The final day of practice is complete! While closed to most of the media due to weather concerns, the broadcast and film access afterwards were able to clearly demonstrate the performances of many players today. Around The Block sent multiple scouts to assess the talent here in Mobile, Alabama. One of those scouts, Felix Davila, highlights his Senior Bowl winners and losers from Thursday’s indoor practice.
When it comes to the quarterbacks on the American roster, Bailey Zappe was certainly one of the Senior Bowl winners. Concluding the third day of practices, Zappe tossed with much more confidence than previously seen this week. His ball placement was frequently in a desirable spot for his receivers and the velocity on his passes remained strong.
However, most impressive to me were his feet. Zappe’s base was consistent and his footwork to move, adjust, and deliver was machine-like. In speaking with Zappe early Wednesday, he told me he models his game after Drew Brees. That was on display today with his sound mechanics and surprising arm. He was easily the best quarterback present not named Malik Willis today.
Calvin Austin III
Measuring in at just a hair under 5-8 and 173 pounds, Austin is exactly what you’d expect from a smaller player at an all-star game: blazing fast. He’s as shifty as they come, but demonstrates exceptional straight line speed that really stood out on several routes over the week.
Today, however, he flashed such excellent control in his route running, proving to be a pretty polished receiver rather than just a speedy threat. Austin had a solid week, but today was particularly great — including a bonkers route to get open in the end zone. Austin made himself some money this week and was one of the winners from today.
The American tight end group as a whole may not be as good as the National team’s, but Isaiah Likely can be considered in the conversation with that group. All week he’s demonstrated some solid all-around game, with smooth routes, soft hands and solid blocking through the week.
However, today was particularly exceptional. Likely showed he could be a dominant receiving threat, getting open consistently and making nice catches even with tight coverage. Overall, Likely continued to show some good blocking ability, putting the icing on the cake of his good week. He was definitely one of the Senior Bowl winners.
Very similar to my love for Dominique Robinson after Wednesday’s practice, I felt really pleased with Malone’s performance today due to the violence and athleticism he displayed. What has been very impressive, though, is Malone showing out at two inches and 20 pounds less.
Malone flashes an awesome burst off the line of scrimmage and a good tendency to remain lower than the opposing lineman in order to win the leverage game. I think his hands are active and he does well to continue driving his feet when converting speed to power. Ultimately, Malone did well to show up as a potential EDGE player that NFL teams will keep an eye on during day three of the draft. Malone left today as one of the Senior Bowl winners defensively.
McCreary had himself a solid day refuting his measurables. Posting sub-30 inch arms, McCreary still managed to remain sticky in coverage, long-arming receivers he was responsible for and disrupting their timing. He’s feisty in all the right ways for a defensive back, and that’s going to be necessary for the NFL.
Additionally, McCreary demonstrated an ability to stay sticky and on a receiver’s hip, showing excellent movement skills to stay with anyone. He’s silky smooth and makes his movements with ease. McCreary had a solid week overall, but his game today was demonstrative to his potential despite, such concerning measurables.
Burford was facing an uphill battle coming into this week considering his small-school pedigree and size. Measuring at just under 6-4 but weighing in at 293 pounds, he’s smaller than ideal for the position to start. But in each practice this week, he’s presented a concerning lack of anchor in which he’s pretty easily outclassed on a majority of his reps. Today was no exception.
Burford had several reps where he could not handle any power moves or bull rushes. DeAngelo Malone, in particular, blew through Burford despite being nearly 50 pounds lighter. Burford has to show out on game day if he wants to ensure a more positive outlook on his week.
Yet another offensive lineman that struggled facing some talented defenders all week. Jones has an intriguing body type with a great wingspan and nice length. But Jones consistently loses the leverage battle. Time and time again he failed to engage his lower half enough to anchor, although not nearly as badly as the aforementioned Burford.
Additionally, however, Jones gives up plenty of ground even when he’s able to engage his lower half and lock down a rusher. Jones, like Burford, will need a strong game day to convince scouts that this was just a string of practices muddled by the spotlight of the moment.
Velus Jones Jr.
Velus Jones Jr was an enticing prospect coming into this game, possessing a good frame at 5-11 and 203 pounds. He has flashed some solid route running skills and agility, but he’s had some very blatant drops that are just unacceptable. Yesterday’s weather could be held liable for drops. But that continued into today.
It’s quite possible that Jones is struggling in the spotlight, but teams can’t help but note the amount of passes that he hasn’t reeled in despite them hitting his hands.