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All Star Circuit

Senior Bowl Review: Offense

by Josh Norris
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

I cannot give you a percentage of how much an all star event factors into my process. It is a one man show over here in terms of evaluation. I will breakdown each position below and rank participating performers accordingly. Please note, this is not strictly based on how these prospects did this week, instead it is based on their complete evaluation up to this point.


For comparison, here is how I ranked the attendees prior to this week. Also, I was able to watch coaching practice tape for every 1 on 1 OL/DL drill and some CB/WR drills this week, which allowed me to focus on specific prospects in these important matchups.


Here are the entries from Tuesday and Wednesday.


Be sure to check out my top-25 Senior Bowlers exiting the event in the Defensive review, coming soon.


I want to call attention to the importance of context when evaluating an all star event. The topic was a point of discussion on the latest episode of my podcast.


Quarterbacks


1. Blake Sims, Alabama - Let me start by saying this does not mean Sims is a finished product or that I would select him before the third day. However, I do consider Sims the No. 3 QB in this class. For now. I guess?  Sims displays functional mobility in the pocket while keeping his eyes up to go along with an arm to threaten multiple levels of the field. He has very inconsistent placement, however, as Sims makes some ridiculous window throws along the sideline but the shows poor accuracy to be intercepted within the same series. It was odd, this week Sims looked worse against air and when throwing to 1 on 1s than when in 7 on 7s and team drills.


2. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State - Grayson was allowed to display proficiency in a variety of formations and personnel while at CSU. Jim McElwain asked Grayson to throw in four WR sets and then work under center with an overloaded line on the next snap. I do not know Grayson, but he plays like an intelligent passer. Still, his ceiling is likely a No. 2 who will only start out of necessity.


3. The rest? I’d place Sean Mannion and Bryce Petty on equal footing here. Shane Carden and Bryan Bennett are not draftable.


Running Backs


1. David Cobb, Minnesota - Cobb entered the week as my top back and stays there. Running backs have a difficult time shining during all star event practices, since many plays are blown dead on first contact. Cobb shines at creating yards on his own after breaking contact and is comfortable in space for a bigger back. I would not say he is a “good” pass protector at this time, but the foundation is there. Cobb is a fringe top five RB for me.


2. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska - Most of the negatives this week regarding Abdullah focused on his poor performance in pass protection drills. Context is needed. There might be one, maybe two, good pass protectors in each class. So why do we count it as a negative against a prospect? I understand pointing out a player does not win there, but instead of critiquing so many, we should heap extra praise on those who can pass protect or at least have a foundation to work with.


3. David Johnson, Northern Iowa - I know Johnson had a great game performance, exhibiting patience and vision along the sideline to read blocks. I am much more sold on his receiving and in space ability than instincts behind coupled with fluidity behind the line of scrimmage. Yes, I know his run in the actual game counters that. That same cut he made was successful on this occurrence, but I am not sold it will more than it won’t. We project position switches more often than they actually happen, however, I could see Johnson thriving as an H-back or passing down specialist.


4. Tyler Varga, Yale - Speaking of specialists, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans draft Varga on the third day. No info, just a hunch with how much they used him at running back. I’m not saying Varga is a real running threat. He’s more of a utility player who could help on passing downs and stick on the field with tempo. He will undoubtedly make a roster because of his multi-tool skills. The question is if he can stick long term without winning in one specific area.


5. Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn - I know some will disagree, but CAP is a fifth-round to UDFA to me. Now I didn’t give enough credit to Tre Mason last year. CAP is not Mason, however.

~

Here are the entries from Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

I want to call attention to the importance of context when evaluating an all star event. The topic was a point of discussion on the latest episode of my podcast.


Wide Receivers


1. Jamison Crowder, Duke - There is so much of John Brown’s game when I watch Crowder.  Smalls who play big are real, and multiple attended the 2015 Senior Bowl. Crowder is the best of the bunch. He wins in the “small” game, winning with burst, separation and yards after catch ability. However, he flashes leaving his feet and winning in contested situations. A late second- to third-round selection makes sense for the Blue Devil.


2. Tony Lippett, Michigan State - The Senior Bowl is not the type of place Lippett shines, despite my previous conclusion that it would be. Lippett is a fluid mover who creates space with route and can win with slivers of separation on contested catches. He also offers a 6’2.5” frame with nearly 33” arms. No flash, lots of substance here.


3. Devin Smith, Ohio State - I still think Smith is a role player, but he can dominate in the vertical or downfield game. Can he, and will he be asked, to be more than that is the question. Winning at multiple levels is not a strength right now, and I’m of the opinion prospects do not improve as often as it is discussed.


4. Justin Hardy, ECU - It was surprising to see Hardy play more on the outside than in the slot during Senior Bowl week. The easy projection is inside and Hardy saw a lot of time there at ECU. Long arms and hands match his game.


5. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State - Lockett caught everything this week. He did not catch everything this year, especially against Auburn. He is another small who plays big, even potentially on the outside in two receiver sets.


6. Phillip Dorsett, Miami - Dorsett had a great week, but let's not go crazy projecting him in the top two rounds. He’s another that has exceptional quickness, long speed and separation skills.


7. Sammie Coates, Auburn - Coates eats up yards in a hurry once up to top speed. I will never question his athleticism, but he is a true “don’t count it twice” case (more on the when the NFL Combine rolls around). Coates put together possibly the 10 best downfield catches. He also looked completely out of his element on 10 others. That is not good for a receiver who focuses on one level of the field. Not only is Coates unreliable when catching the football once it gets to his hands, it also not having the proper timing to elevate or body control to out-position the opponent. A lot of work is needed.


8. Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas - Moving from Coates, to Lewis, it is easy to see the impact of good timing, body control and ball vision. Lewis also boasts a 6’3.5” frame. Don’t look for burning athleticism. Look for someone who can create space when separation was not there before the catch point. This is one of the great parts of player evaluation, comparing prospects at the same position from Auburn and Central Arkansas.


9. Antwan Goodley, Baylor - Honestly, I need to go back and look at Goodley. He was better without the ball in his hands than I expected.


10. Rannell Hall, UCF - Hall, along with Lewis, likely made the most acrobatic catches of the week. It is obvious he can track and time catches better than most.



Tight Ends


1. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame - Walford had a great week, but I’ll stick with Koyack as the top tight end at the event. Koyack has “won” in both a move tight end role and when inline and produces at a consistent performance from each.


2. Clive Walford, Miami - Walford dominated the slot and seam this week in 7 on 7s and team activities. I like Walford quite a bit, especially in the third-round range. He’ll have a great argument for being the second prospect at his position off the board.


3. Nick Boyle, Delaware

4. Casey Pierce, Kent State

5. C.J. Uzomah, Auburn


Offensive Tackles


1. La’El Collins, LSU - La’El is a first-round left tackle. I know some think he is better suited at guard, and I know some do not think he is a first-round talent. Collins has amazing functional strength and moves well for a power blocker. Might he give you two or three poor snaps a game? Yes, but the a bit of luck factors into degree of impact those have. You have to look at Collins’ whole body of work, and I was and still am extremely impressed.


2. T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh - There is an obvious difference between Clemmings’ ability to handle lateral moves compared to Collins. The former has a much more difficult time. Not only is it about footwork, but the key is a stiff inside armbar to prevent that inside line. Clemmings has to understand patience and distance. Again, the functional strength is there, which has been missing from many recent early OTs taken.

 

3. T Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State - Those who watched Sambrailo prior to this week expected his performance. He will satisfy evaluators who are looking for positioning blockers, and potentially in the early parts of the second-round. He will absolutely get jolted on first contact by rushers with power and has not consistently displayed the ability to anchor.


4. Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin - After watching Havenstein from the endzone angle, it is clear his first punch and landing points are far too wide. This allows pass rushers to convert speed to power, instantly putting Havenstein at a disadvantage on first contact. He has strength, but this is a difficult hill to consistently overcome.


5. Donovan Smith, Penn State - There’s so much ability here, it just isn’t consistently packaged to produce a good result. Teams that abide by strength and big frames could target Smith at the end of the second day.


Interior Offensive Linemen


1. Tre Jackson, FSU - Jackson was extremely patient in his set, winning with positioning and strength to anchor. He was more than competent reaching blocks in gaps away from him. Winning against quickness and power is critical for an interior blocker.

 

2. Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech - This is a big projection since Mason likely took more pass protection reps than he did during his entire GaTech career. The early returns were not great, including Mason struggling on to his block like a water skier hanging on to the handle despite falling down. Mason improved during practice, although it did not show in the game. He is already a mauling run blocker. Some teams could view Mason as a C.


3. Arie Kouandjio, Alabama - Arie is a better prospect than Cyrus, specifically with fluidity and not overextending. The strength and length are there, and Arie is actually proficient at getting to the second level.


4. Laken Tomlinson, Duke - I know many will rate Tomlinson higher on the list. I like him quite a bit, and each interior OL is pretty close in ranking. That is more important than the actual number. Tomlinson was among the best at consistently anchoring. It might not be on first contact, but he would slow and stop his opponents’ momentum at a high rate in 1 on 1s.


5. Ali Marpet, Hobart - I was able to watch Marpet’s college tape the day before leaving for Mobile. I was impressed, but did not expect him to perform as well as he did. The left tackle converted to guard fairly seamlessly.

Josh Norris
Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .