While the NFL Combine gets the most attention in the Pre-Draft Process, the Senior Bowl tends to have the biggest impact for those involved in the game. Getting live reps against each other, prospects are able to shine in a competitive environment. This also allows some small school prospects or little known guys to really emerge as household names. Nobody really knew much about Aaron Donald before he blew up at the Senior Bowl. The same could be said for Carson Wentz who solidified his stock as a franchise quarterback. Or even Darius Leonard who dominated the Senior Bowl Game. Our 2019 Senior Bowl Preview continues with prospects who could become Household names after this week.
Future Household Names
Dexter Williams RB Notre Dame
While Ian Book taking over at quarterback gets most of the attention for Notre Dame’s offensive turnaround, but Dexter Williams should get that same acclaim. Williams (5’11 215) runs hard and shows the ability to run through tackle attempts and push the pockets. But Williams is not just a power back as he shows good vision, explosive lateral agility and the top end speed to reel off chunk runs. It’s tough for running backs to make a huge impact during the week of practices, but Williams should shine during the game.
Andy Isabella WR UMass
One of the best parts of the Senior Bowl practices is seeing the one on one battles and having receivers match up against cornerbacks can tell us a lot. Isabella is one prospect to watch in this game as he’s looking to shatter the whole notion that he is just your typical slot small receiver. Instead Isabella is an explosive receiver who has elite top end speed to really win downfield. Being able to face off against Kris Boyd and Amani Oruwariye and have success against them should only enhance his stock. But I’m also anxious to see his hands as Isabella body catches the ball way too much on tape.
David Sills WR West Virginia
A former highly recruited quarterback, Sills found new life as a receiver at West Virginia and put up massive numbers playing alongside Will Grier. Sills has good size at 6’4 210lbs that allows him to go up to high point the ball and win contested catches. But what makes Sills so successful is that he’s able to use his quickness and route running ability that allows him to create separation. The one player that Sills reminds me of is current Ram Cooper Kupp. It was Kupp that came to Mobile in 2017 and demonstrating those separation skills that have allowed him to have a big impact right away in the NFL. Sills has that same chance this year.
Andre Dillard OT Washington State
The 2019 offensive tackle class is as deep as it has been in years but most of the top prospects tend to all play right tackle. And while the difference between right and left tackle has tended to go away, there is still a big need for left tackles in the NFL. Outside of Jonah Williams (may be a guard) the top left tackle prospect in this class is Andre Dillard who barely anybody knows about. And while he’s be a regular in my first round mock drafts he made an appearance in Daniel Jeremiah’s 1st mock draft and a big week here could really catapult his stock.
Dillard is at his best an excellent pass protector using his lateral quickness to cut off and mirror defenders. Dillard also shows the ability to also get great depth. Dillard will be facing off against a good group of pass rushers in Oshane Ximines, Carl Granderson and Montez Sweat. If Dillard is able to do well shutting those guys down it only solidifies his first round value.
Garrett Bradbury C North Carolina State
While we’ll get to see the edge rushers take on the offensive tackles let’s not forget about the interior lineman facing off against the defensive tackles. Garrett Bradbury is one of the top interior lineman in the draft showing off the lateral quickness to get to the second level or reach defenders in the gaps to his sides. One area of concern is whether he’ll be able to handle the power of NFL defensive tackles. In the one on one drills we’ll get a better understanding as Bradbury’s anchor will be on full display. If Bradbury shines he could find himself being the first true guard or center drafted.
Oshane Ximines DE Old Dominion
This 2018 draft is chalk full of good pass rushers with the likes of Nick Bosa, Brian Burns and Jachai Polite and Josh Allen. However neither of these top guys are in Mobile which means Oshane Ximines has a chance to shine as the top edge rusher. Ximines is a fluid pass rusher who uses his lateral quickness and change of direction skills to beat offensive tackles to get into the backfield. The South tackle group isn’t great with the exception of Andre Dillard, so Ximines should thrive showcasing this physical traits.
Sutton Smith DE Northern Illinois
For the past two years Sutton Smith has been the most accomplished pass rushers in college football with 29 sacks over that time span. But at 6’1 237 it is clear that Smith isn’t going to playing a traditional defensive end or may not be able to play an outside linebacker in a 3-4. But at the Senior Bowl we get to see Smith play as a stacked linebacker and see how he does playing in space and reading the run. Smith has explosive quickness and was impressive attacking forward. It will be interesting to see how he does moving laterally. But if he’s able to be a run and chase linebacker to go with his pass rushing skills and he’ll be a hot commodity.
Johnathan Abram S Mississippi State
The spread impact on NFL offenses is well known and this affects the defenses as we’ve seen teams go with multiple safeties and even moving some to dime linebackers. Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram is the latest safety prospect whose versatility allows him to be used in a variety of different ways. We know that Abram can come down to stop the run and even match up with tight ends. At the Senior Bowl we’ll get to see Abram back in coverage. Nobody expects Abram to show elite range, but if he’s able to hold his own he could end getting some late first round attention.