I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed today in the somewhat lethargic, approach to practices by both teams. In past years this day was the most active, aggressive play day of the week. But the pace was a bit sluggish at the final practice of the 2024 Senior Bowl.
2024 Senior Bowl – Thursday Practices
National Practice – AM
I tried to spy on the QB performances today without ignoring other position groups. But not much changed. However, the emphasis on Red Zone Offense was a sight for sore eyes. It had more focus than many of the sessions previously conducted.
And of course, it concentrated on the QB play from decision-making to throwing execution. At least today with the wind down we saw a return to normal accuracy by the 3 guys here: NIX, PENIX, HARTMAN. Overall I would rank the Defense as the winners in the Red Zone and Goal Line action.
The D displayed solid coverage even though these drills heavily favored the Offense with endless time for the QB to look for open receivers, which often were few and far between. There is also lots of space for receivers to run around in. Overall, MALACHI CORLEY #81 did some of the best work in getting open and making the catch. After a slow start, Corley has improved daily and was the most productive receiver in the wideout category for the Nationals.
As we all mentioned when rosters were firmed up, this year’s TE class is a very weak/mediocre at best position group. The only likely First Round TE is Brock Bowers who was not here. So, I doubt there are no Day One or Day Two TE Draft guys here this week. So we needed to look for some sleepers.
My fave on this roster is a guy who wasn’t ever TE1 on his college team this year: THEO JOHNSON #84 of Penn State. I have liked his size and style of play for the past couple of seasons but he never really gained favor with the Nittany Lions coaching staff. He stands 6’6 and weighs 257. He is not fast, but he is a long strider who can cover ground, gets a bit of separation, and knows how to fight for contested balls.
Johnson can also bull his way for YAC. With his 10″ hands he hasn’t dropped many throws either. For a team that needs a big inline, blocking TE who can sneak out and catch a few balls every game I can see Theo getting drafted in Round 4/5 area. He has looked solid in Mobile this week.
I thought the OL/DL battles looked rather pedestrian this morning. But I will say that after a tough FBS championship title game the Huskies’ young OT, ROGER ROSENGARTEN #76 has been a steady blocker who looked pretty good again today. He’s still not going to be drafted until Day Three, but he’s shown enough in both pass pro and run blocking to be of interest to some NFL team that needs OT help but did not get it in the Top 100.
My fave #34 SIONE VAKI from Utah showed some ball skills and aggressiveness playing S in the goal line defense. His quality versatility has drawn some interest from various team scouts this week and I still think a guy who can help his team in multiple roles, with quality play, gets a roster spot based on game-day depth at multiple spots. He can play RB, SS, LB, SR, and multiple Special Team roles. Asked in an interview what a team was getting if it drafted him he replied instantly “A playmaker”.
I was also a bit intrigued by CB KHYREE JACKSON #10 from Oregon. He’s big and long for a CB 6’034/203 with 32″ long arms. He can run fairly well and has good ball flight recognition allowing him to thrust and arm out to bat down contested balls. The Combine should be a big audition for him.
Back to the QB situation, it is clear that both NIX & PENIX can spin the ball and have high Football IQs. I don’t see much separation between the two, depending on what type of QB a team wants to run their offensive scheme. But I say emphatically that neither of them will challenge any of the big 3 (Caleb, Drake, Jayden) for top spots in the Draft.
NIX & PENIX will likely be battling just to stay in the late Round 1 range. They weren’t bad in Mobile this week, but they certainly weren’t special, at least on the practice field.
AMERICAN Team – PM Practice
The pace of most of this squad’s practices reminds me of the year when HUE JACKSON was here as Head Coach of the Browns with his staff and the consensus was that overall their coaching and practice style were just about useless to their players. Way too much talking and teaching out on the field in between actual reps on the field.
Talking about QB Play this week I will state emphatically that the top dog today was SPENCER RATTLER. Given that he looked the best overall Wednesday in the wind as well, I will proclaim him the best QB in Mobile this week out on the field. The ball jumped out of his hand and he was able to stick it into tight windows for his receivers, even if they dropped more than a few on him. He is not QB 1 overall for the Draft, but I do think he is still in a battle to possibly be taken in their Top 100 Picks.
And for every Batman (RATTLER) there has to be a Robin to help him out. That has turned out to be JAMARI THRASH #3 from Louisville who just got better and better every day. And today he was open early and often. He showed good hands even though those hands measured less than 9″.
According to the GPS speed tracking provided this week, he recorded the fastest run speed of all WRs with a posting of 20.30 mph. He got open and he caught the ball. I am sure THRASH will be an All-Practice Team wideout, along with CORLEY.
Let’s get back to that TE situation I wrote about in the National practice report. My top choice in this team’s TE group is BEN SINNOTT #81, Kansas State. He is a potential Day 3 draftee, in good part because of his versatility just like TAKI on the other squad.
SINNOTT can be an inline blocking TE (6’4/254), a blocking H-Back, and can get off the line of scrimmage and make a few short yardage catches every week. That’s value in multiple ways. And I almost forgot, he should qualify for multiple Special Teams units as well.
A mystery man to me was the late roster addition, at the start of the week of LB JACKSON SIRMON #8 LB from the CAL football program. Playing for CAL or Stanford these days does not garner much attention from the average football fan. SIRMON measured in at 6’022/235 lbs.
I don’t have much info on him right now, and I don’t believe he got a Combine invite, but in this day and age of the NFL game, an LB needs to be able to provide some pass coverage when on the field. In a crowd today, SIRMON picked off his second INT to the week on a throw over the middle, into a crowd, by Joe Milton. This young man may have earned some further scrutiny over the coming months. I will be checking for some film of him in action.
I also want to mention that after a great day, and an OK day consecutively leading up to Thursday OT CHRIS JONES, Texas #70 was just about perfect in blocking 1-on-1 reps again today. Given his size, playing experience for the Longhorns, and his work in Mobile I gotta think this guy is close to a Day Two Draft spot.
He is going to ace the interview process with his conversation skills and positive personality. He just needs some better-than-average numbers at the Combine. He’s headed for my Top 100 by next week.
I might also add that I am anxious to see and hear more about Edge Defender JALYX HUNT #13 from little HOUSTON CHRISTIAN. He has looked like a beast of an athlete with speed at 6’036/250 and featuring 34 1/4″ long arms. I smell a hot developmental player for some NFL team come April.
And to end this week’s scouting reports, let me list my QB rankings for the 7 here in Mobile this week. This is purely for work done in practices this week;
All the rest are tied and out of contention for Day One or Two Draft slots. All the others will be battling just to get drafted.
Cheers from Mobile