By Julie Dixon @ABroncoNole
South 16 North 15
I must send a huge shout out to NFLFemale for procuring press credentials. I was there as a representative for them. The insight I’m sharing was because of them. Please support this group of women writers.
It was an experience of a lifetime. There were owners, General Managers, NFL and College coaches, scouts, agents, representatives from several companies, as well as, media from around the world. College coaches were also in attendance. To be surrounded by so many who’s who in the football world and not ask for autographs or act all goofy was extremely tough. I only blew it twice. Once, I snapped a quick photo of John Elway when he wasn’t looking, and the second was when I realized after a few minutes I was talking to a well known GM.
I must say that I spoke with a lot of men from general managers to coaches to scouts to agents and reps and players and other media, and I’ve yet to meet any bunch of people more willing to talk football with this female. Actually had some come back the next day to say hi and talk more football. A few even introduced me to others. It was pure bliss.
FYI, if you think Tony Romo or Trevor Siemian is who Elway is banking on, that notion was literally laughed at by one very well known and respected GM. One insider was bummed they missed out on Paxton Lynch. There was zero enthusiasm from anyone for Siemian or belief Elway would bring in Romo.
Ok, down to football. Since last year only four Senior Bowl players were drafted in the first round, I looked at most players as second round and beyond. Last season, 85 Senior Bowl players were offered contracts. Since this year’s underclass is so stout, not sure that number will be that high, but it’s still a safe assumption that most of these guys will be signed somewhere.
Also to note, there is a lot going on. It’s impossible to watch everyone. Besides guys breaking into position groups all over the field, some were tough to tell who they were. The white jerseys with orange numbers were tough to see across the field and even tougher from up in the press box. Making it tougher was many tied the backs of their jerseys, scrunching up numbers. Numbers that were just given to them for the week. Add to that, some players had teammates with the same helmet in their group and some guys moved to play more than one position.
Last note, I was focused mostly on TEs, OL and LBs. DEs were the toughest to watch even though we need one.
Day One Quick Notes. One shouldn’t judge a player after a day of drills; however, some first impressions are tough to overcome. Like laziness. Some were kind of sluggish the first day. North and South team practices were not run the same. For me, Hue Jackson made the South team look much better Day 1.
WR Josh Reynolds from Texas A&M showed talent. He had great hands, quickness and agility. It’s what he did after each play that was more concerning. He strolled back to the line. Every time. All eyes are on you, general managers, coaches, scouts, and media. Not at least semi-jogging back to the line was a no-no. It says laziness.
The linebackers as a whole, the first day, weren’t an impressive group. Two stood out. Ben Boulware and Ryan Anderson. Boulware had better technique, but Anderson had something. He said he sees himself as an Edge Rusher, but I didn’t see the deep cut needed to be a sack master.
Anderson would be an ideal ILB. His size, quickness and ability to cover. He was able to stick with TE OJ Howard, another player, like Boulware who are on everyone’s list.
One overlooked prospect caught my eye. Toledo TE Michael Roberts. His size, quickness and ball skills. His eyes lit up at the prospect of working with a 6’7″ QB. He said he and Lynch would make “beautiful connections”. He was also happy with Denver Broncos appearing to go away from the West Coast Offense. This was a shared thought among the offensive players I spoke with. For many, the verbiage and big change from what they played in, made a WCO less appealing. Not that it would make a difference to them being drafted, just an extra point in Denver’s column.
When asked how he thinks he did and what he could improve on, he said getting quicker off his mark and tightening up his techinque. He said his legs were heavy from having just come from the Shrine Bowl. I asked if they had a cold tub and he said no. I jokingly suggested he call the maid for some ice to make his own ice bath, he said he’d need a garbage bag of it. FYI. I was the lone person to interview Mike.
OL Ethan Pocic also showed good signs. He’s a center; however, they moved him to LG and for a guy just moved to that spot, did really well. He kept with his man, and followed every play through. He said he wanted to work on his technique, but was open to being a LG.
WR Ryan Switzer was the one player I wanted to see in person, but couldn’t find him. Wanted to see his size because his quickness could be a good fit at slot.
Day 2 Recap. OJ Howard looked good, but don’t see Denver using a first round pick on him. That’s why I’m not following him closely. There’s a lot of hype and tape on him. Same for Feeney and Reddick and Boulware. I was looking for the next tier guys. The guys who maybe played in systems that didn’t help them or maybe had another better known name on the team. The guys we pick second, later or as UDFA.
Met back up with TE Mike Roberts. He was very pleased with his improved techinique from the day before. He was enjoying working with the Cleveland Browns staff, he said he received some tips not given at the college level. He also told me the Broncos interviewed him.
I had liked Grambling WR Chad Williams, thought he showed fire and hustle. Nice speed and hands. It was no surprise when a fight broke out, he was involved. It appeared he didn’t like Miami S Rayshawn Jenkins jamming him. Maybe he’s got a little Talib in him.
WRs from Eastern Washington Cooper Krupp, Clemson Artavis Scott and Louisiana Tech Trent Taylor looked like guys we could use as slots and returners. Until I saw them in person. Taylor said all the right things, but he’s a tiny guy. Trent said he would put on a few pounds, but at a tick under 5’8″, don’t think it’ll matter. He also said his favorite team growing up were the New England Patriots*.
Western Michigan OL Taylor Moton (82″ wingspan) continued to show improvement, as did Ethan Pocic. The Broncos spoke a little with Pocic. His versatilty may be why. But he really seemed like Center was his niche. He told me that his favorite guys growing up were Brett Favre and Devin Hester. I mentioned they’re fire in the belly players. Exactly, he said.
— Julie Dixon (@ABroncoNole) January 26, 2017
Kutztown G Jordan Morgan did a good job of sticking with his guy and staying involved in each play until its end. As did Kentucky C Jon Toth, who played with sass. Both raw guys, but I’m a sucker for bulldogs.
Misssissippi TE Evan Engram. He’s 6’3″, 235. He was excited at the thought of working with Lynch, said he loves tall quarterbacks. He’s another Ohio guy who’s showed up this week. He said his favorite athletes growing up were LeBron James and Ted Ginn. He said there’s nothing about football he doesn’t love, even getting knocked on his behind. He loves the competitiveness of it. His height is his disadvantage for him in Denver. We have Andy Janovich so using him as some type of hybrid TE would be redundant as that’s where we are with Janovich.
Youngstown State OLB Derek Rivers was interviewed by the Broncos. He’s a really good kid who’s overcome some adversity in his life. He’s been playing football since he was five. He started out as a CB/S and then moved over to LB. At Youngstown State, he played DE, but is moving back to LB. He said he likes playing linebacker better because it gives more choices. He liked Michael Vick growing up because of the way he played and he was a Virginia Tech guy like his father. He says his faith is what drives him. I could see him being moved to inside.
— Julie Dixon (@ABroncoNole) January 26, 2017
BYU RB Jamaal Williams ran the 100 meter on the track team. As a RB, he broke every school record and lead the country in yards after contact. Negative press drives him, that underdog mentality. He should meet Chris Harris, Jr. He only had 2 fumbles in his career, the first was after 657 ball carries. He has a great grandfather in Colorado, and other family in Arizona, so Denver would be ideal for him to stay close.
Day 3. Standouts for the day were WR Cooper Kupp, DT Ryan Glasgow, ILB Haason Reddick, DE Chris Wormley, G Kyle Kalis, RB Kareem Hunt, TE Micheal Roberts, OL Taylor Moton, WR Taywan Taylor, OL Dan Feeney and DE Dawuane Smoot.
Must mention that Chad Williams was much better with his hustle on days two and three.
Final notes…I’m sure my guys differ from media talking heads, but I’m looking at guys based solely on the Senior Bowl week of practices, what we need and if we could actually pick them up. They could do worse in the game or do poorly in the combine. I don’t think there’s a guy I’d draft round one over an underclass man unless we used a compensatory pick to grab two in the first. Say, Cook or Fournette and Roberts. If Roberts has a good game, he could be a late first round pick. He’s now ranked #2 TE behind Howard. Chris Wormley or Glasgow could be a round two guy.
With all the press he received, I wouldn’t grab Kupp, they shot his ranking up too high. Too many WRs on our team and in this draft to reach for him. The talking heads also over inflate the QBs in this class, they are not good. So, don’t see Elway drafting any, not even for depth like he always does. Better off to bring in Mike Glennon as the backup.
I made tweets for three days and pages of notes, so I’m sure I overlooked some players, but it’s a good starting point for the draft.
Featured image courtesy: Julie Dixon/nflfemale
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