The second day of practice in Mobile, Alabama, brought out the pads among the South team.
Dressed in full gear, there were many players who shined on defense. It's always interesting to see who continued to improve their draft stock while others begin to taper off. There were some notable names who progress and their star is beginning to shine bright among a fierce group of competition.
Best player: Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Javon Kinlaw continued to be a dominating presence in the middle of the South’s defense. One of the better background stories of any prospect at the Senior Bowl, the former South Carolina defensive lineman once again showed off a unique blend of power, explosiveness and hand maturity.
Kinlaw, who was the youngest of three brothers and only 10 years old at the time, experienced periods of homelessness. While there were brief stints staying with family friends, the comfort of knowing where shelter may be week-to-week was unknown. Basements, one-bedroom homes and many other unfortunate circumstances, he and his family have been through it all. Kinlaw eventually went to junior college and then attended South Carolina.
Coming into these type of all-star events, it’s important for projected first-round selections to look as such. Kinlaw has done that and much more.
There wasn’t necessarily one play that stood out for Kinlaw. He pieced together another solid performance throughout the duration of practice where he was simply unstoppable. His best matchups came against a couple of LSU interior offensive lineman in Lloyd Cushenberry III and Damien Lewis. All three provided fierce battles during practices and it was clear to see the competitive nature come out in all prospects.
Best player: Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Terrell Lewis is another projected first-round pick but struggled to stand out or make flash plays during the first day. That wasn’t the case Wednesday as he constantly made plays during all portions of practice. Battling back from an elbow injury that forced him to miss 10 games and also a torn ACL, Lewis is attempting to soak in the moment. He also understands that he’s out to prove his status as a first-day prospect.
His best came during the closing stages where he was able to show off his elite levels of upfield burst. Winning the corner around Texas Tech offensive tackle Terence Steele, he was able to flatten to quarterback Steven Montez and force a strip-sack — one that the defense eventually recovered. That’s the type of effect Lewis can provide to a team’s pass rush.
Best player: Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
The biggest winner of the day was the former Division II star. After watching him live last season against Carson-Newman, I came away with nothing but glowing reviews about Kyle Dugger, but he’s even surpassed my expectations for him. A do it all type of player for the Bears, he played everything from running back to return specialist. Through two practices, he’s been able to make the transition seamlessly among the nation’s best competition.
There were many highlights from Dugger, but his best came during the one-on-one portion of practice where he was matched up against tight end Jared Pinkney. Covering the former Vanderbilt product easily, Dugger extended and made an interception to add to his total for the week. Not only has he looked like the best small school prospect of the bunch, but there’s a legitimate argument that Dugger has the looked the best of any defensive prospect not named Javon Kinlaw in Mobile.