January 20, 2014
2014 Senior Bowl - Monday North Practice
Scott Wright
President, Draft Countdown

   It was an absolutely beautiful sunny day in scenic Mobile, Alabama with temperatures creeping up into the 60ís as the South squad took the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their first practice of the 2014 Senior Bowl week. As is often the case the South debuted in shells, i.e. helmets and shoulder pads, with the more physical full-pad sessions slated for later in the week. Even though this initial practice was in some ways merely an appetizer with the best yet to come there were still quite a few standout performances.

OT's Martin & Henderson Shine

   With a number of big names opting to decline their invitations, some due to injury and some by choice, Notre Dame OT Zack Martin entered the week as one of the top prospects in this years game. Itís still very early but so far Martin has lived up to that billing. A four-year starter on the blindside for the Fighting Irish, Martin doesnít necessarily look the part of a stud left tackle prospect but as they say looks can be deceiving. Martin checked in at 6-4⅛ and 305 pounds with 32¼-inch arms, 9¾-inch hands and a 76⅞-inch wingspan. On the face those arenít eye-popping numbers and the relatively short arms are of particular concern. With that said itís important to remember that just last year Justin Pugh was selected in the Top 20 overall with eerily similar measurables. Many feel Martin may fit best at right tackle or perhaps even kick inside to guard at the next level but so far he has more than held his own on the left side and excelled against top competition such as Stanford DE Trent Murphy. If Martin continues to perform well the rest of the way it will no longer be a question of if heís a first rounder but rather how early he might come off the board in round one. While Martin may not have the prototypical physical tools that you look for at the position Miami (FL) OT Seantrel Henderson is downright imposing. To say Henderson is a massive human being would be an understatement. In fact Henderson was tied for first in height (6-6⅞), was fifth in weight (331), seventh in arm length (34¼), fourth in hand size (10⅜) and third in wingspan (84) at this years event. There are character and durability concerns clouding Hendersonís stock but there is certainly no denying his sheer talent and tantalizing upside. Henderson looked like a first round pick both on and off the field today and if he keeps it up the rest of the week it is going to make it that much more difficult for teams as they attempt to determine at what point in the draft the potential rewards begin to outweigh the risks associated with such an enigmatic prospect.

DT's Donald & Hageman Dominate

   There wasnít a more dominant interior presence in the entire country this past season than Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald, who racked up 28.5 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks. Of course the problem with Donald is size, or rather a lack thereof. Those concerns will likely continue to weigh heavily on the minds of evaluators as Donald checked in at 6-0⅞ and 288 pounds with the second shortest arms (31¾) amongst the defensive linemen. All that aside Donald continued to get the job done on the field, routinely disrupting in the backfield with his quickness and even making a potential first round pick like Baylor OG Cyril Richardson look silly at times. This is one of those instances where scouts may have to ignore the physical shortcomings and simply trust the tape. Itís difficult to imagine Donald sneaking into round one based on the size deficiency but his performance in Mobile thus far should go a long way toward securing him a spot on Day 2. If nothing else Donald is clearly beginning to separate himself from a similar type of player in Arizona St. DT Will Sutton. Not to be outdone was Minnesota DT RaíShede Hageman, who repeatedly wreaked havoc when single blocked. Letís just say Miami (FL) OG Brandon Linder is going to be seeing Hageman in his nightmares for the foreseeable future. A former basketball standout and converted tight end, Hageman is one of the most freakish physical specimens in this class. An explosive athlete with rare size (6-6 and 318 pounds) who could project to either tackle or end in the pros depending on scheme, Hageman must continue to refine his technique (leverage) and be more consistent but he is already flashing first round talent in Mobile. Donít be surprised if Hageman continues to generate buzz and shoots up draft boards as the week progresses. Could Hageman be this years version of Ziggy Ansah and emerge as a Top 10 possibility?

Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming

   It seems like almost every year there is a smaller, speedy wideout who stands out at the Senior Bowl and secures a spot in the Top 100 overall. Mike Wallace, T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin are just a few recent examples and we may soon be adding Wyoming WR Robert Herron to the list. One of the fastest players in this class, Herron is only 5-8⅞ but carries 193 pounds on that diminutive frame and is actually thicker than you would expect. Herronís pure speed proved to be too much for most of the defensive backs he faced today and many of them resorted to clutching and grabbing after they were beat off the line. Herron also showcased his impressive hands and an ability to make the difficult grab. While not a household name Herron was already highly thought of in the scouting community, carrying a Day 2 grade in league circles. Herron is well on his way to cementing that status.

Logan Thomas the Standout at QB

   It wasnít a great day for any of the South signal callers, with each struggling to varying degrees. Of the group Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas was the standout. There is no doubt that Thomas looks the part and truly is built like the former tight end that he is, carrying 250 pounds on a 6-5¾ frame. Thomas also has the largest hands (10¾-inches) of any quarterback in this game by a significant margin. It was an up and down day for Thomas but there were also flashes of brilliance. Thomas has underachieved the past couple of seasons but itís not hard to see why some still feel he is one of the top quarterback prospects in this class. After all you donít find signal callers with his extraordinary physical skill set and seemingly unlimited potential outside of the first round very often. Further helping Thomasí cause was the disappointing showings by both Clemson QB Tajh Boyd and Miami (FL) QB Stephen Morris, each of whom flashed outstanding arm strength but little else today.

Extra Points:

   Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland doesnít have the ideal length that you look for at 5-11⅜ and the second shortest arms (28⅞-inch) of any prospect in this game but he is a good football player who continually flashed and made a lot of plays in practice today...Nobody on either roster has bigger hands than Stanford DE Trent Murphy, who measured in with 10⅞-inch mitts and also garnered positive notice for his performance on the field...There are quite a few tall cover guys in this game, which reflects a trend that we are seeing in the NFL with teams like the Seahawks, and Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was among the most impressive. Jean-Baptise (6-2⅜, 215) appeared to be a little tight in the hips but was very physical and clearly more comfortable in press coverage than he was playing off. ďSJBĒ also blocked a kick toward the end of practice...Louisiana Tech DT Justin Ellis (6-1⅞, 342) is an ascending prospect who received a Senior Bowl invitation following a strong week at the East / West Shrine Game and is continuing to open eyes in Mobile...Oregon WR Josh Huff doesn't get the type of attention that he deserves but he consistently displayed the quickness and savvy to get off the line and shake defenders in 1-on-1ís.

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