Every year, I get the list of the Senior Bowl prospects and go through each one for a 15-30 minute tape and initial data scouting session. I then slap an initial (school) grade reaction on each prospect and write a few lines about my first reaction to my preview study on them – to publish during Senior Bowl week to get ready for the practice week and game.
I’ll get a better feel for these players after we get their Combine and/or Pro Day numbers and run our scouting analytics and do deeper research on some of them, but for now he’s a first reaction preview of the players going into their Senior Bowl week (ranked by lowest-to-highest initial reaction grades)…
*Updated grades/ranks noted after scouting the entire week.
ILB T.J. Brunson, So. Carolina (6’1”/230) *Early Preview Grade: D
I’m not sure how or why he is here. Nice college ILB, but nothing special…and nothing special for the pro game. Considering the talent here at Mobile in 2020, Brunson is out of his league. Average size, average ability, nice college linebacker who won’t work with any impact in the pros.
OLB Cameron Brown, Penn State (6’5”/233) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Unusual looking prospect. Tall, lanky, but looks very clunky/unathletic. Doesn’t work as a 4-3 DE. Has the look for a 3-4 OLB but just seems to have no burst or pop in step off the snap. He just looks like he’s lost and choppy on the field. His body and raw potential keeps him from being an ‘F’ prospect.
ILB Francis Bernard, Utah (6’0”/235) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Not much here for the pros. Might be able to scrap his way onto a practice squad, low-end roster spot. Doesn’t have high-end anything. Doesn’t fully look like an ILB but isn’t athletic enough for OLB work either. I think he’s a solid college ILB and we leave it at that…not a top NFL prospect. Going to get outshined by all the other talent here this week.
OLB Terrell Lewis, Alabama (6’5”/252) *Early Preview Grade: C-
The initial look of a ‘B’ or ‘A’ grade DE/OLB prospect, but the more I watched…the more I saw a lazy 4-3 DE who gave a little surge off the snap and then drifted around too much. No real fire/desire shown. He gets a decent scouting grade because his size/movement ability is NFL-worthy if anyone can coach it up. He’s probably a pass rush specialist for the NFL in a 4-3 as a DE.
ILB Logan Wilson, Wyoming (6’2”/250) *Early Preview Grade: B-/B (Update: C+)
UPDATE: Overlooked the whole week/game and somewhat blended into the background and didn’t stand out/seize the day. He did not help his draft stock this week.
Org. Comments: Throwback/classic middle linebacker. Reads and reacts in the interior. Moves around well/like an NFL linebacker. Sheds blockers and makes tackles. Does fine dropping into coverage. He’s not going to explode off the tape, but he is quietly a very solid linebacker who will work well in the NFL (assuming the Combine numbers backup the speed/agility I think I see on tape).
OLB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan (5’11”/220) *Early Preview Grade: C+
I’m a fan. Love the versatility potential here…could be a 4-3 OLB, might be an excellent strong safety. Hell, he looks like he could cover corner in the slot. Plays with high aggression and energy. He might be a way better pro than college player.
OLB Malik Harrison, Ohio State (6’3”/240) *Early Preview Grade: C+
UPDATE: Had some moments where he really stood out, but mostly he was just ‘OK’/good this week.
Org. Comments: He’s listed an ILB, but I don’t know. Looks like a 4-3 OLB to me. I didn’t see the heart/desire of an interior linebacker. He likes to drift back into coverage (which is nice at his size) and he likes to use his NFL burst/speed to race blindly into the backfield. He’s not a sit and wait and read/react LB…he’s a chaser/mover, and he’s good at that, has the tools for that.
OLB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian St. (6’1”/215) *Early Preview Grade: C+/B-
Could be a 4-3 OLB or a strong safety, or a SAF/LB hybrid. Very quick player with long arms. Plays high-speed most plays. Can burst into the backfield or drop into coverage. A really nice football asset for an NFL team, even if just on special teams.
OLB Zack Baun, Wisconsin (6’2”/235) *Early Preview Grade: D+ (Update: C+/B-)
UPDATE: Transitioning to more of a pure OLB and some ILB work, moving away from being an edge rusher (which he is too small for, and why I graded him lower initially).
The scouts in Mobile were talking up Baun before he hit the field and I think they just stuck with that narrative…I didn’t see Baun dominating anything. He’s good, NFL-legit but not a ‘wow’ prospect for me yet. But there is hope for him as a top 100 prospect because of the ILB possibilities, but I warn everyone…remember that Hasson Reddick struggled with that transition. Great college undersized edge rusher does not instantly mean awesome NFL ILB prospect.
Org. Comments: Has the speed for the NFL, but I don’t see an aggressive pursuer/hitter. He tries to out-speed everything, somewhat because he can in college, but I don’t see much more to his game nor do I see a high-end athlete. He looks like a better ILB prospect, but I don’t think he has the inner motor for that. Braun has a decent profile, but I think he’ll get lost at the next level, in my first look here.
OLB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (6’2”/260) *Early Preview Grade: B-/B (Update: B-)
UPDATE: Did not help himself here. Questions on his drop off in play in 2019 were further fueled with a non-dominant performance at the Senior Bowl. He has a ton of natural talent, but it doesn’t seem to be focused or improving. He’s falling fast for scouts. Would have been a 1st-rounder a couple years ago.
Org. Comments: Listed as an ILB for the Senior Bowl, it could be a typo. He played mostly 4-3 DE for Alabama. He reminds me a bit of a lesser Harold Landry rushing off the edge. Jennings feels like a 3-4 OLB vs. a 4-3 DE prospect. He could transition to ILB. However, I don’t see any evidence of an interior linebacker…he seems content to just want to rush the edge. He looked like an ‘A’ in 2018, and then a lazy ‘C’ in 2019…which now I know why Alabama wasn’t as good as advertised in 2019 – a lot of their top prospects looked like they were protecting their draft stock in 2019/not playing with the same fire as in their breakout seasons. Jennings has NFL ‘A’ attributes, but his play didn’t improve in college…he may not have the internal fire to go with the physical capabilities.
OLB Davion Taylor, Colorado (6’1”/225) *Early Preview Grade: B (Update: B-)
UPDATE: Did OK at the Senior Bowl, but not anything that grabbed a lot of attention. Had a solid game on Saturday but there are so many other small LB/big safety prospects here that grabbed attention…while Taylor did not push his stock a ton higher. I still like what I see, but a small hit for losing ground against his peers by not showing to be the clear ‘best in class’ here.
Org. Comments: Very nice speed-burst ability. He can chase after, chase down anything…looks like he’s shot out of a cannon. He also plays at max effort on every play. He’s a very promising, raw 4-3 OLB prospect. Like the possibilities here.
ILB Evan Weaver, Cal (6’2”/235) *Early Preview Grade: B/B- (Update: B+)
UPDATE: Every coach’s darling of the week…he’s the kinda high effort/grinder the coaches love. He’s very smart/cerebral. Motor always running. Clean tackler. Can be the coach for a defense. He’ll not be rated a top prospect due to athleticism concerns but every coach here will secretly want him, and I bet he goes top 100 as a surprise…and I bet it is to his Senior Bowl coached team – the Detroit Lions.
Org. Comments: 2019 PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Looks a little like Leighton Vander Esch. Really nice feet, high energy, and is looking to hit people…but is very comfortable, adept at dropping into coverage as well. An all-around solid NFL ILB prospect. Will be an NFL starter.