Day 3 Senior Bowl evaluations: North squad

The strength of the North squad seems lie on the lines, with several impressive players there, but a few skill-position players appear to be settling in. The contingent in Mobile ranked and evaluated the Senior Bowl’s top players at each position Thursday.

1. Sean Mannion, Oregon State: Mannion has shown he has the arm this week and threw a couple of nice fades into the end zone, even if they weren’t hauled in. On out routes he showed good arm strength, but he appeared to be more decisive on Thursday as the receivers broke open, getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately.

2. Bryce Petty, Baylor: When Petty is able to make a quick decisions, he is solid with his accuracy, but it appears the biggest transition going from the Baylor offense to an NFL offense will be learning the playbook and going through reads quickly enough. He admitted this week is a challenge, but he’s showing promise and said coaches he’s talked with feel the same way. The big blunder of Thursday was sending a pitch to a running back over his head, and he added an interception as well.

3. Shane Carden, East Carolina: Given his height and his desire to get out of the pocket, Carden’s NFL coach, if he makes it, will have to allow him freedom. He doesn’t look comfortable as a pocket passer and can stare down a receiver, overthrowing several receivers in that situation. He’s much better on the run.

Running backs
The North squad running backs continued to impress during Thursday’s day three practice session, though their numbers were depleted by one player. Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford was held out of practice today because of tightness in his lower back, though they are hopeful he will be able to return and play on Saturday.

1. David Cobb, Minnesota: Cobb is perhaps the running back who has increased his stock the most with his performance in practice this week. He has appeared to get better daily and seems to take coaching well. He is not shy about contact and has nice overall ability.

2. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: Abdullah struggled in pass protection on Wednesday and in limited opportunities looked better on Thursday.

3. Tyler Varga (FB), Yale: Varga is a fullback by trade but showed well this week. He has a nice body type
that looks like it can take the wear and tear of NFL life. His stock is definitely up.

Wide receivers
1. Ty Montgomery, Stanford: He saved his best day for the last day of practices in Mobile. Time after time, he was great in underneath crossing routes and working through the traffic that comes with those assignments, hauling in two touchdowns at the goal line. He also has the potential as a kick and punt returner, too.

2. Devin Smith, Ohio State: Petty mentioned Smith as one of the standout receivers on the North squad. Although Thursday wasn’t his most impressive day, it still seems he’s the class of this Senior Bowl class at receiver. He had one pass go off his hands that was nearly intercepted and got talked to about his spacing, but there’s just too much natural talent and quickness to not like his possibilities at the NFL level.

3. Jamison Crowder, Duke: He’s a diminutive type that will have to have a specialty role carved out for him. Quick as lightning, he took an end around and used his shake-and-bake moves to make something positive out of it and that quickness comes in handy getting out of breaks. However, his size gets him pushed off routes. He’s a willing blocker, but he will usually be giving up 20 or more pounds to NFL cornerbacks.

4. Tony Lippett, Michigan State: Thursday wasn’t his best day, but his size (6-2½) means there is potential there for him to make an impact in the NFL. Surprisingly, he was held up too long at the line of scrimmage on a fade and couldn’t get to it. He also dropped a receiver screen, but he’s always looking for work in blocking for others.

5. Vince Mayle, Washington State: He showed a knack for finding space in open zones, but he isn’t explosive off the snap and doesn’t sell his fakes on cornerbacks.

Tight ends
1. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame: The North offense hasn’t been throwing the ball down the field much, especially to the tight ends. That’s because the defense has dictated for much of practice. Koyack is smooth in drills, looks the ball in and still appears to be the best option at the position on this squad.

2. Nick Boyle, Delaware: He caught a few sideline outs; also had a decent grab on a crossing route. Again, it’s mostly short-range stuff. He quickly lowered his head after a catch to take on a defender, and maintained his momentum after taking a shot. It’s what you would expect from the larger, stronger guy, sure, but sometimes it’s all about awareness, knowing a hit is coming.

3. Casey Pierce, Kent State: In another otherwise quiet morning workout for tight ends, Pierce had one opportunity to show his skillset. The end zone pass, unfortunately, was too high, but he jumped over a defender to snag it before landing out of bounds. No touchdown, but it was a decent vertical jump and he reacted well to adjusting to the pass. He also made some decent catches in one-on-one drills.

Offensive line

1. T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh: Clemmings is the best tackle on the North squad. Potentially a first-round selection, he does struggle some with speed off the snap. Nate Orchard beat him around the edge Thursday in one-on-one drills, so footwork will have to improve some.

2. Donovan Smith, Penn State: Smith jumps from his No. 3 spot to be the No. 2 tackle on the last day of full practices. Has size and physicality but some of his technique needs polishing.

3. Rob Haverstein, Wisconsin: Haverstein spent a lot of time at right tackle today in 11-on-11 drills and played well. He kicked out and pass blocked well but struggled some in sealing off the edge in run drills.


1. Laken Tomlinson, Duke: There is something special about this kid. He needs to work on his hands, but he excels at getting the low leverage. Won several times in one-on-one vs. big Danny Shelton on Thursday.

2. Ali Marpet, Hobart: Marpet was solid. He possesses a great motor and plays with intensity. However, he struggled in one-on-one drills.

3. Robert Myers, Tennessee State: Nursing an injury sustained on Wednesday, he didn’t suit up on Thursday.


1. Max Garcia, Florida: Garcia remains at the top here. Danny Shelton told that Garcia and Tomlinson have been the hardest player to go against in practice this week.

2. Chris Jasperse, Marshall: Jasperse looked good in 11-on-11 drills. In the run game, he got to the second level and opened a couple of holes for his backs.

Defensive line
Defensive Tackle

1. Danny Shelton, Washington: Shelton is unquestionably the best defensive tackle on the North squad and holds it down at the point of attack. He can take on double teams, shed and make the play. Conditioning is an issue for him. NFL teams might want him to lose just a little weight because when he gets winded, he’s more easily stood up by O-linemen. That showed a little bit Thursday.

2. Marcus Hardison, Arizona State: Hardison was solid on Day 3 but did not flash as he did in the first two days. He’s a good prospect but will require some developmental attention from whichever NFL team takes a flyer on him.

3. Carl Davis, Iowa: Davis retains his spot as the No. 3 DT. He was physical, but needs to work on keeping his pad level low. You’ve got to love his size, but might project as a 3-4 DE in the pros.

4. Louis Trinca-Pasat: You’ve got to hand it to this kid. He has a great motor and a work-a-day willingness to get better. There might be a hard time seeing where he fits in with the NFL. He’s smallish as a defensive tackle but could fit in to a 4-3 team’s plan for depth purposes.

Defensive End

1. Nate Orchard, Utah: Orchard made a great play in 11-on-11 team drills, intercepting Sean Mannion. Orchard sniffed out the screen play, got his arms up and picked off the ball. Provided he has a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, you can’t help but see him as a first-round selection in the draft.

2. Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky: Smith did not pop off the field today, but he was strong in his one-on-one drills and held up well at the point of attack in team drills. He’s intriguing and it should be interesting to watch his performance on Saturday.

3. Deion Barnes, Penn State: Barnes looked really good on Thursday, leap-frogging his No. 4 positioning yesterday. He has quickness off the snap and had his nose around the ball in team drills.

4. Henry Anderson, Stanford: Anderson played well in team drills, particularly against the run. He isn’t flashing much as a pass rusher but he has a great motor. Possibly a fit as a 3-4 end.

Penn State linebacker Mike Hull has withdrawn from the game because of knee issues from a scope he underwent two weeks ago. That is bad news for Hull, who was one of the most impressive players at his position through the first two days. Harvard linebacker Zack Hodges was also limited in practice on Day 3, but should be ready to participate in the game on Saturday.

1. Jeff Luc, Cincinnati: Luc has been very consistent this week and was just that once again on Thursday, as he looks to have improved in pass coverage each day, which seemed to be his biggest deficiency coming into the week.

2. Hayes Pullard, USC: Pullard stepped up his game on Wednesday and looked equally as good on Thursday. He is running with what could be called the second-team defensive unit and is making the defensive calls for that grouping.

3. Jordan Hicks, Texas: Hicks has been solid all week and is working alongside Luc with the first-team defense.

4. Zach Hodges, Harvard: Though limited, Hodges still went at it in the team drills. He had a couple nice plays in spite of the injury that was obvious he was dealing with.

5. Curtis Grant, Ohio State: Fresh off the National Championship game win, Grant was an overnight addition to the North roster, replacing the injured Hull, and Grant stepped in and had a good day for a player who was behind by two days. He is big and seemed to be a physical player. He displayed good speed and quickness, though still learning what was going on around him.

1. Quinten Rollins, Miami-Ohio: The former point guard showed he’s more than just a quick guy. Thursday might have been his best practice yet. He reacted quickly to action in front of him, wasn’t fooled by double moves, was strong in press coverage, including red zone work, and stayed home on his coverage on a flea flicker that contributed to an incompletion. Just an all-around solid day for him.

2. Quandre Diggs, Texas: He undercut a Petty throw and intercepted the pass and was very physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also showed he can bring the wood in run support at the goal line, knifing to stop a running play at the line of scrimmage.

3. Josh Shaw, USC: He proved he isn’t intimidated by jamming a receiver at the line of scrimmage and can stick tight with them in coverage. This week might be as much about gaining the trust of coaches and scouts after lying about how was injured at USC, but he appears to be gaining trust with his on-field work.

4. Steven Nelson, Oregon State: He showed tight coverage on a few routes and proved he can run stride-for-stride with receivers.

5. Doran Grant, Ohio State: He tends to give up too big a cushion consistently, but he keeps the action in front of him. He doesn’t appear to embrace contact at the line of scrimmage.

1. Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State: He still seems like the best player, but the North squad has been mixing and matching throughout practice so each of the four are going to get their share of reps come Saturday. Drummond’s length as a pass defender gives him a slight edge on the rest of his teammates.

2. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern: After playing nice for three days of practice, nobody is looking forward to the game more than Campbell, who hasn’t been able to show his hitting prowess with the way workouts are conducted. He showed his ball skills with an interception Thursday. Don’t be surprised if his stock rises.

3. Damarious Randall, Arizona State: Another guy who is difficult to read because so much of his running around doesn’t lead to a practice result. He has speed. He is tenacious. We’ll see how that comes together when they play for real.

4. Adrian Amos, Penn State: Amos had a rather uneventful morning in what has been a so-so week. But the game should provide enough evidence to justify his loftier ranking on some NFL mock draft boards or suggest he’s not as much of a prospect as suggested.’s Greg Arias, Chad Jensen, Nate Latsch, Jamie Newberg, Phillip B. Wilson and Tim Yotter contributed to this report.

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