Thursday, December 25, 2014

Senior Bowl practice notes: Day 1

According to a source, Miami OT Seantrel Henderson was removed from the Eagles' board completely. In 2010, Henderson was the #2 high school prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com. The Eagles have a recent history of drafting, signing, and trading for players who were formerly elite high school prospects. However, his career at Miami has been marred by suspensions and other character concerns. Chip Kelly seems to place a high value on player interviews.

Senior Bowl practice notes: Day 1

North Squad players including offensive guard Brandon Linder of Miami (65) stretch during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Mobile, Ala.  (G.M. Andrews/AP)
North Squad players including offensive guard Brandon Linder of Miami (65) stretch during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Mobile, Ala. (G.M. Andrews/AP)

According to a source, Miami OT Seantrel Henderson was removed from the Eagles' board completely. In 2010, Henderson was the #2 high school prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com. The Eagles have a recent history of drafting, signing, and trading for players who were formerly elite high school prospects. However, his career at Miami has been marred by suspensions and other character concerns. Chip Kelly seems to place a high value on player interviews.

A snippet from one of Kelly's post-draft press conferences last year:

There were a couple kids at the combine that just were kind of off the charts when we interviewed them. Two of them we had the opportunity to take. Bennie Logan was one of them and Matt Barkley.

Obviously, the Eagles drafted both Logan and Barkley. The Senior Bowl is often the first opportunity that teams get to interview some players. The Eagles may not have liked what they heard from Henderson.

What players did they talk to?

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The Eagles were extremely busy speaking with prospects after each practice today, more so than I've ever seen them in my 3 years covering the Senior Bowl. To note, the Eagles will speak with every prospect during the "speed dating sessions" while they are here, but it is still interesting to see who the scouts and assistant coaches specifically spend some extra time with after practices. Here is a list who they spoke with, and if you'll notice, they were all defensive players.

Secondary

• Stan Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska (6'2 3/8, 215)

• Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma (5'11 3/8, 186)

• Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor (5'11 1/2, 205)

• Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State (6'2, 199)

Colvin received a ton of attention from the Eagles after practice, speaking with scouts and assistant coaches two separate times. If you'll notice, Jean-Baptiste and Johnson are both 6'2. This seems like a good spot for the obligatory reminder that "big people beat up little people."

Linebackers

• Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech (6'3 1/4, 252)

• Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU (6'1 1/4, 229)

• Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin (5'11 3/8, 245)

• Jonathan Brown, ILB, Illinois (6'0 1/2, 224)

• Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State (6'3 3/8, 234)

Attaochu is a clear player of interest as an edge rusher, but the other players listed above don't really seem to matter all that much, as ILB coach Rick Minter was going from one player to the next like a machine. However, the fact that the Eagles are talking to ILBs in bulk could be an indication that it is a position they think could be one worth addressing this offseason. DeMeco Ryans' worth is debatable, and the Eagles could ask him to take a pay cut. Therefore, they need to be prepared for a scenario in which Ryans is no longer an Eagle.

Defensive Linemen

• Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia (6'6 1/8, 271)

• DeAndre Coleman, DT, Cal (6'5, 315)

• Brent Urban, DE, Virginia (6'6 3/4, 298)

What do the three players above all have in common? They are among the tallest players in attendance at the Senior Bowl. Say it with me... Big people beat up little people.

Practice notes:

• A receiver running across the middle after a reception was decleated by UCLA LB Jordan Zumwalt. That is one mean and nasty dude. You're not really supposed to hit in these practices, and Zumwalt was reminded of that after he destroyed the receiver, but it was probably the most memorable play of the day.

• Georgia Tech OLB Jeremiah Attaochu looked comfortable dropping into coverage, at least in comparison to watching Trent Cole and Brandon Graham try to do it during training camp this year. He looks like a player who can learn how to drop into coverage if the Eagles draft him as a pass rushing 3-4 OLB.

• Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews made some "wow plays" today. His best highlight was a play on a poorly throw ball that was basically up for grabs. Matthews high-pointed it, then fell to the ground hard on his back. It looked like that impact might cause him to be hurt. Nope. He hopped right back up to his feet and ran. Impressive. On a deep ball, he did a good job using his size to get a subtle pushoff, which gave him separation to make a play on the ball. Matthews has good size (6'2 5/8, 209), and he has great speed. The one knock on him is that he struggled with drops, and he had two of those today that I saw. Still, this is a very intriguing player. 

• In watching some defensive linemen run drills, Auburn DE Dee Ford looked very smooth and agile. The Jaguars staff has tackling dummies that hold a football in the air, for the purpose of giving pass rushers a target to aim for. Here's Ford swiping at the tackling dummy, which mimics a QB throwing a pass.

Princeton DT Caraun Reid also looked good in drills, while Tennessee's Dan McCullers looked slow and winded.

• Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald dominated Baylor OG Cyril Richardson in 1-on-1 drills. Richardson had no chance of blocking the far quicker Donald.

• Wyoming WR Robert Herron doesn't have good size at 5'8 7/8, 193, but he ran terrific routes and had a great day. He toasted a CB on a stop and go route, came back for a ball nicely and made a catch on a pass that should have been knocked down, and beat a CB on a deep post.

• Jerick McKinnon was a QB at Georgia Southern. He's working out as a RB at the Senior Bowl, and he absolutely trucked Florida State S Terrence Brooks. Very physical runner.

Additional notes:

• Florida State LB Telvin Smith walked up to me on his own and told me I look like Kurt Warner. Warner and I have combined for 2 MVP awards, 4 Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl victory, and a Super Bowl MVP award.

• Stanford OLB Trent Murphy led the nation in sacks this year, with 15. He also has the largest hand at the Senior Bowl, at 10 7/8". Here is Murphy's hand:

I asked Murphy if he was more proud of leading the nation in sacks, or having the biggest hands at the Senior Bowl. He said he was more proud of the sacks, which is a lie.

Note: Asking a man if you can take a picture of his hand is awkward.

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