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Senior Bowl Notes, Observations From Day 3 (Thurs. 1/24/2019)

Air Date:
January 25, 2019

Senior Bowl Notes, Observations From Day 3 (Thursday 1/24/2019)

*In no particular order, mostly the order I made the notes, and excuse types…moving fast.

North notes (practiced first)…

-- Well, that didn’t take long.

I said it two days ago, and ‘boom’…here we are.

Let’s rewind what I’m referring to – the fact that EVERYONE in the Senior Bowl scouting establishment (scouts and media) has thrown Daniel Jones overboard and is all in on Drew Lock, and I’ll explain why/how I know it.

First, what I wrote from Day 1 of practices…my very first paragraphs of observations:

I can start with this…before any player hit the field, my sense is everyone in the media is bought into Daniel Jones (North team) as being in some obvious (to them) race for the #1-2 QB ranking in the draft class with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

The football people aren’t on the same page with this Jones media love. The football scouts are talking more Drew Lock because of his ‘big arm’.

This Daniel Jones disconnect between the media and football people will not stand. They are never in disagreement for long. Usually, the media will gravitate towards the football people’s chatter. It happened with Carson Wentz, it happened with Josh Allen last year…so, by using past logic – it will be Drew Lock as the guy they start to push over Jones.

And per usual, it’s all about ‘big arm’.

On Tuesday, the first commercial promos/lead-ins and discussions were about Daniel Jones being considered for the top of the QB draft class…and that was the angle they were playing up. On Thursday, NFL Network acted like Daniel Jones didn’t exist. But you know who they now love…Drew Lock, on cue. What QB got ‘mic’d up’ for the practice? Drew Lock. Who was shown and discussed in the opening/intro of the TV broadcast of practice Thursday? Drew Lock.

The only two times Daniel Jones was mentioned was to say the same thing, from two different assessors, “He’s not got the arm these other guys do, but he’s a big kid coached well in college.

Daniel Jones’s NFL Draft prospects are dead on that statement. He won’t be in the top 5 of QB rankings before long – only the out of touch, not-paying-attention analysts/websites will be talking about Jones as a top 1-2 QB in this draft the next few weeks. I’m telling you – he died in Mobile, and he won’t be a 1st-rounder and not among the top 5 QBs taken this year.

This happens EVERY year. The QBs that the analysts LOVE in January are usually exposed as semi or full disasters by the time the NFL Combine finishes. How can people do this for a living so long with all their access and watch all these games and get paid a lot of money to do it and yet they are wrong every January or February about the QB class? Last year they were arguing Darnold-Rosen early on…Mayfield was a shock to their system going #1. In 2017, they pushed DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson early over ‘sketchy’ Mitchell Trubisky and ‘system’ Patrick Mahomes.  

It will take a few weeks for draft websites who ‘study’ these things to all collectively change their QB rankings, taking Jones down harshly, and all coming to the same conclusion at the same time, independently reached I’m sure…just a coincidence it will all happen in the same 2-3 weeks with the same scouting ‘knock’ given. Jones is going to fall right out of the 1st-round talk never to be seen again. Going to the Senior Bowl cost him millions…and all because the media sold him on going. He should’ve stayed in school, but he got a ‘1st-round grade’ from people who do this for a living. A sucker’s bet from day one…and read my scouting report on him. I was not suckered for a moment.

Now, get ready for the Drew Lock push…the identical push Josh Allen got. Bug guy. Big arm. Don’t pay attention to the erratic, inaccurate results. The NFL is reliable in it’s never changing wrongness on QB scouting. It’s hilarious…and predictable…and allows us to succeed nicely in dynasty-fantasy-handicapping because of it.

-- The Network had Drew Lock mic’d up and was the star of the NFL Network coverage this day…complete with an interview with the analyst-trio after practice (which is a coveted tip of the cap by the ‘judges’).

What you won’t be privy to…

Watching and listening to the NFL Network live feed during practice, they opened Lock’s mic and caught him in his natural state in-practice without him aware. I’m sorry, but Drew Lock is a bit of an aloof, quasi-unlikable jerk. Not full scale, just default mode he’s not impressive communicating. He has the body language of it in press conferences and, now, in live practices.

Lock was a bit snarky about what the receivers he was throwing to were doing with their routes, caught on the open mic. At the end of practice, we got a Lock montage of his day (and not a Daniel Jones one), complete with ‘best of’ his open mic day – all cleaned up/edited for the masses to consume. Just the nice/neutral words Lock said were given to us…no sign of his jerky ones.

Nothing can stop the story the NFL now wants to tell/push on Lock. The generic fan is getting pushed ‘fake news’ and fans will soon be defending ‘their guy’ based on these manipulated highlights and ‘shaped’ reporting. I chuckle remembering when I was a fan in the dark gobbling down all the bullshit the football media fed me.  

You think I’m too harsh on these coaches and organizations/institution? I’m really not hard enough on how out of touch and con artist-y they are. Not a crime…we just have to remember that they’re just like any other business or politician/government trying to pacify their fans/people and control their message. And that they are wrong A LOT. They are not ‘special beings’ to worshipped.

Gardner Minshew was the ‘mic’d up’ QB for the later practice (the South). He was 10x more charming, more of a leader, than Drew Lock could ever be. You won’t get a serving of that…because Minshew didn’t play in the SEC and is 3-4 inches too short to be a real NFL QB. If only the brilliant David Cutcliffe coached him…then we would be allowed to gush over Minshew.

-- Speaking of bad pre-scouting by the analysts…

6’8” Stetson TE prospect Donald Parham got hurt Wednesday and had to drop out of the rest of the Senior Bowl events. UCLA TE Caleb Wilson was named to Parham’s spot. Wilson was the analysts top TE prospect entering this college season. I laughed at that notion when I pre-scouted him this past summer.

Well, Wilson fell all the way to ‘not invited to the Senior Bowl on purpose’ after this past season. Watching him here…a reminder he has no real NFL future. Too slow, too awkward.

*Not a lot happened with the North team/Oakland Raiders’ staff drills this day. Limited events where players could battle each other, but I have a few notes from some of their live action sessions…

-- The starting skill position guys for the North seems to be…

Drew Lock at QB.

Karan Higdon, Michigan at RB.

Andy Isabella-Deebo Samuel-Alex Wesley at WR

Tommy Sweeney, BC at TE

It was the same ‘starter’ group as Tuesday-Wednesday with the exception of WR Alex Wesley…who is a track star turned WR from Northern Colorado. It’s shocking he is starting, if he is, over Georgia State WR Penny Hart.

Hart semi-shined/dominated the 1-on-1 drills again…not in a way lazy analysts would see. Hart is not racking up one-handed catches or making leaping-into-the-sky grabs. What he is doing is boring – beating every CB off the snap because his feet are so fast, and he is so shifty that he creates instant separation…the QB not connecting with him on the play/drill is meaningless compared to that special ‘get open quick’ talent he is showing.

Hart not starting is a tragedy. If that’s what happens Saturday… A tragedy…and typical.

-- We’ve seen a lot of WR v. CB drills this week, and for the North USC CB Iman Marshall is always the standout cover corner of the North group for me. Arguably the best-looking CB of Senior Bowl week.

-- Best player of the day…OT Kaleb McGary, Washington. I didn’t really catch onto him from the Tuesday practices but looking back at isolated tape of his work – my mistake. He was terrific. He’s definitely the best OT prospect on the North and is either #1 or #2 overall among the OTs here.

-- Biggest North team decliner at the end of the week, a guy who looked like a star to start the week…TCU DT L.J. Collier. He was dominated/kept getting blocked in drills by everyone Thursday.


South notes…

-- There’s another ‘QB collapsing’ story flying under-the-radar in Mobile…and that’s the one by Will Grier, West Virginia.

The Daniel Jones collapse was semi-inevitable because there was no meat on the bone with his talent/production/tape. He was a manufactured top QB prospect, and he’s going to fall away. Grier’s drop is a head-scratcher. No one really loves him as a QB talent, but they don’t hate him either -- but his numbers/productivity were silly/great…so, he was considered a ‘good’ NFL prospect by everyone. Placed in the ‘good’ category waiting to see whether ‘great’ was there…or ‘trouble brewing’.  

Grier has been terrible on most every 11-on-11 event I’ve seen him in this week (relative to the group)…and these guys don’t get a ton of reps so it’s somewhat unfair to kill him over it…but also bewildering how he could be so bad doing something so easy as non-contact throwing. Grier butchered throws in 11-on-11. Grier butchered throws in 1-on-1 in red zone work, he butchered them in 1-on-1 generic work. No energy. Dead fish passes. No leadership or swagger displayed.

Grier had a chance to jump start/solidify himself into the top 3 QB discussion and maybe a claim for the #1 top spot…all that’s gone now. It’s breathtaking how bad he has looked…considering how well he played the past two seasons.

You have to question his passion and aggression…it’s the one thing I had against him. He’s been so bad here, I’ve lowered my expectations on his Wonderlic and psych profile – and lowered his QB grade from what it was in early January. Rare for me to do that off Senior Bowl week, because I’m usually on target or neutral with things on my first read pre-Senior Bowl, and don’t want to put too much on this odd 3-day process, but Grier has been so ‘blah’, so out-of-sorts, I have to take estimates down.

-- If you were watching the South QBs all week, and you had no idea of any of the background, pre-story, media massaged messages on them, etc., you would walk away with the following rankings…

#1 Jarrett Stidham is by far the best QB here and looks Tom Brady-ish.

#2 Gardner Minshew looks comfortable, talented, and is a natural leader. Baker Mayfield-lite.

#3 Tyree Jackson is a giant of a human who looks like a starting center for a college basketball program, and occasionally whips passes around and makes you have hope.

#4 Will Grier…you’d wonder how he even got an invite.

Stidham is the best QB here, right now, and I’m not even going to entertain discussion otherwise. I know ‘it’ when I see ‘it’. I’ve been doing this too long, too successfully. The fact that the media will not see it and never speak it…not my problem. I’d argue Stidham has the best arm of anyone here, Lock included. Stidham has size, arm, smarts, a gift, played in the SEC…I don’t know why he’s getting the cold shoulder besides ‘didn’t put up big numbers in 2018’.

I would have liked to have seen Stidham play Will Grier’s offense and schedule at West Virginia the past two seasons versus the granite tough schedule Stidham had to work against.

Stidham has been so smooth this week…I’m bumping his projections up (also, something I rarely do because of the senior Bowl with the QBs). His measurements came in a bit better than estimated and his decision making was on display on tape and here in Mobile…his Wonderlic score should be a winner as well. I already liked Stidham more than any scout…now I love him even more.

…and he will get drafted mid-draft and become a forgotten backup while Sam Darnold and Jameis Winston get nothing but second and third chances and excuses. It’s an NFL crime what the terrible scouting of the QBs does to these people who deserve better.

*Shocking (to me) piece of news as I am about to publish this – the Senior Bowl names a ‘Practice Award’ player of the entire week, naming by positions the guys that stood out and did things the right way, etc.

The winner at QB…Jarrett Stidham.

-- Gardner Minshew is getting lost in the Drew Lock push, but he shouldn’t. He’s right there with Stidham as the best QBs here. I think Stidham has been the best thrower/passer/reader of things, but Minshew is close…but then Minshew has such an infectious, natural leadership personality that he looks the more comfortable and confident of all the QBs here…the better ‘face’ of an organization.

I wish I could have told Stidham a few things to help him standout/go on a small media offensive. Instead, he just let himself get painted into a box he won’t be able to get out of – the NFL will see him as a mid-rounder because he acts like one. It’s a shame. Nick Foles had the same issue early in his career. They’re too nice and not media-savvy enough to know how to play the media for their own gain.

-- I will say this about the QBs on the South team, what may help Minshew-Stidham…

I thought I detected a shift at the end of Thursday practice where Minshew-Stidham were working ahead of Grier. All week, both teams have pushed an ‘order’ for these QBs and never broke ranks with it…until late Thursday. May have a reason I’m not privy to behind it, but I think the 49ers’ staff might be seeing the obvious with Grier…and that his play this week doesn’t deserve the auto-starter role.

If Minshew is starting Saturday…it’s a blow to Grier’s NFL Draft prospects. If Stidham comes in after Minshew -- Will Grier’s NFL draft prospects could be flushed down a toilet with Daniel Jones’s.

-- The best WR talents are on the North team, but the South has some ‘playas’ too. Two very much under the radar…

1) Deebo Samuel, South Carolina is a very solid. He will work in the NFL. Not likely a star, but he belongs from what I see. *Won the WR ‘practice award’.

2) Gary Jennings, West Virginia is getting no notice, but I think he’s low-key one of the best performers at WR out here this week.

3) My apologies, but Hunter Renfrow can really play football. I thought he was a joke for being invited here…too small, too slow for the NFL – and that’s what everyone thought of him walking on at Clemson too. He has been terrific. He has that Welker-role down so well he’s impossible to cover. A future Patriot (practice squad) if I’ve ever seen one. Might be a Texan (to go with Deshaun Watson).

-- Best cover CB on the South? The NFL Network guys keep pushing Rock Ya-Sin like they have a financial stake in the matter, but I think Kentucky’s Lonnie Johnson looks like the top guy for the South.

-- Best O-Lineman for the South is Andre Dillard, Washington State…he looked the part and had all the push from the TV analysts.

Somewhat under the radar was the two Oklahoma OGs, who I thought had great weeks…Dru Samia and Ben Powers.

-- One last pitch for the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff…to me it so stood out here, from Kyle Shanahan on down.

The 49ers staff talks, moves around, looks like normal/professional human beings trying to do their job and having normal conversations with other humans (football players and the media).

The Raiders’ staff looks like cartoons…like sitcom coaches from central casting. Jon Gruden had his nose in the middle of things with his stupid play calling…he was on camera a bunch. Interviews or ‘caught in the moment during drills’ with the Raiders’ offensive coordinator, O-Line coach, and D-Line coach was either empty or childish. You would take the entire 49ers staff top-to-bottom over Oakland’s.

Remember that for the SF over/under win totals for 2019, and the current (if I saw it correctly) 45-to-1 Super Bowl 2020 win might not be a bad throwaway bet. A fully healthy 49ers team is interesting.

-- Speaking of betting…

Looking at the QB talent and roster, etc., I thought the South would be a 1-2-point favorite…but wouldn’t have been surprised if the North was a favorite because of Lock-Jones. I liked the South before they even started practicing/just looking at the rosters.

Well, we got a bettors gift. The Drew Lock push by the NFL Network helped install the North as -2.5 favorites. Gimme the South and +2.5 all day. Also, the ‘over’ 40 points scored might be the way to go – the QBs and WRs are the stars this week, not the RBs. Should be ‘offensive’ Saturday.

The South has the better QB group, BY FAR, the better O-Line…and you get the SF coaching staff.




About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>