Senior Bowl Top 20: North squad

On Monday, the eve of the actual start of the Senior Bowl, I gave you the 20 Players to Watch on the South squad, the one led by Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans coaching staff. Although the Texans won’t spend as much time with the North squad, it still bears watching given the prospects at key positions for the Texans in the future.

Here are the North’s 20 Players to Watch.

  1. Pitt offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (6-6, 305) is perhaps better known for his touchdown exploits in 2016, but that’s only part of the story. The three year graduate will play in the Senior Bowl and is one of the most mobile and agile linemen in this year’s draft class.
  1. Colorado State wide receiver Michael Gallup (6-1, 200) doesn’t seem to have a distinct elite trait (speed, size), but, man, he has all the attributes of a pass catcher at the next level. He has great body control and excellent hands, so he catches nearly everything thrown his way.
  1. Unfortunately, UCLA center Scott Quessenberry (6-3, 310) will line up on the North squad this week. His brother David is someone we all know well from his time with the Texans. Little Q will get tested against a stout North defensive line this week, but if he’s anything like his brother, he’s a tough, competitive leader that won’t back down from anyone.
  1. Iowa’s Sean Welsh (6-3, 295) played guard throughout his career at Iowa, but he may be an offensive tackle candidate for the Texans and other teams in the league. He’s a skilled technician with versatility but his smaller stature might concern some NFL squads.
  1. UTEP guard Will Hernandez (6-3, 330) is a prototype guard. When the football gods created offensive guards, they had Hernandez in mind. This dude is built like a guard, knocks people off the ball like an NFL guard and dominates like a future Pro Bowl guard.
  1. Oregon offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby (6-5, 320) cuts an impressive figure at his size and could play either right or left tackle. I’d rather see Crosby on the South squad so he could get time with the Texans coaching staff, but it’ll be worth it to see him work this week.
  1. Penn State tight end Mike Gesecki (6-6, 252) is a small forward playing tight end. He’s more pass catcher (U-TE or F-TE) than he is a road grading run blocking Y-TE but he certainly won’t back down in the run game.
  1. Another Penn State player to watch is safety Marcus Allen (6-2, 202). The former Nittany Lion star seems to play much bigger than his listed 202 lb. He’s a fearless, physical safety who tackles well and is known for making big plays on defense and special teams (his field goal block against Ohio State in 2016 was instrumental in that season’s turnaround).
  1. No two quarterbacks, well, actually, no two players will garner more attention, and scrutiny, than Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6-1, 220) and
  1. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen (6-5, 233). There will be plenty of eyes on the North practices to see these two perform in this setting. Year after year, Mayfield ruined narratives about walk-ons, short-er statured quarterbacks and gunslingers on a weekly basis throughout his career. Allen might be the most impressively gifted quarterback in this, or any other, Senior Bowl.
  1. I’ve seen nearly every snap of Texas A&M safety Armani Watts’ (5-11, 205) career. I’ve seen him make a ton of huge plays against the pass and the run. I’ve seen him make series-changing tackles. I’ve also seen him miss more than his fair share of tackles and make some mental errors along the way. That said, he’s an intriguing safety prospect because he’s equal parts ballhawk and linebacker at the safety position.
  1. I would love to see Florida defensive back Duke Dawson (5-10, 208) in the Texans secondary. Now, what position fits best for Dawson is the question. My guess is that he’ll get a ton of work at perimeter cornerback this week, but he’s the consummate inside/nickel candidate. He’s got a safety’s mindset and can cover in the slot, but he can move outside in a pinch too.
  1. There’s very little Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage (6-3, 230) cannot do. He’s a hammer with the ball in his hands, even more impressive, though, he can catch the ball very well out of the backfield. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll have plenty of teams highly intrigued at the end of the week.
  1. Western Michigan cornerback Darius Phillips (5-10, 190) is a “breaking on the ball” fiend and a heck of a return man. I can’t wait to see him battle the receivers this week in one-on-ones, a staple at the Senior Bowl.
  1. West Virginia safety Kyzir White (6-2, 218) played a hybrid safety/linebacker position for the Mountaineers, but he’s a full-time safety at the next level. In two years at West Virginia, he racked up 152 tackles, 14.5 TFL, four forced fumbles and multiple monster hits.
  1. Oklahoma fullback/H-back Dimitri Flowers (6-2, 247) can do a little bit of everything and he’s one heck of a receiving option in the passing game. He may not interest teams that don’t use 21 or 22 personnel or even 11 or 12 personnel with a F-TE type, but this is a football playing dude.
  1. Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell (6-1, 194) is the prototype NFL cornerback from a size and height perspective. With long arms and his size, he’s going to have plenty of attention from teams looking for cornerbacks this draft season.
  1. The Washington State offensive line was as experienced as any in college football in 2017 and one of the stalwarts was guard Cole Madison (6-5, 314). He’s an impressive looking guard with plenty of nasty and he’s done more than his fair share of pass protecting in his career.
  1. Michigan offensive lineman Mason Cole (6-5, 305) has played every single position up and down the offensive line. He’s probably more of a center/guard interior lineman prospect, but he could play right tackle in the future as well.
  1. And, this last note pleases me to no end. Brown University will be represented on both sides this week. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien will coach the South and Brown outside linebacker Dewey Jarvis (6-2, 230) will play for the North squad. Of course, I’ll be there too (class of 1994!!), but these two are the ones that matter. Jarvis was an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year finalist and I’m thrilled to see him play live for the first time.
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