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Senior Bowl Practice Winners & Losers

This week in Mobile, Alabama, has been phenomenal. The performances of most of the small school players that were invited to this game this week have been good, the wide receivers have shown out, and there were certain things made clear as early as day one. Let’s take a few minutes out of your normally busy day to break it down.

IDL Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) is the Best Prospect in this Game

Javon Kinlaw started winning this week from the opening press conference where he fielded questions about his upbringing and duties as a father. He tugged on everyone’s heartstrings as he recalled his rough upbringing, and how shocked he was when he found out that football players eat for free at college. He followed it up with a stout weigh-in on Tuesday, measuring at 6’5″ and 315 pounds.

Kinlaw destroyed 1v1’s later that day, dominating with bull rushes and pure, brute force. Most of us didn’t expect to see him suit up on day two, but he did and tweaked his hamstring. Kinlaw will be sitting out the game.

He just confirmed that even some of the best guards cannot block him one-on-one. He’s a double team eater and his size, power and quickness allow him opportunities to destroy those. Kinlaw looked like a top ten prospect this week, so it’s hard to imagine him doing much from this point on to hurt his draft stock.

Small School players impressed

Four small school players really stood out this week both live in practice and on tape afterward. Let’s start with the Minnesota kid.

OT Ben Bartch (St. Johns) did a fantastic job transitioning from his level of division three football to handling some of the best pass rushers in the game. He showed an excellent pad level, good control, and hands. He looks like a day two guy because he might be a little bit slow. He, unfortunately, ended the week with what appeared to be a knee injury during practice on day three and had to be assisted off of the field.

TE Adam Trautman (Dayton) had a phenomenal week. I heard that four of his teammates traveled twelve ours from Dayton to come to Mobile and watch him play in the Senior Bowl. I believe it. He’s a stud, a fun guy to be around and the NFL scouts have been all over him all week. He showed excellent route-running and hands, and the ability to be an inline blocker. Day two guy for certain.

S Kyle Dugger (Lenoir-Rhyne) had a good week too. While he struggled in man coverage drills, it’s not exactly his forte. He’s a good safety prospect, rangy with good instincts and takes away angles on the field. He might be a tick slow for some clubs liking, and that should hold him to late day two/early day three.

S Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois) had a fantastic week as well. He was better than Dugger was in man coverage drills but is overall looking like a better safety prospect. He’s a prototype guy, weighing in at 6’3″ and 219 pounds. He too looked very rangy and might even be able to keep up with tight ends and cover.

Cornerbacks struggled badly all week

The cornerbacks in this game knew that they would have their hands full trying to cover this deep wide receiver class. A few of the best defensive backs dropped out of the game just days prior, and it’s been speculated they did so to avoid bad performances. The ones that stayed, for the most part, truly struggled.

CB Michael Ojemudia (Iowa) had a particularly rough week. He had some of the best size out of the position group here (6’2″ and 199 pounds), but showed to be afraid of the deep ball and gave up a lot of plays underneath as a result. His footwork is sloppy and he gives up positioning much too easily.

CB Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern) is another one that struggled this week. His lack of speed seemed to be a problem against some of these South receivers, and his size (5’10” 185 pounds) didn’t help him at all. I expected him to be more physical, but I think his poor day one scared him into trying to cover more than jam, and he backed off with his aggression the rest of the week.

CB Essang Bassey had a very poor week. He struggled the first couple of days to play against the bigger receivers, and then I don’t think he had a single positive rep on day three. He was torched and bullied all week by Baylor receiver Denzel Mims in particular, who flat out-muscled him at times. Bassey has a lot of work to do over the next few weeks.

Other Notes

  • OT Josh Jones (Houston) had a phenomenal week of practice. All three days, he was an anchor at left tackle, handling pressure with incredibly consistent footwork. He does a good job redirecting rushers too and doesn’t over commit. Jones made money this week.
  • Despite the corners not doing particularly well, Dane Jackson (Pittsburgh) and Darnay Holmes (UCLA) both had very good weeks on the south team. Up north, Terrell Burgess (Utah) and Troy Pride Jr (Notre Dame) both had good weeks and showed disciplined, sticky coverage.
  • QB Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) had a rough day one but progressed very well on both days two and three as he settled into the event. The team responded well to his leadership all week, which is phenomenal for his stock as a locker room player.
  • TE Stephen Sullivan (LSU) had an incredible week. Even though he played behind Thaddeus Moss all season, Sullivan shined this week showing incredible athleticism, separation, and the ability to be a game-changer as a big receiver. He weighed in very well, at 6’5″ and 245 pounds.

Follow John Vogel on Twitter @johndavogel, and tune in for more analysis on the NFL Draft!

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