Senior Bowl: 17 observations from Day 2

Check out some snapshots from Day 2 of Senior Bowl practice in Fairhope and Mobile, Alabama. Images courtesy of AP.


The Senior Bowl practices continued on a cold, brisk day in Mobile, Alabama. Oh, we all complained about it, too. Anyhow, the good news was that we stayed relatively dry after Senior Bowl Director Phil Savage moved the practices back a couple of hours to avoid the rain that had been forecasted for days. Luckily, the players seemingly weren't phased at all. Here are my observations from another day in Mobile.

  1. Speaking of not phased... Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard walked on the field with a cut-off undershirt and his practice pants, carrying his helmet and shoulder pads, like a BAWSE. That's a guy I unabashedly root for. I talked to him on Tuesday night at Senior Bowl media night. If you don't know his story… his dad was a beloved receiver for the Sooners in the mid-1980s heyday. But, he unexpectedly passed away while Sterling was young. Bob Stoops, the Sooners head coach, took Sterling under his and the team's wing and it eventually led to Sterling receiving a scholarship to play for Stoops in Norman.

His entire senior season was jammed with emotion but on Senior Day, Sooner legend Brian Bosworth presented Shepard with an old program that featured Shepard's dad on the cover and Bosworth had it signed by the entire 1985 National Championship team. Shepard immediately broke into tears. But, don't let that side of Shepard fool you; this young man is a straight route running killer. For two days, he's done nothing but gain separation from defensive backs. He's gained a ton of steam throughout his senior campaign and it's continued through this week in Mobile.

  1. Clemson DT D.J. Reader is a monster at the point of attack. I could see him playing over the nose in a 3-4 and/or sliding a bit to play the 1-tech in 4-3 over fronts as well. I haven't seen any of the South team interior linemen move him over the past two days.
  1. Ohio State WR (trust me, that's taking a little bit to get used to) Braxton Miller looked much more comfortable in everything he did at receiver on Wednesday. He's so quick and can make ANYONE miss in space, but one thing he'll need in the future is to make CBs miss quicker. He takes a little too long setting up the DB than the QB has time to throw. But, considering how much he's improved over just a couple of practices, I'm intrigued by what he can do with full-time work at the position going forward.
  1. A guy I didn't mention in my observations on Tuesday was Cincinnati WR Chris Moore. He was second on the Bearcats' squad in 2015 with 40 catches, a mere 50 behind the leader. But, BUT, Moore averaged over 21 yards per catch and that ability to make plays on the ball deep down the field has been highly evident. He was one of the few receivers to make multiple downfield catches and made it look easy to be honest. He strikes me as the Devin Smith of the 2016 NFL Draft class, but the way he's performed this week thus far, he's worth watching throughout this draft process.
  1. The receiver, though, that has honestly made an impression on me is Rutgers star Leonte Carroo. He's quick enough to make something happen on catch-and-run type throws. He can get deep with decent speed. He can get open with excellent route running. He uses his hands well to get open and his technique vs. press coverage or DBs challenging him at the top of his stem is outstanding. I was on the fence, heading to Mobile, whether Carroo was a top 75-100 player. But, there's little doubt now that he'll be in my top 75 and will be knocking on the top 50 ceiling.
  1. Southern Utah S Miles Killebrew is well put together and is near 230 pounds, but he turns his hips well and is definitely a big safety and not a small outside linebacker. He's more fluid than I expected him to be and will find a spot on an NFL defense immediately, even if it's at a sub-package LB spot to start his career.
  1. The most impressive secondary member on the North team this week is Boise State Darian Thompson. I watched him during individual periods and he was doing movement drills alongside a cornerback. If I didn't know who the guy was next to him, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But, Thompson was moving a shade quicker than the corner next to him.
  1. Later in the practice, Thompson was called out by the Cowboys coaching staff to go 1-on-1 with Iowa TE Henry Krieger Coble. The past two days, the Cowboys staff has stopped practice halfway through and called out three 1-on-1s in front of the entire North squad. Jason Garrett called out "Thompson…let's go." When Krieger Coble started on his shallow cross, Thompson anticipated the route, cut in front and kept the Iowa TE from making the catch. And, here's the big thing, the Bronco safety did so without interfering. He's been around the ball throughout the week and he's making a case to be one of the top three safeties off the board in April/May.
  1. I talked to's Lance Zierlein about a number of different topics; Notre Dame DT/DE Sheldon Day was one of them. Both of us really like him. Size-wise, on a stacked North D-Line, he gets lost, but when the ball is snapped, he goes into Aaron Donald mode in a blink. I'm not sure where Day plays but then again, after seeing Donald a few years ago, I get a similar feel with Day. He's not as dynamic and explosive as Donald, but he plays with that fire and quickness up the field. The North offense attempted a run play during 11-on-11 and Day was off the ball so fast that the OL hadn't even gotten out of their stances before Day was in the backfield.
  1. Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington wasn't as dominant as he was yesterday, but it was clear he was working on some different pass rush techniques during 1-on-1s. But, the Buckeye DE has left an indelible impression on the NFL personnel in Mobile.
  1. The North defensive line has a bunch of 4-3 edge types, whereas the South team has a few more 3-4 edge types. Virginia Tech OLB Dadi Nicolas was completely overwhelmed facing some of the South offensive tackles on Tuesday but he's mis-cast as a 4-3 DE. That's one of the things, also, to keep in mind with performances this weekend. Some guys are trying on new positions. Some guys are out of position. So, if a guy has a bad week, there can be a number of different aspects in play.
  1. Two cornerbacks that have struggled and done more grabbing than covering are Oklahoma State's Kevin Peterson and Minnesota's Eric Murray. They don't trust their feet, their speed and their technique and that's gotten them in trouble when isolated in coverage the past few days.
  1. One cornerback to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the draft process is SELA Harlan Miller on the South squad. He's a bit thin, but man, he's long and can close on the ball with excellent transitional quickness. He reminds me a bit of Texans' 2015 draft pick Kevin Johnson.
  1. One of the things that makes the Senior Bowl hugely important for these players is that they get NFL coaching throughout the week. For the North DL that means spending each day with well renowned DL coach Rod Marinelli. Watching him from down near the sideline, he isn't treating this like a college all-star game. He's getting after it with his charges and that group has responded. Now, he does have a TON to work with, but his coaching, expertise and teaching have been invaluable for his guys.
  1. We spoke with Penn State DT Austin Johnson at Tuesday's media night and he was a fun interview, to say the least. Of course, he wanted to, and did, show me a picture of Coach O'Brien from his high school days that Johnson had on his phone. He's been a monster out on the ball field too. He's the heaviest of the North team defensive tackles but he's moving at the same pace when playing inside. He's a fourth year junior who graduated early which allowed him he to compete at the Senior Bowl this week.
  1. La. Tech QB Jeff Driskel can spin the rock. He throws it extremely well at times. He has good size and his throwing technique is textbook. He connected with Ohio State WR Braxton Miller on a deep out for a first down in 11-on-11.
  1. I mentioned Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins yesterday but he's crushing the South OL this week in practice. He's got a compact build, stocky, quick and his spin move is LETHAL. He's a top 35 guy at this point and should hear his name called, no worse, than early Friday evening on draft weekend.

Well, that's it from Mobile on the second day of the Senior Bowl. Thanks for reading.

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