Jan 25, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns talks with players during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
With athletic data available for almost every 2017 NFL Draft prospect, let’s revisit the Reese’s Senior Bowl to see which players fit what the Cleveland Browns want.
The Senior Bowl occurred a little over two months ago. The reason to revisit it now is that with all of the athletic data rolling in, it’s now possible to go back and apply it to the players that the Cleveland Browns coached that week to project who fits the type of player they prefer. In addition, some revelations have come out in regards to how the Browns approached the opportunity to coach the Senior Bowl which could impact the potential players they select in the 2017 NFL Draft.
At the Senior Bowl, the Browns were criticized for how they ran their practices. The complaints seemed largely based around the fact that the Browns weren’t running them for the benefit of the other 31 teams trying to evaluate players. If anything, the Browns acted selfishly and used the opportunity to benefit themselves as much as possible. This critique rings true.
As the week rolled on, one of the issues that people noticed with the South team was how many dropped out due to injury. In all, 13 players ultimately cited injury and dropped out of the competition, compared to just three for the North Team coached by the Chicago Bears.
According to Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams at the Glazier Clinic in Aurora last month, this was deliberate. In the same clinic where Williams declared the Browns would be selecting Myles Garrett from Texas A&M with the top pick of the draft unless he was in prison, he also said that the Browns wanted to challenge players to see which would stick it out and who would quit. Williams declared that any player that quit on them in the Senior Bowl would quit on their team in the NFL and were removed from the team’s draft board.
It’s important to point out that some players defer to the advice of their agent and if the agent says to drop out, they basically trust them. That may not matter to the Browns who appear to want to get players more focused on competing and taking control of their own destiny. Some may take this with a grain of salt, or may only apply it to the defensive side of the ball, but Williams doesn’t have enough of a filter to lie. He’s honest to a fault.
So the question is, naturally, who left the Senior Bowl early from the South team?
Some of those players include Forrest Lamp, Tre’Davious White, Josh Carraway, Nico Siragusa, Gerald Everett, Ryan Anderson, Rudy Ford, Justin Evans, and Isaac Asiata. Corn Elder and Ryan Switzer participated in every practice but did not play in the game. Some of these players don’t fit the Browns anyway, but several of them do, so this is something that’s worth watching.
Along with that, applying the traits the Browns favored in the past year, it’s now possible to project which players the Browns may target in the draft at the end of this month. In all, 19 players that the Browns personally got their hands on in Mobile appear to fit the model they’ve established, which focuses on explosiveness, production and character.
Teams that coach in the Senior Bowl tend to pick players they coached in the event anyway, since coaches have a good feel for them and how they will respond to them and how they will respond to coaching over a week as opposed to a single workout or taking someone else’s word for it.
This will be especially important for the Browns as both Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams have input on personnel in their contract, so if they want a guy, there’s a good chance they’ll get them. So having had their hands on these 19 prospects, the Cleveland Browns might grab a couple of these 19 prospects.
No one seemed to help themselves more at the Senior Bowl more than Dobbs. Coming into the week, Dobbs was coming off of a ton of hope from the Tennessee faithful about how good the Vols could be this season and it just didn’t happen for the Vols or Dobbs.
In Mobile, it was easy to see what there is to like about Dobbs. He’s tall, athletic and he has a good arm and can operate effectively. Dobbs is also extremely intelligent and has a lot of charisma, impressing most anyone who spoke to him, including Hue Jackson. There’s no shortage of smoke linking the Browns to Dobbs in this draft.
I’m not a Davis Webb guy. He’s got a strong arm, but I’m rarely impressed with throws he makes in terms of accuracy, timing and understanding where he’s supposed to go with the football. He was the Senior Bowl MVP, but frankly I came away thinking both Nate Peterman of Pittsburgh and Josh Dobbs were more impressive throughout the week.
To his credit, Webb is an impressive athlete and really surprised from that standpoint. Given that, his size and his arm, it’s not difficult to understand why he has fans in the NFL and in general. I’m just not one of them—but the Browns and Jackson could be.
The South team didn’t get the greatest selection of running backs, so Williams was the one pleasant option. Williams is a downhill runner that wants to beat opponents up physically.
The issue for Williams is that he has to fix how he takes on contact, because he ends up off balance too much and goes down too easily on early contact. He’s not surprising anyone with how he wins. Williams is going between the tackles, getting behind his pads and doing as much damage as he can before he goes down.
Jan 25, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad wide receiver Fred Ross of Mississippi State (8) catches a pass during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Fred Ross, Mississippi State
Age: 21 years old (Born May 9, 1995) Height: 6-.625 Weight: 213 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.51s Broad Jump: 9’5″ Vertical: 35″ 3-Cone: 6.99s Shuttle: 4.28s Bench: 10 reps
Dak Prescott’s favorite target a year ago, Ross was again the main man for Nick Fitzgerald this year. Ross is a strong receiver with a thick build and reliable hands.
Someone will argue Ross doesn’t separate well, but his agility isn’t the issue. Ross does an excellent job winning with body position and that is separation, which is something Jordan Matthews was knocked for coming out of Vanderbilt and getting open has not been a problem for him in the NFL.
Taylor’s production is off the charts and he’s still more athlete than he is receiver, but that’s more about the Hilltopper’s offense than Taylor’s lack of ability. They manufactured a ton of touches for him and he paid them off consistently.
Taylor has elite agility and could be a nice slot receiving option if the Browns feel they need to attack that position. He’s also someone that is accustomed of making plays with the ball in his hands, which could be an attractive option for the Browns.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Age: 22 years old (Born Feb. 16, 1995) Height: 6-2.75 Weight: 194 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.52s Broad Jump: 10’4″ Vertical: 37″ 3-Cone: 6.83s Shuttle: 4.13s Bench: DNP
Reynolds has a highlight reel full of plays where he’s beating opponents on the deep ball. He’s got an impressive catch radius and he’s fearless at going up for or reaching out to get passes when he’s extremely vulnerable.
Reynolds also has outstanding agility and is dangerous after the catch. NFL.com’s comparison for him is Marvin Jones, now of the Detroit Lions. The athleticism is almost identical and they both have that leam frame but play much bigger than their size suggests. Hue Jackson had Jones when he was offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals and if he views Reynolds the same way, the Browns could look to add him on day three of the draft.
Notables excluded: Ryan Switzer of North Carolina appears to fit the Browns and practiced the entire week, but did not play in the game.
Chad Williams of Grambling participated the entire week. He fits the Browns in terms of what they look for, but does have a marijuana possession arrest in his background. Having spent the week with Williams, the team may have a different feel for him, but that could still get him crossed off the list.
Jan 28, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad tight end O.J. Howard of Alabama (88) is tackled by North squad inside linebacker Haason Reddick of Temple (57) after a pass reception during the first quarter of the 2017 Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
O.J. Howard, Alabama
Age: 22 years old (Born Nov. 19, 1994) Height: 6-5.625 Weight: 251 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.51s Broad Jump: 10’1″ Vertical: 30″ 3-Cone: 6.85s Shuttle: 4.57s Bench: 22 reps
Howard was the most highly ranked player going into the week and heading into the draft he appears poised to be a top-10 pick. At the Senior Bowl, Howard was the go-to target for Hue Jackson and had a great week.
Howard’s production at Alabama is underwhelming and frankly confusing given what he’s able to do. His athleticism isn’t elite either, so while Howard is an excellent player and a great blocker already, he isn’t the be all end all prospect he’s made out to be.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss
Age: 22 years old (Born Sept. 2, 1994) Height: 6-3.125 Weight: 234 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.42s Broad Jump: 10’5″ Vertical: 36″ 3-Cone: 6.92s Shuttle: 4.23s Bench: 19 reps
Engram is a tight end in name only. He’s more of a yoked up wide receiver and a power slot. Engram had a slightly disappointing junior season, but came and basically doubled his production and was the leading receiver for the Rebels.
What hurts Engram for the Browns is simply the fact he’s a space tight end and the Browns already have Gary Barnidge and Seth DeValve to play that role. It’s not impossible the Browns would select Engram but seems unlikely, especially when considering how high he could be selected.
Ethan Pocic, LSU
Age: 22 years old (Born Aug. 5, 1995) Height: 6-6 Weight: 310 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.79s Broad Jump: 8’11″ Vertical: 27″ 3-Cone: 7.89s Shuttle: 4.81s Bench: 26 reps
Pocic is a tremendous player and a good athlete that appears capable of playing anywhere on the offensive line. The issue that he’s going to have to work to improve and always be improving is his ankle flexibility, so it’s easier for him to consistently maintain leverage since he’s such a tall center.
In the actual game, Pocic played every single rep, which is unusual, playing mostly center and some guard. One cannot help but wonder had the Browns not been able to sign J.C. Tretter if they wouldn’t have looked Pocic’s way in the draft.
Notables excluded: Nico Siragusa of San Diego State busted his thumb on basically the first rep of the first practice. He finished the practice and didn’t favor it throughout the practice. He wanted to keep participating but was shut down for the week.
Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky was arguably the best offensive lineman in Mobile for the practice he participated, but dropped out and was replaced. Conor McDermott was there the entire week and appears to fit the athletic requirements, but was excluded due to his age.
Jan 24, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad quarterback Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin (2) keeps the ball and runs against defensive end Jordan Willis of Kansas State (75) during practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Age: 21 years old (Born May 2, 1995) Height: 6-3.75 Weight: 255 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.53s Broad Jump: 10’5″ Vertical: 39″ 3-Cone: 6.85s Shuttle: 4.28s Bench: 24 reps
O.J. Howard may be the first player from the Senior Bowl that gets selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Willis is the best prospect. There are plenty who don’t like his tape, but I really do. Great hands, deceptive long strides that cover a ton of ground and allow him to bend around opponents, Willis is good against the run and as a pass rusher. He also showed elite athleticism in testing.
Willis may not be picked in the first round, and he should be. He could be a huge steal for the team that gets him.
Age: 21 years old (Born May 23, 1995) Height: 6-2.625 Weight: 247 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.79s Broad Jump: 10’7″ Vertical: 37.5″ 3-Cone: 6.75s Shuttle: “One timed drill that Bowser attempted to complete Monday was the short shuttle, though he struggled to do so. Bowser slipped repeatedly during the timed drill and was asked to repeat it a few times before he and the rest of Houston’s linebackers and defensive linemen moved on to the positional workout” – Rob Rang of CBS Sports Bench: 21 reps
For the Browns, Bowser would probably be a base strong side linebacker that comes down to play defensive end in passing situations situation. The issue is that Bowser is potentially a first-round pick so that’s not likely to be the way the Browns go.
Nevertheless, Bowser is a great athlete and was productive for Houston this season. He’s more ideally suited to a team that wants to run a 3-4 scheme, but he is someone that has done everything right during the draft process and helped himself a great deal.
Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M
Age: 22 years old (Born June 14, 1995) Height: 6-5.375 Weight: 255 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.76s Broad Jump: 10’3″ Vertical: 36″ 3-Cone: 7.03s Shuttle: 4.38s Bench: 18 reps
Myles Garrett’s running mate, Hall obviously isn’t the prospect Garrett is, but he’s a decent prospect in his own right. Hall’s 4.5 sacks were good enough to be in a tie for second on the team, but doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. He did a much better job when it came to tackles for loss.
Hall’s a big body with pretty good athleticism and tools to develop. The discussion with Hall that teams will have is how much of Hall is just being a talented football player and how much is a byproduct of playing across from Garrett.
Keionta Daivs, Chattanooga
Age: 23 years old (Born March 3, 1994) Height: 6-3.125 Weight: 268 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.65s (with wind), 4.76s (against wind) Broad Jump: 10’1″ Vertical: 37″ 3-Cone: Unavailable Shuttle: Unavailable Bench: 30 reps
Davis had a productive Senior Bowl week and caused problems, especially in pass rushing drills. He is also coming off a nice season where he had an impressive game against Alabama.
Davis has a great body type to play in an even front as a defensive end, but can rush from a few different spots. He tested well at Pro Day after missing the combine due to an undisclosed medical issue, which teams will have to evaluate. As long as that checks out, Davis could be a terrific value on Day 3 of the draft.
Jan 28, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad quarterback Nate Peterman of Pittsburgh (4) is pressured by South squad defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova (92) during the first quarter of the 2017 Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
Age: 22 years old (Born June 14, 1994) Height: 6-6.875 Weight: 289 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.83s Broad Jump: 10’8″ Vertical: 30″ 3-Cone: 7.46s Shuttle: 4.62s Bench: 23 reps
Kpassagnon was monstrously productive for Nova and earned CAA Defensive Player of the Year honors as a result. He has answered the questions that people had for him about competition when he had a productive week at the Senior Bowl.
Given his size, Kpassagnon is an impressive athlete and someone that can play on the outside in base packages and potentially slide inside to rush. He’s powerful, he’s fast and he has pretty good agility.
Leverage is going to be a battle for him and he’s got to work to constantly be working to improve his flexibility, but he’s also just extremely high cut. His butt seemed to be up by a few corner’s heads.
Montravius Adams, Auburn
Age: 21 years old (Born July 24, 1995) Height: 6-3.625 Weight: 304 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.87s Broad Jump: 9′ Vertical: 29″ 3-Cone: 7.62s Shuttle: 4.89s Bench: 22 reps
At the Senior Bowl, Adams really wasn’t terribly impressive. He really never stood out during the entire week. Nevertheless, he had a productive season for Auburn and he is a 3-technique defensive tackle that can clog up the middle and rush the passer.
Adams also tested reasonably well, so he could be in the mix to fill that role. Motor and consistency are questions with Adams, but Gregg Williams has dubbed himself the “motor coach,” so that may not stop them from taking him.
Tanzel Smart, Tulane
Age: 22 years old (Born Nov. 6, 1994) Height: 6-0.625 Weight: 296 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 5.24s Broad Jump: 8’9″ Vertical: 27″ 3-Cone: 7.53s Shuttle: 4.57s Bench: 22 reps
Smart was impressive at the Senior Bowl. He is constantly active, looking to make an impact be it as a run defender or rushing the passer. Smart is also a likable player that works hard and genuinely enjoys the game.
Smart led the Green Wave in sacks and tackles for loss and finished fourth on the team in solo tackles. His athletic testing was largely solid but unspectacular. Tulane’s Pro Day is April 7 and it will be worth watching if Smart tries to improve on any of his combine numbers, including his 40 and jumps. His agility is pretty good.
Notes: Dalvin Tomlinson of Alabama did not have enough production, but what makes him at least a conversation is how much they rotate their defensive linemen.
Duke Riley of LSU is athletic enough, but his production only came as a senior and there isn’t enough of it, particularly as a tackler. Ukeme Eligwe of Georgia Southern has the production, but an incomplete athletic profile and was dismissed from Florida State for an unspecified violation of team rules. Harvey Langi of BYU fell short on production and is already 24 years old and Alex Anzalone failed when it came to production due to a litany of injuries during his college career at Florida.
Jan 25, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad cornerback Cameron Sutton of Tennessee (33) breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Travin Dural of LSU (83) during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
Age: 22 years old (Born Feb. 27, 1995) Height: 5-11 Weight: 188 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.52s Broad Jump: 10′ Vertical: 36″ 3-Cone: 6.81s Shuttle: 4.15s Bench: 11 reps
Sutton played corner, slot and saw a few looks at safety at the Senior Bowl. His production is good, but is skewed because he missed several games to an ankle injury before coming back at the end of the season and then participating in Mobile.
Sutton’s explosive testing is sufficient but his agility is excellent. He was an extremely productive punt returner as a junior and has three touchdowns as a returner in his career.
Ezra Robinson, Tennessee State
Age: 23 years old (Born Feb. 19, 1994) Height: 5-11 Weight: 189 lbs 40 Yard Dash: 4.47s Broad Jump: 10’10″ Vertical: 34″ (36″ at Pro Day) 3-Cone: 7.43s Shuttle: 4.39s Bench: 13 reps
Robinson is an extremely aggressive corner that looks to jump routes, come downhill and make plays on the ball. He’s got excellent ball skills and shows pretty good anticipation, so he’s not only a threat to get the ball, but do damage after the catch.
Robinson fits from both a production and explosion standpoint. However, while he’s got pretty good ankles, his hip flexibility is frankly terrible as shown by the 3-cone and that fact could disqualify him from consideration for the Cleveland Browns. That is something every team will want to investigate when it comes to Robinson.
Jenkins might be as good a candidate to be a linebacker hybrid if the Browns are looking for one, but the Senior Bowl was good for him because he was able to really showcase his hips in coverage and he actually played and looked good at 220 lbs for that week. For teams that are looking for potential answers to covering tight ends, Jenkins is a possible solution with his bulk.
Jenkins showed explosive ability in athletic testing, but did not perform agility tests, so teams will have to make their own determination. He was also one of the most productive players on the Miami defense.
Notables excluded: Tre’Davious White of LSU was arguably the most impressive corner at the Senior Bowl, but tweaked an ankle early in the week and was replaced. Justin Evans of Texas A&M fits both in terms of production and athletically, but did not finish the week in Mobile.