Senior Bowl: Tuesday Notes

Pete Smith

The Senior Bowl has been a consistent source of talent for the Cleveland Browns, who have routinely drafted players that participated in the event, including the last four seasons, adding Austin Seibert, Baker Mayfield, Larry Ogunjobi and Joe Schobert. As this year's event kicks off, there are definitely some talented players at positions the Browns need to address, most notably offensive tackle.

It's impossible to ignore just how many players had to withdraw for various reasons, which has definitely had an impact on the level of talent participating in this game. In all, 22 players dropped out. Injuries discovered in their physical process eliminated wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State, offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho from Auburn and free safety Ashtyn Davis from Cal. Those players were here for weigh-ins and will participate in team interviews.

I had a chance to speak with Wanogho as he was inundated with questions from any number of people. Having played at Auburn, he was popular with a number of Alabama television and radio stations in addition to NFL teams' media.

Wanogho is intelligent and thoughtful while being confident in himself. He offers a unique perspective because he didn't grow up watching football. So when he was asked about players he watched or emulated or what team he liked, he simply said he didn't. He's only played football for four years. Growing up in Nigeria playing basketball and soccer, he is the only family member living in the United States currently. In Nigeria, he has a pet giraffe named Bobo.

Wanogho was surprised when he found out about the swelling in his knee that knocked him out this week. He wanted to participate, but he's taking the news in stride, now trying to impress in interviews and getting ready for the combine. 

One player that was added to the Senior Bowl roster that could be a target for the Browns is McTelvin Agim, the defensive tackle from Arkansas who had a good week at the Shrine Game. Calvin Throckmorton was announced as an addition to the roster from Oregon, though he was not there in time for practices yesterday. The South team could definitely use the help.

Speaking of the offensive line of the South Team, Ben Bartch from St. Johns (MN), who was a late add to the game, stood out in the first practice. 6'5 3/4" 308, he looked like he belonged in the group, more comfortable than some of the guys from much bigger programs. He had a solid practice and bears watching as this week continues.

The 6'8 1/2" Alex Taylor from South Carolina State stands out physically and he's difficult to miss. He has movement skills and pretty good feet, but he's clearly a work in progress. Taylor needs to improve with his flexibility as it's easy for him to play too high and he can get overpowered at times. Nevertheless, there are flashes that look pretty good.

Vanderbilt's tight end Jared Pinkney is interesting for the Browns simply because he's a great blocker. He doesn't have great speed and it showed in some of the drills, but he has great size at 6'4" 254 and looks like he could add to his frame were he so inclined.

The best player here is Javon Kinlaw, the defensive tackle from South Carolina. He's prototypical at 6'5 1/8" 315 with an 84" wingspan and he's very quick off the ball. He was only blocked once in 1-on-1's when he tried to bullrush LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry.

Terrell Lewis from Alabama was good in pass rushing drills. He was effective, utilizing some different moves, allowing him to have his way with many of the blockers.

The second best player participating in the Senior Bowl this year is likely Josh Jones, the offensive tackle from Houston, on the North Team. He looked impressive at the weigh in, with a powerful lower body. He is relatively soft spoken, but has a quiet confidence about him.

When he was asked about the combine, Jones had a little smile as he said he was excited to perform there, seeming to suggest he believes he will do well there. Later, when he was getting asked about Houston's lack of competition, Jones basically just said with a smile that he guessed a team will have to take a chance on him.

Jones is competitive and that's why he's here. That likely folds into the competition questions, but it's a stacked offensive tackle class and he's an excellent prospect. In other classes, he might go much earlier whereas in this one, he could be the fifth off the board behind players like Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton, though it's important to note none of them are here as they are all underclassmen. This is a showcase for Jones in front of the entire league.

Connecticut tackle Matthew Peart also looked good in the weigh-in, although he could use a little more muscle in his lower body. He's got prototypical height as well as long arms, for the people who love long arms on tackles. Hakeem Adeniji from Kansas doesn't have the height preferred for tackles, but he is a well built player. The North team has a nice set of tackles this week.

Chase Claypool from Notre Dame is a player that's intriguing. The fact he weighs 229 pounds at 6'4 3/8" is interesting. Speed was never going to be great with him, but he's been extremely effective and that size enables him to play multiple roles on a football field. He's almost an H-back who can be a receiver and contributes on special teams. He had a good day at practice.

Brycen Hopkins was shorter than his listed height, 6'3 3/4, but he looked good in practice, catching passes. The Purdue tight end had no issue getting open and making plays, though it didn't seem like any of the North defenders could cover anyone. Hopkins looked explosive getting down the field.

Yes, the Browns have scouts down here. They may not have as many people as they might normally, considering they don't have a general manager yet, but they are certainly down here getting information on players for whoever they do end up choosing.


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