This past week I was in Mobile, Alabama covering the Senior Bowl for eDraft.com, and was able to talk to and interview prospects, watch practices from the sidelines, be around NFL personnel and truth be told, there is nothing like it. Be sure to check out the site.
Among one of the best parts of the week for me was watching practice just five feet from Chip Kelly. I was unable to speak with him, as he was moving at a brisk pace, and focusing on a few players at the South practice at Fairhope Stadium. Chip seemed to be watching Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford as he followed him all the way down the field during one particular drill, moving from the 20 to 50 yard line. Call this speculation, but it seems that Kelly was intrigued by Ford, as most of us are as well.
In addition, seeing some of the players who will undoubtedly be in the NFL next year was surreal, but there were some that stuck out the most.
James White, running back, Wisconsin
Coming into the week, James White was low on most boards, and there was not much buzz on him. But, without question, White was one of the best backs in Mobile. Showing great burst through the hole, and accelerates at the right times. But, what was so impressive about White was his pass protection. At Wisconsin, the running backs rarely get a chance to block, as the offense is run-oriented. But White showed that he is an excellent pass protector, and that will catch the eye of some NFL teams.
Caraun Reid, defensive lineman, Princeton
I say defensive lineman for a reason. At his size, he seemed like a lock to play defensive tackle, either a 1-tech or 3-tech. But if you saw his play this week, you know he has the athleticism and versatility to play on every down all over the defensive line. Reid was one of the best linemen there, and that is saying something since Aaron Donald and Ra'Shede Hageman were also in Mobile.
Jaylen Watkins, cornerback, Florida
At Florida, Watkins was the third or fourth corner on the depth chart coming into the season. But after a strong showing during the season, and a good performance in the Senior Bowl, there is talk that he could be a top 100 pick in May. Watkins showed loose hips and the ability to stay with wide receivers on every route. In practice, Watkins lined up on the two best receivers at the Senior Bowl in Jordan Matthews and Kevin Norwood (who also had a good week), and Watkins was effective against each one of them. BGN's own Mike Kaye examined Watkins as well in a recent post. Check it out!
Jimmie Ward, safety, Northern Illinois
The North team did not have nearly as much talent as the South, but Jimmie Ward was one of the best players on either team, and he was the best player not named Aaron Donald on the North squad. Ward is a Mobile native, and had hundreds of friends and family at each practice at the far end zone cheering for him. The former Huskies star did not disappoint his hometown crowd, and showed why he was one of the better safeties in the country last season. Ward did everything from tackle at the line of scrimmage to cover wide receivers one-on-one, and he excelled at everything during the week. Ward could be a potential target for the Eagles at safety, and would make a lot of fans happy.
Some others who played well:
Alabama Wide Receiver Kevin Norwood, Pittsburgh Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald, Lindenwood Cornerback Pierre Desir, Wisconsin Linebacker Chris Borland, Georgia Tech Pass Rusher Jeremiah Attaochu.
For some interviews of players, check out eDraft.com, and if you have any questions on anything Senior Bowl, tweet me @JoshCollacchi.
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