Reese’s Senior Bowl Review – South Team

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Jan 25, 2014; Mobile, AL, USA; A general view during the first half of a game between the South squad and the North squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Reese’s Senior Bowl has come to an end, so it is time to take a look at some of the notes I jotted down as I was in Mobile as well as what I saw going back and looking at the TV coverage.

South Team


Derek Carr, Fresno State – The questions the national media had for Carr were confusing.  Apparently, he had to prove his arm strength to them?  Tuesday was the windiest day by far and his arm still shined both in his ability to push the ball down the field and his zip.

Carr did come at 6’2 1/8” which is slightly under half an inch under the ideal.  He also had smaller hands, but neither seems to have a negative impact on what he is able to do on the field.

He was clearly the best quarterback in Mobile.  Everything about Carr comes down to his footwork and then the resulting ball placement.  In practice drills, he demonstrated substantially better footwork.  It is not quite muscle memory yet as in the game, he reverted back to old habits.

Like Tajh Boyd did with the North Team, Carr was the big man on campus for the South Team.  He worked on his schedule as opposed to the media’s.   Carr took the time after practice to work with some of the South receivers and get extra reps, then took the time to answer the media questions, sign autographs, etc.  Carr always came across under control and did basically what everyone expected in terms of his ability to win the interviews.

David Fales, San Jose State – Fales ran into two problems right off the bat.  First, he was sick as a dog the first two days and could not keep food down.  The second is that on Monday, he tried way too hard to overthrow everything to keep up with Carr instead of just playing his game, as did Jimmy Garoppolo.  Then on Tuesday, the wind proved to be a problem.

It really was not until Wednesday where Fales got to showcase why he was invited in the first place.  And in some respects, the damage was done for many onlookers, but he did rally and look effective.  It is also important to note that this venue was never going to be a great one for Fales because his game is based on mechanics, accuracy, and chemistry.  Two of those issues proved difficult because he was throwing to receivers he did not have any familiarity.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois – Garoppolo won the weigh-in.  He measured in at the listed height and weight when many expected him to be smaller.  His hand size did prove to be an issue with a mishandled snap and a pass he lost when he brought it back to throw.

Like Fales, he spent too much of Monday trying to keep up with Carr throwing the football.  The result was that a few of the passes he threw completely fluttered and looked awful on Monday.

Mechanically, Garoppolo shined in terms of his ability to set up and get rid of the ball quickly and zip it to receivers.  The hype may have calmed down on Garoppolo after a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game, but for the most part, people either like Garoppolo or they do not.  He is either a limited quarterback in terms of his ability to stretch the field or he is a quick thinking, fast operator who can get rid of the ball in an instant.

Garoppolo is another who had a lot of opportunity to talk to the media and did well in that standpoint.  He looks the part of a quarterback and did a nice job in interviews despite his relatively limited amount of exposure from the FCS.

Running Back

Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky – For my money, Andrews was the best back in Mobile.  He lost two inches in the weigh-in but gained 10lbs and looked great.  Andrews has the huge thighs and overall strength to be a good back, which he has shown on tape.

Where Andrews was surprising was how well he caught the football and he was a revelation as a blocker.  The Hilltoppers simply did not use him as a conventional blocker much and everything was the extension of play action, but he was among the best in pass protection.  He also showed soft hands.

Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern – The converted quarterback showed great burst and was good for a big run once per practice.  The question facing him is that all of those runs tend to be outside and how effectively he can run in between the tackles.  He caught the ball pretty well.  McKinnon blocked about as well as one might expect a quarterback to do, but he did seem to pick up some things on the fly.

Jay Prosch, Auburn – Looked great in most drills, looking athletic with the ability to catch the football.  Sadly for Prosch, he got manhandled a couple times in pass protection, which is not a good look when trying to make the NFL as a fullback.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina – Taliaferro definitely looks the part and he was simply dominating as a pass blocker.  He was must see when it came to that part of practice, shutting opponents down with a great punch and making it look easy.  I have not watched him on tape, but I am definitely looking forward to seeing it.

Wide Receivers

Cody Hoffman, BYU – Hoffman was a player, who in my view, took full advantage of the experience in Mobile.  He looked smoother and more fluid in routes, able to look the part against the rest of the group.  His outright speed and burst are questions but he uses his body well and knows how to get open and catch the football.  Was an 1/8th of an inch short of 6’4” and looked impressive at 218lbs.

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt – Matthews showed his acumen and ability to run routes.  Some criticized him for not gaining separation deep, but he stacked on the opponent well and had the right body position to make plays.

Matthews is another player who ran into some drops and when asked, wished he could have gone out on the JUGs machine for a few hours.  He seemed to be someone who tried too hard on Monday and then bounced back the rest of the week.

Kevin Norwood, Alabama – Nothing outstanding about him physically but got open and found ways to make plays on the football.

Solomon Patton, Florida – Patton is a dynamic threat in space, but his inability to play consistently in his career showed up in his route running.

Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma – Slippery as a receiver and never shies away from a block.  

Tight Ends

Marcel Jensen, Fresno State – Unfortunately, Jensen left early with an injury.  When he was there, his length stood out and he looked the part.  The biggest problem he ran into was just how often he was on the ground.

Arthur Lynch, Georgia – Lynch was as advertised.  He blocked well, though had a few hiccups against Christian Jones.  He was virtually unstoppable in that 5-7 yard range, used his body well and caught the ball well.  There is still potential there but it is not difficult to figure out where he is going to fit in at the next level.

Offensive Linemen

Joel Bitonio, Nevada – I am not sure what Bitonio has to do to get noticed.  He played well, look the part of a tackle, won at the weigh-in in terms of his length.  Teams seem to like him, but he is far too under the radar as someone who has a shot to go in the 1st round.

Jon Halapio, Florida – Halapio was extremely strong and might be the most polite person I came across in all of Mobile.  It was revealed that Halapio was playing this season with a torn pec, which would have been quite an undertaking.  That suggests there is a ton of power he was not even able to show, but there are still concerns from the waist down.

Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State – If someone was going to build a guard from scratch, it would look like Jackson.  He was unbelievably strong and impressive in person.  Jackson did show just how critical consistent technique was when he went up against Aaron Donald and it did not go well for him.

Morgan Moses, Virginia – Moses is strong but frumpy looking, whether in pads or out of them.  He just always has a slight gut around him.  Nevertheless, he is incredibly strong and can move opponents off of the ball.  His ability to bend and deal with speed are concerns.  He has a first round caliber beard.

Tyler Swanson, Arkansas – His week in Mobile just did not match up to what he has put out on tape, where he was far more impressive.  For whatever reason, he was simply not the same guy..  He is massive for a center.

Billy Turner, North Dakota State – Turner is a big boy who finally got to show off his ability against the best of the best.  He put into context his dominance at the FCS level and while he still demonstrates a ton of ability, he made it clearer where he still has to go as a player.