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.
RB Darius Anderson, TCU (5’10”/212) *Early Preview Grade: D- (Update D+)
UPDATE: Had a solid Combine. Showed he wasn’t overmatched, but he wasn’t any type of ‘wow’ player either.
Org. Comments: I don’t see an NFL RB prospect here. In fact, I have no idea why he’s at the Senior Bowl…there are more interesting RB prospects at the East-West game. Is this a down year for secondary RB prospects? Very average in all aspects…not bad, but not good for the NFL. Probably a 4.6+ runner with nothing special on agility. He tries hard and is college decent…but not an obvious NFL guy.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vandy (5’10”/218) *Early Preview Grade: C (Update: C-)
Two underwhelming years at Illinois, then transferred to Vandy and had back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons. Averaged 7.9 yards per carry (6th best in all the NCAA) and scored 14 total TDs in his 2018 season. Solid speed (4.5-4.6?), solid size…but great balance/toughness after contact and above average agility/shiftiness. He’s an NFL worker for sure, but I don’t think he has the high-end overall ability of a future superstar runner at the next level. A more nimble, less instinctive Mark Ingram?
RB Lamical Perine, Florida (5’11”/215) *Early Preview Grade: D+/C- (Update: C)
UPDATE: He’s OK, but a slightly extra boost because so many people like him and thus he’s going to get opportunity that, maybe, others deserve.
Org. Comments: A slower Duke Johnson-type…weak runner of the ball – doesn’t seem natural running the ball at all. However, is a very good receiver out of the backfield – great, smooth hands catching passes. 40 catches for 262 yards and 5 rec. TDs in 2019. Useful RB body for pass game, but more likely a fringe NFL back these days…a lot of guys can catch the ball well out of the backfield AND are better runners of the ball.
RB JaMycal Hasty, Baylor (5’9”/205) *Early Preview Grade: C+
A quicker Devonta Freeman, a Dalvin Cook-like prospect. Small, compact, but nice burst and NFL shiftiness. He reminds me a little of 2018 Memphis NFL draftee Darrell Henderson…but Hasty has nowhere near the college numbers Henderson did, but Hasty was in an RBBC share and split with multiple options in the backfield. There might be some neat hidden upside from the fact that Baylor didn’t feature him for big numbers.
RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (5’10”/210) *Early Preview Grade: C+/B-
Benjamin reminds me a little of Aaron Jones…plays all out and works bigger than he is with the passion/effort he’s giving. Not super talented – he’s got OK/good speed, pretty decent agility, but does have a higher end instinct running the ball in traffic and is physical for his size (and then some). He’s the kind of worker fans and coaches will like. Scouts may be lukewarm on him but if he gets his chance he might surprise people. Good running skills, nice receiver…if his Combine times are 4.5s 40-time or better and a sub-7.00, then he’s going to have a nice profile to be a top 125 pick in the draft and a surprise performer in the NFL.
RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA (5’11”/218) *Early Preview Grade: D/D+ (Update: C+/B-)
UPDATE: I’m wrestling with the proper grading on Kelley…mediocre athlete, by RB standards, but really nice vision and instinct. Could be a Kareem Hunt type head fake of weaker measurables but just good at what he does. The opposite of Kalen Ballage.
Org. Comments: Try hard runner with decent size/speed but not possessing an NFL burst or shiftiness that I saw. Could grind his way to hanging onto an NFL roster but I don’t see any real upside here as a runner or receiver (wasn’t that involved in the passing game in 2019, so hard to fully judge).
RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis (6’2”/221) *Early Preview Grade: C+/B-
UPDATE: He showed all those ‘A’ grade athleticism attributes. He was way more physically gifted than any other RB here. He may be the most athletic RB in this draft but is super-raw. He may be just ‘athlete’ and not a real viable work horse runner…or he’s an ‘A’ grade future star. Hard to know for sure.
Org. Comments: Here we go…the most intriguing RB prospect at the Senior Bowl, and he isn’t even a true running back. A 2018 WR for Memphis, transferring over from the JUCO ranks. He was a WR for most of the first half of the 2019 season…and then they started giving him the ball at tailback some and everything changed.
Gibson is like a wild stallion running the ball…he doesn’t even know his own strength/capabilities – he’s just getting the ball and running to daylight and shedding tacklers. In Memphis’s final 7 games, Gibson ran the ball 30 times for 384 yards…12.8 yards per carry…4 TDs/a TD run every 7.5 carries, and they weren’t cheap TDs either – a 78-yard run TD, an 18 yarder, a 29 yarder, and a 65 yarder.
Against SMU, this past season, he caught 6 passes for 130 yards and a TD, ran the ball 3 times for 97 yards (and a 78-yard TD), and returned a kick for a 97-yard TD.
Gibson is very raw and very interesting. He looks more raw than smooth, especially as a receiver…so he definitely looks better as an RB. An NFL team will definitely take a chance here 3rd-5th-round if his Combine numbers come in well. The problem is – he’s raw, needs more experience and most NFL teams want ‘work right away and save our jobs’ kinda guys.