2019 Senior Bowl: North Team Practice Observations

01/24/2019
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After a rainstorm made the second day of practice unavailable to the media, the final day of practices were back inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium. A sunny day that included swirling winds, there was a lot of energy during the final session. Jon Gruden’s energy was top-notch even ending practice with a competition between the offensive and defensive lines.

The Senior Bowl is another added piece to the puzzle that teams use when determining the stock of prospects. Many players put the finishing touches on an already impressive week, while others left a lasting impression on the final practice in front of a host of NFL evaluators.

Terry McLaurin, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

After not being a headliner name heading into the week, one of the biggest surprises of the week was McLaurin. Of any receiver on either team, he by far ran the best routes. His fluidity and violence in cuts stood out, but he was a professional separator. McLaurin just understood how to create separation, and that is an area where he differentiated himself from the others throughout the week.

An overlooked aspect about McLaurin’s practices was his effort on special teams. He was placed at gunner on the punt team. He sold out on every rep. When the punt returners were there to field punts out of the sky, he would routinely be there to tag off on them, signify a tackle attempt. Those types of factors are where McLaurin earned himself some money this week.

He’s been the events biggest riser. A rise so impressive that teams will now return to their facilities scrambling for film of him. Despite playing on a high powered offense and an 11 touchdown season (2018), McLaurin was still somehow overlooked. That will not be the case anymore. He was fantastic in Mobile.

Drew Lock, Quarterback, Missouri

After a sub-par first day, Drew Lock began to separate himself on the second day of practice. Today, he firmly cements himself as the best signal-caller. There was a high amount of winds roaring through the stadium, but that didn’t effect Lock at all. While his counterparts passes struggled to travel through the wind, Lock’s continued to show no drop-off. His arm strength and ball placement were evident throughout practice despite the elements. He helped his stock tremendously over the past two days.

There have been discussions of Lock potentially entering the top-10 with a strong week. Acing the interviews, reportedly wowing teams, and putting together a solid week of practices, he has positioned himself to be one of the top quarterbacks selected in April.

Darnell Savage, Safety, Maryland

“Great job on the check, Darnell!” Those were the words uttered by Raiders defensive assistant, Jim O’Neil after a defensive stop. Savage successfully made a check based on the pre-snap stacked alignment by the receivers. Those little quotes and interactions are what makes this event so special. Savage was routinely navigating traffic and getting his counterparts in correct positions.

He looked to be more comfortable on the roof of the defense at free safety, but Savage leadership abilities shined a lot during the third day of practice. He seemed to be the natural leader of the group, and it showed with his play throughout the day. Savage was smooth and confident in his backpedal before exploding out of his break and deflecting many passing attempts.

Penny Hart, Wide Receiver, Georgia State

Hart continued to build on his strong week with another great showing on during day three. His routes are quick and efficient, showing great quickness in-and-out of breaks. He’s nuanced in how he’s able to get open. Playing strictly in the slot, he was able to show his strong hands and precise routes. Hart made himself a lot of money this week at the Senior Bowl. He’s a prospect that teams will work to gather more information on before the NFL Combine.

Garrett Bradbury, Center, N.C. State

Struggling with his anchor during the first day of practices, Bradbury rebounded nicely and finished the week very strong. His smaller stature (6’2″, 304) and low center of gravity naturally gave him the leverage on the defensive lineman.

He’s starting to understand just how to use that leverage to his advantage. Routinely clearing run lanes today, he continued to get better as the week progressed. Billed as a potential second or third-round selection coming into the week, he firmly secured that. Bradbury has the potential to be a starting center for a long time.

Extra Practice Notes

Chris Lindstrom (right guard)  and Dalton Risner (right tackle) started to develop chemistry on the right side of the first-team offensive line. After successfully cutting off and clearing a lane on the backside of an outside zone run, they both celebrated together with a chest bump. At the conclusion of practice, Risner competed against former Arizona  State defensive lineman Renell Wren. After being able to stop him dead in his tracks for a few seconds, Risner burst out with a jolt of energy even giving Jon Gruden a slight push to show him just how excited he was.

A lot hasn’t been made of the running backs at the event, but Karan Higdon had an impressive final day. He found many lanes to run through during the team portions showing plenty of explosiveness and burst when finding a crease. During the 7-on-7 session, he showed soft hands, catching a couple touchdowns out of the backfield.

Former Boston College safety Will Harris is another player who caught my eyes during the final day. With his combination of size, length, and speed, there are still some questions about if he’s best suited as a strong or free safety. Playing both during practices, he experienced a lot of success. He flashed many times during the competition periods.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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