What Waldman learned about each offensive skill player after three Senior Bowl practices.
The Mobile Mardi Gras parade derailed our opportunity to reveal the tape for extra nuggets to share with you, but missing out on practice tape is far from a devastating development. The takeaways I seek from the Senior Bowl practices are basic:
- Who showed more than what I saw I tape?
- Who confirmed what they didn’t show on tape was an actual limitation?
- Whose game has me going to the tape for more?
Here’s where each skill player stacks up.
Jacoby Brissett: Charles McDonald told me that someone tweeted today that Brissett is not a quarterback. I responded, “That’s not a good tweet.” Not only is Brissett very much a quarterback, he’s a promising player if you don’t have the completely unrealistic expectation of making him a starter within the next 18-24 months. Brissett is not mobile, but he’s light on his feet. He’s not a polished field general, but he displays patience, makes progression reads, and he often spots the wide-open receiver independent of the order of his tasks. A smart team with an established, aging starter would benefit from giving this big, strong-armed, pressure-savvy quarterback time to sit, watch, and practice behind a mentor.
Paul McRoberts: I didn’t see much from McRoberts the first two days and my colleagues at other sites said he didn’t stand out. McRoberts did a better job getting open today, catching multiple touchdown passes in red zone drills. He’ll need time to develop a greater repertoire of moves off the line of scrimmage and master the intricacies of route techniques that he didn’t need when dominating at Southeastern Missouri State. If he’s willing to work at his craft, his skill at tracking the ball and winning against physical play will serve him well. This week revealed a player capable of adjusting up to his competition–even if it wasn’t on the expectant timeline of Day 1 and Day 2.
Jordan Payton: He got open inside, outside, and deep. He displayed quickness and enough moves at the line of scrimmage to earn an early advantage on a press defender. He also adjusts well to the football. Not an all-around threat, Payton still showed that he’s more than a short-range, zone option.
Chris Moore: It wasn’t a high bar, but Moore revealed this week that he can develop into more than a one-route wonder that he was in Cincinnati’s offense. I saw him come back to the ball, work the short zones, and find space in the red zone. There’s some bend in his hips that he can use to become a timing route technician. I’m not ready to say he’ll reach this point, but I see the possibilities and it’s a good start.
Braxton Miller: What Miller does well, he did well enough to beat any corner on the field at least once. He’s lightning quick and his shake move got observers cooing. A trash talker, Miller enjoyed ratcheting up the intensity–even when it went too far at times. He’s good for a first-year receiver and he should get a lot better. But even if he’s beating everyone here at least once, he often didn’t do it twice with the more patient defenders. Although he’s not ready to make his mark immediately as a full-time NFL starter, it might not take him long at this rate of his development.
Henry Krieger Coble: Get the ball within reach, even in tight coverage, and the Iowa tight end has a fighting chance to win the target. Make him run to the ball and he becomes a less compelling receiver.
Tajae Sharpe: Match this smooth receiver with a patient corner and his game lacks an answer at this point.
Aaron Burbridge: Rugged and shifty, Burbridge’s athletic ability has a lower ceiling than most of his peers. He’ll need to become a top-shelf technician to start in the NFL.
Nick Vannett: The Ohio State tight end needs to develop release moves that have swiftness, violence, and accuracy. If and when he does, his game becomes much more attractive as a potential starter.
Brandon Allen: While I also have tape to study, the Arkansas quarterback appeared overwhelmed with reading the field within the context of the South squad’s offensive scheme. He missed open receivers and opted to break the pocket and run in drills designed to throw the ball. He tucked and ran more than any passer here.
Dak Prescott: His accuracy and pacing in the pocket within context of giving progressions time to develop was as lacking as I have seen it at Mississippi State. Good athlete, solid arm, and he throws it well when he sees it, but Prescott is rough around the edges and I’d understand if no NFL team took him within the top 100 prospects–even if he has physical tools that might project within that range.
Soma Vainuku: The Trojans’ fullback is a smooth receiver with enough quickness to win underneath the drops of linebackers, but he has to get better at developing a first-strike mentality as a pass protector. He eats the freight train way too often.
Carson Wentz: He confirmed he’s a top prospect within the context of this class and the NFL’s hunger for quarterback youth, but his pass placement needs refinement and it’s both a footwork issue and a matter of developing patience, timing, and comfort as the microseconds in the pocket wane.
Kenyan Drake: Between-the-tackles savvy was missing. So was an understanding of how to use his hands and body as a pass protector. He also struggled a little too often as a receiver. He’s fun in space or heading to the corner, but these skills are icing, not the cake, to a running back’s fit within an offense as an every-down contributor.
Aaron Green: I didn’t see Sunday Gritty this week.
K.J. Maye: The Alabama native by way of the Minnesota Golden Gophers made some nice catches in space this week. He didn’t display a top gear and his separation came against safeties, not cornerbacks. Right now, his game doesn’t win against cornerbacks playing man beyond 15 yards of the line of scrimmage and I need to see more tape to determine if he can deliver as an oft-targeted slot receiver.
Back to the Tape
DeAndre Washington: How physical can he be? It’s the question I’m left with after seeing Washington make impressive decisions between the tackles, hold his own against bigger men is pass protection, and get open routinely as a receiver.
Jerell Adams: I barely noticed that he was on the field. That’s how much of an introduction to his game that I got.
Charon Peake: He got open and made plays this week. I’m looking forward to learning more.
Kenneth Dixon: He’s on this list not so much from what I saw this week, but what was observed on tape by my colleague Cecil Lammey, who says that Dixon runs recklessly and this lack of discipline will make him easier to tackle in the NFL if he doesn’t correct it. I’ll be watching for it.
Tyler Ervin: Can he run between the tackles against top competition? It wasn’t evident here. What I saw in Mobile was a receiver that no linebacker here could cover and a competent stand-up game as a pass protector and I believe can get better. If he can show me passable skill at a projectable NFL level on at least 3-4 interior run plays, Ervin could offer what Shane Vereen does, but with a more sound pass pro element.
They Are What I Thought They Were
Sterling Shepard: Technically sound, physical, and creative.
Kevin Hogan: A smart player who wants to be aggressive, but his mechanics are holding him back right now.
Bryce Williams: Strong, quick, and fluid, but still developing. He wasn’t impressive here, but I think he could be a player that observers from this game are surprised that he sticks in the league longer than they may project heading into the draft.
Leonte Caroo: Quick, fast “enough”, strong, and on the right path towards developing his technique to earn separation all over the field.
Check out the rest of the RSP’s Senior Bowl reports and commentary at Sr. Bowl Central.