This is Charlie Campbell's Wednesday 2017 Senior Bowl Practice Report for the South Team. Charlie is reporting live from Mobile, Ala., and he'll describe what he sees at practice and whom certain prospects talk to all week.
The South team took the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their second practice of the Senior Bowl. The Cleveland Browns coaching staff ran the practice and will coach them all week. The Browns staff had the players practicing in full pads. Here is a run down of the noteworthy players.
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard could be the first Senior Bowl prospect drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, as Howard has top-20 potential. He dominated the Tuesday session with his receiving skills. On Wednesday, Howard showed his versatility with an excellent performance in the pass blocking one-on-ones. He used his size and strength to wall off college teammate Ryan Anderson. Howard showed a strong base to stonewall a bull rush from Anderson. Howard's blocking was extremely impressive, and it illustrates that he is a capable three-down starter with special talent for the NFL.
Howard did well as a receiver on Wednesday in terms of getting open. He did have a few drops with one coming in the individual period and another in the one-on-ones. He burned Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser, running a post route, but Howard let the over-the-shoulder reception fall incomplete as the ball bounced off his hands. He was sure-handed on a number of out route receptions where he beat Bowser and Miami safety Rayshawn Jenkins to get open. In the team scrimmage, he had a nice reception getting open on a bootleg. Overall, Howard is having a superb Senior Bowl to solidify his standing as a first-round pick with a real shot to go in the top 20.
The other tight ends on the South are impressive as well, with Ole Miss' Evan Engram having a superb practice on Wednesday. Since his freshman season for the Rebels, Engram proved to be a receiving mismatch weapon. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-3, 236-pounder blocked better than expected in the pass rushing one-on-ones. He held up Jenkins and Minnesota safety Demarius Travis, and he rode Florida's Alex Anzalone around the pocket on another rep. He was close to some holding calls, but Engram did a nice job of blocking and was better than expected.
In the pass receiving one-on-ones, Engram got separation from Travis on a well-run route as he faked to an outside cut before cutting back to a cross the middle. Engram made a difficult hands catch right over the head of Jenkins on an out route. In the team scrimmage he continued to impress as he made a superb hands catch down the seam with the ball coming in about thigh high. It was between defenders, as Engram ran by one defender with a safety coming over the top. Engram had excellent concentration on the play. Throughout the session, he showed soft, secure hands, including a bootleg reception in the team scrimmage for a nice gain. This practice should really help Engram in his evaluation and cause more teams to target him on the second day of the draft.
In the team scrimmage, Anzalone had two good run fills to stuff backs for no gains. He showed more athleticism to stay close to tight ends and backs in the one-on-ones. Anzalone used power to bull through North Carolina State running back Matt Dayes on a rush up the middle. If Anzalone can stay healthy, he could be a mid-round steal.
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware really struggled on Wednesday, as he was abused in the pass-coverage drills. San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey burned Boulware to get wide open on a post route. Dayes got the better of Boulware on an out route, running an out-and-up. Anzalone didn't win all of his reps but he stayed close to his receiver where as Boulware was getting torched with 10 yards of separation on some plays. Boulware had some nice reps blitzing as he powered through backs, but he is a very limited player for the NFL with his pass-coverage limitations. He looks like a backup linebacker who plays in obvious rushing situations and on special teams.
Texas A&M edge rusher Daeshon Hall had his second straight quality practice session. He used strength to bull rush UCLA offensive tackle Conor McDermott. Hall (6-5, 265) has functional strength with speed off the edge. He has upside, and his best football could be ahead of him.
McDermott really struggled on Wednesday with Chattanooga defensive end Keionta Davis. On numerous plays, McDermott was going down to the ground from losing his balance. Repeatedly, McDermott would drag Davis down with him, and in the NFL, it would be obvious holding penalties. McDermott looks like a late-round developmental project.
Auburn's Montravius Adams had another good practice. He used speed and strength to get wins in the one-on-ones. In college, there were times where Adams looked like a first-round talent, but struggled with consistency and motor. After two good practices though, Adams (6-3, 308) could be improving his draft standing from a mid-rounder to a second-day pick with his strong Senior Bowl.
Alabama defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was impressive on Wednesday in the pass rushing one-on-ones. Tomlinson obviously has been well coached and has put more development in his technique than other prospects. He got the better of Miami's Danny Isidora, using quick, violent hands to shed the block and race to the marker. Tomlinson had other wins with bull rushes getting his hands inside the chest of blockers. He is a rock-solid nose tackle who could figure into a rotation quickly in the NFL.
Villanova defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon is physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds. He is a raw football player, but Kpassagnon has a lot of potential. He used his strength and quickness to get some wins in the one-on-ones. The best win coming against Kentucky center Jon Toth, as Kpassagnon used a rip move and speed to fire down the pocket. Kpassagnon needs a lot of work on his technique for the NFL, and his best fit might come as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense.
Last year, Clemson's D.J. Reader had an excellent Senior Bowl, and this year, Carlos Watkins is trying to continue the tradition for Tigers defensive tackles. Watkins had a good day on Wednesday, beating Toth on a swim move, using speed for another win, and then getting a sack in the team scrimmage. Watkins (6-3, 312) has some versatility and could end up being a third-round pick.
UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (6-3, 320) looks sloppy as an athlete, but he has been effective at the point of attack in both practices. Vanderdoes is very good at holding his gap and stuffing rushing lanes on the interior. In the pass-rushing one-on-ones, he had a nice practice with a bull rush to collapse the pocket. He had an impressive win over Tennessee State's Jessamen Dunker, bull rushing his way to the marker. Vanderdoes has heavy hands with a strong base. He could be a nice mid-round pick as a nose tackle.
Clemson wide receiver Artavis Scott had a good practice on Wednesday. He was getting open repeatedly in the one-on-ones with quickness and good route-running. He had one-on-one wins against LSU's Tre'Davious White, Miami's Corn Elder, and Tennessee State's Ezra Robinson. Scott (5-10, 193) could be a nice competitor as a slot receiver.
Tiffin quarterback Antonio Pipkin had an underwhelming practice on Wednesday. There were pass plays where he had multiple receivers open, but Pipkin failed to pull the trigger until too late. On play like that, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram was open running down the seam. Pipkin lofted a pass up in the air like a punt towards Engram, but Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns was able to run underneath it for an interception. Pipkin looks like an undrafted free agent.