In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, we recap the Senior Bowl and look ahead to what’s next in the draft season.
JOHN SCHMEELK: The Senior Bowl, one of my favorite events of the year, is in the books. I talked about the individual players in my practice and game breakdowns, so I’ll speak more generally here. You aren’t going to get the cream of the crop of the draft prospects in Mobile each year, because there are so many underclassmen at the premium positions (pass rushers, cornerbacks, wide receivers, quarterbacks, offensive tackles, etc.) that come out early and are not eligible to play. If there’s a handful of Senior Bowl players that go in the first round, that may be a lot. The second, third and fourth rounds of the NFL Draft, on the other hand, are littered with players at the Senior Bowl. Those are the rounds where drafts are made or broken. The Senior Bowl is the last time scouts, coaches and general managers will be able to see these players in pads and in competition with other football players in practice and game situations. Especially for smaller school players, this is an important opportunity to see how they handle a similar jump in competition that every player has to handle when they go to the NFL. It was a great evaluation opportunity for the NFL.
DAN SALOMONE: Well, we know at least one player the Giants are going to draft: Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Big Blue selected the previous two Senior Bowl MVPs – Kyle Lauletta and Davis Webb – so why not make it three in a row? Jones took home the honor on Saturday in Mobile after completing eight of his 11 pass attempts for 115 yards and a touchdown. He also had a one-yard score on the ground as his North squad took down the South, 34-24. Of course, my conclusion is said with tongue in cheek, or whatever the equivalent is when typing, but the Giants will take a long, hard look at him just like every other prospect at every position. It doesn’t take much digging to find the Manning connection with Jones. He played under David Cutcliffe, who prior to Duke helped mentor Peyton at Tennessee at Eli at Ole Miss.
But the Senior Bowl is more than a quarterback showcase, especially this season after 2018 included top pick Baker Mayfield. This year’s class featured the all-time NCAA sacks leader (Jaylon Ferguson of Louisiana Tech), the Rimington Trophy winner as college football’s best center (Garrett Bradbury of N.C. State), and the only player in the country with 160 tackles and nine interceptions over the past two seasons (Nasir Adderley of Delaware). While wearing pads and their college helmets for the last time, these players and more built momentum heading into next month’s combine, where medical checks are more important than running the 40 in a track uniform. These are all pieces to the puzzle that is the NFL Draft, which has high stakes once again for the Giants as they hold the No. 6 overall pick.
LANCE MEDOW: The underwear Olympics are now officially underway. The minute the Senior Bowl wrapped up, the last opportunity to see some of this year’s top college prospects, in pads, faded away. Now, you’ll hear about measurements and interviews much more so than execution on the field. Entering the Senior Bowl, there was much chatter about how this year’s draft class showcases a great deal of depth on the defensive line and in the pass rush, and I think last week’s festivities in Mobile, as well as the game itself, fully supported that claim. On the North team, Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu and defensive tackles Greg Gaines (Washington) and Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois) all stood out and made key plays on the quarterback or in the run game. Saunders measures out at 6-2, 310 yet has great athleticism and movement at the line of scrimmage. On the South team, arguably the two best lineman in the group, Mississippi State’s Montez Seat and Jalen Ferguson of Louisiana Tech didn’t disappoint. Ferguson helped record consecutive key plays in the third quarter, with the North team threatening in the red zone. It’s no surprise he’s leaving the program as the NCAA career sacks leader.
On the offensive side of the ball, North wideout Andy Isabella (UMass) looks like he has the potential to be an effective slot receiver at the next level that can make plenty of plays after the catch. His Senior Bowl teammate, UC Davis wide receiver, Keelan Doss is on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of size, at 6-3, and has a catch radius that makes him appear to be a dangerous weapon in the NFL. As is usual, the two teams constantly alternated quarterbacks which didn’t lead to much offensive flow early in the game. North signal-caller Daniel Jones (Duke) showed some flashes once he settled in and became more comfortable with the personnel around him and South team quarterback Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) is an intriguing player to watch throughout the draft process given his 6-7 frame. Keep in mind, the stocks of prospects rise and fall leading up to the draft given it’s such a subjective process. That’s more of a reason not to put an overwhelming amount of substance into one performance or one measurement but instead the entire resume, most important what happened on the field during the college season.