The Senior Bowl Week is coming to a close and with the practices, the most important part, ending, it is time to look back on the week. A lot of guys were able to show off their abilities in an environment that takes them out of their college system or competition and instead puts them up against the best of the best using NFL concepts and practices. After a full week of practice, I asked some great football writers who were down there about guys who stood out. Here is what they had to say...
- Emory Hunt of FootballGameplan.com was incredibly complimentary of Alabama tight end OJ Howard: "Howard was so criminally underutilized in the passing game at Alabama that I don't think many understand how good he really is as a receiver. We knew about his ability to block, but it's been his route running, hands and acceleration out of his breaks that has been the most impressive. In my opinion, he's a Jeremy Shockey-like talent that will be an immediate impact player as a pro. It'll be a huge steal for someone if he falls out of the Top 15." OJ Howard's lack of production was always a bit confusing in his four years at Alabama given how obviously gifted he is. Howard's strong week in mobile and potential to have a great combine might make him the top pass catching threat in the draft, period.
- Hunt was also very taken with Mizzou cornerback, Arion Penton: "Penton was a star at the East-West Shrine Game, got the call up to the Senior Bowl and just picked up right where he left off. Size is not a skill, so don't let his 5'10 195lb frame fool you, Penton has very good hips and feet to go along with his ability to play the ball in the air. He'll be a solid corner for an NFL team with the ability to play both outside and in the slot." Penton's name could get lost in the shuffle of a deep defensive back class, but the smaller cornerback did have a very productive career at Missouri, picking off 10 passes during his career and five this season. The Eagles do not seem to have a strict height requirement at cornerback so Penton should be on their radar.
- The Eagles interviewed DT Dalvin Tomlinson, which should excite Eagles fans considering that Charles McDonald, a writer for Bleacher Report and The Falcoholic, was a big fan of what he saw from Tomlinson this week. McDonald thinks Tomlinson should be a day two pick and compares favorably to former Alabama defender, Jarran Reed, but Tomlinson offers more as a run defender. This is interesting due to Bennie Logan's being an impending free agent. Tomlinson would easily be able to slide into that tackle spot next to Fletcher Cox and offer a lot of the similar run stuffing abilities as Bennie while also providing pass rush potential.
- There were a lot of stand out defensive linemen this week, according to McDonald. DT Tanzel Smart out of Tulane showed off his quickness and excelled in pass rush drills despite having a tough time against the run. Smart is a quick twitch defensive lineman who racked up over 18 TFLs last season. He would be an excellent mid round addition to the Eagles defensive line room.
- Charles McDonald has been a big fan of DT Jaleel Johnson through the draft prospect, but Johnson's week was up and down, but there is reason to be excited about him: "Jaleel Johnson had a mixed performance this week. I spoke to handful of scouts and coaches this week that were high on him coming into the game including two scouts who thought he was the best defensive tackle on the rosters at the start of the week. Johnson had a decent performance in the one on ones, but where he shined was in the team drills. His block recognition and ability to string together moves against the run and the pass was impressive. The amount weight you put on the team drills versus the one on ones will decide how you grade Johnson's week. Situationally, he was excellent in the combo block drills and the team run drills. Since that's the closest situation that mirrors a game during the week, it'd be fair to place more weight on that." I doubt the Eagles go defensive tackle early in the draft, but Johnson is a name to keep an eye on throughout this process.
- Everyone wants to hear about the receivers and luckily more than a few names stood out from who I talked to. Emory Hunt specifically brought up Chad Williams out of Grambling State. Hunt said "He's your quintessential Split End that shows very good route running skills and has an excellent set of hands." The 6-2, 195 pound receiver had over 1300 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his senior season. Charles McDonald was very impressed with Cooper Kupp, Zay Jones and Ryan Switzer. Kupp is particularly interesting because he was getting incredible hype all week and his strong performance against the impressive corners in Mobile combined with his insane college production is something to take note of.
- OT Taylor Moton was a guy who impressed enough for Charles McDonald, Bleacher Report's Justis Mosqueda, and Optimum Scouting's Derrik Klassen to comment on. McDonald went as far to call Moton a first round tackle and said "it was funny watching him go through some of the bag drills was funny because he kept having to look at his feet to make sure he didn't trip over the bags. In the pass rush one on one drills he was phenomenal. He moves extremely well for a big man and was consistently able to mirror and drive against the smaller speed rushers. When rushers tried to bull rush he showed an almost perfect ability to anchor and not give up ground. Moton had a phenomenal week of practice and I'm expecting him to blow up the combine in February." Derrik Klassen was similarly impressed with Moton's blend of speed and quickness and insisted that he should be a tackle at the next level due to the value of those athletic traits on the outside. While the Eagles might not need tackle help immediately, they could benefit from investing in the offensive line this offseason. If Moton slips to round two, he would definitely be a great guy to target.
- A guy Derrik Klassen was impressed with was Philly's own Haason Reddick. According to him, Reddick was moved around in practice a lot, playing off the ball and as a pass rusher, but was able to excel wherever coaches put him. Klassen does not think Reddick should be "pigeonholed" at the next level and that makes a lot of sense given Reddick's size. Reddick is smaller for an NFL defensive linemen, weighing under 230 pounds and measuring only at 6-1, but he was insanely productive getting behind the line of scrimmage at Temple. With the Eagles potentially looking for new bodies at linebacker this offseason, the local guy may make a lot of sense as an outside linebacker who can come up to stop the run, has the athletic ability to cover and can also be an outstanding blitzer.
- Klassen also was a big fan of Marquez White, the FSU cornerback. White has a nice frame at 6-0 and 190 pounds and Klassen was complimentary of his athletic ability and aggressive playing style. That type of aggression would sit well with Jim Schwartz and a strong combine in February could vault White's stock.