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2017 Senior Bowl Preview: Scouting Notes on Every Player on the North Roster

By: Optimum Scouting’s Staff


Quarterbacks

  1. Nate Peterman, Pittsburgh
    Well-built and possessing the ideal body type for a quarterback NFL teams should covet, Peterman’s arm talent and ball placement don’t match his hype. With good, not great, arm strength and a frantic play under pressure with erratic results when facing more than four rushers, the former Tennessee State transfer doesn’t have the confidence or assertion to be a top-end passer. While his vertical touch and sideline accuracy is his best trait, his mid-field throws and overall velocity control leave much to be desired.
  1. CJ Beathard, Iowa
    Once viewed as a top 10 quarterback heading into the season, Beathard’s ranking has dipped plenty over the course of his good, not great, senior season. The senior plays with plus arm strength having the ability to make every throw on the field, but should give teams plenty of promise as a composed pocket passer. Beathard’s poise when pressured highlights his ample Big Ten experience. He shows off impressive pocket movement while keeping his eyes downfield not giving up on the play. The generally good decision maker may not wow scouts with any one trait and that may be the biggest issue going forward, but he should be viewed as a reliable backup and fringe starter option at the NFL level if he can stay healthy.
  1. Sefo Liufau, Colorado
    A late-round flier at the moment, Liufau’s grit and pocket mobility stand tall when evaluating his game. From his junior to senior season, Liufau showed vast improvements in his passing game showcasing his touch and arm strength on intermediate throws. His accuracy is iffy as he completed just 62 percent of his passes with a 7.2 yards per attempt average. His below average production with just 11 passing tosses on 319 attempts may have many wondering why he was even invited to Mobile. The leader has the physical tools to check boxes but still has plenty to work on with decision making and pocket presence.

 

Running Backs

  1. Corey Clement, Wisconsin
    Clement has an excellent build for a running back; he is short enough to create naturally low pad level and he sports plenty of muscle. As a downhill runner, Clement has the mentality to run between the tackles and has enough quickness to make some defenders miss. Clement is not particularly creative, though, and is more of a running back who will gain the yards given to him as opposed to creating yardage himself. Clement can be quality depth for a team searching for runnings backs, particularly ones who have homerun potential.
  1. Kareem Hunt, Toledo
    Kareem Hunt is a “fan favorite” type of running back. Most people love to see running backs who lower their shoulders and grind out tough yards, and it doesn’t hurt if the running back can catch passes. Hunt is that kind of back. He’s not necessarily a bruiser, but he is the type of runner that demands respect at the second level. Quickness and speed are not Hunt’s most treasured traits, but he should be able to get by with what he has. As a pass catcher, Hunt has a comfortable feel for space and can find simple ways to get open. It’s going to be interesting to see how Hunt stacks up next to more intriguing athletes like Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey.
  1. De’Veon Smith, Michigan
    Smith is a bruising runner who shined in limited reps in the Michigan backfield thanks to a dearth of talent and Jabrill Peppers sharing some of the carry load. Reliability and foot quickness should make him stand out, as he’s shown he offers plus physicality, ball security and finishing ability as an in the box runner.
  1. Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech

 

Wide Receivers

  1. Amara Darboh, Michigan
    Explosive, ideally built and highly physical as an interior and mid-field route runner, Darboh emerged as the feature receiver in the Michigan offense. His burst as a mid-field separator and balance after catch makes him a dangerous after-catch receiver, and his violent running style after catch makes him tough to stop as a West Coast offense receiver.
  1. Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
    After nearly declaring early for the 2017 NFL Draft, Cooper Kupp put together another strong season at EWU and earned high NFL draft choice excitement. Kupp offers a long body type with a strong core, and offers possession receiver value across the field. But Kupp can be much more than that. Physical, downfield threatening and ideally built, Kupp is an NFL ready outside receiver who should be a plus athlete for an outside, well-built receiver. He has experience at multiple receiver spots in his career.
  1. Jalen Robinette, Air Force
    With 6-3 size and freakish 10.75 inch hands, Robinette combines ideal measurables with near elite high-pointing ability and vertically-threatening upside. He offers great finishing ability away from his frame and works vertically with plus control and trust in his body control. He’s still a developing route separator and nuanced-developing receiver, but he offers rare upside for a receiver who is still developing.
  1. Jamari Staples, Louisville
    The former UAB transfer has offers plus size and length for an outside receiver, but is remarkably smooth as a route runner and after catch, and his top-end body control coupled with top-end speed when he accelerates in the open field made him Louisville’s best and most productive receiver for Lamar Jackson this year. He needs to add weight and likely be more physical as an interior route runner, but he’s built the part of an outside NFL receiver with a complete athletic makeup for an NFL starter.
  1. Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse
    Highly productive as a senior after transferring from Maryland, Etta-Tawo showcased elite high pointing ability and catch-finishing on the perimeter and in the redzone that was highly unexpected this season. He’s adequate as a mid-field separator and has late-breaking separation moves with efficient and subtle hand movement, but doesn’t have the complete lateral quickness to be a high-level perimeter receiver. He’ll struggle to separate outside of press man and off zone coverage opportunities early in his NFL career.
  1. Zay Jones, East Carolina
    Working as the slot and short-area target in the East Carolina offense this year, his gaudy target and reception numbers aren’t indicative of his future NFL success, as his plethora of drag, hitch and quick slant routes haven’t highlighted much that should translate to the NFL. His best NFL position is as a pure slot receiver where his initial route quickness and finishing ability on the interior can benefit, but he doesn’t offer top-end speed and perimeter route separation, at least not that he showed as a junior or senior often enough.
  1. Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
    Taylor wins with his ability to work in and out of tight areas, as well as find space in zone coverages. Barring too much contact, Taylor is a sure-handed receiver who can be trusted to haul in short catches and bring the ball past the sticks. He has explosive second-step burst after catch, and showed great separation after interior receptions to finish big play opportunities.

 

Tight Ends

  1. Mike Roberts, Toledo
    With remarkable side, wingspan (85 inches) and hand size (11 ⅝ inches), Roberts fits the prototype of a complete NFL tight end with plenty of room to grow. After his 16 touchdown catch season in 2016, Roberts’s box out ability in the seam and the redzone are hallmarks of his receiving upside, but he’s a strong and wide-based blocker who compares to a better version of CJ Fiedorwicz at the NFL level.
  1. Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
    A very athletic tight end with speed to boot. Very reliable on 3rd down and a sure-handed receiver. While a mismatch in the passing game due to his size/speed/length combination, he is an average run blocker coming from a run heavy offense. Lacks the proper footwork and technique to set the edge. Dominant and smooth in the seam and should be able to settle in at the NFL level as a pass-catching tight end early in his NFL career.
  1. Jonnu Smith, Florida International

 

Offensive Tackles

  1. Julien Davenport, Bucknell
    In a weak offensive tackle class, one of the weakest in recent NFL Draft history, Julien Davenport could rise into the top-5 at the position. His massive size, natural hand strength and upper half power, coupled with so much room to improve all should make him one of the best offensive tackles in the class. At the very least, he could develop into a mauling right tackle or guard in an offense that values bigger offensive linemen. His lateral movement and hand positioning/hip bend against quicker and interior pressing rushers are major question marks he hasn’t had to face at the FCS level with much regularity and should be his biggest “small schooler” question mark.
  1. Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh
    Bisnowaty has mental lapses in regards to which gap is his, but there are other times where he flows well between multiple assignments in pass pro, nullifying both rushers. He has a strong lower body that generates a lot of pop in his hips when he initiates. His pads stay low relative to his size. His hand placement is often good and he delivers a mean punch, especially as a downhill run blocker.
  1. Zach Banner, USC
    With high praise coming into the season, Banner underwhelmed from a scouting perspective. His massive frame grabs attention, but scouts would be instantly turned away because of his lack to play versus speed with below average footwork. Banner does possess some of the heaviest hands ever seen on a prospect. His hands and upper body alone can prevent bull rushers from getting a chance to touch the quarterback. His overall technique needs refinement but it is rare to gain foot quickness when transitioning to the next level.
  1. Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
    Despite moving to right tackle as a senior, Taylor Moton is listed as a guard for the Senior Bowl. Moton played guard before making the switch to tackle, but it’s telling that he is already being transitioned back to guard before drills and practices have even begun. More than anything else, Moton is a mauler. He has a daunting frame that is backed up by proportional lower body and upper body strength. Moton is quick off the ball, too, though his coordination and approach to blocks that aren’t head-up are questions that Moton needs to answer in Mobile. The week of practices will be Moton’s time to prove that his strength can work outside of the MAC.

 

Offensive Guards/Centers

  1. Dion Dawkins, Temple
    A mauler at the second level, Dawkins frequently finished to the ground in college, and doesn’t easily get disengaged. Dawkins hasn’t seen a substantial amount of NFL-level pass rushers in his time at Temple, but the breadth of talent and his growth as a refined technician against multiple types of rushers is impressive. His character red flags and lack of ideal measurables my be enough to worry some teams away from the top two rounds, but his thick body type, NFL- readiness is a large part of his technical ability, and a physicality/control blocking talent should earn him too-two round grades from a majority of teams, so long as he can impress against his peers at the Senior Bowl.
  1. Dan Feeney, Indiana
    The best player in this game is a guard for the Hoosiers, Dan Feeney. Feeney possesses ideal size at 6’4 311 lbs. Feeney is an aggressive guard, but lacks the feet to kick out to tackle in the NFL. When he’s at his best is when he’s asked to down block. A nasty player who will play through the whistle and will irritate opponents. Feeney has shown the ability to play in both man and zone schemes.
  1. Jordan Morgan, Kutztown
    Jordan Morgan is a large, powerful interior presence who thrives in a phone booth as a pass blocker. A good, not great, downfield mover, Morgan flashes as a steady, powerfully punching short-area blocker who can finish once he gets moving and already engaged. His hand positioning and timing are his small schooler hurdles for NFL evaluators.
  1. Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
    Orlosky has a strong lower body and is able to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. With inside hand placement, Orlosky stays engaged with his blocks. He is a physical blocker and will finish a block by taking the defender to the ground. Orlosky is able to get out in space on screens and get his hands on defenders and get them to the ground. Orlosky handles pressure with ease.
  1. Kyle Fuller, Baylor
    Fuller Started every game at center for the Baylor Bears in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Excellent size at 6’5, 310 lbs and knows how to use his big frame to lean on defensive lineman. Very powerful, but ends up on the ground a little too often. Fuller could learn to hold on his blocks a little longer with better hand positioning.
  1. Kyle Kalis, Michigan
    Kalis has been a long time starter for Michigan and is a typical Big-Ten offensive lineman. Kalis is mean, strong, and relentless. Despite standing at 6’4″, which is an above average height for guards, he often wins the leverage battle as well. Kalis needs to improve his movement and footwork to prevent himself from getting beaten by quicker defenders, but he has a future in the NFL.

 

Defensive Tackles

  1. Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
    Johnson gains most of his attention as an interior pass rusher as he has tallied 7.5 sacks this season. Playing with a non-stop motor and solid pad level, Johnson is a force up the middle in both phases of the game. Strange enough for a defensive tackle, Johnson needs to work on being a better penetrator in the run game needing to show more consistency in redirecting his matchup and being more effective initially off the snap. He can over-pursue his initial assignment at times and is more flashy than reliable as a three-down interior player.
  1. Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
    Ogunjobi has seen limited buzz during the year thanks to poor talent around him. He anchors well, offers an effective bull rush, and consistently wins off the snap. He times his isolation pass-rush reps well and he’s generally able to get pressure, though he can expose his chestplate at times and limits his bull rush ability.
  1. Ryan Glasgow, Michigan
    Glasgow is the brother of recent starting center for the Wolverines, Graham Glasgow. He got hurt in 2015 and missed much of the season, which clearly impacted the Michigan defense. Glasgow doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher as he doesn’t have the athleticism to consistently beat pass blockers in ways other than bull rushing them. As a run defender, however, Glasgow is a force. His strength and body positioning combined allow him to outman most run blockers. He is a one-dimensional player but he can dominate that one dimension at times.
  1. Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, USC
    The Utah graduate transfer showed promise in his final year in college with the Trojans. Tu’ikolovatu plays with a powerful build with a lower center of gravity. He doesn’t make many stops but creates enough pressure and penetration to blow up run plays in the interior. The Rose Bowl defensive MVP lines up mostly as a 3-tech tackle using his athletic feet and quickness to exploit interior linemen. His biggest red mark is he will 26 years old when the NFL season begins. 

 

Defensive Ends

  1. Chris Wormley, Michigan
    A tremendously versatile defensive lineman, Wormley has truly played across the Wolverines defensive line in his career and has the length, lower half bend, and awesome extended away strength to be both a gap-filling 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle, and the punch and drive upfield ability to finish as a pass-rusher or active run defender. His development across all areas of defensive line play should make him a fit for any NFL defense, and he should strive in hybrid defenses at the NFL level that will allow him to maximize his versatile experience.
  1. Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
    Smoot is consistently the best player of the defensive side of the ball for the Illini and one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten. Smoot is a good athlete for his size and has the technical ability to complement that. He stands out as a pass rusher but has spurts of dominance against the run. He struggles if he fails to get initial penetration. He did, however, make multiple plays reminiscent of Jadeveon Clowney’s signature bowl game tackle. Smoot is a naturally talented player who has room to grow, yet has some polish to his game.
  1. Tarell Basham, Ohio
    Tarell Basham should be a guy that teams fall in love with during practices. He’s not the freakiest of athletes, but he plays with impressive strength and motor. More often than not, Basham is having to fight through contact instead of speed past it. His bend around the edge is enough for him to survive, but that is certainly not his calling card, especially when he is rarely able to win immediately off the snap. That being said, there have been major questions about this year’s offensive tackle class, so Basham has a good opportunity to have dominant moments in drills.
  1. Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame

 

Linebackers

  1. Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
    Unlike his 2015 teammate Joe Schobert, who is now in the NFL, Biegel is an athlete. Biegel has the speed, quickness and decisiveness to generate pressure off the edge. When Biegel gets moved around a bit and blitzed from elsewhere, his burst is often enough for him to squeeze through open gaps. Biegel is not terribly strong or savvy, but his athleticism allows him to be a playmaker.
  1. Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
    Rivers offers the ideal combination of explosiveness, bend on the perimeter and production that NFL teams covet in a 4-3 weakside defensive end or stand-up outside linebacker. He offers the quick twitch initially and lateral adjustment and bend to continue to grow at the NFL level. He converts speed to power at a high level thanks to his flexibility and knee bend, but needs to show he can more proficiently in space and control on the edge in the run game with plus positioning and read steps.
  1. Haason Reddick, Temple
    An edge rusher at Temple the last two years, the explosive and bendy edge player will have to transition to a true 4-3 linebacker prospect, and potentially an explosive interior rusher as a 3-4 inside linebacker. His burst and finishing ability on the edge with great flexibility is intriguing, but his NFL projection leaves much to be desired for what he may be at the NFL level. He’s more athletic and flashy rusher than NFL-ready linebacker prospect.
  1. Ben Gedeon, Michigan
    Gedeon has played a big role for the Michigan defense on the inside.  He’s not a super athletic player and he doesn’t move well in pursuit or coverage, but he’s a thumper coming downhill. Gedeon has the vision to see through the line of scrimmage and mirror the moves of running backs as well as the strength bully blockers. He also has ability as a pass rusher who can provide pressure on the interior of the pocket.
  1. Carroll Phillips, Illinois
    Phillips has NFL potential as an EDGE and could offer value as a linebacker. Phillips doesn’t have the NFL frame that his former teammate Smoot does, he weighs only 230 pounds, and he isn’t as well rounded as his counterpart, either. Phillips is pretty much a speed rusher only at this point. Phillips has improvements to make if he wants to be seriously considered by NFL teams, but his ability to beat offensive tackles around the edge is a good start to making a career as a situational pass rusher at the next level.
  1. Jordan Herdman, Simon Fraser
    A Canadian-born player who may end up in the CFL thanks to his ties, Herdman may opt for a career in medicine, as he’s a 3.99 GPA student in biomedical physiology at school. As an athlete, he engages blockers with initial force and bounce-off explosiveness, and works best on the outside where he can engage with his shoulder, keep leverage and still hold ground/gap control in the running game. Additionally, he’s able to both blitz and drop into coverage smoothly and athletically, and may only need a year transition from the D2 level to the NFL level as a contributor.
  1. Connor Harris, Lindenwood

 

Cornerbacks

  1. Desmond King, Iowa

King is one of the more productive cornerbacks in this talent-laden position group. The senior returned for another season just to show what he is capable of once more. King shows off excellent ball skills accompanied by ball awareness and quickness to stay on par with quicker receivers. He does show some stiffness when changing direction, but has enough acceleration to turn down a potential concern in that area. King will also carry the mold of being one of the more polished run defenders of his position showing promise as an open field tackler and block shedder. In the past two seasons, King has recorded 10 interceptions.

  1. Rasul Douglas, West Virginia

Douglas has been the Mountaineers’’ best defensive player this season. Douglas has a team high eight interceptions, but it’s been his play against elite competition that has helped West Virginia become one of the best pass defenses in the entire country. Douglas has excellent size and length, but doesn’t always use it to the best of his ability in the short-area. HIs length and turn-and-run ability should generate ample interest from NFL teams.

  1. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
    Lewis is a rounding-up 5’10 cornerback with limited bulk and likely not a fit for many teams in the NFL. But Lewis has ideal hip fluidity and turn, remains balanced throughout his downfield coverage, and has arguably the best ball skills and in-air timing of any cornerback in the country. He struggles a bit with bigger receivers but has shown the capability and activeness with his hands to make up for it consistently. He’s feisty and explosive as a tackler, but likely will struggle to be a trusted edge protector in the run game.
  1. Brendan Langley, Lamar

Brendan Langley has some of the same traits as Josh Norman, in that he plays long at the position, finishes as an intercepting cornerback back, and isn’t shy about physicality. His finishing ability at the catch-point and body control throughout his pedal speak to his likely easy adjustment to the NFL level despite hailing from a small school.

  1. Aaron Penton, Missouri

Productive three-year starter at nickel who shows great athleticism and speed to blanket receivers. A true cover corner that has great flexibility and fluid hips to turn and run or break down and come up in the running game. Plays a lot like Bengals CB Leon Hall. Struggles versus bigger receivers for contested catches and jump balls. Off-cover man with added value thanks to his nickel coverage success. Also a capable returner with good agility in the open-field. Not a ton of upside, but a solid all-around nickel corner who adds special teams versatility.

 

Safeties

  1. Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis
    Possessing both high-level body control and rangy explosiveness from the free safety spot, he’s built the part to work in the box and in pick-up coverage at the NFL level. He’s been wildly productive and finishes at the catch-point, and is a natural hands catcher for a defensive back. He was on NFL radars to begin the season and didn’t disappoint production or growth as a safety. He’s a true anticipator, not guesser, at the safety position and can play both spots if need be.
  1. John Johnson, Boston College
    Johnson is a hybrid defensive back. Though his home is at free safety, Johnson has spent time at cornerback. He has an athletic, lanky body that allows him to keep up with wide receivers in man coverage just as well as he patrols the middle of the field as a deep safety. Johnson is not scared of taking chances or flowing downhill to make tackles. He’s a truly versatile defensive weapon.
  1. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
    Athletic, explosive and built the part of an in-the-box strong safety, Melifonwu should test the part in the draft process and flashes high-level pop as a tackler and downhill play disruption. But he’s too often a guesser rather than an anticipator from the safety spot and can be caught stiff hipped too often to be relied upon as a starter despite his athleticism and explosive bursts.
  1. Nate Gerry, Nebraska
    Gerry has been a playmaker at safety for Nebraska for the past few years, but in 2016 he should also take on a leadership role on the defense. Gerry is exceptional both in coverage and as a tackler. He has the size and strength at 6’2″ and 210 pounds to come up and defend against the run in the box. He also has the athletic ability and mental capacity to cover on the deep end. Gerry is disciplined in coverage but has the ball-hawking skills to create turnovers.