The 2016 Senior Bowl practice week comes to a close on Friday.
I spent three days in Mobile, Alabama, watching this year’s top senior talent compete up close. Now that I’m back in Miami, it’s a good time to clean out my notebook and share some observations on who shined and who struggled during the week:
Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland is an interesting prospect for Miami. But I’m not convinced he’s the best choice for the Dolphins at No. 8 overall after watching him this week. Ragland, a natural middle linebacker, practiced mostly at outside linebacker this week in an effort to show versatility and athleticism. However, Ragland still has a learning curve outside and made some mistakes in practice, particularly in pass coverage. He’s a natural run stuffer in the middle, and that is the best fit for Ragland in Miami. Although coming off injuries, linebacker prospects Myles Jack (knee) and Jaylon Smith (knee) are better natural athletes, which is more of what Miami needs.
I entered Senior Bowl week somewhat skeptical of the hype train surrounding quarterback Carson Wentz. The North Dakota State prospect went from a hot underground name in scouting circles to suddenly being thrust into the top 5 in a matter of weeks. But Wentz put a stamp on his meteoric rise with a strong week of practices. He’s big, athletic, has a strong arm and throws with accuracy. Wentz was clearly the best quarterback in Mobile this week and stood out among his peers. It will be interesting to see how far Wentz rises during the pre-draft process. Next up is the NFL combine in February.
Since we’re on the topic of quarterbacks, there are a lot of questions surrounding the rest of the group. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott caught my attention with his mobility and throwing on the run. But his accuracy was off at times. I thought I would see more this week from Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, but he seems to push the ball and I wasn’t impressed with his arm strength. Alabama’s Jake Coker has an elongated motion that probably won’t fly at the NFL level, and Louisiana Tech’s Jeff Driskel consistently struggled making throws.
My biggest sleeper emerging from Senior Bowl week is Temple defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis">Matt Ioannidis. I was impressed with his motor, inside moves and constant effort. At times, the North team had to implore double-teams on him in practice because Ioannidis was too tough to block consistently one-on-one. That’s what you want to see from a defensive tackle. Ioannidis is a projected fourth- or fifth-round pick. But he could turn out to be a very good value selection if he continues to improve.
The Senior Bowl will be played Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.