Top 15 Senior Bowl standouts & potential Seahawks draft targets
What a week in Mobile, full of many electric performances. We ranked the top 15 Senior Bowl standouts from the 2018 event.
I missed the live coverage of the game this year, hence the somewhat late post. I figured – better to wait rather than half-ass it off just practice viewing and box score scouting. It’s not easy to rank the top performers, but the following group all stood out from the pack in one way or another. I’ll cover the top potential Seahawks draft targets towards the bottom of this post. For now, here are the top 15 Senior Bowl standouts from the full week in Mobile:
Top 15 Senior Bowl standouts
1) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – EDGE | 6’1 ½” 243 lbs, 34 ½” arms
Okoronkwo was the top Senior Bowl standout on defense this week, yet his phenomenal performance consistently flew under the radar. It began with him surpassing his listed height and weight at Oklahoma, along with the ridiculous arm measurement of 34.5 inches. The NFL Network crew couldn’t help but bring up his lack of size when mentioning him, but “Obo” was incredibly impactful all week. He terrorized offensive tackles with burst, quickness, explosion, and unique leverage, dominating 1-on-1’s and team drills. And once again, he was the most impressive defensive player in the game itself. Okoronkwo shined, posting 4 tackles, 2 (instant) sacks, a forced fumble, and several more QB pressures.
I ambitiously graded Okoronkwo as a 1st round talent back in October, and he lived up to that billing this week. He consistently wreaked havoc in the backfield, highlighting his dynamic pass-rush repertoire. Obo is also an impact run defender (when lined up at LB) and more than holds his own in coverage. His combine athletic testing will be huge for his stock, and I expect him to perform great there as well. It’s easy to imagine the Seahawks being interested in a Bruce Irvin-type who can function as both a nickel DE and SAM linebacker. He’s criminally underrated right now since he’s only 6’1.5 inches tall, but he’s too talented to slip too far past the 1st round on draft day.
2) Kyle Lauletta – QB | 6’3, 217 lbs, 9 3/8” hands
Are you kidding me? What a spectacular performance by your 2018 Senior Bowl MVP. Lauletta came out of nowhere to put on an outstanding exhibition of quarterback play under the bright lights. The small-school QB followed up a solid week of practice by completing 8/12 passes for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not only were his stats excellent, but the way he accumulated them was incredibly impressive. He showed tremendous footwork within the pocket, delivering passes with pinpoint accuracy to all areas of the field. I really can’t say enough about him – the poise under pressure, quick release, hitting receivers in stride for YAC; It was a masterful display for the relatively unknown QB prospect. His draft stock should skyrocket accordingly, perhaps into the 2nd day of the draft when it’s all said and done. I got serious Jimmy Garoppolo vibes from Lauletta this week.
3) Isaiah Wynn – OG | 6’2 ½” 308 lbs, 33 1/8” arms
Wynn established himself as one of the best, if not the top offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl. The Georgia left tackle shifted inside to guard this week, which is his likely position in the NFL due to his short stature. Wynn was often dominant at his newfound home, controlling 1-on-1’s with leverage, quick feet and strong hands. His technique is so advanced across the board that he’ll be drafted highly despite the size concerns. I’m eager to see Wynn’s combine athletic testing, which could propel him into the 1st round if better than expected.
4) Marcus Davenport – EDGE | 6’6, 258 lbs, 34” arms
Davenport was probably the top non-quarterback prospect at the Senior Bowl this year. He struggled a bit through the first two days of practice against a big step-up in competition. Specifically, he was slow off the ball when lining up out of position as a 3-4 DE, and is still quite raw with his hand technique. However, he matched Okoronkwo’s dominance throughout the final practice and game. He utilized his size, length and burst to consistently collapse the pocket with speed-to-power rushes, while mixing in more inside/outside moves. Davenport beat potential 1st-rounder Brian O’Neill for a sack early in the game, and later returned a fumble for a touchdown. Davenport sewed-up a selection in the first round after rebounding this week, and could lock up a top 15 spot after the combine.
5) Josh Allen – QB | 6’5, 237 lbs, 10 1/8” hands
Allen exhibited much of the same inconsistency during practices that plagued his senior season at Wyoming. However, things changed when it mattered most during the game. After a nondescript cameo in the first half, he exploded after the break with several impact plays. He showed off his huge arm, but also delivered the ball with deft touch on both touchdown passes. The 6’5, 237 lbs QB was difficult to take down in the pocket, as his size & mobility were factors as both a passer and runner. Allen finished 9/13 for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rushed for 25 yards on 5 carries. I don’t have the sky-high grade on Allen that so many NFL scouts seem to, but he showed why he could be a top draft pick this week.
6) Will Hernandez – OG | 6’2 ½”, 340 lbs, 32 3/8” arms
Hernandez was superb throughout the week in Mobile. He overwhelmed defenders with his strength, power and overall nastiness, and put on a show in pass protection drills. He’s obviously better in the phone booth than blocking on the move, but is nimbler than you’d think. Like Wynn, Hernandez is on track to be selected high in the draft, potentially in the 1st round.
7) Shaquem Griffin – LB/EDGE | 6’0, 223 lbs, 31 5/8” arms
If I could sum up Griffin’s week of practice in one word, it would simply be “wow.” I hadn’t had the privilege to dive deep into his tape yet, so it was awesome to see him in action vs. top competition. He acquitted himself extremely well, being named Practice Player of the Week. Griffin has two strikes against him with the missing left hand and (more-so) being very undersized, but makes up for it with freaky athleticism and an unmatched motor. What position does he play in the NFL? It’s not an easy question, but he has at least shown promise as a rusher, run defender, and coverage LB.
8) D.J. Chark – WR | 6’3, 196 lbs, 33” arms
Chark was one of the top pass-catchers throughout practices this week, and left no doubt who was best in the game itself. He caught 5 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in a standout performance. Chark didn’t put up huge numbers in LSU’s run-heavy offense, but he possesses numerous traits that should translate nicely to the NFL. You can’t teach his height/speed combination, however he also ran great routes and showed off tremendous ball skills all week. Chark has moved himself into the Day-2 conversation as a big play threat (21.9 YPR this year) with upside.
9) Rashaad Penny – RB | 5’11, 224 lbs
There’s no way around the fact that Penny struggled in practices this week. It was a bit disappointing, as they presented a big opportunity for him to standout amidst top competition. Like Josh Allen though, Penny put his upside on display with an explosive effort during the game. He carried the ball 9 times for 64 yards, and caught a 73-yard touchdown from Kurt Benkert. The take-away was his big-play ability. He instinctively turned a flat route into a wheel on his TD when the QB left the pocket. That left the linebacker in his dust, allowing him to evade a DB in the open field and turn on the jets for the long catch & run. Penny also had a long rush of 34 yards, and frequently showed off his impressive burst. He is firmly in the discussion for the Seahawks on Day-2 of the draft, possibly in the 2nd round (after trader-John goes to work of course).
10) Mike Gesicki – TE | 6’5, 242 lbs, 34” arms
Gesicki stood out amongst a solid group of tight ends this week. He’s a smooth athlete with long strides and explosive leaping ability, allowing him to separate in coverage and excel in contested situations. There are questions about his ability and effort when it comes to blocking, but that’s not his game. He’s similar in many ways to a young Jimmy Graham, albeit without the same elite size (and perhaps athleticism). Gesicki topped off his week of strong practice performances with a 3-catch, 39-yard effort in the Senior Bowl. He has a great shot at being the first tight end off the board this year, likely in the 2nd round of the draft.
11) Uchenna Nwosu – EDGE | 6’2, 245 lbs, 33 ½” arms
Nwosu had a relatively quiet week compared to the other hybrid LB/EDGE players (Okoronkwo, Griffin & Marquis Haynes). Yet I thought he still frequently flashed as both a pass rusher and coverage defender during the week. He almost sacked Josh Allen twice during the game, but Allen proved too strong to bring down. Nwosu measured well, and possesses the explosiveness and versatility to be a top 50 pick on draft day. Like Okoronkwo, he would be a great option to fill the old Bruce Irvin SAM/DE role for Seattle.
12) Darius Leonard – LB | 6’2, 229 lbs, 34 1/8” arms
Leonard generated some buzz with his performance in Mobile this week. He measured well for a middle linebacker with 34+ inch arms, and displayed well-rounded athletic ability and skills. He’s quick to sniff out the ball and offers potential in coverage given his speed & length. Leonard was all over the field on game day, registering 14 tackles. He could really rise in the coming months, after posting huge numbers at the FCS level this season. Day-2 isn’t out of the question, especially if he can crush combine testing (as expected).
13) Nathan Shepherd – DT | 6’4, 310 lbs, 33” arms
Shepherd missed the last day of practice and the game itself with a broken hand. However, he flashed high upside during his limited opportunities, splashing in the backfield with great athleticism and fluidity. Hopefully he’ll be able to perform in some capacity at the combine, so he can continue to accelerate his surging draft stock. It’s not out of the question that the small-school DT could sneak into the 2nd day of the draft.
14) Isaac Yiadom – CB | 6’1, 187 lbs, 32 ¼” arms
Yiadom showed very clear strengths and weaknesses at the Senior Bowl. Interestingly, those strengths translate perfectly to Seattle’s single high press coverage scheme. Yiadom is a tall & long corner (6’1, 32+ inch arms) who excels at pressing off the line. He also consistently closed off the sideline on vertical routes, and possesses some serious wheels down the field. The issue was in the intermediate areas of the field, particularly on in-breaking routes. Yiadom isn’t incredibly fluid changing direction, but there is a lot to work with here. If Seattle is looking for another project CB on Day-3 to mold, he’ll be a prime target.
15) Baker Mayfield – QB | 6’0 3/8, 216 lbs, 9 ½” hands
Mayfield didn’t make much of an impact during his brief stint on Saturday, but he was great in practices throughout the week. I thought he threw the ball with outstanding accuracy and touch, and most accounts have him as the top QB from practices. Mayfield did all he needed to this week to confirm his status as a first round prospect, and I wouldn’t rule him out as the potential #1 overall pick.
Potential Seahawks draft targets & other Senior Bowl standouts
Offensive Line: Wyatt Teller, Tyrell Crosby, Isaiah Wynn, Brian O’Neill, Will Hernandez, Austin Corbett, Brett Toth, Alex Cappa
Running Back: Rashaad Penny, Jaylen Samuels, Akrum Wadley, Kalen Ballage
EDGE rusher: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Marcus Davenport, Uchenna Nwosu, Da’Shawn Hand
Linebacker: Shaquem Griffin, Darius Leonard, Mike McCray, Fred Warner
Wide Receiver: Daesean Hamilton, James Washington, Michael Gallup, Jaleel Scott, Cedrick Wilson, Tre’Quan Smith
Defensive Tackle: Harrison Phillips, Nathan, Shepherd, Justin Jones, B.J. Hill, Andrew Brown
Defensive Back: Isaac Yiadom, Duke Dawson, M.J. Stewart, Levi Wallace, Christian Campbell, Kyzir White, Jeremy Reaves
Tight End: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Ian Thomas, Troy Fumagalli, Jordan Akins