East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones was superb during practice and phenomenal in the Senior Bowl game. He was the most impressive player on either team Saturday afternoon. To get his day started, Jones made a nice hands catch to secure a high pass with defenders around him. Jones then had a highlight-reel touchdown grab as he leapt while stretching out to snare a fastball. It was called incomplete, but looked like he got both feet down. In the second quarter, Jones ran a nine route down the sideline with some late separation to make a leaping catch for a 43-yard touchdown, but a penalty on Baylor center Kyle Fuller brought the touchdown back. It was a great play by Jones.
In the second half, Jones got physical at the top of his route to get open in the middle of the field on a crossing route. Jones then got wide open in the end zone, but Pitt quarterback Nate Peterman had a terrible overthrow for an incompletion. However, on fourth down, Peterman came back to him on a dig route, and Jones got open for the touchdown. Jones had 68 yards on six receptions with a touchdown. With his strong Senior Bowl performance, Jones probably played himself into the second day of the draft.
Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds was almost as impressive as Jones. In the second quarter, Reynolds ran nice deep route for a score. He showed an ability to get late separation with quickness down the field. Reynolds totaled six receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. He practiced well overall, but did have some drops and consistency issues. Still, he was able to stand out at the Senior Bowl and definitely helped his draft stock.
After a quality week of practice, Cal quarterback Davis Webb was the MVP of the Senior Bowl. In the second quarter, Webb threw a pretty deep out to Josh Reynolds in zone and then threw a pretty deep ball to Reynolds for a 39-yard touchdown. He was accurate on Saturday with some well-located passes. Coming from Cal's gimmick offense, Webb still struggles to call plays and needs a lot of footwork development from under center. That was obvious during the game, as he is at his most comfortable in shotgun where he played exclusively in college. Webb showed off a quick release with a strong arm to make all the throws that are required in the NFL, but he is going to need a year or two of development before he can be considered a viable competitor to start as a pro.
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt could have been the offensive MVP, as he totaled 121 yards on 15 carries. He was very good at hitting the hole before it closed and getting skinny through the small openings to get positive yardage. In the third quarter, Hunt had a run of 43 yards as he exploded through the hole, shed a tackle at the second level, and then darted down the field. All week, Hunt showed that he is a speed back weapon who also can help in the passing game.
The player who had perhaps the best week of practice at the Senior Bowl was Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, and he was able to continue his strong play in the game. Howard had four first-quarter receptions, including a 24-yard grab. He totaled 39 yards on those four catches, as he didn't see the field after the first quarter. Howard used the Senior Bowl to solidify his first-round status and could easily go in the top 20. Of all the players in Mobile, Howard is the favorite to be the first one drafted next April.
Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis was the defensive MVP, as he abused the offensive tackles from start to finish. In the second quarter, Willis used speed to get by USC right tackle Zach Banner and get a strip-sack of C.J. Beathard. Willis then came from right defensive end and used speed to burn Pitt offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty for a strip-sack to close out the first half. Following intermission, Willis bull rushed Bucknell's Julien Davenport into the quarterback for a near sack. Willis will probably go on the second day of the draft because he has some limitations and is maxed out athletically. Still, Willis is a blue-collar player who could be a solid but unspectacular edge defender in the NFL.
Bucknell offensive tackle Julie'n Davenport is a developmental prospect for the NFL, and he had some struggles in Mobile. During the game, he allowed a number of pressures on the quarterback, and in the fourth quarter, Davenport was beaten by Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon for a strip sack. Davenport has good size, length and athleticism, but his technique needs work. He is raw and needs to add more functional strength for the NFL. Davenport will need a year or two to develop as a backup before he is ready to start.
One of the players who helped themselves the most at the Senior Bowl was UConn safety Obi Melifonwu. The size-speed freak was all over the field while dishing out some serious hits. In the first quarter, Melifonwu made a tough tackle on D.J. Pumphrey in open field with a rattling hit. Later on that drive, Melifonwu flew over from downfield to be near a tackle and was in position to recover a fumble from North Carolina State running back Matt Dayes. Melifonwu should continue to explode at the combine and could end up getting first-round consideration.
Auburn defensive end Montravius Adams had an excellent week in Mobile and he finished it with some impressive play in the game. He stuffed some runs and was using his speed to fire into the backfield. The North offensive linemen really struggled with Adams' burst and athleticism at the point of attack. In the fourth quarter, Adams pushed through some blockers to recover a fumble for the North. Adams has good size with excellent speed and athleticism. He has the skill set and flashes first-round ability, but motor and consistency hurt him in college. He could end up being a steal on Day 2, or early on the third day if he slips.