2018 Senior Bowl: Thursday Practice Report: North Team
This is Charlie Campbell's Thursday 2018 Senior Bowl Practice Report for the North 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.
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By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
The North team took the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their second practice of the Senior Bowl. The Denver Broncos coaching staff ran the practice and will coach them all week. The Broncos staff had the players practicing in full pads. Here is a run down of the noteworthy players.
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was the star of Thursday's North practice, as he had his best outing of the week. Allen showed progress throughout the week and capped it off with his best session. On the first day of the Senior Bowl, Allen was firing the ball with his big arm and sending frozen ropes around the field. By Thursday, Allen was taking a little something off his throws and putting more touch on the ball. That led to him throwing a more catchable ball that resulted in his receivers making more plays for him.
Allen was excellent in the red zone scrimmage. He made a number of precise throws to produce touchdowns. On one occasion, Allen lofted in a pass to Penn wide receiver Justin Watson, who made a phenomenal one-handed catch. Allen also hit Indiana tight end Ian Thomas between defenders running vertically through the end zone and then found Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki on a crossing route in the back of the end zone. Gesicki got open for Allen again with a juke move on a slant to run by West Virginia's Kyzir White with Allen throwing a strike to Gesicki. Allen also threw a well-placed pass by defenders to Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe.
NFL evaluators don't really care about the performance in the Senior Bowl game, as 90 percent of the league leaves after the final practice on Thursday. Thus in the portion of the week that mattered the most Allen helped himself. He was the best quarterback in Mobile, showing a superb skill set with a big frame, arm strength and athleticism. This Senior Bowl performance will help Allen to be a top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield was the other quarterback in Mobile who could be a first-round pick, and Mayfield had a solid session on Thursday. Similar to Allen, Mayfield was better on Thursday compared to how he started out the week. Mayfield threw some well-placed passes, connecting on a slant with Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hailton on slant for a good gain as Mayfield led Hamilton perfectly. Mayfield lofted in pass over a defender to Miami wideout Braxton Berrios, who adjusted to make an impressive grab over the defender. That catch had Mayfield clapping and praising his temporary teammate.
Mayfield did a better job of pushing the ball vertically on Thursday compared with the previous practices where he checked the ball down too much and was hesitant to throw into tight windows. In the seven-on-seven and team scrimmage portion, Mayfield looks better than in the individual portions. Overall, Mayfield's Senior Bowl was a positive one and shouldn't hurt his draft stock.
Hamilton was probably the most polished receiver in Mobile. He ran crisp routes without wasted steps all week. He showed nice hands and used his quickness to generate separation. Hamilton definitely helped improve his draft standing with his steady performance in each practice.
Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard has had a roller-coaster week. The first session on Tuesday was awful, as Lazard had a lot of drops and one team source said after Day 1 that one of the biggest takeaways was that Lazard couldn't catch the ball. He bounced back on Day 2 with some nice receptions to help rebound from his rough opening. Day 3 turned out to be a mixture of the previous two. Early in the scrimmage portion, Lazard fumbled the ball away after a hard hit with a safety bearing down on him. Josh Allen made a nice throw for the completion on the post route, but Lazard squandered the chunk gain.
Lazard had an excellent session in the red zone scrimmage. He made a leaping touchdown catch over a defensive back in the back of the end zone. Lazard then had another touchdown in the corner of the end zone using his size. The big wideout illustrated that he is a true red zone threat with mismatch size that is tough to defend. After a rough first day, Lazard showed some resiliency to bounce back on Wednesday and Thursday.
N.C. State running back Jaylen Samuels was one of the impressive receivers on Thursday. The converted tight end and fullback was a dynamic receiving threat in college, and he put that on display on Thursday. Samuels ran some excellent routes to get separation from defenders. He is a smooth, quick and slippery target that has excellent feel for how to get open for his quarterback. This session illustrated Samuels as a receiving back for the pros. Samuels is a mid-round sleeper who could be a really nice value pick.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley also flashed on Thursday. In the team scrimmage, Wadley showed his serious burst exploding to the second level on an interior run where he found a lane. He followed that up with a big gain on a screen pass. Wadley was patient to follow his blockers and set them up to hit their targets before hitting the afterburner to dart downfield. Wadley didn't get a lot of headlines, but he had solid week in Mobile.
Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernandez had a mixed day on Thursday. In the one-on-ones, Hernandez lost a rep to N.C. State's Justin Jones, as Hernandez lunged after a speed rush from Jones. He also lost a rep to Rutgers defender Kemoko Turay as a spin move allowed Turay to get to the quarterback marker quickly. Hernandez had some wins as well, but overall he showed that while he looks like he has the potential to be a good NFL guard, he will need some development coming from a much smaller level of competition.
Team sources told WalterFootball.com prior to the practice that Pitt offensive tackle Brian O'Neill and Oregon offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby helped themselves this week. They both had some nice wins in the one-on-ones to finish off their week. O'Neill has some athleticism and needs to continue to get stronger for the pro game. The height and lacking length of the 6-foot-4 Crosby worries some evaluators, but they feel his quick feet helped him to make up for it. They say Crosby doesn't have a good-looking body, but if he can develop his body he has potential for the NFL.
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2018 Senior Bowl Interview - Josh Allen
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2018 Senior Bowl Tuesday's Practice Report - South Team
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2018 Senior Bowl Weigh-In: Quarterbacks
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