2016 Senior Bowl Preview: North Offense, led by Carson Wentz and Braxton Miller


The North Roster offers the Senior Bowl’s best (and most intriguing) quarterback prospect in Carson Wentz, three top-100 Big-Ten receivers, plus interior offensive linemen and a running back that’s quietly among the 2016 draft’s best. Here’s our 2016 Senior Bowl Preview for the North Offense.

By: Eric Galko, OS Staff


  1. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

A wrist injury kept him out a solid chunk of his senior season, but despite the injury and his level of competition, Wentz has already seen his name brought up as a first-round prospect. With a live arm to throw across the field, Wentz has developed plus-velocity control to work between and over/under zone coverages, though he still fastballs a bit. His vertical throws/touch are still an issue, and may persist in the NFL. Wentz’s developed velocity control, athleticism and vertical issues remind me plenty of Ryan Tannehill.

  1. Cody Kessler, QB, USC

Kessler is one of the most straight-forward prospects in the class. He’s a clean cut West Coast passer. He much prefers to operate within the system and can really make an offense hum when he does. Though, if he is made uncomfortable, he is not dynamic or poised enough to consistently make plays. Kessler has the appropriate short-area athleticism and mental acuity to function at the NFL level in a West Coast offense. He is starting quarterback material, but there is reason to believe he can be a useful asset, both as a backup passer and a mind in the film room. 

  1. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford

As far as career arcs go, Hogan is an interesting prospect. During his freshman year, he got as much attention as Brett Hundley and future Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Hogan proceeded to regress the following two years. He became more robotic in his approach and it hurt him, but it all came to fruition in his senior year. He played very close to the script, but he had taken mental steps that allowed him to be able to function well as a precision passer. Hogan lacks the natural, exciting aura of an NFL starting quarterback, though. His best fit is as an insurance policy type backup.

  1. Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech

The former Florida Gator found a home in Louisiana, and he’s done well to rehab his draft prospects in the LA Tech offense. Driskel got the opportunity to really utilize his vertical ball placement and bucket throws in the offense, by far his best skill set. His skittish feet and erratic placement at Florida haven’t totally subsided, but he’s shown enough with his new school potentially flash during practices.

Running Backs

  1. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech

Possessing remarkable patience, balance and stop-start ability, Dixon has emerged as sleeper-no-more in the running back class. Both in his initial hole build-up and on the perimeter, Dixon offers near-elite lateral quickness and smooth cuts to evade full impact of tacklers and regain his accleration when initially knocked off his hole. He has some timing/decisiveness question marks, but they may be due to lackluster blocking from his offensive line rather than his own doing. He doesn’t always initial contact in space with great power, which is both a positive (knows where he thrives) and a negative (limited as to the volume/situations he’s best in).

  1. Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State

Ervin was been a do-it-all playmaker for the San Jose State offense just like Christian McCaffery was for Stanford this year (though obviously not to the same extent). With active feet on the interior as a runner and at the second-level, Ervin switches between big and small movements with ease, allowing him to re-accelarate easily and with power. He’s able to stay tight and get skinny as well as keep defenders off balance in the open-field enough to take advantage with physicality. He’s arguably the best third-down runner at the Senior Bowl and could be the best returner in practices as well.

  1. Chris Swain, RB, Navy

The Navy power back was generally the man behind rushing touchdown record-breaker Keenan Reynolds. But Swain, who’s a remarkably built 6’1, 245, is a bruiser on the interior who’s role in the Navy offense was to stay low through contact and, if space opened up at the second-level, to explode north and south for as many added yards s possible. The transition from the Navy option offense to a deeper set in the backfield, always running upright and getting experience as a pass-blocker will all be on display, for better or for worse, during practices.


Wide Receivers

  1. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

In anticipation of his Senior Bowl week, I recently wrote about why Miller isn’t as much of a project prospect as some may believe. His route running, both in his upper half movement and footwork decisiveness still need drastic improvement, eh proved in his first and only season at receiver that he has naturally soft hands, remarkable elusiveness in the open field (as he proved when he played quarterback) and vertical speed to work past defensive backs in spite of lackluster routes.

  1. Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

Aside from his off-field assault issues, Carroo is receiver prospect that’s easy to see producing at the NFL level. Exploding at his route stem, repeatedly separating in mid-field routes, finishing away from his frame and embracing contact on the perimeter and in traffic, Carroo offers an NFL-readiness as a pass-catcher despite not having an overall refinement to his game. His run-after-catch and deep play ability is a bonus. He’ll be one of, if not the, most impressive receiver during practices.

  1. Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State

Connor Cook’s favorite offensive weapon in the Spartan offense, Burbridge showcased awesome ball-skills, timing and body control throughout his senior season. Lacking great size, length or vertical speed, Burbridge plays like a taller, longer receiver, but has the lower body type and occasional burst after catch to stil work on underneath and mid-range routes. How he separates vertically as well as how he matches up with longer cornerbacks in-air will be the two aspects of his game I’ll be tracking closely.

  1. Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMass
  2. Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA
  3. Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati


Tight Ends

  1. Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State

While not often used in his college career, Vannett earns the benefit of the doubt in the draft process. He’s an ideally built tight end (likely around 6’6, 250 pounds) and has developed into a relatively complete player, succeeding as a run and pass-blocker, and showing patience in the seam. The draft season will define Vannett’s NFL prospects after an Ohio State career that did little for his draft grade, but he should thrive throughout the process.

  1. Bryce Willaims, TE, East Carolina
  2. Henry Kreiger-Cobel, TE, Iowa


Offensive Line

  1. Josh Garnett, OG, Stanford

Stanford’s knack for producing high level offensive linemen continues with Garnett. Garnett is the spearhead of Stanford’s rushing attack as he is always ran behind, either from his normal left guard spot or as a pulling guard. Garnett’s menacing power and “play to the whistle” mentality make him a force as an interior run blocker. Once he gets his hands on a defender, the snap is over for said defender. Garnett is not the most fluid or high-speed athlete, but he more than meets the baseline for athleticism and he is smart enough to often compensate for his clunky movement ability. Garnett has all the makings to be the first interior linemen off the board in the spring.

  1. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

Springs is a long and lean pass blocking tackle who offers plus athleticism, evidenced by his ability to stay in front of speed rush defenders and redirect with them on their counter moves. He also has the ability to quickly anchor and stop the charge of power rushers. His major flaw is the leverage he plays with in the running game, which prevents him from being able to move defenders off the point of attack. Jason is a 4-year starter that has been a very durable and productive player for an Indiana offense that has quietly threatened most of the Big Ten’s best teams.

  1. Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State

FCS national champion North Dakota State’s left tackle Joe Haeg deserves ample credit for the team’s run and pass success. Offering quick, meaningful steps off the snap and as an interior pivoting lineman, Haeg makes up for a lack of great perimeter athleticism with efficiency and reliability. He does a great job of reengaging after first contact and works hard to keep inside hand leverage, but he could be a be a bit more decisive in pass protection when meeting speed rushers and may be better suited inside or at right tackle at the NFL level. Playing with composure, plus-hand placement and active feet, Haeg has the make-up of a reliable NFL starter.

  1. Nick Martin, OG/OC, Notre Dame

A three-year starter for Notre Dame and brother of Cowboys standout Zach Martin, Nick has similar measureables that will keep him inside at guard or center at the NFL level. A clear leader for the Notre Dame offense and has experience making calls at the line, Martin is an adequate bender and upfield run blocker. He relies on efficient steps to his block as well as plus-hand quickness, especially from the center position post-snap. Martin is a heady interior blocker who makes up for a lack of great athleticism with refined mechanics and tenacity to his game. He may struggle in some drills during practice, but he could be a top-100 center prospect.

  1. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

Murphy played the left tackle spot next to Josh Garnett, and could be doing the same during Senior Bowl practices. Murphy brings the same power to his game that Garnett does, making that side of the line a terror for opposing teams. His punch can be deadly, both in placement and in power. Murphy does not quite have the same footwork refinement as his counterpart, though. Murphy can get flat-footed, both as a pass blocker and run blocker. Sluggish footwork aside, the power and understanding of his position that Murphy displays is going to make him a valuable asset to an NFL team.

  1. Joe Dahl, OG/OT, Washington State
  2. Jack Allen, OC, Michigan State
  3. Cole Toner, OT/OG, Harvard
  4. Willie Beavers, OG, Western Michigan
  5. Austin Blythe, OC, Iowa
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