2014 Senior Bowl: Notes from the South Squad


Jan 25, 2014; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad wide receiver Kevin Norwood of Alabama (83) celebrates with teammate fullback Jay Prosch of Auburn (35) during the first half of a game against the North squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With the full week of practice and the game itself in the books, it is time to look back at what we saw from the South team this past week in Mobile. The quarterbacks were the headline grabbers, as they always are. Derek Carr came in with the most hype, and Jimmy Garoppolo came in with the most intrigue, but from top to bottom the South team was loaded with NFL talent and proved as much with a 20-10 victory over the North team on Saturday. Here are some notes from what WTFP observed from its time in Mobile:

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr came into he week with first round aspirations, and he left Mobile with a strong shot at creeping into the top 15. Carr passes the eye ball test at just under 6’3 with a solid build, and his arm strength easily outshone that of Jimmy Garappolo and David Fales. Carr carried himself like a franchise quarterback, put in extra time after practice with additional reps with his receivers and was very impressive in interviews all week. Carr has a physical skill set which falls in line with former prospects such as Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford, and while his footwork is going to be an issue moving forward, he has everything you want in a franchise quarterback.

– While the internet fueled hype train for Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is almost in runaway mode, I must say that I did not see nearly as many positives in Mobile as some. Garoppolo is a good athlete, we knew this going in. He was able to quickly improve his footwork while showing good movement skills from within the pocket. He also has a quick and compact release, which is a key attribute for an NFL quarterback. While he did show decent ball placement and accuracy on short and intermediate routes through practice, he should, there is no pass rush, there was no threat of getting hit. While Garoppolo has a future in the NFL, his arm strength or lack thereof will always be an issue. His deep balls would sail and flutter, and whenever he would try and put extra zip on his throws it would cause the ball the wobble. Throwing outside the hash marks will be a struggle for him at the next level. Jimmy Garoppolo is a solid day 3 prospect that could get pushed into the latter stages of round 3 due to his positional value, but he is a longterm project with limited arm talent.

BYU’s Cody Hoffman checked in at mobile as advertised. Just a hair under 6’4 and 218 lbs., Hoffman actually caught WTFP off guard with how smooth of an athlete he is. Despite his large frame, he moved and played like a receiver of much smaller dimensions. While many have tabbed Hoffman a possession type receiver, he showed the route running, body control, and athleticism to eventually develop into a #1 wide receiver. The South had a very strong wide receiver group this year, and Hoffman may have stood out the most.

Vanderbilt and SEC all-time leading receiver Jordan Matthews had a quiet week in Mobile, both in practice and the game. Matthews is not someone who will stand out in individual drills or the general practice setting. He is a technical and methodical wide receiver who has under rated game day athleticism and a penchant for making plays. While some are down on the former Commodores star, Matthews is NFL ready and could be emerging as this seasons Keenan Allen. Some NFL franchise will be very happy that they used a 2nd day pick on a hard working and talented player.

Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch is never going to be a headline grabbing, highlight reel receiving threat. That’s just not his game and while it may not always be pretty, Lynch is going to be a vital part of any offense which he gets plugged into. Lynch can fill a variety of roles and has as well rounded an overall game as any tight end prospect available. In talking with Lynch, he models his game after Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, and WTFP agrees. Lynch was a valuable security blanket all week long for the South quarterbacks and displayed soft hands and an ability to find soft spots in coverage. His strength at the point of attack in the run game and ability to wall off defenders in pass protection will make him an attractive prospect and likely late day 2, early day 3 draft pick. Lynch spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts.

Mississippi State offensive guard Gabe Jackson continued his steady climb up draft boards with a strong showing in mobile. Jackson weighed in at nearly 340 lbs. and is built like a classic bull dozing right guard, but displayed the athleticism to play on the left side for the bulldogs. Like fellow SEC alum, Chance Warmack a year ago, Jackson projects to the right side in the NFL. He was nasty in mobile, showed great power at the point of attack with a natural ability to anchor against a bull rush. Despite his heavy listing, Jackson carries the weight extremely well and looks powerful, not sloppy unlike some of his peers. Jackson is likely to hear his name called on the draft’s second day, but could push for a late first round selection from a playoff team in need of a starting guard. Jackson spent time talking with the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, and Carolina Panthers.

Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses measured in at imposing 6’6, 325 lbs. His play on the field was impressive as Moses showed the feet and technique to handle edge rushers and the strength to anchor against a bull rush. Moses likely projects to right tackle, but he opened some eyes with his potential to man the blind side as well which will only increase his value. With an impressive Senior Bowl, Moses is squarely on the 2nd day radar and could hear his name called as early as round 2. Moses was very personable in interviews and easily had the most impressive beard in Mobile, the word “epic” was thrown around with regularity. Moses spent a good deal of time talking with the San Diego Chargers.

– The has been a ton of buzz surrounding Auburn edge rusher Dee Ford since his dominant Senior Bowl week and that “buzz” should continue all the way through draft weekend. Ford was a menace for opposing offensive lineman, explosive off the snap, displayed multiple rush moves and counter moves, was able to bend around the corner, and was essentially the best player on the field, and even took home MVP honors for the Senior Bowl itself. Ford has not yet settled on a true every down position, as he is built like a 3-4 outside linebacker but plays like a 4-3 defensive end. But his ability to get to the quarterback will get his name called early on draft weekend, likely somewhere between picks 25-50. Keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks at the end of round 1, Ford is a perfect fit as the “leo” edge rusher in the Seahawks hybrid 4-3 defense.

Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McClullers is a mountain of a human being. Measuring in at just under 6’7, 350 lbs., McClullers was the most naturally powerful player all week long. His technique is a work in progress as McClullers plays “too tall” with regularity which is something his natural power allowed him to get away with on the college level. While things will be far more challenging on the NFL level, some team is going to fall in love with that raw ability and try to coach him up to maximize that ability. McClullers is a likely 3rd round pick that could wind up getting pushed into round 4 due to the depth of this draft.

– The South team featured a pair of versatile outside linebacker prospects in BYU’s Kyle Van Noy and Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu. Van Noy is the more polished player at this point, but neither proved capable in coverage to this point in mobile. Both players were at their best going downhill and attacking in practices, and each made their share of disruptive plays. Both players will likely fall somewhere in the 2nd round, but Attaochu could creep into round 1 if he blows up the combine workouts. The New Orleans Saints spent a lot of time with Attaochu, while the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers spent time with Van Noy.

University of Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins was the most consistent cover man for the South team all week. An unfortunate ankle injury bumped him from competing in the game, but the injury is minor and his absence was precautionary. Watkins has good size at 5’11 and 194 lbs., shows a willingness to get after it in the run game, and has the long speed to stay stride for stride with his match up. Watkins is able to flip his hips and run in coverage and showed terrific closing speed once the ball is in the air. Watkins appears headed towards a second day selection.