The first day of the Reese’s Senior Bowl includes Media Day, where we are able to interview players from both teams. This is an opportunity for the media to get to know the prospects and for the prospects to show their true colors. I tried to interview players who I believe fit the Bills’ scheme, possess the DNA that the organization looks for, and more importantly, guys who can verbalize their football intelligence.
I presented two receivers with a scenario/situation and asked them to walk me through their thought process. The situation was the following: The defense is in single-high coverage. The corner is playing with either inside or outside leverage and in press-man. The receiver is assigned a 10-12-yard dig route. Importantly, there is no correct or incorrect answer to the scenario, but what you want to hear is that the receiver has a plan, especially a plan for how to beat the press coverage at the line of scrimmage. This plan should include how to attack the leverage the corner is playing with, get to their proper depth, and win the route. As you listen to these two receivers, you should be able to notice the difference between a guy that generally has a plan, and a guy who wins in other ways besides route running.
WR Collin Johnson, Texas
WR Van Jefferson, Florida
WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Pittman has all of the traits that you want in a wide receiver. He’s got the size, production, and polish that coaches will love, but he also informed the media today of his special teams prowess, which includes four punt blocks during his time at USC. But what I found most interesting about his time at the podium was what he looks for when doing his own film study. Pittman pinpointed the two main techniques being taught to corners. The first one is the ‘motor mirror’ technique, where on the snap the corner will execute short, six-inch steps backwards until the receiver declares his route. The second technique is typically referred to as a ‘kick-step’ or ‘step-kick’ technique, where the corner generally takes a short lateral step during his ‘read’ phase. This understanding of his opponents’ technique and how to beat it will have coaches drooling during whiteboard sessions.
The Bills need to add another back into the rotation with Devin Singletary, and I believe there are some mid-round guys at the Senior Bowl who would really pair well with Motor’s style.
RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin is a hard-nosed running back, the kind of guy that gets downhill and pinballs off defenders as he moves the chains. That style has fueled his red-zone prowess. Of his 10 touchdowns in 2019, nine were in the red zone, eight were inside the 10-yard line, seven were inside the 5-yard line, and three were from the 1-yard line. Take a listen to why he has had such success in that area of the field and what concept he prefers.
RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA
Running back Joshua Kelley played for Chip Kelly at UCLA. Kelly generally installs a heavy dose of zone run concepts. With that concept being the backbone of the offense, Kelley should know his reads like the back of his hand. He did not disappoint; Kelley shared that his main read is the play-side defensive tackle, and even with me trying to trip him up and lead him into a wrong answer, the well-spoken back doubled down on his answer. Kelley not only showed out in the interview process, but he also had a great day out on the field.
RB Lamical Perine, Florida
Florida Gator Lamical Perine enjoyed a fine career, carrying the rock 493 times for 2,485 yards and 22 touchdowns. But it wasn’t until this year that the staff gave him opportunities to shine in the passing game. Perine went from 32 receptions and three touchdowns in his first three years to 40 receptions and five touchdowns in his final season. Hopefully, we get to see Perine as a receiver and pass blocker this week.
Here are a few more interviews from Media Day. Enjoy!
Safety Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
Edge Darrell Taylor Jr., Tennessee
Edge Kenny Willekes, Michigan State