This is Charlie Campbell's Wednesday 2018 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.
Follow me @walterfootball for updates, and stay tuned all week for tons of 2018 Senior Bowl coverage.
2018 Senior Bowl: Wednesday Practice Report: South Team
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell - and WalterFootball.com Senior Bowl Reporter Andrew Scavelli.
The South team took the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their second practice of the Senior Bowl. The Houston Texans coaching staff ran the practice and will coach them all week. The Texans staff had the players practicing in full pads. Here is a run down of the noteworthy players.
After Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, either UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport or Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is likely be the next Senior Bowl prospect to go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Through two practices, it has been a mixed bag for Davenport. He had an impressive win in the one-on-ones, using speed to go around North Carolina A&T tackle Brandon Parker. However in the rematch, Parker stopped cold a bull rush attempt from Davenport.
This week has illustrated that Davenport needs development and has a learning curve as he makes a huge jump in competition. He needs to get quicker at reacting to the snap. Developing and working on more pass-rushing moves is also a necessity. Some in the media had Davenport as a high first-rounder entering this week, but team sources told WalterFootball.com they saw Davenport having back half of the first-round potential, at the highest. His performance in practice thus far verifies the team's view over the lofty media projections.
During the fall, WalterFootball.com was the first draft site to highlight Brandon Parker as having created a buzz in the scouting community. Parker has continued the positive momentum at the Senior Bowl. In speaking with a general manager, they have been impressed by Parker and have his stock rising. That team entered this week with a fourth-round grade on Parker, but they think that could rise into Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft. Other teams also had Parker projected to the second day of the draft with third-round potential. Given his height and the frame to add weight, teams feel that Parker could develop into being starter at right tackle.
Murray State cornerback D'montre Wade had some struggles in the team-scrimmage portion of practice. Central Florida wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith got open against him for a touchdown. Oklahoma State wide receiver Marcell Ateman achieved separation on a slant for a touchdown pass from Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta. Wade has struggled to run with the quicker receivers than he is used to going against.
Kansas State wide receiver Byron Pringle impressed during one-on-ones with his crisp route running. After dropping a quick slant from Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert against Southern cornerback Danny Johnson, Pringle came back in his next rep with impressive separation on a comeback route versus Johnson and hauled in the pass from Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers. Pringle finished out his reps with the best play from this period, beating his opponent on a double-move comeback route thrown by Silvers and shedding a tackle low to the ground while maintaining his balance to turn up the field for a touchdown.
Another receiver who impressed on Wednesday was Oklahoma State's James Washington. During one-on-ones, Washington torched his defender by a solid five steps on a bomb thrown by Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta. Washington also caught a quick slant in stride from Oklahoma State quarterback Marcell Ateman against Murray State cornerback D'montre Wade. On the day, Washington consistently got open, gaining separation against his opponents and excelling running every kind of route.
Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins had an impressive session as a receiver on Wednesday with his route-running ability and soft hands. On one play, Akins caught a 40-yard dime on the sideline from Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White and did an excellent job to keep his feet in bounds to secure the catch. Akins also came up big during the 11-on-11s, coming across the field wide open on a play-action pass from White with no defenders in sight for another big gain.
In the goal-line scrimmage, Akins got open running a crossing route for a touchdown. He then made perhaps the best catch of the 2018 Senior Bowl with a beautiful one-handed grab along the sideline of the end zone with Virginia safety Quin Blanding trailing him. Akins had a step of separation and reached out to cradle the ball into his body while getting both feet down before falling out of bounds. He also did well against the linebackers in the one-on-ones, including getting the better of South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard. While Akins has problems as a blocker, he is a receiving-tight end and H-back candidate in the NFL. He helped himself on Wednesday by showcasing his receiving skills.
Aside from Akins' scores, the South defense came up big on that goal-line period. On a run from San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, Akins' Central Florida teammate linebacker Shaquem Griffin got great penetration into the backfield to stuff Penny on the play. Benkert then attempted to throw a flat pass to LSU running back Darrel Williams, but Williams was immediately stonewalled by South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard, which draw applause from the crowd. Penny also created a reaction of his own from scouts in the stands after showing nice burst and wiggle through the hole on one play, but fumbled the ball away after taking a rattling hit from Auburn safety Tray Matthews. "That's twice he fumbled upon contact," a scout shouted. Penny needs to show better ball security along the goal line, because his role in the NFL would include short-yardage and goal-line situations.