Best NFL Team Matches for Senior Bowl Week Standouts

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2019

Best NFL Team Matches for Senior Bowl Week Standouts

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The 2019 Senior Bowl is the first major stop on the journey to the 2019 NFL draft. 

    For all but two Super Bowl-bound teams, the main focus of the offseason right now is the event which provides a chance to see some of the nation's top prospects in an all-star environment. As always, the game itself Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium will draw plenty of headlines, but the practices and interviews the week before have the greatest influence on the prospect stock market. 

    Perhaps this year more so than ever, teams, media and fans alike have an ever-expanding amount of data at their fingertips, such as which receivers ran the fastest on a miles-per-hour scale. 

    A year ago, heavyweight names like Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Marcus Davenport made some major headway through the combination of measurements, practices, drills and the mandatory game to top it all off. 

    This year, a defensive-minded draft class had some major representatives, though they couldn't wrest attention away from a close quarterback class attempting to create separation. 

    These are the names who made the biggest splash during Senior Bowl week, as well as some potential pro fits for their skill sets. 

          

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Entering the Senior Bowl, there wasn't a question as to whether Duke's Daniel Jones was one of the top first-round quarterback prospects. 

    But the bigger question was where in the round he'd go and which of his peers he would go before or after. 

    Jones, the 20th-ranked prospect on B/R draft analyst Matt Miller's big board and second quarterback behind Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, measured well at 6'5" and 220 pounds with 9 3/4-inch hands, the latter measurement being much more important than most realize because of grip strength, etc. 

    That said, Jones "struggled with accuracy" early in the week, according to Miller. But CBSSports.com's Chris Trapasso said Jones evened out as things progressed: "Once the jitters dissipated, he settled in and threw in-rhythm and on-target to the short and intermediate portions of the field. Like Lock, he found tight ends open on deep crosses a few times."

    Either way, Jones ended up looking like one of the best prospects at the event, and he didn't do anything to lose the faith of those pegging him as a first-round lock. 

          

    Best Fit: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Jones didn't settle any major debates about some of his ups and downs as a prospect, which means if things hold steady, he is likely going to come off the board in the top 10. 

    There, the Jacksonville Jaguars make the most sense as they try to free themselves from Blake Bortles purgatory. 

    For Jones, if accuracy based on composure or pressure is a concern that will follow him to the pros, landing on a team with good defensive potential and a strong running game led by Leonard Fournette could work wonders for his chances of succeeding.  

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    One doesn't have to look far or wide to find out Missouri quarterback Drew Lock crushed it in interviews with media and coaches. 

    Whether he did enough on the field to keep pace with Daniel Jones is a different conversation. 

    The measurements weren't overly kind to Lock, who checked in at 6'3" and 223 pounds with nine-inch hands. Miller provided context as to why the latter could be a problem: "Nine-inch hands for Drew Lock will probably be overanalyzed to some degree, but it will send me back to look at fumbles and bobbled snaps to see if there's an issue. Generally smaller hands means poor arm strength and we know that's not an issue for him."

    That, in a nutshell, is why the measurement process at an event like this is so important. 

    Anyway, Lock also heaved a "perfect long ball" for a touchdown, according to Trapasso, and generally performed well as expected. His mobility also predictably popped up as a plus after four seasons with 43 or more rushing attempts, not to mention the extension of downfield passing plays under pressure.

         

    Best Fit: Denver Broncos 

    Lock interviews so well and does enough on the field that it seems almost impossible he'd fall out of the first round. 

    The good news is the Denver Broncos will have a hard time ignoring him. Lock likes to get aggressive with his throws and struggles with touch on his passes at times, which Denver will like coming out of the middling, brief Case Keenum era. 

    If the Broncos don't want to throw a rookie to the wolves right away, Lock could use a year of development, anyway. This could mean Denver goes after another mid-tier starter in free agency or rolls with Keenum again, as he has one year left on his current deal. Either way, he lands in a good spot given the strong defense and ground game supporting him.  

Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Will Grier isn't Baker Mayfield from a year ago by any means, but he doesn't lack confidence, either. The West Virginia product told The Athletic's Daniel Popper the following: "I'm the best quarterback in this draft."

    Simple and to the point, right? 

    Grier checked in at 6'2" and 218 pounds with 9 1/2-inch hands. By the end of a Tuesday session, he had posted a staggering 66.1 miles per hour initial throwing speed, according to All Pro Analytics. As the tweet went on to note, no quarterback from the first round a year ago threw harder than 57.5 miles per hour at the combine. 

    Power doesn't necessarily mean accuracy, though, as Grier "struggled with footwork and sailing passes," according to Jordan Reid of Cover 1. But overall, the usual athleticism and playmaking ability of another Big 12 spread quarterback were on display, and—as Mayfield showed a year ago—it isn't impossible for that concoction of traits to shove a quarterback into the early first round. 

    Also, like Mayfield, Grier created a little bit of drama surrounding a missed media session, which he later cleared up. He also revealed he sat out the Camping World Bowl loss to Syracuse because of injury, which should silence some of his critics. 

             

    Best Fit: Miami Dolphins 

    A talent-lacking team heading for a rebuild with a need for a quarterback? 

    Sign Grier up. The Dolphins are in a spot where they could let a rookie like Grier learn on the fly and freelance while taking some risks. There is a potential out in Ryan Tannehill's contract this offseason, and a new coaching staff might figure it's best to use it. 

    And it isn't all bad in Miami, as Grier could lean on wide receiver Kenny Stills and a big-play threat like tight end Mike Gesicki. The defense has a star centerpiece in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, too, so Grier could grow alongside the budding young core for a few years. Keep in mind a rejuvenated, fresh coaching staff could pair some of the league's top offensive minds with Grier while helping him develop.

Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

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    Jim Lytle/Associated Press

    A year ago, Marcus Davenport out of UTSA blew away onlookers in Mobile, Alabama, and eventually found himself selected in the first round after the New Orleans Saints decided to trade up. 

    Granted, Montez Sweat enters as a better-known commodity, and he might not be the subject of a massive trade because this year's draft class is so loaded with prospects who can generate pressure. 

    Yet Sweat still managed to do well for himself and, according to Miller, is a shining example of why players should accept invites to events like this: "Montez Sweat was a solid Tier 2 edge-rusher with nice traits before this week. After interviews and a dominant practice he's receiving top-10 talk from scouts. Come compete and you might just make a few million while you're at it."

    Sweat measured at 6'6" and 252 pounds with an 84 1/2-inch wingspan. That length on the edge allowed him to bully offensive linemen in his way with pretty much whatever he wanted, especially stabs and power. 

    At one point, one of Sweat's stabs sent a grown man to the ground, per Jeff Risdon of Real GM: "Montez Sweat closes out the pit session with a one-armed shot that rocked the OT back to the ground. Sweat loves that one-arm stab."

    Given the response to Sweat's performance as a whole, it isn't an exaggeration to suggest he was the best-looking prospect in attendance.  

         

    Best Fit: Baltimore Ravens 

    Sweat just feels like a versatile piece the Baltimore Ravens get their hands on and deploy expertly.

    In an ideal situation, Sweat goes to a place in the first round where he's able to come in and at least participate on a rotational basis right out of the gate. He could start, but learning the ins and outs of a complicated front like Baltimore's, not to mention different positions and sides of a unit, could take some time. 

    While Sweat won't be the first pass-rusher off the board by any means, he's going to test incredibly well at the combine as well. 

    The Ravens will have an eye on him the whole time, and like other recent SEC draft targets such as C.J. Mosley, Sweat would turn into a core enforcer quickly. 

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    So far, it doesn't look like the 2019 class is strong at cornerback. 

    Temple's Rock Ya-Sin is a glaring exception. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah lists Ya-Sin as one of only two corners in the top 31 of his top 50 big board. He isn't in Miller's top 32, but he does land as the sleeper of the week:

    "One of the toughest, most physical players in the 2019 draft class is Temple's Rock Ya-Sin. The senior cornerback is excellent playing at the line of scrimmage, and his reach, awareness and instincts all show up on tape. In a cornerback class dominated by juniors, Ya-Sin has a chance to leave next week's Senior Bowl as the group's top-ranked senior."

    Prophetic, as Ya-Sin weighed in at 6'0" and 189 pounds and was one of the five fastest players on the South team in Tuesday's practice. As Joe Marino of The Draft Network observed, Ya-Sin did have one hiccup on a vertical route but otherwise was stellar for most of his reps in all instances. 

    Or put another way, Ya-Sin was easily the best cornerback in Mobile. He told Jordan Reid of Cover 1 he models his game after Patrick Peterson, and while he's a bit smaller, his length and playmaking ability are where they need to be to flirt with top-50 status. 

           

    Best Fit: Seattle Seahawks 

    The Seattle Seahawks love their long-armed cornerbacks. 

    Ya-Sin fits the mold after checking in with 32-plus-inch arms, and his play still aligns with what Seattle likes to do defensively. While he's not going to be a big name like Richard Sherman upon arrival, a Ya-Sin sighting in Seattle would likely put him in a good position to succeed. 

    Considering Ya-Sin can press well with physicality and the Seahawks sometimes brought seven defensive backs onto the field this season, he could be worked into the rotation right away for some valuable experience. 

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Andre Dillard was predictable in Mobile—which for him is a good thing. 

    Dillard, 12th on Jeremiah's big board, did what he needed to do in the measurement department, weighing 310 pounds at 6'5" with 34-inch arms. Not bad for a former 240-pound prospect going into college. 

    On the field, Dillard also casually went about his business even with guys like Montez Sweat trying to get past him. Marino praised Dillard's feet, while most focused on his arm length: "His foot speed and easy lateral movement skills are exactly what the NFL is looking for in an outside blocker."

    Some, like Draft Wire's Gavino Borquez, even thought Dillard looked better than expected: "He displayed light footwork, body control and core strength to keep pass-rushers at bay. I didn't like him much in the running game throughout the season, but he looked a lot more efficient."

    Dillard's athleticism means he should turn plenty of heads at the combine while testing. But even now, his slipping into the first round doesn't seem so outlandish given how he held up in a scrimmage environment against some of the best.  

           

    Best Fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    The best environment for Dillard is one where he can get some playing time right away if possible and carve out a reputation for himself. 

    Luckily for Dillard, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to need some help along the offensive line if Bruce Arians wants the last chance at a Jameis Winston experiment to work. 

    With Donovan Smith a free agent and Demar Dotson 33 years old and going into the last season of his contract, there is wiggle room for Dillard to start somewhere. And depending on how the board falls, he and the Buccaneers might be able to link up late in the first round if the team decides to trade back into the round or even in the second round. 

Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Andy Isabella is what an event like the Senior Bowl is all about. 

    While it was nice to see a prospect like Montez Sweat show off in a tough environment, Isabella is the type of smaller-school prospect who can turn heads by doing well against the best of the best. 

    Isabella was flying under the radar out of Massachusetts entering the week. Leaving it, he's one of the most hyped names because of his overall body of work. Short-area burst, ability to separate and footwork had him stealing the show by scoring a touchdown in one-on-ones and even reminding Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson of Andrew Hawkins. 

    Oh, Jon Gruden liked what he saw, too, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I like Isabella," Gruden said. "How do you not like Isabella?"

    At 5'9" and 186 pounds, Isabella isn't going to impress with his size but knows how to use what he's got to win. He had some noticeable body catches that will need correcting, but overall, the stock boost while working against bigger-school prospects, not to mention those handpicked for the event, means the week of work registers a major win. 

                 

    Best Fit: Cleveland Browns

    An Ohio native, Isabella might make for an interesting target for Baker Mayfield and perhaps even as a rookie, given what he's shown so far. 

    The Browns have no shortage of budding weapons around Mayfield thanks to tight end David Njoku and wideout Antonio Callaway, to name a couple. But adding another like Isabella, who can mesh with the attack and create space on chain-moving downs and near the end zone, would work quite well for all involved. 

    Really, there isn't a team that would dislike having Isabella's skill set in the rotation at wide receiver. Being close to home and having a chance to develop alongside a young core seems like a solid fit. 

Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Nasir Adderley out of Delaware was in a similar spot to Andy Isabella entering the week, hailing from a smaller program. 

    The difference was that Adderley already had a hint of hype around him thanks to a relatively weak-looking safety class. It landed him 27th on Jeremiah's big board and as the second safety overall. 

    That could change in a hurry. 

    Considered "small," Adderley measured at 6'0" and 195 pounds, which is perfectly fine with NFL defenses looking to get quicker and better in coverage while manning various sub-packages. And the "small school" stigma didn't hold up too well, either, as he picked off Daniel Jones and held up well in coverage. 

    Notably, The Draft Network's Jon Ledyard wrote the following:

    "Nasir Adderley played fine after a terrific weigh-in, blanketing receivers in the team sessions and showing the ability to get off blocks and funnel the ball back inside against the screen game. It was a quiet day due to the lack of opportunity to make splash plays in coverage, but Adderleys movement skills and athleticism against top competition still stood out."

    Adderley has quality coverage skills, which seems to trump all else for defensive backs right now. First round isn't out of the question by any means, regardless of the stereotypes that chase him throughout draft season. 

          

    Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles

    The fact this is a hometown-kid slant again is merely a bonus. 

    Injuries forced the Eagles into getting Avonte Maddox into the lineup this past year next to Malcolm Jenkins and others. While things weren't overly terrible, there is plenty of room for improvement in a division featuring various quality offensive weapons on the outside like Odell Beckham Jr. and Amari Cooper. 

    Adderley wouldn't have to come in and start from day one, but he'd be on the field on a rotational basis and in sub-packages, which would put him in prime position to make game-altering plays thanks to his range and coverage ability. 

         

    Measurement info courtesy of Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko

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