R.C. Fischer reviews the 2019 Senior Bowl Game for FantasyPros. This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C., head to Fantasy Football Metrics.
For the second year in a row, the Senior Bowl started off choppy/low scoring with the starting ‘name’ quarterbacks looking a little discombobulated (as this game tends to do early on) – example: Baker Mayfield went 3-of-7 for nine yards passing in his Senior Bowl start last year and some people walked away wondering what all the Mayfield-hype was about, and it reinforced, for some, that Mayfield just ‘looked too small.’
How did that scouting work out?
As each quarter of play brought new quarterback rotations, and all kinds of rotations, as the players initial ‘tightness’ wore off, and as the in-training refs stopped calling penalties every other play (man, there were a lot of penalties early on), then the Senior Bowl game started loosening up into a sloppy scrimmage of scoring in the second half. There was a touchdown scored on the opening drive of this game, and then 30 minutes of play until the next touchdown (third quarter), which sparked six touchdowns scored in the final 23 minutes of play.
As a football scout and writer, I’m federally mandated to write a ‘winners and losers’ piece from this game. My take will be looking at this from a fantasy and/or dynasty rookie draft 2019 perspective. We’ll go position by position looking at the names to track heading into the BIG scouting event – the NFL Combine.
The Quarterback Prospects
I don’t know that any QB prospect here really helped themselves in the game itself. Most of the quarterback play looked frazzled in-game. Last year, Kyle Lauletta, Josh Allen, and Mike White were putting on a passing show at times. In this year’s game…not so much.
The one QB prospect helped most by this particular game, but a prospect who is still very flawed, was Buffalo’s 6’7″ QB Tyree Jackson (13-of-21, 165 yards passing, 2 TDs/1 INT). He entered the game as the final quarterback for the South and in a very sloppy fourth quarter, with his team starting to fall behind, Jackson completed the best long ball of the day, then followed that up with a rifle shot/red zone slant TD to keep his team in it (for the moment). People who were thinking Jackson was just ‘tall’ left Mobile thinking he was still really tall but that he also had raw tools to work with. He’s moved himself from undrafted/late round to potentially fourth or fifth-round of the draft.
For the week and game…
WINNER: Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)
Came into the week as ‘the talented, but disappointing 2018 season’ guy. The guy barely mentioned among all the bigger names here, but Stidham consistently looked like the best QB here all week, culminating with winning the ‘Practice Award’ (best effort, skill displayed during the week) among the quarterback group.
Among all the quarterbacks in the game who struggled with throws or only completed simplistic passes (screens, bubbles, bombs), Stidham entered the game and stayed in the pocket, read the defense, and ripped a pass into a tight window over-the-middle on his first throw…an almost unheard or unseen thing in this game. He’s the one guy here that consistently looks like a traditional NFL pocket passer.
Stidham’s draft stock is rising among the ‘smart’ teams. Enjoy New England coming up, Jarrett…
LOSER: Daniel Jones (Duke)
Pre-practices, on Monday-Tuesday in Mobile, Jones was the guy the NFL Network focused on as the main quarterback on the promos/teases for the upcoming coverage. The one many said was in a battle with Dwayne Haskins for the top spot among QB prospects. By Thursday, Jones was barely mentioned, and all the focus/love shifted to Drew Lock. By Saturday, Jones (who had worked as the No. 2 QB for his team all week, behind Lock) was the third quarterback to enter the game for his team…falling behind Trace McSorley.
Jones showed all week that he was more of a media-manufactured prospect, back in a time when every football analyst said the ‘QB group was weak this year.’ Jones was a ‘reach’ for football analysts looking for something, anything to get excited about among the QB prospects for the 2019 draft class. Jones’ stock will fall out of the first round, but it will take 2-3 weeks for it to reflect in mainstream, echo chamber mock drafts and rankings — and it will officially die when he throws at the NFL Combine. If anyone should fake an injury/not throw at the NFL Combine…it’s Jones. His arm was nowhere near what scouts had hoped/thought here.
The Running Back Prospects
As weak a group of RB prospect talent as I think I’ve seen in this game in years/a decade. The biggest question from the week might be — will any of these guys get drafted?
WINNER: Tony Pollard (Memphis)
Was a jack-of-all-trades running back for Memphis — nine rushing TDs, nine receiving TDs, seven kick return TDs the past three college seasons. He showed his capabilities and usefulness in Mobile. He didn’t electrify, but he showed he was competent.
LOSER: Karan Higdon (Michigan)
Looked like he was being pushed as a North team starter all week but didn’t start Saturday. Didn’t do anything of note all practice week and then was unspectacular in this game (five carries for 18 yards). For some reason, he sat out his bowl game to prep for the Senior Bowl. Higdon will not be drafted and likely never take a carry in an NFL regular season game — the talent just isn’t there.
The Wide Receiver Prospects
There was so much WR prospect talent here, I could just write an entire article about this entire group. All I’ll say, top side, is that proper scouting on these guys PLUS interpreting their landing spots in the NFL (what coaches/QBs/offenses they get shackled with) is going to be everything for making the smart fantasy decisions. So much rides on where the talent lands…and there are fewer and fewer openings every season. I don’t know how the NFL is going to keep absorbing all this wide receiver talent.
Let’s talk about three ‘winners and losers’ from the wide receiver group…
UMass WR prospect Andy Isabella (seven rec., 74 yards, one TD, one carry for 14 yards) was the top name entering this week and leaves the event with his status as ‘top guy’ intact. What you expected from Isabella, a Julian Edelman-like performance, is exactly what you got. A lot of quick-hitter throws and Isabella making the most of them. Was named game MVP for his team.
West Virginia WR prospect Gary Jennings (two rec., 64 yards, one TD) flew under the radar all week, but he was one of the most impressive wide receivers. Sticky hands, making catches all over — the Tyree Jackson bomb was 10% throw and 90% Jennings making a terrific catch. Jennings has been virtually ignored this whole week — a beautiful fantasy sleeper depending upon landing spot.
Clemson WR prospect Hunter Renfrow (five rec. for 63 yards and no TDs), a prospect that I could not have been more wrong about from my pre-event week preview scouting. At a glance, I thought ‘too small, too thin…why is he here?‘ He Adam Humphries‘d his way through this week. Great story. Good player. Bad pre-scouting by me.
Georgia State WR prospect Penny Hart (one rec. for seven yards and no TDs) was as good a wide receiver as there was at the Senior Bowl. He was beating DBs in drills all week. However, he never really caught Jon Gruden’s attention. He didn’t start. He didn’t play much. Hart’s NFL prospects stayed under the radar this week…no draft stock bump coming. Definite sleeper for dynasty rookie drafts ahead.
Marshall WR prospect Tyre Brady (one rec. for 11 yards) ran as a starter for his squad from opening practice to this game but never did anything to catch attention. I thought that among the 6’1″+/210+ ‘bigger’ WR prospects that UC Davis’s Keelan Doss (four rec. for 55 yards) stole the draft stock from Brady.
Old Dominion WR prospect Travis Fulgham (one rec. for seven yards) had some strong ‘sleeper’ buzz entering this week and it looked like he had the size/skill combo to make some noise, but he did not stand out at all. I forgot he was here by Thursday. I had to double check that he played in this game Saturday. Has the body but didn’t show much else.
The Tight End Prospects
Not a great/exciting class of tight ends at the Senior Bowl, and the one really interesting TE prospect, Donald Parham (because he measured legit 6’8″+), got hurt and had to miss the last half of the week.
WINNER: Foster Moreau (LSU)
Was the winner of the ‘Practice Award’ for the tight end group this week. A pretty athletic, nice bounce in his step TE prospect with decent hands was criminally underutilized in the passing game at LSU. Moreau showed he could hold his own as a blocker and move around well in the passing game this week. His stock is rising. He could be interesting for fantasy landing in the right spot, starting right away in the NFL.
LOSER: Caleb Wilson (UCLA)
Wilson was the late fill-in for the injured Parham and finished out the week and got some nice playing time in practice and in the game, but anyone could see he was not as talented or athletic as the top TE prospects here. The thing is… Wilson was being pushed as the top college tight end prospect by most analysts before the 2018 college season. He fell down some in-season, and this Senior Bowl pretty well finished off any serious draft prospects.
THE IDP Prospects
Strictly thinking in an IDP/fantasy sense…
WINNER: Mississippi State DE prospect Montez Sweat
Sweat came out of the Senior Bowl week as the top defensive prospect, a potential top-10 pick in the draft. 6’6″+/252 with an 85.5″ wingspan who showed top pass rusher skills off the edge and also showed an ability to play the run.
Sweat gets the nod over ILB prospect David Long, West Virginia (two tackles, one PD, one fumb. rec.), who belongs in the IDP conversation as a legit tackle hog in the middle who has a knack for getting TFLs.
LOSER: Louisiana Tech DE prospect Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson was the guy getting a push from the analysts before the practices began, but I didn’t feel he lived up to the hype this week. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t as impressive as advertised. Where Montez Sweat jumped off your TV screen, Ferguson felt lost in the crowd of solid D-Linemen. He’ll be on a lot of ‘winner’ lists, but I think that’s because he was talked about so much that he felt like someone important. In watching practices and noting things, for me, I never had ‘a moment’ with Ferguson where I saw ‘it.’
Alright, another Senior Bowl in the books. Time for me to go back and update my pre-Senior Bowl grades on the prospects for my College Football Metrics website analyzing the NFL Draft prospects, and getting prepared for the NFL Combine extravaganza.
Look for the fourth Season of my summer series for FantasyPros – Very Deep Sleepers (for Fantasy Football) this offseason. A link to all of last year’s 17 reports/episodes: 2018 VDS Series
Look for more of my team’s NFL Draft scouting reports, measurables, and weekly updated dynasty rookie rankings before and after the NFL Draft, right up to the beginning of the new NFL season at College Football Metrics. See our NFL/fantasy analysis all year ’round at Fantasy Football Metrics.