Senior Bowl: Wednesday Notes
The pads came on and a few more players were added to rosters on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl. It felt a little more like football and looked a little more honest in terms of seeing what players could do that might be of interest to the Cleveland Browns.
Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones was dominant in practice. He only got beat on one rep in pass pro and it looked like a mistake on his part rather than the opponent just beating him. Always under control, Jones never looked stressed, was able to mirror effectively and take guys out of the play.
As a run blocker, he is more than capable of getting to the outside on reach blocks and easily maneuvers to the second level. He's a great positional blocker, who has the capacity to be a finisher, but he just doesn't consistently show the killer instinct that would make him ideal. He's an excellent tackle, but it feels like there's more in there if someone can get it out of him.
There's a lot to like about Matt Peart from Connecticut. Ideal height and a pretty good build with plenty of athleticism. Pass pro has been a struggle for him this week. His stance and first step aren't great and in this type of drill where the defender has a massive advantage, it often is enough to get him beat.
He looked far more comfortable in team drills when opponents had to be more honest to the situation. More than athletic enough to be an effective run blocker, he has great movement skills. In that format, he didn't give up any pressure or any ground in pass protection. Peart has ability, but he's got some technical things to fix.
The Browns really aren't in the market for guards, but Hakeem Adeniji was impressive transitioning inside this week. Other than a rep or two when opponents were running twists, he didn't hesitate or look uncomfortable at guard. It didn't stand out that he was new there. He plays with a low base, seems to like being able to get his hands on quickly and take control of the play.
With everything pointing to Joe Woods as the Browns defensive coordinator, players like Carter Coughlin from Minnesota and Zack Baun from Wisconsin become possibilities for the Browns as standup edge rushers. Coughlin is a little undersized at just 234 so he'd be more likely to be a combo linebacker, but he has looked pretty good down here, showed a few different rush moves and has excellent production. Baun is bigger, looks the part of that edge rusher in terms of that size. Baun also looks reasonably versatile.
To this point, one wonders if Woods would be interested in seeing Sione Takitaki do more as a standup edge rusher, more in line with what he did much of his career at BYU. He could still be trained as a linebacker, trying to improve in coverage and occasionally slide to the outside to attack the quarterback.
Jason Strowbridge from North Carolina had a productive day. Built as a depth tackle and perhaps a base end, Strowbridge was able to disrupt in team offense, getting into the backfield and break up passes from Shea Patterson. Unfortunately, his production in college wasn't as impressive.
Meanwhile, Larrell Murchison from nearby N.C. State was dominant in pass rushing drills. Quick off the snap, He used his hands well and was too fast for opponents. He does have excellent backfield production this past season and is worth further investigation after this week.
Evan Weaver from Cal is one of the most productive linebackers in the country making tackles and plays behind the line of scrimmage. He came into this week with questions about his ability in coverage. Scouts told him they were looking to see how he'd perform in that area of the game this week. So far, he's been dreadful. Weaver struggles to mirror or adjust in man coverage and he was beaten without mercy. To this point, he's in zone coverage or bust and even then, he's probably better coming forward.
Jalen Elliot of Notre Dame has been the best performer so far out of the guys participating in coverage drills against running backs and tight ends. He's a safety, so more is expected here, but he's done a nice job and made it difficult for opponents to catch passes when so many of the players here are struggling.
His teammate Alohi Gilman has looked pretty solid too, though he left practice early after hurting something on his leg. He may be out the rest of the week.
For the South team, Ben Bartch continues to be worth watching. He's not a finished product and the depth of the class may not see him in consideration until day three. Nevertheless, despite making his fair share of mistakes, he continues to have reps where he shows off excellent power, able to stone opponents rushing.
Alex Taylor, the giant from South Carolina State, continues to have issues in pass protection. He's got a lot of work to do, both in technique and just adding strength. However, he was pretty good as a run blocker, which is arguably more important at this stage of the game. He was able to overwhelm a few opponents, driving them off the ball.
South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw actually dealt with some resistance today. He was still impressive and looks fantastic, but he had to work a little harder today. Lloyd Cushenberry from LSU in particular was able to give him a good look. Unfortunately, Kinlaw pulled up after a rep and never went back in, so he may be done for the week.
His teammate, D.J. Wonnum, had a short lived experiment as a linebacker on Tuesday before going back to the edge on Wednesday. He had some solid reps in pass rush drills.
Eno Benjamin is clearly the best back here. One of the most productive backs in the class, he's done nothing to hurt himself here. Jauan Jennings from Tennessee was able to make an explosive catch and run in 7 on 7.