This is Charlie Campbell's Thursday 2017 Senior Bowl Practice Report for the South Team. Charlie is reporting live from Mobile, Ala., and he'll describe what he sees at practice and whom certain prospects talk to all week.
The South team took the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their final practice of the Senior Bowl. The Cleveland Browns coaching staff ran the practice and will coach them all week. The Browns staff had the players practicing in full pads, but the coaching staff decided to end practice a half hour early. With all the time spent on play install, walk-through, and special teams there wasn't as much to glean from this practice. Here is a run down of the noteworthy players.
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard could be the first Senior Bowl prospect drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft as Howard has top-20 potential. He dominated the Tuesday session with his receiving skills, blocked well, and played well on Thursday minus a fumble in the team scrimmage that was recovered by Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone.
In the one-on-one blitz protection portion of the practice, Howard had an impressive win by latching on and riding LSU linebacker Duke Riley around the pocket. Howard earned a draw on a bull rush from Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser, as Bowser got some push, but Howard held him up long enough to give a quarterback enough time to throw. Howard did have a loss on a swim to the inside, but he came back to torch Bowser on a corner post route. Sources from multiple teams raved about Howard's Senior Bowl performance, and it definitely was mission accomplished for improving his draft stock.
Anzalone has flashed this week as a balanced linebacker who can play the run and the pass. He had a mixed practice on Thursday. Surprisingly, he was stopped cold by North Carolina State running back Matt Dayes on a bull rush. In the team scrimmage, BYU running back Jamaal Williams beat Anzalone to the corner on a touchdown run, but Anzalone had close coverage on a route by Williams to slap the pass for an incompletion.
Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns has been solid all week, and he had an excellent play to fly across the field and limit a reverse to a moderate gain in what looked like it could have been a huge play if Sterns didn't fly over to make the tackle. Sterns is an intelligent player with upside.
Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram performed better than expected on Wednesday as a blocker, but he wasn't as effective Thursday. He started pretty well by holding up Miami safety Rayshawn Jenkins. However, Engram then lost two reps with one being a bull rush and another where he was pushed aside for a loss. Engram will be a bull as a blocker in the NFL, and the team that drafts him will want him because he is a mismatch receiving weapon. He roasted Jenkins on a corner post route, but the pass was off the mark. Engram should be selected on the second day of the draft.
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware continued to show that he is a limited player for the NFL. He did well with some good run fills in the team scrimmage, but Boulware was smoked in pass coverage, as North Carolina State running back Matt Dayes burned him on a post route. Boulware is just incapable of running with backs or tight ends in pass coverage.
Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams really helped himself at the Senior Bowl, and he was superb in the pass rushing one-on-ones Thursday. He had wins over Kentucky center Jon Toth, Tennessee State guard Jessamen Dunker, and LSU center Ethan Pocic. The win over Pocic was especially impressive with power and speed to get to the quarterback marker. Adams could have put himself on the second day of the draft after three good practices in Mobile.
Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins was another standout on Thursday. He used a serious bull rush with speed to plow through Miami guard Danny Isidora. Watkins could be a nice value on the second day of the draft.
There were a few receivers who stood out in the team scrimmage. Grambling wide receiver Chad Williams made a beautiful one-handed catch while falling out of bounds. Williams really helped himself this week as sources were impressed with him.
Team sources said that Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds impressed in the meeting room. He had some dropped passes on Wednesday, but he made a great leaping touchdown grab over two defenders in the back of the end zone during the team scrimmage. As he showed during the 2016 season, Reynolds is a real red zone weapon.
Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs is another player who interviewed very well. He isn't much of a passer for the NFL, but perhaps he could develop into a backup. Dobbs had a nice rushing touchdown in the red zone scrimmage on a zone read run that he scored from about 15-20 yards out.
The final play of the practice was a pretty touchdown catch by Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross. He was able to make a difficult grab in the corner of the end zone while falling out of bounds.