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2019 Senior Bowl recap: Risers, fallers, and players who made an impression

Montez Sweat emerged as the star of practices, but who else showed out?

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of the 2019 Senior Bowl is in the books, and all that is left is the game. For most of the NFL’s scouting departments, the Senior Bowl is over — or at least the important part.

For the rest of us, however, the game is more valuable than usual. Due to the weather in Mobile, Wednesday’s practice was moved inside and largely closed to the media beyond a few clips of video. So, those of us who aren’t in NFL scouting departments, and therefore not inside the practice facility, only got to see two-thirds what we normally do on these prospects.

Historically, the Senior Bowl has figured fairly heavily in the New York Giants draft prep. They have drafted the game’s MVP in each of the last two years (Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta). Also, each of the Giants’ last three second-round picks — Will Hernandez, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Sterling Shepard — were considered “risers” during the week of practice.

So, what happened this week?


Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State) - Sweat’s is a name with which Giants fans should be getting familiar. The Mississippi State edge rusher had the first big highlight of Senior Bowl week when he demolished an offensive lineman for what would have been a sack. He never really slowed down, and several have commented that he was the best prospect on the property. Sweat has the size and length the Giants covet at 6-foot-6, 252 pounds, with 35 5/8 inch arms, and shows the ability to win with speed and power. Sweat was so good that those in attendance speculated that when he got a reduced workload in Thursday’s practice, it was to give other players a chance.

Isaiah Buggs (iDL, Alabama) - It is tough to stand out on Alabama’s defense, so it was important for Buggs to make the most of his time at the Senior Bowl, and thus far he has. Alabama’s “other” pass rushing defensive lineman was one of the best in attendance, and a handful for any lineman assigned to block him.

Nasir Adderley (S, Delaware) - We didn’t talk about Adderley throughout the college football regular season, and I’ll take the L on that one. There will be plenty of scouts running back to the film room to see if they can find tape of the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens, however, as Adderley might just have worked himself into the first round. The 2019 draft has a solid group of safeties, but so far none have really separated themselves from the pack, which leaves the door open for players like Adderley to step up and make their own claims.

Rock Ya-Sin (CB, Temple) - Dan Pizzuta’s guy proved himself to be one of the top cover corners in attendance, in addition to being on this year’s “All Name” team. Rock came in a bit smaller than advertised, but was plenty athletic and had some great battles with South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel.

Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina) - Samuel himself was one of the winners from the week of practice. He was one of the most highly regarded players coming in to this week, and he showed why. Samuel measured in at under 6-foot (which was expected), but he has a powerful frame as well as plenty of quickness and speed.

Andy Isabella (WR, UMass) - Another one of Dan’s guys. Isabella had some issues separating from press coverage, but showed very quick feet and agility. Isabella rarely faced press coverage in college and is likely destined to be a slot receiver in the NFL. He was a huge part of UMass’ offense and is showing that he could be a very productive receiver in the NFL.

Penny Hart (WR, Georgia State) - The 5-foot 8 inch Hart was one of the surprises of the week. Nobody was expecting much from the little receiver from Georgia State, but he showed out in practice. While his size means a smaller than ideal catch radius, he is also too quick for most corners to stay with in tight coverage, which is an advantage all its own.

Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State) - Sometimes it happens that players just fall through the cracks when we talk about prospects during the season. That’s what happened here. Unlike with Adderly, Hart, or Udoh, McLaurin played at a powerhouse school, but was simply overshadowed by bigger names. Out from under the shadow of the Ohio State defense, Dwayne Haskins, and Paris Campbell, McLaurin showed that he is a playmaker as well. He Had one of the best weeks of anyone in practice and teams could covet his speed at the next level.

Olisaemeka Udoh (OT, Elon) - Oli Udoh got his invite to the Senior Bowl after an eyebrow raising performance at the East-West Shrine Game. Udoh adapted well to the jump in competition and had several good reps against the talented edge rushers in attendance. Udoh has the measurements to catch Dave Gettleman’s eye and doing good work at right tackle is a plus as well. Given the (severe) shortage of capable offensive linemen in the NFL, it might be a bit much to hope that Udoh slips in the draft, but his should be another name to watch over the coming months.

Dru Samia (OG, Oklahoma) - It shouldn’t be surprising that a player who started 48 games for the Sooners had himself a good showing at the Senior Bowl. Samia started off on the right foot by weighing in at above 300 pounds, which was important for those wondering whether or not his 295-pound (listed) playing weight at Oklahoma would be big enough for the pros. The right guard showed the same mobility and anchor ability he did in college, and should be a player the Giants pay attention to if they want to move in another direction at right guard.


Donald Parham (TE, Stetson) - It isn’t exactly fair to say that Parham is a “faller,” but for a little-known player from Stetson University, every opportunity to show off in front of NFL talent evaluators is gold. Parham had to withdraw from the Senior Bowl due to an injury, and missing the final practice and the game could cost him. His size — measuring 6-foot 8, 245 pounds, with a 7-foot wingspan and 10 12 inch hands — are sure to get GMs attention. But even so, it would be better for him to get tape out there winning against top competition.

Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, Will Grier - Everyone wanted one of these young men to step up and give the NFL a good reason to look at them as legitimate first round quarterbacks. Each of them flashed the upside that had various evaluators and scouts considering them for Top 15 grades, but none of them were able to show it on a consistent basis. So while each of those quarterbacks had reps on which people who came in to the week looking for confirmation could hang their hats, they also had reps that would (or should) give teams pause. If we consider Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray the top two quarterbacks, none of the upperclassmen contenders have stepped forward to lay claim the title of “QB3” (or two, if a team is so beholden to their thresholds that Murray is off their board).

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