Now that the East-West Shrine Game week is concluded, the scouting trail moves to Mobile and the 2019 Senior Bowl. I’m making my return for my 11th week of practices after missing last year’s media fawn-fest over Josh Allen.
This year’s crop of talent assembled by new Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy holds quite a bit of intrigue. Here are some of the players I’ll be watching in the practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and the film room after practices. You can also follow along with my Twitter updates (@JeffRisdon) live from practices, which will include some video interviews with players if the technology cooperates.
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College--he looks physically like a long-lost Watt brother. But can he play like J.J., or T.J., or even Derek? There were times where I thought maybe he could. There were times when I’m pretty sure the Watt family would disown him, too. Even so, he’s a natural 5-technique with some inside power and enough production to merit long looks in the top 50.
Tyre Brady, WR, Marshall--I saw Brady and the Herd play twice this year, in back-to-back weeks. He was the best player on the field against a weak Western Kentucky team but did little against a better foe in North Carolina State. Which was the real Brady? I hope to find out more this week...
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech--Ferguson posted ridiculous sack production at Louisiana Tech: 45 career sacks will merit serious attention. His speed-to-power move looks like it will translate, but this is a challenge to prove he can do it against much better blocking and more aware quarterbacks.
Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan--Higdon had an up-and-down run at Michigan, finishing on a high note by displaying more power and better vision in his senior season. His work in the passing game is what to watch in Mobile, as the Wolverines didn’t use him much (16 catches in 4 years) in that capacity.
Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo--The early graduate has a lot of similarities to the QB of the professional team in Buffalo. Like Josh Allen, Jackson has unreal arm strength in terms of both velocity and distance. Like Allen, he’s capable of the “holy !%^!” plays with both his arm and legs. Like Allen, his throws often appear to have no intended target. Like Allen, his off-speed offerings are both infrequent and erratic. As a bonus with Jackson, he’s the rare NFL prospect that I saw play in high school.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri--Lock is often projected as a top-10 overall pick. He’s not currently in my top 100 prospects. One opinion or the other should get validated on the practice fields and interview rooms here in Mobile.
Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State--I’m not only a fan because of the relative similarity of our surnames, but I also love that Risner embraces being a right tackle. Most prospects played left tackle in college and need to convert, but Risner is ready out of the box to start as a rookie. He should thrive in team drills.
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina--I feel like we got cheated a bit with the college experience of the speedy Samuel. He was hurt some, and he didn’t have great QB play or supporting help. This should be a venue where his particular set of skills shines through.I’m curious how fast he will look on the practice turf.
Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois--he can do backflips at 300-plus pounds, and he has enough quality film at the FCS level to back it up. But the same was once said of Jarron Gilbert jumping out of a pool. Gilbert didn’t last three years in the NFL. Hoping for a lot better from Saunders.
Oli Udoh, OT, Elon--one of the few callups from the Shrine Game, Udoh didn’t exactly thrive in St. Pete. The NFL talent evaluators are curious enough to get him into the Senior Bowl. The fresh frame
Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion--Ximines is fixing to be the first-ever draft pick from Old Dominion. The question isn’t “if”, it’s “how early”. A good week here with his size and movement ability and he could sneak into the bottom of the first round. It worked for Marcus Davenport last year...