The third day of Senior Bowl practices saw the players relocated indoors due to inclement weather in the Mobile area, and while the weather outside was sloppy, the play inside the South Alabama practice facilities on Thursday certainly wasn’t.
Some of the familiar suspects continued to build upon their hot starts to practice, while a few new names made an impact, as well. Here are a couple of takeaways from Day 3 of workouts.
North tight ends stand out
The Bears have been tied to several tight ends early on in the draft process, with a handful of them participating in Senior Bowl practices this week. Luckily for them, this year’s group of tight ends bring much to be excited about.
The big winner at the position over the past few days is Adam Trautman from Dayton, who has used the last three days to prove he can compete against better competition. His size—6-foot-5 and 251 pounds—and ball skills were apparent on tape, but he has shown impressive route-running abilities and great athleticism and footwork coming out of his breaks in drills. He has looked more fluid and natural as an athlete in drills than he did in the tape I’ve watched so far, which will surely help his draft stock. Seen mostly as a Day 3 prospect, his fantastic Senior Bowl outings should see him rise in the weeks and months ahead.
Another enticing player who has looked good in practices is Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins, who has been in TE1 discussions since the start of the 2019 season. He has solidified his status as an early Day 2/fringe first-round prospect, showing off very good athleticism and sharpness in his cuts when moving laterally. His measurements were a little disappointing—he was listed at 6-foot-5 but measured in at just under 6-foot-4—but he has made up for it with his performance in practices. He should end up as a mid-Round 2 pick at the latest.
Receivers continue to shine
Perhaps no positional group has seen their collective draft stock rise as much as the wide receivers in this Senior Bowl class.
Several receivers have stood out over the past three days, but the prospects who have arguably played the best have been Florida’s Van Jefferson, Baylor’s Denzel Mims and Ohio State’s KJ Hill. Jefferson and Hill were two receivers mentioned in my Day 1 recap, while Mims was a big winner of Day 2 practices. Most of what was stated about each receiver also rings true for their Day 3 practices.
Jefferson has arguably been the best route runner down in Mobile this week, showing off impressive sharpness in his cuts, intelligence in his stems and good footwork when creating separation from man coverage. Though not necessarily a burner of an athlete, he makes up for it with his technique and fluidity. He reminds me a lot of the Bears’ Riley Ridley coming out of Georgia last year, and the Florida wideout should end up selected around the fourth-round slot Ridley was, if not a little higher.
Van Jefferson for your viewing pleasure pic.twitter.com/DDVmI8kYE8— Bill Riccette (@Bill_Riccette) January 23, 2020
Mims has been a force in 1-on-1 drills, beating most of the cornerbacks he’s faced in multiple ways. Whether it be a clean release with a sharp cut, using pure speed or a box out in physical catch situations, he has been a nightmare for opposing defenders to cover over the past three days. He has done a great job of building up his profile with several great plays throughout the course of the week.
Be back real quick, just gonna go watch this 1000 times. pic.twitter.com/XJcdd3FBCK— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) January 23, 2020
Hill has been an electric dynamo at wide receiver throughout the course of the week, making defenders look silly with his explosive burst and ability to change direction with ease. He continued that trend on Thursday, too, and the indoor setting of the day’s practice allowed him to show off his speed even more. Plus, he got the upper hand in this Ohio State-Michigan rivalry matchup.
KJ Hill just snagged a beautiful one-handed catch reaching back behind him in stride— Luke Inman (@Luke_SpinmanNFL) January 23, 2020
Earlier he broke ankles on this double move in the end zone.. Great week for the Ohio State Buckeye pic.twitter.com/BBapULh1Pu
Hosses make some noise
The skill players tend to get the most attention at the Senior Bowl, but the practices can also be great platforms for offensive and defensive linemen to prove their worth to NFL teams.
Ben Bartch from Division III St. John’s in Minnesota—go Johnnies—is a player the Senior Bowl was designed to benefit. Though he’s the only DIII player in this year’s class, he fits the bill as an under-the-radar, small-school prospect who has played very well against a lot of Power 5 talent. He has shown well-proportioned strength in his frame, blocking with his weight underneath him and maintaining good grip strength at the point of attack. He should definitely find his way as a draft pick early on in Day 3 or earlier.
St. John's (MN) OL Ben Bartch is an underrated prospect who has done well against an uptick in competition at the #SeniorBowl.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) January 23, 2020
Was a tight end just two years ago, but you couldn't tell based off of how strong and refined he looks.
Terence Steele from Texas Tech has been another blocker who has flashed quite a bit of potential. Though his technique could still use some work, he has shown plenty of physical tools, from his lateral quickness in pass-blocking drills to his high motor and ideal play strength as a run blocker. My OT10 in a stacked group of tackles, he could be a sleeper mid-round prospect for a team looking for a potential starter along the offensive line.
Terence Steel, Texas Tech vs Anfernee Jennings, Alabama pic.twitter.com/TRAT0EUnEO— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) January 21, 2020
For defensive linemen, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore has made quite a bit of noise in all three days of camp. With Javon Kinlaw having left practices for precautionary measures, a strong argument could be made that Gallimore is now the best defensive player down in Mobile currently. He has looked every bit as good as he was on tape, showcasing acceleration off the snap, a high motor and ideal technique for the interior defensive line. Though he's competing with a handful of talented defensive tackles in this class, Gallimore should one of the first ones off the board.
Ladies & gentlemen, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore pic.twitter.com/BYdKtUx9gg— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020