Scout is in Mobile at the Senior Bowl with this report on the best offensive players for the South squad ... and yes, if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan trying to find an heir to Jason Witten, the Senior Bowl features just such a guy.
1. TE – O.J. Howard, Alabama – Arguably the top prospect on either team at any position, Howard is blessed with tight end size and wide receiver speed. Athletically he’s as good of a prospect as one will ever scout at the position. At 250 pounds, he’s still thin for his 6-foot-5½ frame, but he holds his own in run blocking. Watching Howard jump offsides and have an easy drop makes one question his focus at times, but that’s nitpicking when trying to decide just how high he should go in the first round.
Howard's position here, as it relates to the Cowboys? The point at this early stage is to recognize what personnel boss Will McClay says about "drafting for position'' (what CowboysHQ.com calls "B.A.A.'' Read here.)
2. OT/G – Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky – An injury on Day 1 limited him the rest of the week, which is a shame because we would have loved to have seen more of him. What he showed in that short time, however, was impressive. There might be some concern about his size playing left tackle – he’s just under 6-4 and 305 pounds – but he passed the test on the first day in pass protection. When he gets locked onto a defender, they don’t get away. He was beaten once with a swim move. He’s considered an early-round pick for good reason, but it will be interesting to see if he ends up at tackle or guard.
3. OT – Conor McDermott, UCLA – He is on the other end from Lamp. While Lamp is on the shorter end of offensive tackles in the NFL, McDermott is on the taller end at 6-8, 305 pounds, but he can still move. He does a good job of keeping his hands inside and riding pass-rushing defensive ends wide of their target – a lot of defensive ends seemed to end up on the ground by getting off-balance and too wide against him. He might need to improve his foot quickness some and be careful not to set too wide, as he got beat at least once by an edge rusher setting him up outside and beating him inside.
4. WR – Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M – Reynolds is 6-2¾ which gives him a height advantage in this crowd. He takes advantage of it with his ability to elevate. Reynolds had an early drop in the week, but shook it off to have a productive showing and seemed to form a nice combination with quarterback Josh Dobbs.
5. G/C – Jon Toth, Kentucky – Other interior linemen came in rated higher than him by analysts, but we like what we saw. Is he a guard or a center? He actually looked more comfortable at guard, where he can anchor down against power defenders and hold his own on most occasions. He’s good at sliding down the line, so we could see him being an effective pulling guard at the next level. He always seems to be in position, but has to be careful about getting beat by quick swim moves.
6. G – Antonio Garcia, Troy – He grew on us as the week progressed. On Day 1, he seemed to lunge and lose his balance too much, but he appeared quicker off the snap and more in control as practices continued throughout the week. He has a good anchor, can move defenders off the line in the running game and follows the action. He may not make the projection of a Day 2 pick in the draft, but he should be able to develop into a solid guard for years in the NFL.
7. WR - Chad Willliams, Grambling State – At 6-0½ and 204 pounds, Williams is a strong, physical receiver ever who helped his draft stock as much as anyone in attendance. Williams not only held his own against “big-school” defensive backs, he flourished. Williams showed an extra gear with the ball in his hands that led the coaching staff to try and get it to him on reverses and quick hitters.
8. QB – Josh Dobbs, Tennessee – Blessed with the best combination of size, arm strength, and athleticism, Dobbs made all of the necessary throws. He was plagued by interceptions at Tennessee, and that’s going to be a concern for whoever drafts him, but in this setting he was the top quarterback prospect on either team.
9. WR – Artavis Scott, Clemson – Scott has the dimensions of a slot receiver at 5-10¼ and 194 pounds. He’s strong enough to take the ball inside, but he has the body control to play outside and uses his body to play much bigger. He comes in and out of his breaks quickly and catches everything near him. Not a No. 1, but an ideal No. 2 or No. 3.