The National team had their third practice of Senior Bowl week on Thursday morning. The players wore full pads.
The coaches of the National team focused on red-zone scrimmaging on Thursday, and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was superb in the condensed field. Throughout the practice, Nix threw the ball extremely accurately with excellent ball placement. Nix got his practice started with a perfect strike, lofting in a score to North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker, who managed some separation from Penn State cornerback Kalen King along the back sideline of the end zone. Late in the practice, Nix tossed a dart to the back of the end zone. A bit later, he later dropped in a dime to USC wide receiver Brenden Rice, who made a phenomenal catch despite excellent coverage from Notre Dame’s Cam Hart. The throw by Nix and catch by Rice were perfect.
Throughout the red-zone scrimmages, Nix threw a serious of beautiful passes, lofting his balls into tight windows in the back of the end zone and along with sideline. While Nix did not put together an impressive practice on Wednesday, he was practically flawless to close out his practice week in Mobile.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. stayed consistent with his other performances from the week, making some nice plays and missing some passes. He had some overthrows in the red zone, with balls sailing too high for his receivers. In the team scrimmage, Penix also held the ball too long, taking a coverage sack from Oregon defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus. At other points, Penix fired some nice passes into tight windows, showing his ability to put velocity behind his throws. For the NFL, Penix clearly needs development with his footwork and fundamentals to make him more consistently accurate. He looks like a second-day pick for the 2024 NFL Draft who has backup-to-starter potential if he develops well at the pro level.
Arizona offensive tackle Jordan Morgan stands a good shot of going in the back half of the first round in the 2024 NFL Draft. He had a quality outing on Thursday, doing well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones while also blocking well in protection during the team scrimmage. There is no doubt that Morgan is a nimble edge blocker who is a smooth mover with quickness and agility. He is quick to the second level and moves well in space. However, Morgan is not powerful and will not knock back defensive linemen in the ground game. Sources shared they feel that Morgan is talented, but is kind of soft and not a finisher as a blocker. They said they like his athletic ability and think he will be a starter, but Morgan is a finesse in blocking. At Senior Bowl, Morgan showed he could be a starting left tackle in the NFLm but that he is not going to be dominant bull in the ground game.
BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia turned in underwhelming tape late in the 2023 season, and his uneven performance was seen throughout the week in Mobile. In the Thursday one-on-ones, Suamataia achieved an impressive win, cutting off the edge from Michigan defensive end Braiden McGregor. However in the team scrimmage, Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac blew by Suamataia to get a sack. Shortly later, Wolverines edge rusher Jayne Harrell had Suamataia burned on a speed rush, and Suamataia had to resort to a hold around Harrell’s neck to keep him from getting to the quarterback.
At Senior Bowl, Suamataia gave proof that the work-ethic concerns are impacting his on-field performance. He did not have the kind of week he needed to improve his chances of going in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. This draft has a loaded and deep offensive tackle class, so teams could have other intriguing options in Round 1. Suamataia needs to play well in the game on Saturday and excel in pre-draft workouts. While he is on the bubble between the first two nights of the 2024 NFL Draft, this Senior Bowl week hurt Suamataia’s chances of being an opening day selection during the 2024 NFL Draft.
One of the best rookies in the NFL during 2023 was Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Kobie Turner. Turner (6-2, 288) slid in the 2023 NFL Draft because he was undersized, but he rewarded the Rams by opening his career with nine sacks. Turner’s success is helping other prospects who have some similarities to Turner get more consideration. One of those players is Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter, who helped himself on Thursday. He did well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones, showing speed to get upfield and close the pocket quickly. Carter (6-2, 308) lacks height and length, but teams looking for a rotational interior rusher are interested in him. This practice could help him get considered on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Some other players who had nice practices included USC running back Marshawn Lloyd, Notre Dame cornerback Cam Hart, Oregon cornerback Khyree Jackson and New Hampshire running back Dylan Laube. Lloyd had an excellent cut back on a run that had nothing open, using a burst to accelerate to the backside. He ran well on Thursday. Hart did well in end-zone coverage, staying with receivers and using his big frame to make it difficult to get passes by him. Jackson practiced well, including making outstanding pass breakup in the end zone. Laube closed things out in nice fashion on Thursday. He has had a respectable week in Mobile.
UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu had an excellent practice on Wednesday, but he was out of the lineup on Thursday with an injury. Latu had his left leg wrapped and was observing practice. Latu was walking around and speaking with teammates, so it did not appear to be a serious injury. Latu’s performance in the previous practices should help him to go as a top-20 pick this coming April in the 2024 NFL Draft.