There was a clear top tier of players at the Senior Bowl this year, and they performed as expected. That starts with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. After missing the weigh-in on Tuesday to be with his ill mother, Mayfield showed up for practice and looked like the best player on the field.
In the draft process things get overthought. Sometimes it just comes down to being a good player. We know that Mayfield is a little short and that he has to answer questions about his character off the field. But he’s just a good quarterback. He has things to work on, certainly.
He looked off balance on some dropbacks from under center and dropped his head at times. But overall, he was the best quarterback in practices. He leads his receivers on throws, he fits the ball into tight spaces, and he’s a natural leader. Unless Mayfield does something bizarre between now and the draft, just slot him into the top 10 picks.
Players like Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, UTEP guard Will Hernandez, Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O’Neill, Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, and Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn were the best players coming into the week, and they looked good. Of that group, Hernandez and Washington helped themselves the most.
Some players didn’t meet the hype
In a setting where he could have looked like a star, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was inconsistent. There were some magical throws by Allen, no doubt. He puts zip on every throw and did get better as the week progressed. There were just a few really bad passes:
The Senior Bowl was also expected to be the coming out party of Texas-San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport. He wasn’t bad, but his week could have been better. At UTSA, Davenport mostly rushed out of a two-point stance. When he did that in practices, he was fine when he could use speed to get inside. But when he had to play with a hand down and get wide around the edge, he struggled. Davenport should be a first-round pick but maybe not the top-10 pick some thought.
Well, then again:
#SeniorBowl: Notable on Tuesday, #Browns GM John Dorsey snagged #UTSA DE Marcus Davenport and disappeared with him for more than 40 minutes. Apparently unscheduled. A few other #NFL teams got their nose out of joint trying to find Davenport for interviews.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 24, 2018
Players looking good moving positions
Central Florida’s Shaquem Griffin was moved all over the field during practices. He played his natural edge-rush spot, more inside as a linebacker and even as a single high safety. He plays with a lot of tenacity, and it showed throughout the week. As a pro, Griffin will have to be versatile to stay on a roster. He should stick as a dime-package piece and special teams player.
Griffin isn’t the only player who got moved around a little bit. Defensive lineman Andrew Brown was often lined up on the outside at Virginia, but he got play inside in more of a three-technique role at the Senior Bowl. It suited him well, and it looks like the better position for him going forward. Don’t forget: Brown was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2013. He may have been misused at Virginia.
Don’t forget about Brett Toth
We may not hear the name Brett Toth for a while, but keep it in mind. Toth is an offensive tackle from Army and the first player from West Point to ever participate in the Senior Bowl. He took advantage of his opportunity.
Toth had a good, consistent three days of practice. On Wednesday he stoned Ohio State rushers Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes and stopped an outside rush by Phillips. Coming out of Army’s option offense, Toth is better than most offensive linemen at working out in the open field and picking off moving targets. The former high school tight end has to get stronger, but his athleticism at the position shows. Here he is obliterating a cornerback:
Army OT Brett Toth on this toss play. Finishing. pic.twitter.com/vnpEKxaDl5— patrick (@PatDStat) January 24, 2018
We just may not see Toth for a while. He will graduate as a nuclear engineer, and he has to serve a two-year military commitment before he can become a professional football player. That may mean he goes undrafted, but Toth should have a future in the NFL if he wants one.
Another good all-star week for DaeSean Hamilton
Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton isn’t going to light the world on fire as an athlete for his 6’0 size, but he had a consistent week. He’s the type of wide receiver who showed he can get open with his route running, and that trait will make him valuable on an NFL team:
Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton has been open all day. pic.twitter.com/Q36IArt2I3— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 24, 2018
He’s most likely a slot receiver as a pro and could produce similarly to someone like Adam Humphries of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There’s not a lot of flash in Humphries’ game, but he’s caught at least 60 passes for over 600 yards each of the last two seasons. Hamilton can be similar. There are some questions about his hands, and they persisted at the Senior Bowl, but he helped himself in Mobile and last week at the East-West Shrine Game.
- Like Hamilton, Miami’s Braxton Berrios’ future is as a slot receiver in the NFL. He has good hands — though he missed a few catches this week — and gets open on short routes with quickness. The same comparisons to Julian Edelman will happen.
- Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard won’t be for everyone. He’s a big receiver at 6’4 and 227 pounds, but he can be ambling in his routes. But he uses his size to get open and is good at contested catches in the red zone. His future may be as a Devin Funchess type where he’s more of a combo wide receiver and tight end.
- Fort Hayes State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd looked good on the first day of practices in one-on-one drills. Coming from a small school, this could have been a big week for Shepherd. Unfortunately a broken hand forced him to miss Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions. South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert also participated on Tuesday before suffering a hamstring injury.
- Two players had good bounce back weeks: Rutgers pass rusher Kemoko Turay and North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca. Turay was a freshman All-American but subsequently suffered through injures. At the Senior Bowl he looked speedy around the edge. His athleticism and length will be intriguing for some teams.
DeLuca missed much of this season with an injury but looked good during practices. He’s an aggressive linebacker who won’t hesitate to come up and pick up receivers out of the backfield or work through blockers to stop the run. Both players likely secured Day 3 spots in the draft, if they weren’t there already.