Outliers all over the field
Thursday’s Senior Bowl practices at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, AL, featured classic Senior Bowl weather, with overcast skies and temperatures dropping into the 50s. Competition intensified in both National and U.S. team practices, with some skilled players shining and more impressive work in the trenches.
Here are Pewter Report’s observations from day three in Mobile:
Some of the top performers from the Senior Bowl Week Sit Out Thursday
Some of the highlights of the first two days of Senior Bowl practice didn’t fit Thursday. Linebackers Dee Winters (TCU), Marte Mapu (Sacramento State) and Dorian Williams (Tulane) were among those who wore street clothes during practice.
Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (Miami) and wide receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell (Houston) also did not practice for the U.S. team. On the national team side, offensive tackle Dawand Jones (Ohio State) watched after a pair of dominant performances on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Day 3 Highlights: Attack
The Senior Bowl quarterbacks haven’t had the best week, but Fresno State’s Jake Haener put up a great day on Thursday. He impressed with his ability to sell play action, get out of the pocket and add a nice touch to his throws. And on one play, he did well to withstand pressure from the edges to get a throw to Illinois running after Chase Brown:
For the third consecutive day, Tulane’s Tyjae Spears stole the show during practice for the US team. His speed and ability to change direction were on full display again, especially during one of the bigger plays of the day:
Spears also demonstrated his hard running style at the goal line as the offense and defense entered their 11-on-11 period later in Thursday’s Senior Bowl practice. The 5-foot-9, 204-pound back has incredible vision and did wonders for his design stock this week in Mobile.
Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh also did pretty well on Thursday, making a great one-run cut during 11-on-11s while also demonstrating his impressive receiving ability. He strung together a few good practices on Wednesday and Thursday after leaving the first day early with a cramp.
Nebraska’s Trey Palmer showed his speed in Thursday’s practice in both the 1-on-1 and 11-on-11 bouts. He had a particularly good record against Iowa cornerback Riley Moss:
Earlier this week, Moss told the Pewter Report that Palmer was the one man he was most looking forward to going head-to-head with in Senior Bowl practice due to the fact that the Nebraska standout put up nine catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. in the Cornhuskers’ 24–17 victory over the Hawkeyes in November.
“My boy Trey in Nebraska,” Moss said. “He was chasing us during the regular season. In the end they beat us. It’s fun to go against him and it’s a good competition.”
As it turns out, Palmer was excited about that matchup coming into Senior Bowl Week itself, as he told Pewter Report after Thursday’s practice.
“Really, that was also the matchup I was looking for this week,” said Palmer. “Really, I just go against him every time I go upstairs [against him]I want to win.”
Charlotte wide receiver Grant Dubose was another receiver who had a good day for the national team, making a spectacular catch into the corner of the end zone on a pass from BYU quarterback Jaren Hall:
Thursday was a great day to get a tight end to the Senior Bowl.
Purdue’s Payne Durham was one of the top performers, making several big plays – including one downfield in an 11-on-11 situational drill near the end of practice. Despite only averaging 10 yards per catch at Purdue, he showed he could stretch the field quite well.
He made some tough contested catches that showed great body control and hands. Durham is a mid-to-late-round option in a deep, tight class with high-end talent, but he has some advantage.
Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave is the fastest tight end — hitting 20 mph at 6-foot-6 — in Mobile this week, and it helped him create an impressive split on Thursday. His size and speed make him a mismatch that is about to happen, which became clear on Thursday. On one play, he was caught for a touchdown by LSU safety Jay Ward:
Cincinnati’s Josh Whyle had another good showing on Thursday. His moment of the day came after a standard catch and run when he dropped his shoulder into Illinois safety Sydney Brown and flattened him close to the sideline.
Alabama offensive tackle Tyler Steen has been the lineman of the week. He has been a pleasure to watch in 1-on-1s during the training sessions of the American team. He’s set up both the tackle and hold positions in Mobile and switches between them quite seamlessly. At six feet tall, 325 pounds, he plays with a lot of power and won’t let anyone pass without going through a tough test.
Syracuse’s Matt Bergeron has consistently shown himself this week, especially in 1v1s. He may have had the rep of the day, knocking down his opponent with a thunderous block.
The 6-foot-4, 323-pounder moves well and shows good body control. He plays the tackle position well, but some might paint him as a man who could potentially move in to guard at the next level.
Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz was also impressive this week, consistently standing out along with Steen and Bergeron. He handles the interior extremely well. Schmitz, the former teammate of Buc’s tight end Ko Kieft, uses his hands well and plays with a lead like a Midwestern tough guy.
Day 3 Standouts: Defense
While slightly undersized for a 6-foot, 284-pound defensive tackle, Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore impressed in the trenches on Thursday, displaying great physicality against the offensive linemen he matched.
He told Pewter Report after practice that one guy he’s looked up to a lot is Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald. Adebawore is very similar in size to Donald (six feet) and hopes that his strength can be his main attribute in the next level. Overall, he had an impressive week and increased his draw stock with his show.
Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey has increased his draw stock in Mobile. Foskey clocked in with the fastest speed of 18.73 mph among players listed as defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. While the Bucs are looking to boost their passing rush, he might just be someone worth keeping an eye on. Flashing every day this week, Foskey is sure to be one of the most touted edge rushers as the pre-design process progresses.
While he may not have flashed as much on Thursday as he did the first two days in Mobile, Kyu Blu Kelly of Stanford had another solid day. He had a few pass breakings and didn’t give up much, though Michael Wilson – his Stanford teammate – beat him in friendly fire in the end zone by one play.
South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush was a bit of a mixed bag on Thursday. He had an early interception, but SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice for a touchdown later beat him on a rep. At six feet tall, Rush has some height that he puts to good use. His ball skills and work in zone coverage are plus points.
Florida State’s Jammie Robinson was strong in coverage on Thursday, particularly about Miami’s Will Musgrave at the goal line:
Robinson fits the mold for a Bucs safety, measuring just over five feet tall. He may need to put on some weight at the next level, but overall he’s a solid player.
Friday will feature shorts-and-helmet practices for the National and U.S. teams ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Senior Bowl game, which begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network.