Senior Bowl Stock Watch: Risers And Fallers At Each Position

Photo: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

It's crazy to think Senior Bowl Week is almost over as practices are wrapping up and front offices are heading back home to re-evaluate some of the prospects they saw in Mobile, Alabama. 

The action has been jam-packed from the first day, and multiple players set the tone early and rose to the occasion in drills throughout the week. At the same time, other players disappointed at the weigh-in as well as the one-on-one reps. I have highlighted the players at each position in this year's Senior Bowl who have helped and hurt their 2020 NFL Draft stock the most.

Quarterback

Riser: Justin Herbert, Oregon

For top prospects like quarterback Justin Herbert, the goal throughout the week is to simply check the boxes. Herbert has done just that, and he has clearly separated himself from Utah State’s Jordan Love in terms of overall ball placement and consistency. Herbert has some mechanical flaws that will need work, but with the strong week he's had in Mobile, I'm certain he's cemented himself in the top 10 of this draft.

Who fell: Shea Patterson, Michigan

Of all the quarterbacks who had a make or break week, it was Michigan's Shea Patterson. His inconsistent ball placement and lackluster arm talent resulted in a lot of mediocre tape. The same negatives on film circled back around in Mobile this week. Whether it's the hitch in his release, the lack of velocity and zip on his passes or the inability to make tight-window throws, I think his poor performances in practice this week sum up why he’ll be a longshot to get drafted.

Running Back

Riser: Joshua Kelley, UCLA

It's difficult for running backs to stand out in an all-star game practice format, but if there is one ball carrier who looked the sharp and explosive in and out of his cuts, it was UCLA's Joshua Kelley. It was surprising to see so much juice and burst from Kelley because his game tape shows a player who doesn’t have that second gear. But Kelley has also separated himself in other drills including pass protection. He looks like the most NFL-ready blocker of all the running backs here as he's shown this week picking up mock blitzes, pass protection could be his ticket to becoming a true three-down back.

Who fell: no one

Like I alluded to above, it's really difficult to judge the draft stock of a running back in an all-star game format like this, but at the same time, each of the running backs has held their own as pass catchers and blockers in the one-on-one drills. There hasn't been a ball carrier this week that looks significantly behind the rest of the group.

Wide Receiver

Riser: Collin Johnson, Texas

I think Denzel Mims and Van Jefferson have been better pure wide receivers this week in practice, but if we're talking about the biggest winner of the group, it's Texas' Collin Johnson. For a receiver who is almost 6-foot-6, it is absolutely ridiculous how he is able to sink his hips so effortlessly in and out of his route breaks. He has much more fluid movement skills and change of direction than I gave him credit for when I studied his senior tape. All eyes will be on Johnson's 40-yard dash time at the combine next month, but with what he's shown this week as a man coverage separator, no wide receiver has helped their stock more than him.

Who fell: Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

One thing that was evident on Jauan Jennings' tape at Tennessee was incredible physicality. You would be hard-pressed to find a more competitive receiver in this class, but at the same time, I'm walking out of Mobile with more questions than answers about his projection at the next level. He had trouble separating in man coverage against not only the cornerbacks this week but also the safeties. Whether it's running vertical or trying to create space laterally, I wonder if he has the play speed required to be a reliable playmaker at the next level.

Tight End

Riser: Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati

One of the biggest surprises in practice has been the show put on by Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara. Measuring in at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, I thought he set the tone in the first practice with his physicality and technique as a blocker. Of all the tight ends at this year's Senior Bowl, Deguara looks like the most comfortable in-line player. In the second practice, Deguara showcased his talent as a pass-catcher by running crisp, clean routes with impressive fluidity in and out of his breaks. He was then able to finish those plays by securing the ball with strong, natural hands outside of his frame. This 2020 tight end class is fairly weak at the top, but if you're looking for a mid-round player at the position to fall in love with, Deguara has the complete skill set.

Who fell: Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt

On the flip side, one of the biggest disappointments in practice this week has been Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney. His athleticism and physical gifts jump off the screen on his college tape, but he's been quiet in the one-on-one drills against these linebacker and safety groups. Pinkney definitely looks the part, but he has failed to consistently separate against players he should be able to win against as his traits would indicate. Pinkney is a classic case of a player who is not the sum of his parts yet, and this week, he has only amplified those concerns of him not being ready for NFL snaps early in his career.

Offensive Tackle

Riser: Ben Bartch, Saint John's

For small school prospects, an all-star game like the Senior Bowl is a huge opportunity to show scouts they can hang with the best of the best. Saint John's Ben Bartch has not only proven that he can, but he has shown the traits and consistency in one-on-one pass protection reps that you would look for in an early-round prospect. He moves about as smooth as any offensive lineman at this year's event. His kick slide and ability to mirror edge rushers around the arc is what immediately stands out on practice tape this week. I still think Bartch needs to get stronger in his lower body, but the foot quickness and fluidity are there for him to be a worthwhile investment on Day 2.

Who fell: Charlie Heck, North Carolina

It's hard to call North Carolina’s Charlie Heck a player who fell after his practices this week, but his ability in pass protection appears to be significantly behind the rest of the group. At nearly 6-foot-9, Heck is an upright mover who plays tall and struggles to redirect. There were several reps in practice where he got beat on either a speed rush or inside move because of his lack of mobility. At the same time, he doesn't use his length to his advantage, letting rushers get into his chest often. Heck has an impressive physical profile, but his projection to the next level as an offensive tackle is incredibly murky.

Interior Offensive Line

Riser: Damien Lewis, LSU

It seems like all the talk about the offensive line has been centered on LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III, and reasonably so. He's cemented himself as the top center prospect in this class with a strong season and performance this week. However, if we're talking about the biggest winners from this event along the interior offensive line, I believe it's Cushenberry's teammate, guard Damien Lewis. He is built like a fire hydrant at 6-foot-2, 239 pounds. His lower-body strength and powerful hands work in unison as both a pass protector and menacing finisher in the run game. Those traits have been on full display in the one-on-one period this week, and there's a reasonable case to make that Lewis has played like the top guard at this year's event.

Who fell: Nick Harris, Washington

The week was not kind for Washington’s Nick Harris, measuring in small at 6-foot-1, 293 pounds. He then followed up the subpar weigh in with back-to-back poor performances in both the one-on-one drills and team period. Harris has lost more reps in pass protection than he's won, and I think it's clear that a lack of length and power will seriously limit his upside at the next level. Center is the only position he's going to be able to play in the NFL, and at the same time, the only scheme that fits his skill set is zone. With limited position versatility and scheme flexibility, I'm concerned about how highly he will be rated by pro teams.

Interior DL

Riser: Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma

Two of my favorite interior defensive linemen this week, Javon Kinlaw and Marlon Davidson, are both now out of the Senior Bowl because of injuries, but their absence has allowed other players to shine, specifically Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. I haven't seen a player capable of blocking Gallimore in the one-on-one pass rush period as his combination of elite quickness, counter moves and natural leverage made him a singular wrecking crew throughout the week of practice. Gallimore is still a little shaky holding his own against double teams in the run game, but he has been truly dominant as a pass rusher, showing the juice and upside of a potential first-round pick.

Who fell: Robert Windsor, Penn State

Many of the things I saw on Robert Windsor's tape at Penn State resurfaced in Mobile this week, including his relentless motor and competitive toughness. However, there have just been too many reps where he is quickly washed away by blocks. Whether it was in the one-on-one pass-rush drills, stunt looks or team period, Windsor's lack of play strength and physical traits were evident. He will likely two-gap at the next level as a 5-technique, but his inability to deconstruct blocks and create disruption this week was alarming.

EDGE Defenders

Riser: Jonathan Greenard, Florida

No edge defender has had a better week than Jonathan Greenard. He checked in with 34-inch arms and has looked very explosive in the drills. We knew about his bend and flexibility coming into this week, but his power and play strength off the edge were what really impressed me. He was also able to effectively drop back in coverage as well, possibly appealing to 3-4 teams as an outside linebacker. With his measurements and a strong performance this week, I'm willing to bet Greenard does not make it out of the second round.

Who fell: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State

It may not be fair to tag Kenny Willekes in this category based on his on-field performance this week. But if you look at his measurements, 31-inch arms are going to really tank his draft stock as an edge defender. The lack of length showed in numerous reps in the one-on-one pass-rush drills, and I wonder if he's even going to be on many boards as a defensive end with his subpar physical profile. Only time will tell, but Willekes lost the most when those numbers were released Monday morning.

Linebackers

Riser: Josh Uche, Michigan

In whatever he's been asked to do this week — whether it's dropping back in coverage or ferociously rushing the passer with bend off the edge — Michigan's Josh Uche has clearly been the best linebacker in Mobile. At just 6-foot-1, it's going to be hard to see Uche's future with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, which is why he needed to show scouts he could play in space as an off-ball linebacker with situational rush value. He did just that and then some this week in practice, and I think he will win over a lot of NFL teams.

Who fell: T.J. Brunson, South Carolina

Like Willekes, it's hard to call South Carolina’s T.J. Brunson an underperformer after the on-field practices. But if you look at his measurements, every single category is below NFL standards. Most specifically, his weight was the most alarming at just 219 pounds. Known as mostly a run defender who struggles in space, checking in at that weight was a significant disappointment for his projection to inside linebacker. If Brunson is going to make a roster next season, he's going to need to be laser-focused on special teams.

Cornerbacks

Riser: Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame

Troy Pride Jr. had a huge opportunity to shine with top cornerbacks Jeff Gladney, Kristian Fulton, and Damon Arnette all sitting out of the Senior Bowl, and he rose to the occasion. With excellent speed and quickness, I knew Pride would look good mirroring with his feet in man coverage. I did not expect him to play with so much physicality and disruptiveness at the point of attack. He's made life extremely difficult for these receivers, whether it's been at the line of scrimmage, on the hip pocket after each route break or at the catch point. There is no doubt in my mind that Pride has been the top corner.

Who fell: Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

Not only did Wake Forest’s Essang Bassey fail to reach any of the NFL benchmarks in size at the weigh-in Monday, but his lack of play strength and length also showed up numerous times in practice. He was constantly pushed around and boxed out in man coverage, similar to what happened against Tee Higgins in the Clemson game. Bassey needed a big week to show he could be an NFL nickel, but after what he showed this week, I am increasingly skeptical.

Safeties

Riser: Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

Jeremy Chinn came into Mobile as one of my biggest sleepers in the 2020 draft, and sure enough, his name is now on everyone's radar. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Chinn has played everything from cornerback to weakside linebacker. His position flexibility to do multiple things as a space defender in coverage is incredibly valuable. You just don't see physical marvels his size with that kind of fluidity and explosive movement skills. Chinn was the most impressive-looking player at the weigh-in Monday, and he followed that up with excellent performances at practice.

Who fell: Terrell Burgess, Utah

The weigh-in, however, was not kind to Utah hybrid defensive back Terrell Burgess. He checked in at 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, well below some team thresholds at the safety position. Those measurements signal a change to cornerback for Burgess, and his man coverage reps this week in practice were unimpressive. He doesn't look comfortable playing press at the line of scrimmage, and he is a step late reading routes in off man coverage. The appeal to Burgess early on in the process was his position flexibility, but I think it's starting to look like he is a nickel only at the next level.