in the air and deflected passes or forced quarterbacks to change their throwing angle. Relentless in pursuit. 
  5. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
    With awesome length and basketball-like pass-rushing athletic upside, Kpassagnon looks the part of an upside defensive end NFL teams should covet. But he plays soft at times after first contact, struggles to finish when he is successful in his initial rush and was too often contained by FCS blockers. He looks the part and has the tools to develop, but he’s still a ways away from being a capable NFL rusher. 

Linebackers

  1. Ryan Anderson, Alabama
    Alabama’s most reliable outside linebacker, Anderson is a do-it-all prospect who rushes off the edge with great bend and control but can also dip into short-area coverage and work in the flat with success. He’s been productive as a versatile edge player and while his athleticism likely won’t test him into the top-25 picks, he’ll be viewed as a reliable linebacker prospect for 3-4 defenses. 
  2. Tyus Bowser, Houston
    Had he played every game in 2016 and his numbers were extrapolated out over 13 games, he would have had 80+ tackles, 20+ TFL, around 15 sacks and 15+ hurries. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker for Houston, and saw a wide range of reps as a pure pass rusher, versatile edge player and as a drop back linebacker in coverage and in read/react situations. He extends and bends well off the snap and shows great lower half coordination to adjust, reposition and generate lower half force to pus the pocket. He dips his inside shoulder with control well as an edge player, and can adjust his upper half shoulders on both interior and pure edge rushes. He offers a highly explosive and low-set first step off the snap and doesn’t lose vision of the running back as a rusher. He finishes as a tackler really well, utilizing long arms and his 10 inch hands. His low center of gravity as a rusher helps generate pressure, but he can misstep upfield and is susceptible to missteps, pulling and trap blocks and backfield blockers at times. He comes down the line with great force and keeps his balance as he works in space as a tackler as a rusher. As a pure linebacker, he dips into coverage surprising well and has improved his pedal and lateral movement in space, but too often gets off balance and lost in deeper zone coverage. 
  3. Duke Riley, LSU
    Playing the linebacker/safety role for LSU and likely in the NFL, Riley’s fluidity and lower half explosiveness is what teams will rely on as the overlook his lack of college starts. While he doesn’t sink his hips as well as Deion Jones before him, Riley is loose and fluid as he works on his initial post-snap steps, and can turn and run laterally and back into coverage very well. He offers control as he works side to side, naturally playing with plus footwork and never losing himself off balance as he finds his spot in space. He’s not a special athlete, but should test well across all Combine testing drills. He can over-pursue at times and relies more on straight-line explosiveness than top-end bend and readjust ability as he works upfield. His false steps as a linebacker are more technical and mental, but he struggles to pivot and adjust, and his straight-line burst can be a hindrance if/when he makes a misstep or an over-aggressive initial read. 
  4. Ben Boulware, Clemson
    Boulware is a clean up player. He is often late reacting to the initial play, leaving him to be more of an insurance tackler than a difference maker. Even when he does react quickly, his subpar athleticism keeps him from making big plays on his own. In coverage, he can get taken advantage of by skill players because he simply can not keep up with most offensive athletes. He provides some value as a clean up tackler and hustle player, but he can not provide anything extra to a defense.
  5. Harvey Langi, BYU
    Langi is a speedy linebacker who is still raw due to his mid career position change from running back. He plays with a high motor and will fly downhill to make plays in the alley. He will often misread his keys and take himself out of plays due to his unfamiliarity of the position. He is not the most dependable tackler as he relies on delivering a blow vice wrapping up and making the sure tackle. He is very athletic and has great lateral quickness. Once engaged, he has a difficult time freeing himself as he lacks polish on any techniques other than speed. He is effective as a pass rusher on the inside blitz because he can accelerate past blocks. 
  6. Alex Anzalone, Florida

 

 

Cornerbacks

  1. Tre’Davious White, LSU
    White has only improved over his college career at LSU, a factory for NFL cornerbacks. He doesn’t possess elite size or speed, but also doesn’t lack in either. Has good quickness off the line and at the receiver’s break. Good ball skills to break up passes and closes in well. Sometimes tries to go for the home run play and gets caught being too aggressive. These are teachable through film and discipline. Has starting corner ability as a cover man. 
  2.  Damontae Kazee, San Diego State
    Kazee plays a physical game and can win at the line of scrimmage with that mindset. He isn’t all that fluid so concerns come when being projected as a man cover corner at the next level. He is a fine open field tackler and can lay the wood at times despite his small frame. He has the ball skills to elevate and snag the ball out of the air boasting anticipation and timing skills and awareness to locate the football. He will need to continue to stay on par with double moves and not being fooled by the quarterback’s movement, but he substantially improved in his anticipation as a senior. 
  3. Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
    Sutton ability to lock down gifted physical receivers in the SEC since his freshman year. Jams well and throws receivers off of their route. Has a significant ability to turn and run in coverage showing good agility. Closes on the ball quickly. Very good awareness and ball skills. Can play on or off coverage, better suited for press coverage though. Only major weakness is as a run stopper. Does a good job of getting tackles, but doesn’t “finish” plays or drive through the ball. Also a gifted punt returner. 
  4. Corn Elder, Miami (FL)
    Elder is a special teams returner in addition to being a cornerback. He is a fluid athlete with good long speed, but he needs refinement as a cornerback. His footwork can be lacking and he has yet to show that he can be a physical presence on the boundary. The intrigue is there, but he is more of a depth cornerback until further improvement. He may be best suited as a short-area slot cornerback at the NFL level. 
  5. Marquez White, Florida State
    White often plays as the field corner. He possesses impressive speed, fluidity and explosion for the position. He is sticky in coverage down the field and has shown he can cover a variety of routes. He needs to work on minimizing separation at route breaks, but his skill set is intriguing. 
  6. Ezra Robinson, Tennessee State

 

 

Safeties

  1. Justin Evans, Texas A&M
    Texas A&M’s strong safety offers awesome tackle finishing strength and the range to work across the field with plus anticipation and footwork to plant and explode through contact. Evans is a fringe first-round prospect in a loaded safety class, especially at strong safety, but his mental makeup and growth as a prospect has NFL teams bullish on his upside.
  2. Jonathan Ford, Auburn
    Ford has led Auburn in tackles two of the last three seasons on rosters that included a ton of talent and quality linebackers. Ford play corner or safety, but more suited as a free safety. He offers NFL-quality size (6’1” 205 lbs) & speed (4.4). Ford finishes tackles in the run game and is no slouch in coverage, taking plus read steps and rarely being caught out of sound tackling position.
  3. Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami (FL)
    Jenkins has decent range and speed in the open field, but stiff hips tend to leave to leave him vulnerable. He struggles to redirect in coverage or when taking angles at a ball carrier. His tackling is fine, though they often come farther down the field than they should. He has some potential as a rotational or “robber” safety.


Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State
Sterns plays a lot of single high safety, covering the deep end of the field. Sterns takes good angles on his way to the ball carrier and breaks down and wraps up. Able to play centerfield and come down and make tackles, Sterns can contribute in both aspects of defense.