Day 3 Senior Bowl evaluations: South squad

While the quarterbacks struggled with accuracy, the defensive backs were busy taking advantage on Day 3 at the Senior Bowl.

Quarterbacks
1. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State: Grayson finished up the three practice sessions as the most consistent of the South QBs, though that’s not necessarily saying much. Each had good and bad moments. Grayson’s best may have been his throw to a diving Rannell Hall in the back of the end zone for a TD in a team red zone portion, his quick zip TD pass to Josh Harper in the same drill or his strong seam-pass throw to Clive Walford during the 2-minute drill.

2. Blake Sims, Alabama: Sims spun the ball pretty well at times on Thursday but was also up and downl, like his teammates. Some of his best throws came near the end of practice during the 2-minute drill with a seam pass to Harper to the right, another throw to Harper to the left and then a quick slant to Dezmin Lewis to the right.

3. Bryan Bennett, SE Louisiana: Bennett was inconsistent in his second practice with the South. He showed nice touch early on a fade pas to Sammie Coates in a one-on-one drill but threw a few passes to the wrong team and somehow inexplicably attempted to throw a pass left-handed after a play-action fake and getting his footwork crossed up.

Running backs/fullbacks
1. Jalston Fowler (FB), Alabama: He lined up as a blocking back and running back, and it was one of the few times when the South offense did well in the team scrimmage, especially when he blocked for David Johnson. When given the chance to run in short yardage, he drove hard into the line and dove for the end zone to score. He again displayed decent foot speed for a bigger back in the passing drills, precise cuts and ability to get open.

2. David Johnson, Northern Iowa: He continues to leave defenders in his dust on passing drills. He’s exceptional in the open field. When the defense wasn’t stuffing the run and dominating, Johnson showed his hop-step acceleration to speed through tacklers to open space. Don’t be surprised if this guy makes a splash on Saturday.

3. Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn: He slithered into the end zone for a touchdown rush, and it appeared defenders couldn’t spot the small back. But he also had a drop when wide open deep in one-on-one passing drills. Perhaps he’s more of a game-time performer because he didn’t appear to stand out much in practice this week. Or maybe the South defense is just that good.

4. Connor Neighbors (FB), LSU: Not much new to report on the fullback, who made a couple catches in drills and threw a few blocks but didn’t give any indication that he will have NFL scouts taking notice come game day.

Wide receivers
1. Sammie Coates, Auburn: There are going to continue to be questions about his hands and his occasional drops, but he still offers an intriguing blend of size (6-foot-2, 213 pounds), strength and playmaking ability that could push him into the first round of the draft.

2. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: This 5-10, 181-pound speedster spent much of his week running past defensive backs and hauling in long passes. He did a little bit of everything on Thursday, including beating a defensive back badly in a one-on-one red zone drill, catching an intermediate pass from Grayson on a crossing route, catching a pass in the back of the end zone during a team red zone session and also turning a reverse run into a big gain.

3. Phillip Dorsett, Miami: Dorsett, like Coates and Lockett, was also one of the most consistent playmakers all week. The 5-10, 183-pounder had a nice catch on a pass from Sims during the one-on-one red zone drill and later on scored on a reverse run during the team red zone portion of practice.

4. Rannell Hall, UCF: On a day when the quarterbacks struggled with accuracy and consistency, this 6-foot, 193-pound Miami native may have caught more passes than anyone, especially late in practice during team red zone and team 2-minute sessions.

5. Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas: The small-school wide receiver with the desirable measurables (6-3, 215) had another good showing. He had a nice grab of a Sims pass on a quick slant late in the 2-minute drill.

Tight ends
1. Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.): One-on-ones meant making more plays, as Walford punctuated an end zone catch with an emphatic spike. He continued to shine in the 11-on-11, 2-minute drill with a nifty catch down the right seam. The throw was behind him, but he was able to turn his body back and look the ball in. He’s been, without question, one of the best offensive players at the Senior Bowl this week.

2. C.J. Uzomah, Auburn: While he also prevailed in one-on-ones and celebrated with a spike, Uzomah didn’t get the separation nor was he open, but the pass was perfect. On another play, the defender anticipated the out cut and knocked the tight end off the route. It’s easy to tell the difference between him and Walford. One guy always seems to be wide open while the other one has to make catches while closely defended.

3. Devin Mahina, BYU: He also got the better of a defender in one-on-one drills for a score, and continued the spike tradition of his fellow tight ends. But he didn’t see the ball much in the team scrimmage, so there wasn’t much else to observe from Thursday afternoon’s practice.

Offensive line
1. Ty Sambrailo (OT), Colorado State: This is a big and long-armed 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle prospect who looked good at left tackle on Thursday. He had some nice plays in pass pro, showing he can set up quickly and slide his feet to stay in front of pass rushers. Sambrailo plays with good balance, stays on his feet and doesn’t get caught reaching. He does have a tendency to play high.

2. Reese Dismukes (C), Auburn: Dismukes was Mr. Solid again, showing why he’s one of the top overall draft prospects in this class across the front. At 6-foot-3, 296 pounds, he is a rock against the run, showing he can get to the second level, combo block and be very effective zone blocking. Dismukes was solid in pass pro and rarely got beat. He also does a nice job recovering if a defensive lineman initially gets the better of him. Dismukes has good feet, balance and always seems to get a good push.

3. Tre Jackson (OG), Florida State: Jackson is a tough inside player that showcases power, tenacity and good footwork. He plays with good leverage and fights for every inch in pass pro. Jackson gets off the ball well and showed the ability to get a good push in run blocking. He does a nice job of driving his legs.

4. Arie Kouandjio (OG), Alabama: Kouandjio comes off the ball low and hard. He’s nasty and had some pile driving blocks Thursday in run blocking and in pass protection. This is a kid that really battles and competes until the whistle blows.

5. Dillon Day (C), Mississippi State: He has many of the same similarities as Dismukes. Day is nasty and strong. They have similar builds. He did some nice things, especially in pass pro, where he shows the ability to move his feet and has the strength to keep tackles at bay.

Defensive line
1. Grady Jarrett (DT), Clemson: Jarrett plays with outstanding leverage. He has good quickness off the ball and fires out low. Jarrett is powerful, especially in the lower body. He does a nice job against double teams and doesn’t give up ground. At 6-foot-1, 295-pounds, he’s just a load. This Tiger competes hard.

2. Kaleb Eulls (DT), Mississippi State – At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, Eulls showed an explosive get-off. He kind of knifes into the backfield but also showed good hands and the ability to shake a lineman with a good move. Eulls has some power and a good burst of speed when he needs it.

3. Joey Mbu (DT), Houston: Mbu was one of the big surprises on the day, especially over the first half of the practice. He has good size (6-3/3½) and lateral agility. Mbu has a quick first step off the ball and uses his hands well to disengage. More than anything he looked strong and has a huge lower body.

4. Preston Smith (DE), Mississippi State: Smith has a nice combination of speed and power off the edge at defensive end. He’s 6-foot-5, 270-pounds, and showed some explosiveness in one-on-one drills.

5. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE), UCLA: This Bruin was one of the smaller defensive ends, but he was also the quickest and fastest pass rusher on the South squad today. He can really turn the corner. His quickness off the ball is certainly to his advantage.

Linebackers
1. Lynden Trail, Norfolk State: He looks much more like a defensive end than linebacker at 6-foot-6, but his massive wing span proves to be difficult for quarterbacks to throw around. On one red zone play, he got his big paw on a pass, knocked it into the air and then showed great awareness turning around and locating the ball for the interception. He definitely has the size to match up with tight ends on a consistent basis.

2. Terrance Plumber, Central Florida: A late addition, he proved to be decent in coverage, sticking with tight ends and reading quickly in zone coverage. He did, however, try to run around blocks on occasion and created bigger rushing lanes.

3. Martrell Spaight, Arkansas: He is best attacking what is in front of him. He gets to the line of scrimmage with a purpose on run plays and blitzing, and uses the rip to get through blocks but doesn’t always square up to the running back. He was a little slow in coverage.

4. Amarlo Herrera, Georgia: As a middle linebacker, he does a good job of communicating checks and drops into coverage nicely, but he tended to give too much cushion to his assignment in coverage. He is always reading the quarterback’s eyes, but missed one interception opportunity he should have had. Herrera is a little light to take on bigger blockers.

5. Stephone Anthony, Clemson: He flows in zone coverage with the quarterback’s eyes, but he looked shorter than the 6-foot-2 he measured in at and let tight ends get behind him in coverage.

Cornerbacks
1. Ladarius Gunter, Miami (Fla.): Gunter was far and away the best corner for the South squad on Thursday. Not only did he pick off Garrett Grayson in 11-on-11 team drills, but he just flashed on the field. He has prototypical size that NFL teams covet (6-foot-2), but what sets him apart is that he knows how to utilize his size as a tool in coverage. He’s big, he’s physical and his draft stock is rising.

2. Kevin White, TCU: At 5-foot-10, White has good size. On the final day of full practices, he also picked off Grayson in 11-on-11 team drills. He’s physical and a scrappy hand fighter, which could get him into some hot water at the pro level. But on Thursday, he set himself apart.

3. D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic: Smith competed hard on Thursday. His intense attitude is an attribute that serves him well on the gridiron. The highlight of his day was picking off a pass in red zone drills. Unfortunately, he also injured himself in the acrobatic act and was limited thereafter.

4. Nick Marshall, Auburn: Marshall is in the midst of the unenviable process of switching positions, as he tries to garner NFL interest. The former QB is trying his hand at corner, and although he needs to work on his technique, he’s performing well in the transition. He has the size to be the NFL’s prototype cornerback and as a former QB he understands route concepts and QB tendencies on the field. He made several impressive plays, including forcing a fumble in team drills.

5. Imoan Claiborne, Northwestern State: Claiborne won a couple of battles with Sammie Coates in one-on-one drills in the end zone. He fights hard and isn’t afraid to get physical. On one play, he was beaten on deep fade down the left sideline (a double move), but recovered in time to break up the pass.

Safeties
1. Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss: Prewitt was intense in Day 3 of practice. He showed range as the centerfield patrolman. He showed good instincts in coverage, reading the QB. On one play, he read the QB, jumped the route in the end zone, but was unable to haul in the interception, even though it hit him in the numbers.

2. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford: Tartt worked his tail off on Thursday, coming just a hair short of surpassing Prewitt for No. 1. He was exploited a couple of times in one-on-one cover drills but showed great poise, bouncing back to make several plays in team drills.

3. Anthony Jefferson, UCLA: Jefferson didn’t have many flashy plays today, but he did show up well in one-on-one drills. He needs a strong showing in the game on Saturday and an impressive Combine performance.

4. Clayton Geathers, UCF: Geathers was solid but unspectacular on Day 3.


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