2020 Senior Bowl: Tuesday's South Team Practice Report
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
The first practice of the South team in the Senior Bowl was held in Mobile, Alabama in Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The players practicing in shells: helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. The South team is being coached by the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff.
The best player at the Senior Bowl practices from either team on Tuesday was South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. South Carolina did not play in a bowl game, but Kinlaw picked up where he left off in SEC play, dominating at the point of attack to open the week in Mobile. Kinlaw destroyed the offensive linemen in the one-on-ones, using his bull rush to go through Temple's Matt Hennessy, a dip and speed to victimize Michigan's Ben Bredeson, and then his quickness to dart by Hennessy. This practice for Kinlaw was reminiscent of Aaron Donald's Senior Bowl practices in 2014. I'm not saying Kinlaw will be that good in the NFL, but this practice was similar to the dominating sessions that Donald delivered six years ago.
Kinlaw has a jus incredible skill set, and he knows how to use it. He overwhelms offensive linemen with his speed and athleticism to dart by them. He can overpower them with his strength and uses his great length to keep them from getting into his chest to sustain contact. His Tuesday practice was phenomenal, and if he keeps this up over Wednesday and Thursday, Kinlaw could go be a top-15 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The other defensive lineman who had an impressive opening session was Alabama's Terrell Lewis. He used his length, strength and quickness to give tackles fits off the edge. Clemson's John Simpson was pushed away by Lewis' length, and then Lewis used his speed to close on the quarterback for a sack in the one-on-ones. There is no doubt Lewis has a first-round skill set with his size, speed, and moves off the edge. He probably will end up being a late first-round pick because he suffered a lot of injuries prior to 2019. Had Lewis stayed healthy in the early portion of his career, he could have been a top-20 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft due the caliber of his physical talent.
Speaking of a high first-round skill sets, there is no doubt Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has one of those. He had an impressive first practice, showing off his powerful arm, his abilities to drive the ball downfield, to throw accurately, and to stand tall in the pocket. Herbert dropped in some beautiful balls downfield, including one to Florida's Tyrie Cleveland after he got separation from Georgia Southern's Kindle Vildor. Herbert lofted in the pass with perfect placement and good air underneath it to lead Cleveland open with a catchable ball. Herbert is the best quarterback at Senior Bowl, and there isn't a close second in the opinion of this analyst.
It only takes one team to fall in love, and that's all Herbert needs to be a high first-rounder. With his great skill set, Herbert should look good at the Senior Bowl, but he won't be able to address the doubts about him many evaluators have regarding his lack of consistency, his ability to handle pressure situations, his ability to lead his team to wins over tough opponents, and his ability to adjust to life in an NFL city aafter living in the same town his whole life. Perhaps Herbert can provide some good answers to questions on those topics in the team interviews.
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts did not impress in the opening session. He did have a meltdown or horrible practice; it just was not very good. Team sources said Hurts struggles with seeing the field were apparent in this session. His timing and placement was off at times, although it was good on some other throws. Hurts will need to perform better on Wednesday and Thursday to rise.
The offensive lineman who helped himself from the South squad on Tuesday was Kentucky's Logan Stenberg. He was strong and tough at the point of attack with an aggressive style of blocking. He is a real scrapper who plays with a mean streak. In the run blocking one-on-ones, Stenberg was especially impressive. If he continues this play over the rest of the week, he could be a second-day pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Stenberg was the exception on Tuesday, as a lot of the South offensive linemen struggled. Clemson's John Simpson had a lot of problems with Auburn's Marlon Davidson. LSU's guard Damien Lewis had issues with length, and teammate Lloyd Cushenberry did not perform well in the one-on-ones. Those three hurt themselves on Tuesday.
One player who helped himself was UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes. He had a really nice practice that showed his ability to be a hybrid safety/cornerback. Holmes was tough for receivers to separate from, really challenging wideouts at the top of the route. Holmes has good twitch to maintain coverage out of breaks and ball skills to defend the pass rather than interfering. Over the two teams, Holmes was the most impressive defensive back at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn practiced well for the South. He showed nice cutting ability and has made improvements as a receiver as well. Vaughn is a tough sleeper back who could be a good value pick from the 2020 NFL Draft.
WalterFootball.com will have more recaps from the Senior Bowl practices on Wednesday and Thursday along with a run-down of the post-practice team interviews. Follow @walterfootball
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