The Reese’s Senior Bowl is set to be played on Saturday January 30th at 2:30pm and can be watched on the NFL Network. The one thing I like about the event is the airing of the practices leading up to the eventual game. As of now, I have scrolled through the guide, and ESPNU and NFL Network has their coverages starting Wednesday and runs through Friday. Be sure to check your TV guide for times, and don’t forget to set the record function on your system.
The Watch List : National Team
Creed Humphrey - C - Oklahoma - There is a need to find the next anchor of the offensive line. Pouncey has yet to make a decision on his future, and even if he plays one more year the depth at that position is questionable. Humphries isn’t going to wow you with movement skills, more of a phone booth type blocker. Very powerful and has somewhat of a mean streak as a blocker. The question remains is his fit going to match the plan moving forward. I think he would pair nicely with Kevin Dotson long term.
Current Projection: Round 2
Hunter Long - TE - Boston College - Yeah I know, I’m always clamoring for a tight end, but it’s time to address the position in the draft and it’s time to get a dual threat player. Vance McDonald has retired and Eric Ebron has shown to be an inconsistent pass catcher while adding very little to the blocking game. Hunter Long is not the athlete everyone seems to want at the position. What he is, is a dual threat TE that has solid hands and is more than willing to do the necessary dirty work as a blocker. As a receiver, he has the zone awareness to sit in open spots, and he understands about using his size to block out defenders for positioning on routes and at the catch point. Added strength will be needed at the next level to become a more efficient blocker as well as technique but the willingness is there and that can’t be taught.
Current Projection: Top 75
Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones ll - EDGE - Pittsburgh - Unless something crazy happens, Bud Dupree will move on to his second team. I was a harsh critic at times but found myself wanting him to stay at the end, I wish him well. That brings us to the possibility of adding either a starter, or someone to provide depth for that position. T.J. Watt is All-World, and Alex Highsmith has shown he can play in this league with room to grow as a player. The debate on that from fans continues. I grouped these two together because they have been joined at the hip somewhat playing together on what should have been a stout Panthers defense. I think Jones is the better athlete and Weaver is more advanced in terms of technique. Both are decent at defending the run although advantage goes to Weaver, in my opinion. However Jones ll offers more upside in terms of getting pressure. The one question I have is scheme fit. Can either play in the two point stance at the next level? We have seen Watt play in a three point, so does it matter?
Current Projection: Jones ll - Top 50 / Weaver - Top 100
The Watch List: American Team
Alex Leatherwood - OT - Alabama - Once again the offensive line needs an overhaul and filling the blindside would go a long way in rebuilding a once proud unit. Alejandro Villanueva is a Free Agent, and even if the money was right his play has declined. Zach Banner is coming off of an injury and is also a Free Agent. Chuks Okorafor remains as the only Tackle with any significant playing time. Leatherwood has a a hulking build that flourishes in the run game when he is squared to his man. Possesses an aggressive demeanor and decent strength. Will need to improve footwork at the next level to combat the elite pass rushers. He has position flexibility as he has played at Guard and some feel he is best suited at Guard or the Right Tackle spot.
Current Projection: Top 35
Kadarius Toney - WR - Florida - Some may consider this a luxury pick with so many needs and limited cap space to fill voids on the roster. There is still the possibility JuJu Smith-Schuster may be priced out of town, although Ben Roethlisberger said he wanted to keep Smith-Schuster in the mix. If Smith-Schuster does stay, this may become a non-factor, but if he leaves there may be a need to add to that room. Toney will draw comparisons to Diontae Johnson, and maybe even Antonio Brown. His explosiveness and quick twitch ability provide a serious threat for YAC. Probably not going to be a combat catch guy, but that doesn’t limit his down the field prowess. There are red flag concerns that need addressed, but if he can answer for those the rest is all cake. Position fit would most likely be in the slot.
Current Projection: Top 50
Jamie Newman - QB - Wake Forest/Georgia - This prospect falls into the same boat as Trey Lance in that he didn’t get to showcase his talents in 2020. Newman transferred to Georgia as a grad student but then COVID took it’s toll and Newman ended up opting out of his college season. Looking back at his Demon Deacon playing time, it was obvious he was an athlete that had some playing ability. He offers a strong arm and a toughness that resembles a Marshawn Lynch running style. Looking at the negatives the list is long, and to say he is more than a developmental quarterback at this point is being overly optimistic. Inconsistent mechanics, reading what the defense is doing and running through his progressions are all areas of needed work. I am not saying he hasn’t worked on these things in his time away from playing the game, but we haven’t been able to see that. This venue could go a long way to see if he has indeed began the necessary progression.
Current Projection: Anywhere from 3rd Round to being a an UDFA
I gave a short list of players I will be watching, it’s time to give yours. Feedback and varying opinions are always welcome. There are plans to have an article up for each day of the practices as well as a game thread. Be sure to check those out, and, as always go Steelers!