One of the best of the many recent Senior Bowl sponsorships and innovations is the XOS Film Room. Tucked in a conference room well off the worn path, there are six big-screen monitors and a bank of computers to bring up any available angle of every single rep of Senior Bowl practices. It’s open to credentialed media and all the NFL teams.
I spent a few hours there Wednesday morning before practices started. Primarily sitting and observing with a delegation from an AFC West team but with an NFC North position coach sitting behind me, I got a good long and detailed look at Tuesday’s North practice session.
It didn’t intentionally become one, but the focus was primarily on the North squad. Six Michigan players stocked the North, and as someone who saw the Wolverines in person twice this year I wound up being actively involved in the conversation.
Here are the thoughts and observations from the group on the first day for the Michigan men:
Amara Darboh--The wideout had an overall positive reception despite two bad drops. One of the scouts noted how quickly he could accelerate, with smooth transition into his breaks. At 6’2” Darboh was one of the bigger wideouts but he was fluid and showed he could set up moves with his posture and head.
When he did put the ball on the ground on an unintentional back shoulder throw, the gathering all quickly noted how he jumped when he didn’t need to. That’s something he showed at Michigan, too. “Why you jumping” came up more than once when Darboh was on the screen.
Darboh made a nice extension to catch a low throw (side note: Sefo Liufau was dreadful) and that brought some chatter, albeit not directed necessarily at Darboh. “The corner gotta knock that out. Look how loose he’s holding that.”
He also had the highlight of the entire viewing session, a hitch route where he planted and turned back so fast it sent Iowa CB (badly overrated based on his week in Mobile) tumbling backwards like a Lebron James flop. Normally the film room is pretty quiet but even the guys at the station next to ours got excited about that one.
Ben Gedeon--The one play which stood out was in a 1-on-1 cover drill. Gedeon held the tight end as he tried to make a simple out cut. The position coach with the remote rewound to the break point and Gedeon was way too far over his skis, to steal from a different sport. One scout had already written down “tight” on Gedeon and that showed. He did have a much better practice on Thursday, but I did not get a chance to get any professional scout interaction after that.
Ryan Glasgow--It was a pretty small body of work for Glasgow up on the screen, unfortunately. He’s not a pass rush generator and that showed in 1-on-1 rush reps. Teammate Kyle Kalis handily snuffed him out.
Kyle Kalis--A call-up from the Shrine Game, Kalis continued his improbable ascent. He was rock solid in 1-on-1 drills, only losing one rep where he overset and got beat with a nasty swim move by Jaleel Johnson from Iowa.
There was one rep in team drills where Kalis executed a combo block perfectly, and it stood in contrast to Temple’s Dion Dawkins not doing either part of the combo well when it was his shot. One scout who had seen Michigan during the season noted how much better his initial technique and balance are since the season.
Jourdan Lewis--Before getting to the film room, I need to rewind to the weigh-in. I was seated directly behind the Buffalo Bills contingency and they had on their sheet from their fall scouting that Lewis was 5’9” and 180 pounds. That was the general consensus on Lewis’ size. When he was confirmed 5’10” and 188, it was a big win for him.
In the practice session, Lewis showed smart instincts in coverage. He has a very natural feel for press coverage. Where the scouts showed concern was in off-man. Lewis couldn’t turn and run with the faster receivers like Cooper Kupp.
His best rep came against shifty Louisiana Tech wideout Trent Taylor. Lewis didn’t bite on the head/shoulder fake and rode him off the inside break. For a guy destined to play in the slot, it was a perfect rep.
I generally liked Lewis’ tackling and run support at Michigan, but he did not show body control in one ugly rep. Scouts from both teams present noted it, too.
DeVeon Smith--I actually got quite involved in the quiet commentary with Smith. The running back shined in Shrine Game week practices (though not the game), and I was one of two people in the gathering who had attended those sessions.
Smith looked impressive in pass protection in team drills, squaring up and unloading into the rusher’s chest. He also caught a swing pass and instantly transitioned into a runner, something the scouts liked. That was where he shined in Shrine practices too.
Running the ball was a different story. He has a bad habit of dropping his eyes and running headlong to where he expects the hole to be. On one rep, Charlotte DT Larry Ogunjobi pushed West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky into the backfield and Smith ran straight into them. He had a big lane to his left, but he never saw it. On another rep he chose to cut back inside off the right tackle and got popped by a safety. If Smith had bounced outside the block he had another 3-4 yards easily.
Chris Wormley--Wormley is a beefy defensive end, and he made some solid plays in the team portion of practice. “Look how well he keeps his eyes up,” as he set an edge and pushed the right tackle outside and properly maintained inside leverage. It allowed Temple LB Hassan Reddick (who was fantastic) to make the play right near the line.
We watched the pass rush drills and this is where Wormley struggled. The word “uncreative” came up several times. He has power and can bull rush, and he has a decent rip move, but he never seems to go into a rep with a plan on what he’s going to use. When he tried to just bull Western Michigan behemoth Taylor Moton, he couldn’t move him back more than a step. He finally thought to use his rip move after a few seconds of being stymied.
One scout wanted to see him move inside to tackle going forward, noting “he moves like a 3 (technique).”
After sitting with these fellows and seeing what they were watching, it’s hard to project Wormley going very high. He was dominant at times at Michigan but also went 7 games without making a play in the backfield.