How did the Senior Bowl South team look on a chilly Wednesday afternoon in Mobile? Which tight end stood out among the group? What Tulane receiver could be a sleeper? Get the answers to these questions and more in this Senior Bowl practice report from Mobile, Ala.
On a chilly Wednesday afternoon with temperatures in the low 40’s, the South team took to the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their final fully-padded practice of the week. Buccaneers director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and director of college scouting Eric Stokes were both in attendance on Wednesday.
Following a lengthy period of special teams installation and warm-ups, the South squad split up into their position groups. The receivers and cornerbacks went head-to-head in one-on-one battles to kick off practice.
Tulane wide receiver Ryan Grant, who was a player PewterReport.com marked as a potential sleeper earlier in the week, had a fantastic practice on Wednesday. Grant is a great, fluid route-runner who doesn’t waste any movement. His deceleration on Wednesday was quick and it allowed him to lose opposing defensive backs all practice long. Grant showed his deep speed when he beat Georgia Southern’s Lavelle Westbrooks on a go route and scored a touchdown on a very accurate deep ball from San Jose State quarterback David Fales.
Crockett Gilmore, a tight end from Colorado State who was an injury replacement for Fresno State tight end Marcel Jensen, had a very poor first day of practice. He looked very slow and didn’t manage to get any separation from safeties or linebackers, not to mention he dropped two passes in the one-on-one session. Gilmore was also dominated by multiple linebackers in the pass-protection drills.
While Gilmore was a tight end that struggled, Georgia’s Arthur Lynch was one that dominated in both the receiving and blocking game. The Bulldog senior showed excellent wiggle on a release against LSU safety Craig Loston, and eventually would record a catch for a five or six yard gain. Perhaps the most exciting play from Wednesday’s South practice was when Lynch absolutely dropped Loston during a one-on-one pass-protection drill at the beginning of practice. Jacksonville coaching members were jacked up about the play and praised Lynch for the hard hit that put Loston on his backside.
Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins put together a very nice practice, including multiple pass breakups a very talented receiver. Watkins swatted away a deep pass from David Fales intended for stud receiver Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt. Later on in the one-on-one session, he broke up a pass intended for Matthews again, who was running a dig route over the middle. His performance against Matthews, who is arguably the best receiver at the Senior Bowl, should go a long way with talent evaluators.
Although Watkins got the best of Matthews on a couple of occasions, the Vanderbilt receiver put together a heck of a practice on Wednesday. His outstanding ability to release off of pressing cornerbacks showed, as he blew by cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks on an inside release before running a dig route. Matthews has great hands and rarely second-catches or bobbles any of his targets. Matthews is solidifying himself as one of the best senior receivers in the class.
Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr have been the two most impressive passers in the senior bowl and continued to shine on Wednesday’s South team practice. Garoppolo had a few more missed throws than Carr, but in general he was accurate and made good decision. His best play of the day came in one-on-ones when wide receiver Ryan Grant out of Tulane beat cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks of Georgia Southern. Garoppolo threw a great ball that landed right where Grant could catch it in stride.
David Fales has been the least impressive quarterback on the South team, but had his best day on Wednesday. He looked more comfortable with the receivers, and as a result was more accurate.
While the defensive backs and skill players were conducting their one-on-one session, there was a 9-on-9 session taking place on the opposite side of the field. Jacksonville’s defensive line coach got fired up after a play where Tennessee nose tackle Daniel McCullers devoured the opposing running back. McCullers is a stiff player that struggles with leverage because of his huge frame, but he will have value for teams looking for a run-plugging big man.
After the one-on-ones, the linebackers joined the cornerbacks and went into a seven-on-seven drill. Quarterback Derek Carr played well in this drill, missing only a couple throws that were more due to great play by the defensive backs, rather than his miscues.
Staying after practice to work with receiver Jordan Matthews has clearly helped Carr’s timing, which explains why he’s been more accurate as the week has gone on. Carr has a good arm, solid footwork, and is a good decision maker. He only had one dangerous throw that was batted away by Auburn cornerback Chris Davis, but other than that made good choices with the ball.
Impressing for the second straight day was Virginia offensive guard Morgan Moses, who had a dominant session of one-on-one session on Wednesday. The big man got the best of Alabama pass-rushing linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who made absolutely no ground on Moses. He later showed of his athletic feet by halting Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, who was trying to get to the quarterback via speed rush. Moses is having a great start to the week and his excellent play is helping his draft stock.
-Haley Cornish contributed to this report
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