On Wednesday practices for the North and South teams of the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl continued and players continued to show off their abilities to NFL scouts and compete against their peers in the 2018 NFL Draft class.
Again today there were several periods of practice for the North and South teams where there were 1v1 OL vs DL or 1v1 WR vs CB drills as well as numerous opportunities for players to show out in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 matchups.
To get one major thing out of the way, let’s pour one out for Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. Shepherd had dominated practice yesterday and had been the main “elite” performer on either team so far and was continuing to show his ability to get through double-teams and leverage offensive linemen, but it was announced today that he had broken his hand in practice.
This is obviously a shame for Shepherd, as a Division II football player he could have used all the chances he could have gotten and likely would have been on this list again today. With that being said, in a similar format to yesterday, here are my winners and players who showed out best for scouts from today’s Senior Bowl practices:
1. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield
I don’t need to lecture you about the Heisman Trophy winner’s ridiculous statistics over the past several seasons while with the Sooners which some would consider the best in college football ever. I don’t need to go on and on about how the NFL is going to value too highly Mayfield’s so-called antics on the sidelines of games this year or the fact that he came in at six feet tall.
In practice over the past two days, regardless of how much analysts for networks like NFL Network or ESPN will tell you that Josh Allen’s passes are so good that not even the North team receivers can catch them: Baker Mayfield has been the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl. After coming in late and missing weigh-ins due to his mother being in the hospital on Tuesday, Mayfield was shaky early on, missing a few throws to his targets while others sailed over their heads up the seam.
Since then and in today’s practice though, Mayfield was absolutely dealing, hitting every throw on the field and being the only quarterback on the North team not to throw an interception while in drills. Mayfield evidently has “it” between the ears based on everything we’ve heard from him over the past two days and whether or not you take issue with his passion and love for the game or not, he’s proven that he’s worthy of a first round pick in my eyes.
2. Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton
While at the East-West Shrine Game last week, Penn State receiver DaeSean Hamilton did not overwhelmingly surprise me in practices or in the game. Hamilton was who I thought he was—a slot receiver who ran very good routes but struggled with drops.
I was surprised when it was announced he had been promoted to the Senior Bowl roster over the weekend, but considering Hamilton’s resume he had built up while with the Nittany Lions, having an instant impact as a redshirt freshman with 82 catches for 900 yards and 2 touchdowns (11 YPC) as well as 53 catches for 857 yards and 9 touchdowns (16.2 YPC) his senior season. In total, in his college career Hamilton had 214 catches for 2,842 yards (13.3 YPC) with 18 touchdowns.
In practice, Hamilton flashed a lot in 1v1 situations, doing a great job of selling his breaks and making defensive backs take steps in the wrong direction, as well as very consistent hands and an ability to work through coverage off the line. Hamilton played inside and out at Penn State but I think he ultimately carves out a niche as a slot for a team due to his below-average strength at the catch point and ball skills.
3. Georgia offensive guard Isaiah Wynn
The NFL’s general cutoff for height as an offensive tackle is 6’4”, as most players shorter than that can struggle holding up against the larger defensive ends in the league. However, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn started all 14 of the Bulldogs’ games this year at left tackle at 6’2” and 308 pounds, facing some of the best teams in college football like Auburn (twice), Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Alabama.
Wynn played left guard all throughout his college career before that, however, and looks like he will be there in the NFL as well, as he has practiced there both days here in Mobile. Wynn has held his own in 1v1 pass rush drills so far at the Senior Bowl, effectively countering his opponents and showing the footwork and hand ability to be an immediate starter at the next level.
While Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is evidently the top dog from this year’s interior offensive line group, Wynn deserves to be in the conversation with the likes of Ohio State’s Billy Price and UTEP’s Will Hernandez (also down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl) as the second best interior lineman in the class.
4. Humboldt State offensive tackle Alex Cappa
Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa was an interesting name to be entering the week, as he has the frame to be an NFL offensive tackle at 6’5” and 300 pounds and seems to have the power and leverage ability on tape to hold up there, but the fact that he was at a Division II school and hadn’t faced any major competition.
Through two days of practice in Mobile, Cappa has looked superb, showing off clean footwork and that same power in his initial punch that showed up on tape against far superior competition (would like to note that his training with offensive line expert LeCharles Bentley likely helped him a ton here, as it has with many prospects in the past).
He stonewalled what “Big Draft” is calling the best pass rusher down here for the Senior Bowl in UTSA’s Marcus Davenport (here’s a hint: he isn’t) on two separate reps in 1v1’s today and his anchor looks very strong. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cappa rose into the top 100 conversation in this class with good athletic testing and if he can sell scouts on not having too steep of a learning curve once he gets into the league.
5. Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell
Coming into this week, I wasn’t very impressed with Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell, having watched tape on him and his teammate Grant Haley at the same position and coming away thinking that Haley was the better of the two. That being said, Campbell has impressed me the most of any of the corners in Mobile in the past two days with his ability to mirror receivers in man coverage and more than anything else, his ball skills.
He made the play of the day for the North team today in coverage, as Nebraska’s Tanner Lee let a ball fly deep on the go route to Colorado State’s Michael Gallup, but it sailed, and Campbell, who was right there with Gallup on the route, undercut the ball, and made a diving pick. During this past season, Campbell had 45 tackles and 2 interceptions as a part of one of the more talented secondaries in the country for the Nittany Lions along with Marcus Allen (also in Mobile), Grant Haley (who I previously mentioned), and Troy Apke (named MVP of the NFLPA Bowl last weekend).
At 6’1” and 192 pounds, I think Campbell could be in the Day 2 conversation and with his traits could be a potential starter on the boundary down the line.