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It’s Senior Bowl time…
Leading into the 2019 Senior Bowl week, all first-half of January 2019, I’ve been preview scouting all the prospects (except OL and PK) – spending 20-60 minutes per prospect watching selected tape and looking over their college output/statistics and game logs.
I then typed a quick reaction paragraph or two and assigned a school grade scouting to each prospect. This initial grade is just my early reaction to what I see. I cannot run the non-QB prospects through my computer scouting models until I get the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day data. This preview is my best attempt to explain what I see and to prepare myself on things to look for going into the Senior Bowl week of practices. *My scouting grades/takes on these players can/will change based on watching them this week but more so when their Combine and Pro Data comes in.
I will be releasing a few positions of preview scouting and grades starting 1/19 and running to 1/22. On 1/22, Tuesday, we have the official weigh ins and measurements, which I’ll be covering and reporting on the interesting results as fast as I can type them out.
1/22 (TUE) also starts the practice week 1/22-1/24, I’ll be covering what I saw/heard from prospects and coaches, etc., and reporting out that night/next day. 1/26 will be the game itself.
RB Karan Higdon, Michigan (5’10”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Smaller, but powerful (for his size) runner…but not super effective. Tends to put his head down and just run until stopped. Had eight 100+ yard games in 2018 but had a lot of rushing attempts in a pro-run game offense and really just had ‘meh’ output per touch.
RB Ryquell Armstead, Temple (5’10”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Strong/stout build and runs with some power, but he’s not that big of an RB in NFL terms. He also runs slow. He can get away with being powerful and having a 4.65+ 40-time in college but not so much in the pros. If he’s faster than that, then I apologize…but I don’t see it.
RB Jalin Moore, Appalachian State (5’11”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+/C-
Very agile runner…has a quick bounce/jump cut that he makes very fluidly. I question his power, speed, and hands for the next level. My first impression was he was a nice college RB but could get lost in the NFL shuffle.
RB Bruce Anderson, No Dakota State (5’9”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+/C-
Looks like a useful NFL RB, but nothing special. Tough runner with a little bounce at the FCS level. He may get pushed around at the Senior Bowl…or show some upside. Is a good special team’s guy, so that will help him get a look.
RB Wes Hills, Slippery Rock (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Won the NFLPA Offensive Player of the Game award and got a late invite to Mobile for it. I just don’t see it. Big dude for sure. Looks like Shaquille O’Neal at his low-level of college play, because he’s a towering RB, but the NFL speed/agility/fluidity is in question. I just don’t see an NFL RB here. I mean, he could hang but he’s not a hidden gem. I’ve seen much more superior small-school RBs hit this game…way better than Hills.
RB L.J. Scott, Michigan State (6’1”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Big guy and knows how to read the blocking/holes. Moves fairly well. Just doesn’t have enough horsepower at my first preview to be seen as an NFL impact RB. His college output has been mediocre. He’s battled some injury issues in 2018. No ‘wow’ here…gets caught from behind often.
RB Tony Pollard, Memphis (6’0”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
7 kick return TDs the past three seasons has to be taken seriously. A crafty 3rd-down type RB that can take carries and make catches in the short passing game, plus has the flare for the return game. He doesn’t look like he’s moving that fast, but the results are undeniable.
An NFL player is here, but I need to study more on how good it is. First impression is ‘OK’, but I thought that about Dante Pettis and Ryan Switzer, big-time NCAA return guys, but the more I studied the more I saw their ‘it’ factor…sometimes these guys make it looks so easy it fools even the trained eye. I know my past first impression mistakes on this type of player means I have to be cautious.
RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (5’10”/193) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/C
Very agile and nimble…making him elusive/hard to tackle, but a lot of his moves bring him to a near-full stop and that will hurt him in the NFL. Has enough bounce and vision as a runner to make it in the NFL. I’d say he’s a 3rd-down, change of pace guy…but Phillip Lindsay is changing perceptions of smaller RBs.
I don’t think Gaskin is as good as Lindsay at first glance.
RB Dexter Williams, Notre Dame (5’10”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-/B
CLEARLY the best RB prospect at the East-West game…not even debatable. Terrific burst…one of the best accelerations you’ll see in an RB prospect. He can really hit the gas and go. Has the speed, is pretty agile, is physical enough for 215-pounds. Catches the ball well. Really, a nice RB prospect for the NFL. In what might be a bad year for RB prospects…Williams may shock with a great Senior Bowl week, which he may have because he’ll stand out way ahead of the rest of the RBs in Mobile.
He has a smaller (height) Josh Adams feel, but Adams was off-the-charts great the first moment I saw him, and Williams is a lesser, but still good, version of Adams.
WR Jaylen Smith, Louisville (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Solid college WR, but I don’t see that much for the pros. Might have more to him but hard scouting when he went from playing/benefiting from Lamar Jackson to whatever nightmare that was in Louisville this season. Of all the Senior Bowl WR tapes I’ve watched…this was the one I was least ‘moved’ with.
WR Tyre Brady, Marshall (6’2”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = D
Has NFL size but has a loping/elongated running style…seems like he’s moving too slow/takes time for him to get up to speed. Even in a full sprint, the tape I watched, he was not really getting all that open. Didn’t see anything here that caught my attention…except for wondering why Brady made this trip and the Senior Bowl committee missed all the great WRs at the East-West game.
WR Hunter Renfro, Clemson (5’10”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade = D
God love him, what a story…from too small walk-on who was told he would never make the team or make the active roster to gaining a scholarship and catching 186 passes over 4 years. Great story, but it probably ends in Mobile. He doesn’t have the frame or athleticism to make it at the next level. He might make the practice squad or even make an active roster at some point, but highly unlikely he’ll be an impact player. I hope I’m wrong.
WR Alex Wesley, No Colorado (6’0”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+
400-meter track star in college…kinda plays like a track star playing WR – beats most coverage deep and just out runs whatever needs to be outrun. Didn’t do much as a kick returner. Had decent numbers the past two season but not like ‘wow’. He juts made some big plays from time-to-time…only 4 receiving TDs in 10 games in 2017.
The physical gifts are there but not sure a real NFL WR is there. The speed might be enticing enough to work with though.
WR David Sills, West Virginia (6’3”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+
What a story. Was a top QB prospect in like the 7th-grade…was getting interest from USC, etc. Moved from QB to WR at West Virginia after his sophomore season. Caught 33 TD passes in the past two seasons (24 games).
Good hands, great college WR in a system pushing numbers…and Sills took advantage. On the scouting negatives – he’s so thin-framed/skinny it’s hard to see him competing well in the NFL. Not sure he has enough speed or athleticism to pull it off either, but if anyone can it’s him. As a scout, based on his preview, I have to bet against him.
WR Jakobi Meyers, NC State (6’1”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
A high school QB recruit turned WR. Has made himself into a good college slot WR, but I’m not sure he’s ready for the NFL. He might be. He might need 2-3 years. Has good athleticism and makes some athletic plays but his catch form is more unnatural/into the body versus snatching with his hands. Not sure it can be corrected in time…or if it 100% matters. With the load of WR talent hitting the NFL from college this year…you need to be flawless, but Meyers may have flaws.
WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion (6’2”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Has NFL size. Appears to have a good feel for the position – good footwork, routes. However, he was ‘good’ on a ‘good’ passing game – and isn’t near as exciting a prospect as ODU’s other WR, who is somehow at the East-West Shrine game and not here, 6’2”/220 Jonathan Duhart.
The E-W Shrine committee way out scouted the Senior Bowl at WR, it feels like to me.
WR Terry McLaurin, Ohio State (6’0”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Strange scouting preview. Has moments where he looks like an ‘A’. His opening game of 2018 vs. Oregon State looked like a star was born, but then playing for a high-volume passing game…McLaurin’s numbers faded into mediocre the rest of the season. If he were a no question prospect, there’s no way his numbers would have died like they did. Requires more research as to why. A lot of natural talent here, but maybe not a head-smart WR.
WR Gary Jennings, West Va. (6’1”/213) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Hard to figure out. Looks terrific for a few plays and then looks like he’s going half-speed the next. Has terrific hands. A nice bounce in his step…kinda looks like Greg Jennings at work. Reliable. But I don’t see him getting open across the middle often or blazing past people on a bubble screen.He’s a limited athlete by comparison here, but a good craftsman.
WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor (6’3”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Interesting prospect. Was an RB who I liked at Tennessee years ago. Got hurt/lost his job, transferred to Baylor to become a WR. He was a legit route-running WR for Baylor, but then also played some tailback in the same games. Looks like a solid WR…size with good hands. Looks like a taller Dante Pettis without the experience/fluidity.
There’s something here if there were any vision in the NFL personnel rooms.
WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo (6’2”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-
Hard to scout…has the NFL size. Has exquisite hands…super soft/sticky hands. Makes all kinds of catches. Plays WR like a finesse basketball player. However, his speed-agility look to be in question. I fear he’s a 4.6+ runner and a 7.2+ three-cone and then would need to be paired with a great QB in the NFL to hit him in tight windows…because he might not get great separation at the next level.
If he tests with better athleticism than my naked eye sees…then he may be more ‘A’ class as a prospect.
WR Deebo Samuel, So Carolina (6’0”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-
The guy just knows how to be good at football. He likely won’t test the best at the NFL Combine, but he’ll do OK. He doesn’t stand out to look at, but he has NFL size…and this dude is just elusive and has great hands. He just makes plays. 11 receiving TDs in 2018. 6 rushing TDs as a sophomore on 15 carries as a red zone gimmick threat. 4 kick return TDs in his career on 42 returns.
Constantly makes people miss. Has some radical one-handed catches on his highlight tape. Just a good player. Scored 3 TDs vs. Clemson this season.
WR Emanuel Hall, Missouri (6’1”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = B/B+
Really solid WR…no flaws that I saw. He might be more of an ‘A’ with more study. Has NFL speed, agility, and movement. Gets open well on the medium and deep ball. Will make the tough catches on timing slants over the middle…gets open off the jump. Everything I saw was ‘good’ and no ‘bad’. He was also catching laser beams (short and long) from Drew Lock without any trouble – hands are fine.
WR Keelan Doss, UC Davis (6’2”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
*Doss was called up to the Senior Bowl after accepting East-West invite. Will be at the Senior Bowl.
The FCS star looks legit to me… Played against two D1 teams this season…13 catches for 106 yards vs. Stanford and 11 catches for 85 yards vs. San Jose State.
Doss is a good (possibly very good) athlete with NFL size, but what caught my eye is his toughness and confidence. Catches the ball all over the place and will go into the middle right into danger and make catches not focusing on the hit he’s about to take, but then you can just throw it for grabs to him and he’ll come down with the catch. I’m looking forward to deeper studies, but I really liked what I saw here.
WR Penny Hart, Georgia State (5’8”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade = A
Probably the best hands and concentration/catch ability in this draft class…if there is one better, then ‘wow’. Stunning hands/catch ability…catches passes over the top, one-handed, over the shoulder on bombs. He was a 5’8”/180 main end zone ‘alley oop’ target, if that tells you anything. I was left just like ‘wow’.
He looks like a smaller speedster, but he didn’t seem to have the breakaway speed you’d like – he’s more fast enough/quick enough to get open and then he’ll catch it. He’s not a bubble screen and out run. He’s probably a 4.55 or so runner. His gift to the world is his catch-ability.
Hart doesn’t have eye-popping college stats because he played in a terrible passing game the past few seasons. He’s just a ‘football player’…a can’t miss that will be underappreciated in the draft. If he went to Georgia, not Georgia STATE, then he’s be a first-round discussion possibly.
WR Andy Isabella, UMass (5’10”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = A
If Julian Edelman had his WR talents of today and put them in his college senior body and were a bit quicker with better hands – you’d have Andy Isabella. An absolutely fantastic WR prospect. A can’t miss NFL prospect as a starting NFL WR for a team…perfect for the Edelman-type role that no NFL team uses except New England (but all say they want to).