The second day of the Senior Bowl is always my favorite of the week. It's full pads. The first day rust is kicked off. The cream stays at the top or rises to the top. Guys that struggled a bit get a chance to self-correct. The intensity goes up a notch as players are facing some of the same guys for the second day. It gets a little testy. It's awesome. So, let's dive into my Harris Hits from Day Two of the Senior Bowl.
Three wide receivers have truly stood out more than any others the past two days. Now, Georgia WR Ladd McConkey didn't have as great a day Wednesday in the afternoon practice, but there's little question that he's a top 50 Harris 100 prospect. The other two - Michigan WR Roman Wilson and Florida WR Ricky Pearsall - were magnificent on Wednesday.
Wilson has put on a show in every single competitive drill. After practice, he compared himself to Seahawks Pro Bowl WR Tyler Lockett, but I see more Will Fuller V. Either way, he made a one hand catch at the end of practice in a "best on best" period that left everyone buzzing. Toledo star CB Quinyon Mitchell has locked up EVERYONE all week long, but Wilson lost him on his out route but Michael Penix Jr. threw the ball up the field. Wilson threw up his right hand as he was falling out of bounds and snatched the ball out of the air to the amazement of everyone in the building.
Florida's Pearsall is going to be one of my Draft Crushes. Why? Well, he's having a Cooper Kupp like Senior Bowl. He's not Cooper Kupp but here's what I mean. Years ago, Kupp embarrassed every DB on nearly every single route. I saw DB's fighting to get a piece of Kupp to show the future Rams Pro Bowl receiver that Kupp couldn't do THAT on them. Then, Kupp wasted everyone. By day two, dudes were ducking him because he just ran a brilliant route, got separation and made the catch…all over the field, all the time. It was as impressive as anything I've seen in Mobile. Pearsall is approaching that status. No matter the route. No matter the defensive back. Pearsall wins. He wins with speed. He wins with pacing and tempo with his routes. He snatches the ball with his hands away from his body.
The first route that I saw of his during one-on-ones on Wednesday was a corner route deep down the field. When he made the break out of his route to the corner, he ACCELERATED AWAY from the defensive back easily. The throw was up the field a little bit, but Pearsall adjusted to make the catch look easy. Later, in the same drill, he won with a curl route against Rutgers CB Max Melton who has been as tough to beat as Quinyon Mitchell has been. It's clear that the QBs are looking for Pearsall because he's going to get open and make a play for them. Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman threw him a quick hitch on the first play of a third down team period and Pearsall transitioned from catch to SPRINT in a blink. Between McConkey, Wilson, Pearsall and Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley, it's tough to separate those guys in my Harris 100. Some great options for sure, if the Texans are in the pass catcher market this April/May.
A player that has been on my radar screen for a while, a loooong while, is NC State LB Payton Wilson. The linebacker group in Mobile is solid, but Wilson stands out amongst this group. If he's healthy…and that's been a big if throughout his career, he's near the top of the list. He made one heck of a pass breakup on a throw to Penn State TE Theo Johnson in team drills.
I mentioned Baylor DT Gabe Hall on Tuesday and he continued to impress. On the first play of a team session, he got his massively long arms up in the way of a Sam Hartman pass and knocked it down. I don't even know how a QB is supposed to throw OVER his arms. The more I watch him, the more the name DeForest Buckner comes to mind. Buckner cuts such an impressive figure and Hall does so similarly. Hall has a LONG way to go to get to Buckner's status, but the body, build and traits are similar. During one-on-ones, he worked a shock/yank that was as violent as anything I've seen. That yank pulled the 300+lb IOL to the ground and Hall moved past easily to the QB.
On Tuesday, I spent the day watching the WR/DBs and didn't get to see Oregon IOL Jackson Powers-Johnson work his magic. I saw plenty of it on social media and the sort on Tuesday night. So, I made it my work mission to see JP-J on Wednesday, in addition to the American Team OL/DL one-on-ones. It was worth it, wow. One of the best reps that I've seen throughout the week was when Powers-Johnson STONED Ohio State's twitchy/explosive Michael Hall Jr's spin move. When I could see Hall setting up the move, I was curious if JP-J was under control, had the feet and the agility to stay with it. Uh, absolutely! He just slid in front of Hall and stopped his progress on the spot. I put an asterisk next to that one as the OL erupted with joy after that rep.
Kansas OL Dominick Puni played left tackle while in college, but he put in some time at center on Wednesday. I was impressed when he went one-on-one with Duke DT Dewayne Carter. Puni couldn't have locked up Carter any more effectively when the two went head-to-head. Puni got his hands under Carter and directed him and controlled his movements perfectly. Puni was on my list of guys that I wanted to see more of down in Mobile and he was impressive on Wednesday.
North Carolina WR Tez Walker is arguably the most explosive and fastest receiver in Mobile, but he's struggling to complete plays with drops at the most inopportune times. He's making tough catches look easy, but dropping well thrown passes. Now, he did run one of the SWEETEST double moves for a TD, making the easy catch too. But, it's got to be more consistent. There's a little of that going on with USC's Brenden Rice but he's not had as many drops as Tez.
It was Rice who Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell was covering on a deep post route when the Toledo Rocket made one of the best picks of the week. Man, I'm more and more convinced he's CB1 in this 2024 NFL Draft class.
Rice has been solid for the most part throughout the week, but a concentration drop in the end zone was a killer.
Michigan DE Jaylin Harrell was consistently a menace off the edge during team drills. He disrupted at least three different plays. He bull rushed Arizona OT Jordan Morgan right back into Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. for a "sack".
Kansas OLB Austin Booker declared early for the NFL Draft and got an invite to the Senior Bowl. Given that he hadn't played much in his first two years at Minnesota, he was not on my radar screen at all. But, I'll be damned, he has been a PROBLEM, my goodness. Twitch. Length. Relentlessness. He knows how to use his length and showed that when he used that stab move during one-on-ones to get the QB easily. He did that again in team drills to get another sack. He's lithe and long, so he needs to add a bit more weight but I'm willing to see where it goes given his pass rush acumen.
Tuesday's RB star UNH Dylan Laube showed today how impressive he is as a receiver. I walked down to the WR/DB one-on-ones after watching the OL/DL and as I did, I saw a blur go down the field on a deep route and snag a touchdown easily. I watched wondering what WR that was and then Laube popped up off the ground. Wow. He could play slot WR. He can play RB. He's a true BALLER.
The other RB who just continues to make plays in the passing game is Kentucky RB Ray Davis. During one-on-ones, he had a seam route down the field and the QB threw the ball behind him. Davis leapt up, reached behind him and snagged the pass one handed. I didn't think he had that receiving club in his bag, so to speak. As a runner, he caught my attention on Wednesday as well. He ran an inside run, popping through the A gap until he got the second level. Once there, he threw on the breaks, came to a complete stop and exited the hole at a 90 degree angle. I mean, what? He's flying through full speed, comes to a stop while defenders flail and then takes a left turn to avoid more traffic. I tried to write in my notebook what I saw and it just was gibberish. That was incredible. As I saw him walk away from me today, I finally realized his comp - Frank Gore Sr. Body is the same. Running style is similar. Great hands.
I like Rice WR Luke McCaffrey in the slot. He was a tough cover for Penn State CB Kalen King as McCaffrey shook him at the line of scrimmage and got yards of separation for a big catch.
Troy RB Kimani Vidal is the epitome of a RB with outstanding contact balance. He doesn't get disrupted when he's contacted or a defender gives a glancing blow. Thick trunk. Glides through holes. There are going to be some day three or later RB options in this RB class and Vidal is one of them for sure.
I mentioned yesterday the battle between Arkansas IOL Beaux Limmer and Texas DT T'Vondre Sweat. Limmer got under Sweat's pads and moved him off the ball, which is an unusual feeling for the 345-lb Sweat. The Longhorn seemed to lock that memory away until he faced Limmer again on Wednesday. When I say that I thought Sweat broke him in half, I'm not joking. There was this buzz throughout the people standing near the OL/DL one-on-one drills that gasped when Sweat put Limmer on his wallet. Now, Sweat has done that to plenty of IOL in his career, but that one had to be sweet after what happened on Tuesday. That said, Limmer has been excellent throughout the week. Sweat has been as well…when he's wanted - it's been a very Albert Haynesworth like couple of days for Sweat - dominant when he wants.
One of the most impressive WRs in the afternoon practice was Tulane slot WR Jha'Quan Jackson. He COOKED most everyone that he faced. He made catches on deep routes. He caught the prototypical slot routes inside as well. Super quick. Dynamic down the field. Better than expected hands. In my notes, I just have "Tulane WR deep route TD. Tulane WR another great route. Jackson Tulane corner route beauty." My notebook was littered with many of those same comments. He missed four games at the end of the season so he was off the radar screen for a while. Wednesday put him right back on it.
I mentioned a trio of pass catchers above and I'd be remiss to leave out Louisville WR Jamari Thrash. He's got the complete route running package. Hesi moves. Shifty out of his breaks. Great selling deep and working back down his stem. He also has excellent hands too. I wrote in my notebook "Thrash…curl…great route…+ hands." He has a complete skill set to be a game breaker in due time at the NFL level.
Auburn CB D.J. James weighed in at 170 lb and there are maybe two or three DBs in the NFL at that size. But, BUT if you want to talk about feisty and sticky in coverage, James wants all the smoke. He broke up a pair of passes on the day and should've had a pick in the process as well.
The best cover DB on Wednesday was Louisville CB Jarvis Brownlee Jr. My goodness. He locked up WRs in the slot like he knew what route was coming. He ran the route, as they say, for Tulane WR Jha'Quan Jackson on one inside route. He then came up with a pass breakup on a slot route later in one-on-ones. He dominated the period.
Also shining at the DB position was Kentucky CB Andru Phillips. On one of his first reps, he ran step for step down the field with Florida State WR Johnny Wilson on a deep route, forcing an incompletion. A few reps later, he locked up Georgia WR Ladd McConkey on a whip route and I haven't seen anyone do that this week.
I was a MASSIVE fan of former Georgia Tech star Keion White at last year's Senior Bowl and Missouri DL Darius Robinson is similar to the Patriots DL. Robinson made his presence known on Wednesday, inside and out. He lined up inside during team drills and forced an incompletion on a screen because he was ON the QB as soon as he got to the top of his drop. His first rep in one-on-ones was a beauty as he threw an arm over inside move to get to the QB. He then did it again, this time going outside with his arm over move, against Tuesday's star OT Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton. Robinson just whipped the OL all day long. The power. The speed. The quickness. The size. Robinson is an intriguing DL package.
I thought that Houston OT Patrick Paul had a much better Wednesday than he did on Tuesday. He had a pair of nearly pristine reps and looked more like the top 50 prospect that many think that he is than what he looked like on Tuesday. He struggles sometimes with shorter rushers because he dips his head to make contact as he's 6-6+. But, he was on his technique throughout his one-on-one pass rush reps. He was demonstrative after each rep, playing with more ferocity and intensity on Wednesday.
Texas Tech edge rusher Myles Cole has an 87-inch wingspan and when he uses those insanely long arms effectively on his pass rush moves, he's an issue for OTs. He used a long arm/stab move on his first rush and went right through the OT to the QB. He then used a solid chop/rip move to get loose on the edge as well.
LSU DT Jordan Jefferson had another solid day, using his power to get into blockers quickly and then directing them with his strength. I didn't come to Mobile with Jefferson on my mind but I'm going to leave on Thursday wanting to see more for sure.
Florida State DT Braden Fiske tried some different pass rush moves in one-on-ones but when he kept both cleats in the ground, Fiske gave the interior OL fits with his quickness and power. I'm a big fan.
I have really liked the progress that U Conn IOL Christian Haynes made this week thus far. I had him as a Harris 100 prospect back in the summer and I don't see that changing too much.
Florida State WR Johnny Wilson was a REALLY tough cover on Wednesday. He showed how strong his hands are and was difficult to cover in all areas of the field. Trying to figure out where to put him in my Harris 100 is a bit confusing because he's not twitchy but he's fast enough when he can build up his speed. But, on Wednesday, he was efficient in and out of his breaks, snatched the ball away from his body and got separation throughout the day. Good day for the Seminole.
Alright, it's time to close the notebook for the night and get ready for the last day of practice and my last in Mobile tomorrow. See ya then, everyone!