MOBILE, Ala. — Throughout a rough week of weather conditions at the 2019 Senior Bowl, the scouts and players had to make adjustments. So too did the media in attendance to evaluate the class of players put together by executive director Jim Nagy.
A rainy Day 2 sent players to the indoor practice facility at South Alabama, limited NFL teams to two scouts per club and left the media without access. Still, this group remains one of the best I’ve seen in eight years covering the Senior Bowl, despite the lost evaluation time.
What makes this group so good? NFL evaluators are buzzing about many players. Here’s some of the information gathered this week.
“The quarterbacks all really helped themselves this week,” said one lead AFC personnel man. “[Daniel] Jones has been a little rusty, but you can see in his mechanics why teams like him. [Drew] Lock really helped himself. He could come out of this week as a candidate to be QB1 [in this draft].”
Not only did Lock and Jones help themselves, but so too did Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. One scout remarked how Stidham had “no help” from his line and skill players this past season, which is why we saw a regression in his production. Teams still like him. Three evaluators from different teams added he could be a sneaky late first-rounder.
On the defensive side, Mississippi State edge-rusher Montez Sweat enjoyed a fantastic week, starting with weigh-ins—the 6’6″, 252-pounder had impressive measurements in arm length (35⅝”) and wingspan (84½”).
Butch Dill/Associated Press/Associated Press
He followed that up with three days of practices that showcased his athleticism, strength and wiring as a player. There is talk among NFL scouts that Sweat has worked his way into the top 10 of the draft.
—South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel enjoyed a strong week of practices. Samuel would have been a top-50 player on my board had he not suffered an injury that cost him a shot at entering the 2018 NFL draft. Now healthy, Samuel showed not only special quickness but also smooth route running and strong hands in traffic. My player comparison for him is the Minnesota Vikings’ Stefon Diggs.
—Delaware’s Nasir Adderley was the best small-school prospect on the field all week. A smooth operator at free safety, Adderley could push himself into the first 32 picks of the 2019 NFL draft thanks to his above-average coverage skills and excellent range. He’s a potential day one starter at either nickel or safety.
—Another big riser for the week is Washington State’s Andre Dillard. He’s firmly in the conversation to be the first offensive tackle drafted if he can continue his strong predraft performances. Dillard has the size (6’4⅞”, 311 lbs) and length that Alabama’s Jonah Williams doesn’t and checks the boxes as a very good athlete.
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
—Rising wide receivers: Terry McLaurin (Ohio State), Penny Hart (Georgia State) and Keelan Doss (UC Davis). McLaurin had a very good season for the Buckeyes but was often a late option in that offensive scheme. Both Doss and Hart have excelled while facing competition from Power Five schools.
—Daylon Mack (Texas A&M) parlayed a strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game into an invite to the more prestigious Senior Bowl, and he was once again impressive on the field. Mack doesn’t have ideal height (6’1″) for an interior defender, but he’s been unstoppable thanks to his power and quickness off the snap.
—Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin has been highlighted here before for his strong play, and he’s deserving of more mention. Ya-Sin was the best cornerback on the field during Senior Bowl practices. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and has shown this week the speed needed to be an NFL starter.
It’s time to update the big board after two weeks on the road evaluating at all-star games. Here’s my most recent top 32:
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
4. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
5. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
6. Devin White, LB, LSU
7. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
8. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
9. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
10. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
11. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Miss. State
12. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Miss. State
13. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
14. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
15. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
16. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
17. Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
18. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
19. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
20. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
21. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
22. Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
23. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
24. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
25. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
26. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
27. Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
28. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
29. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
30. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
31. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
32. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
6. Stock Up
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock made money during Senior Bowl week. Everyone knew he’d come in with a big arm and good athleticism, but his accuracy and mechanics in practices were better than expected. His film was littered with off-platform throws and lazy footwork, but quarterback coach Jordan Palmer has done impressive work ironing out Lock’s issues and giving him the strong foundation in his mechanics to be a top-tier passer.
5. Stock Down
Butch Dill/Associated Press/Associated Press
Duke’s Daniel Jones struggled on the field. Not to the point that he will be pushed out of Round 1, but as my podcast co-host Mello pointed out, he missed too many easy throws and was inconsistent across the board.
I liked Jones plenty on tape—he’s smart, well-coached and has enough size and arm talent to play in the league—but he has to become much more consistent and accurate to reach his potential. There are more issues to double-check on tape now.
4. Sleeper of the Week
Khalen Saunders is more than the the big guy doing backflips. He’s more than the player who opted to stay at the Senior Bowl while his fiancee was in labor. He’s also a really good football player.
Saunders was tough to stop for interior offensive linemen in practices thanks to his quickness and elite athleticism. He’s a shade under 6’1″ and a bulking 320 pounds, but he’s agile and balanced as an athlete. Saunders has shot up my board after dominating better competition.
3. The top 30 picks of the first round are set. Here’s the current order:
1. Arizona Cardinals
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Jets
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. Cleveland Browns
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Houston Texans
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
25. Philadelphia Eagles
26. Indianapolis Colts
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Kansas City Chiefs
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
31. New England Patriots*
32. Los Angeles Rams*
* = active playoff teams
2. Since my job duties at B/R have changed over the years, I don’t get asked to share my NFL thoughts as much, but I still need a place to make my Super Bowl pick.
The New England Patriots looked down all regular season but turned it up a notch with amazing performances against the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs while keeping Tom Brady clean and making the defensive adjustments needed to slow down elite quarterbacks.
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Rams have the interior pass rush that’s generally slowed down Brady in the past, which means the Patriots will have to once again lean on James White and Sony Michel to keep Wade Phillips’ defense off balance.
The game will be an X’s and O’s dream as Bill Belichick and Sean McVay go head-to-head with two weeks to prepare. My final pick: Patriots 35, Rams 31
1. Stick to Football sat down with new Houston Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen to talk about David Sills V, Will Grier, if his son is good at football and why he left West Virginia. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven’t already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.