The sun hid for most of the day, thankfully, but the heat was definitely turned up at Hancock Whitney Stadium for Day Two of Senior Bowl practices. It's time to unload the notebook with my Harris Hits: Senior Bowl Observations, Day 2.
- Yesterday, I started my Hits with Ohio State OT Dawand Jones, not knowing how many others felt about what they saw. Many agreed that Jones was THE STAR of Day 1 based on what I saw on the interwebs on Wednesday morning. So who was the talk of the day on Wednesday? That is a great question and for me, it was Stanford CB Kyu Byu Kelly. Back in the summer, I wrote this on the Stanford CB in my Summer Harris 100.
"Kelly has the prototype size for a perimeter cornerback in the league and the feet to star as a perimeter cornerback in this league. His transitional quickness out of his backpedal is outstanding. He has a smooth backpedal, powerful redirect out of a natural, athletic position and explosive recovery speed in front of him. He has excellent ball tracking skills on deep throws. Seeing him track former USC WR/Falcons first round selection Drake London downfield where London excelled was eye opening. London seemingly "Moss'd" every DB he faced and Kelly disrupted a true 50/50 target in their initial meeting. He showed his hand/eye coordination on a tipped pass/pick six in that game as well. London averaged well over seven catches a game for 155 yards in his sensational last year at USC. Matched up against Kelly for much of the game, London finished with three fewer catches and just 68 yards, nearly 87 under his average. Kelly won't back down from the physical aspect of the game either. He strikes and when he transitions out of his break on 'now' screens, hitches, wide runs or anything else in front of him, he's coming 1000 miles an hour and going to hit something. His tackling execution and fundamentals aren't always clean and perfect, but he's coming hard. I like his approach to the game, in many ways."
In 2022, though, he struggled against USC's Jordan Addison so that chipped away at his evaluation a little bit. But in Mobile on Wednesday, he was back ON ONE. I didn't watch the DB/WR matchups a ton, but during team drills when I could see the whole field, Kelly had one interception and another pass break up. He was explosive to the football, feet were lively and he was patient in coverage, which kept him from making a mistake against receivers' routes. On Tuesday, he was a little anxious in coverage and was grabbing and holding a bit. But on Wednesday, he played at a higher level for sure.
- On Tuesday, I saw Wisconsin DT Keanu Benton go into the tunnel before practice was over and I was worried that would be the last we'd see from him. But on Wednesday morning he was one of the first interior defensive linemen down on the field ready to roll. I don't remember seeing a National team offensive lineman have any success against him, run or pass. He nearly bent one offensive lineman in half during the run game one-on-ones. His lower half is impressive and he snaps those hips into the offensive lineman to control him. Now, he's not Aaron Donald with the quicks, but he's agile enough at 312 pounds in tight spaces to be a factor against both the run and pass.
- When Nesta Silvera transferred from Miami to Arizona State, I'll admit I didn't watch a ton of Sun Devil football in a really rough season in Tempe. But when he accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, I was pumped I could see him in the flesh. I first saw a fire hydrant build, less than 6-2, 300+ pounds, but I LOVE those guys. Why? Because leverage. Out of his stance, Silvera is already lower than every lineman he's going to face. But on Wednesday he took that leverage advantage to a different level. What I wrote in my notebook…
"When Silvera never stops, consistently moving forward, with aggression, he's nearly unblockable."
When he attacks, slides, dips, shocks, yanks, redirects all on the way to the QB or the ball carrier, he's a MAJOR issue. He can never stop, never stopping. That's what he did on Wednesday - attacked off the snap, countered, countered the counter and kept moving AT the QB or ball carrier. That approach seemed to frustrate the OL he faced throughout the day.
- The other clear defensive interior winner was AA NW, aka Adetomiwa Adebawore. It's not easy to write Adetomiwa Adebawore in my notebook all day long, so that's the shorthand that I use. On Wednesday, I wrote "AA NW" a ton. Why? The Northwestern Tasmanian Devil shocked and yanked his way through nearly every one-on-one drill. It felt like I knew it was coming on every rep and the OL just didn't see it coming at all. Then, when I actually called out what was going to happen on a pass rush rep, he threw one of the nastiest jump-through, cross chop Aaron Donald-style pass rush moves that I'd seen in Mobile, maybe ever. I mean, there have been about five or six "OHHHHHHH/AHHHHHH" moments in all the drills for the last two days, but that move had the entire DL going nuts. He's difficult to figure out, honestly, because he's also sub-6-2, but only 284 pounds, whereas a guy like Silvera is 300+ pounds. So, does AA NW play a penetrating 3-technique? Does he play the edge, then bump inside on pass rush downs? He's a bit of a conundrum, but dude is powerful, quick and incredibly disruptive up and down the line of scrimmage.
- Man crush warning! Georgia Tech DE Keion White. He's also 280 pounds., but he's 6-4 ¾ and runs like a deer, or better put at his size, like a rhino. He registered 17.38 mph on his GPS on Tuesday. That was two mph faster than any other defensive lineman. I have plenty of tape to watch to get a great gauge of where he should be in the next version of the Harris 100. He's got elite traits to say the least. During team, the offense ran a play action pass and chipped a TE on White. The Georgia Tech stud snapped the TE's neck before continuing his rush to the QB. Dadgum. Later in one-on-ones, he ran right through Michigan's Ryan Hayes with one of the nastiest bull rushes of the day. Speed. Power. Size. The whole package.
- I love when the Senior Bowl cross-trains guys at different positions. It mainly happens on the offensive line and today's subject was NDSU OL Cody Mauch. It's a work in progress to say the least and I do think that sticking at guard is his best option. That said, he needs even more work at center as he could grow into a poor man's Nick Mangold at that spot. He just needs time and reps.
- Back in my Summer Harris 100, I had Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan as one of my top three tackles in the draft and I'm not convinced there's a tackle with a better set of physical skills than Duncan. Here's what I said about the Maryland tackle in my scouting report.
"Let's play word association. Jaelyn Duncan. Oh, that's easy - OUTSTANDING feet. One of my favorite plays of Duncan's was against West Virginia in 2021 and he didn't lay one hand on a defender. West Virginia's OLB attempted to find his rush lane, so he darted in and out to find a clean lane to the QB. What he didn't do was engage, but the reason he didn't was that Duncan shuffled his feet laterally, back and forth, side-to-side, like a basketball defender, shutting down any, and all, of those lanes. I mean, whoa. Slide inside, slide outside, all I could see was my former basketball coach screaming "THAT'S how you do it!" He pulls with speed. He can kickstep and stay square as well as any tackle I've seen. Given his feet and lateral quickness, he transitions about as well as can be to games/stunts. Really effective passing off inside rushers to maintain balance and technique for looping interior rushers. I mean, this guy, wow. He's an ATHLETIC left tackle in the best way. He has some hand placement technique to clear up, but he's a ball of clay that I'd love to work with in the future."
He's showing that in spurts at the Senior Bowl. There's a rough rep mixed in every so often, but his feet are clean. Really CLEAN. He's holding up against speed-to-power. He's not allowing anyone to speed high-side to get to the QB. He needs to amp up his violence in the run game a bit and get more drive off the ball. That said, he's gotten a lot of attention for his work and as my summer eval showed, I'm not totally surprised.
- Okay, another man crush alert, Sacramento State LB/S Marte Mapu. He's only 217 pounds and that's a bit worrisome, but he's 100% baller. About three days before the Senior Bowl started, the Twitter account sent out a tweet saying that Mapu was getting invited to the Senior Bowl after a tremendous week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles. I paid attention as it pertained to adding him to the roster, but didn't pay it much mind at all. Until I saw him on the field on Tuesday. Oh my goodness! He's been working out at linebacker in these drills and he certainly does not look like he's 217 lb. He blew up an isolation play in nine-on-seven and I mean, BLEW up the lead blocker. Then, Mapu tackled the running back for a loss. On Tuesday, he was called out at the end of practice to go one-on-one against a running back in coverage and Mapu locked him up for a pass breakup. I have loved watching him play this week. I don't know exactly what to do with him at that size, but I'll figure it out because he can ball no matter what letters go in front of his name.
- The man crushes keep going. Let's move to Iowa cornerback Riley Moss. This guy can fly, has outstanding change of direction skills and is competitive as all get-out at the catch point. He's over 6-0 and weighs 192 pounds. He's prototype height, weight and speed to hear his name on day two. He was a hurdler in high school, setting Iowa state record in the 110-meter hurdles. He was also on the 400/800 meter relay teams that won state championships. I say all that to say that he's one of the best overall athletes at the position, in this or any other class.
- Now, Moss did get beat by Cincinnati slot receiver Tre Tucker on a slant route in one-on-ones. Tucker's sick route put Moss back on his heels, opening a wide open lane for Tucker to make the catch unabated. Tucker has been outstanding in one-on-ones - that drill is made for him, perhaps the quickest receiver in Mobile.
- I love when I don't have to watch a player to know how explosive he is. Enter Auburn edge Derick Hall. When he collides with an offensive player, I can HEAR it all over the building. On the first rep of one-on-ones on Wednesday afternoon, Hall and Oklahoma OT Wanya Morris collided and the sound reverberated around the Stadium. I wrote in my notebook "I heard it." Hall is a complete Alpha and he's going to fit in any defense in the league. He plays with his proverbial hair on fire and he's a complete menace off the edge. He holds the edge with his strong 34 ⅜ arms and thick base/foundation. He's a total dude.
- Jackson State LB Aubrey Miller announced his presence with authority with the biggest hit of the week on a run play during team drills. Not sure who the RB was, but Miller ran right through him, knocking the ball loose and waking up the east sideline.
- I didn't watch a ton of the receivers, but I did look down when Houston dynamo Tank Dell lined up in the slot against Alabama S DeMarco Hellams. Now, anyone against Dell in the slot is a mismatch so Hellams was up against the WRONG guy. Dell went vertical and Hellams did what so many do against Dell…he guessed. He guessed that Dell would go inside because guessing is the only hope that anyone has to match and mirror Dell on his route. Unfortunately, Dell went outside. Houston QB Clayton Tune airmailed the throw, but the route had everyone on the sideline buzzing and poor Hellams wondering how to cover that guy in the slot. Hellams ran with Dell on a deep route later in the one-on-one period, but on that out route, Dell certainly embarrassed the Alabama star.
- I'm convinced that South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens can be the next Mike Daniels at the next level. Dude is nearly 6-4 and 300 pounds with 34+ inch arms. He's powerful and twitchy and can take over a drill, a series and/or an entire game. It's clear that Pickens wants to see the best on the other side. He seemed to really get amped to face Minnesota John Michael Schmitz, thought to be OC1 in this draft class. They've got some friendly (I hope, anyway) competition going on but it's evident that Pickens wants to prove he's THAT guy when he goes against Schmitz.
- As I've mentioned often in my Harris Hits, the cornerbacks are at a different level and South Carolina CB Darius Rush is moving to the head of the class. At nearly 6-2, 196 pounds, he's long and showed some serious closing speed, especially on in breaking routes on Wednesday. He nearly had a pick on a curl route against Virginia WR Dontayvion Wicks. I thought Wicks had run a convincing route but Rush latched on like velcro and knocked the pass away.
- Cal S Daniel Scott locked up his Stanford rival Elijah Higgins, which resulted in a pick for the Cal defensive back. Scott's consistency and intelligence belie some true athleticism that make him an interesting prospect.
Alright, the notebook is finally empty…for now. See you tomorrow for day three. Can't wait!