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2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl: North Team Game Recap Notes

2018 Reese's Senior Bowl

2018 Reese's Senior Bowl
Josh Allen put on a show at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl and maybe proved that he’s worthy of the number one overall pick in 2018 (Glenn Andrews/USA TODAY Sports)

The 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl down in Mobile Alabama is a must-see event that displays some of the best college football players in the country. For all these graduating college athletes, the Senior Bowl gives them an opportunity to showcase their talent before the 2018 NFL Draft. In this edition, we will discuss the 2018 North team’s possible NFL Draft prospects.

The North frankly got their tail kicked today. The team coached by Vance Joseph got humiliated 45-16 by Bill O’Brien’s South team. Maybe the Broncos should have fired Vance Joseph after all consider the Senior Bowl reps gave most of the good players to the North since Houston doesn’t own a first or second-round pick. The South team won 45-16 where the North team put up almost no fight defensively. This game is going to be tough to evaluate because it’s possible Vance Joseph is just a clueless moron. Nevertheless, who stood out for better or worse for the North during the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl?


Baker Mayfield started the game and played two different series. Mayfield went three and out in the first series and settled for a field goal in the second. Let’s just come right out and say it, Mayfield was awful. He went just 3-7 for 9 yards to go with a rating of 53.7. I’m not sure he could have looked worse, to be honest. Why can’t people be honest about this, Mayfield is vastly overrated by the public. I’ll start from the beginning.

On the first drive, Mayfield had a third down to continue the drive. For a guy who is supposed to be “uber-athletic” Mayfield stays in the pocket and just eats a sack.

Okay, fine, it’s just one play, right? I mean he could have checked it down for a few to Kalen Ballage, but let’s not overreact. The next drive, Mayfield shows some of the limitations that are going to phase him at the next level. In the first portion of the clip, Mayfield gets his pass swatted by the same guy who sacked him on the earlier drive. Mayfield’s height is a huge question mark considering he is just 6-foot. The only quarterback who has really made it at the height without great athleticism is Drew Brees. Let’s also not forget that it’s possible Drew Brees never makes it if doctors don’t turn his arm into a robotic contraception but that’s a story for another day.

In the second portion of the clip, Mayfield misses the target breaking free from the secondary. If you noticed the score, receivers were wide open pretty much all day too. It’s really a simplified defense with rules in place to deter away from blitzing or any kind of exotic defense. Can I ask the question of whether the rain-affected him? For a guy that has small hands (9-1/2 inch) and a slightly above average arm, maybe he isn’t built for a cold weather city. It’s a fair question to ask considering he was more accurate during the week of practice in perfect weather conditions.

Are we sure Lincoln Riley wasn’t just a genius play-caller or that the Big 12 is a ridiculous video game conference? Did I mention that Baker also went home halfway through the game? Really, you couldn’t stand on the sideline with your teammates? The word is that he went to go see his sick mother but why did he even play in the game if he was just going to leave after two series. Finish what you start and that includes supporting the other guys on the sidelines. I would say his talent level is comparable to a 4th round pick, backup level guy but his demeanor probably makes him a big-time pass. I haven’t even gotten to the Heisman trophy curse, looks like a future piece is on the way.

Josh Allen stole the show for the North team and really started to get them back into the game for a moment. Allen went 9-13 for 158 yards, two touchdowns, and a rating of 222.1. Allen had a bit of a slow start (likely because of really conservative play calling) but really came out firing in the second half.

The biggest question we had about the Wyoming signal caller was his pure touch. He missed on a few throws earlier and struggles to get into a rhythm but once he finds that groove, look out. On the field touchdown throw, Allen executes a play-action throw where only his guy can make the catch. Allen only completed 56 percent of his throws in college surrounded by a bad team. This throw to Tyler Conklin was dropped right in the bread basket with ease.

Let’s not forget what Allen does really well, throw darts down the field. When you’re talking arm strength, no one in the 2018 class has better pure tools that Allen. The ball comes off his hand like a rocket. Even a fast defender like Shaquem Griffin didn’t have a chance to chase down the slow-footed Durham Smythe because Allen just flat out ripped it. Also, love the fact that Allen consistently looked off the safety with his eyes and really set on his back foot. His footwork has really improved and showed he can let it rip within the confines of the pocket. We saw just about everything this guy offers on Saturday. He evaded pressure and picked up some first downs with his legs. He even took a hit from a defender and still completed a pass which isn’t surprising coming from 6-foot-5 gunslinger. We also all know about that fastball he has recording the highest velocity of any quarterback during the week.

Luke Falk did not play in this game because he was attending a funeral. Unfortunately, that meant we had to see more of Tanner Lee, a quarterback I have been making fun of for the entire week. Lee was right on schedule to prove me right again, he stinks. Lee went 8-19 for 86 yards along with an interception and fumble. This guy just missed wide open throws the entire game. In fact, when Lee took over full time, the South went on a 27-0 run to close out the game. I’m not sure this guy would hit water if he fell out of a boat, it was embarrassing. You will notice as you continue to read the article, when something positive happened Josh Allen was the quarterback and vice versa.

Running Backs:

Kalen Ballage of Arizona State continues to just impress me. I’m starting to think his lack of college production was more to do with Todd Graham. Think about it, his college coach got fired for Herm Edwards who might be one of the dumbest humans on the face of the earth. Anyway, Ballage is a physical freak at 6-foot-2, 222, with great speed. I would be shocked if he doesn’t run a 4.4 with the way he cut upfield on the toss plays to the outside. The former Sun Devil running back finished the game with 57 rushing yards on 10 attempts.

In the clips below, I loved how Ballage found the hole and hit it with precision. During my time covering the draft, I tend to prefer backs who create collusion rather than bounce off defenders. Trent Richardson during his time at Alabama used to bounce off defenders. Ballage makes them crumble. I’m starting to think that he can be an every-down back worthy of a second-round pick which sounds like insane based on his college production. I mean look at these rounds and tell me this isn’t a physical freak that every team wouldn’t love to have.

Akrum Wadley was used as a scat back almost. I’m not sure he’s anything more than a gimmick third down guy. He did rush for 38 yards on 8 carries but isn’t overly explosive. Jaylen Samuels sort of proved he isn’t much of a running back. Samuels rushed for 3.7 yards a pop on 10 carries. He did add two catches for 14 yards where his real value in the NFL is. Whether he lines up in the backfield or in line as a blocker, Samuels has value to do everything. I’m just not exactly sure how that’s going to work yet.

Wide Receivers:

Michael Gallup of Colorado State led the way with three catches for 60 yards. His long, of course, came on that 31-yard catch from Allen in the clip above. Gallup has plus wheels and has flashed during the week as a route runner. Gallup is probably looking at some sort of slot role in the NFL.

I was surprised DaeSean Hamilton had a quiet game. He only had one catch for five yards but was probably the best receiver on the field during the practice portion. Cedrick Wilson of Boise State also had a quiet game. He wasn’t nearly as good in during the practices but also improved his stock enough to get the invite after the East-West showing.

The best pure catch of the day probably goes to the Ivy League product, Justin Watson. The Penn wide receiver only had one catch but it sure was a good one. On a beautiful throw by Josh Allen, Watson gets by Siran Neal and hauls in the grab. Watson didn’t catch my eye much during the week but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a shot to be a late-round pick. Watson has good size at 6-foot-2 and has good movement ability.

Tight Ends:

I thought three of the four tight ends fared well. Tony Fumagalli either didn’t play at all or just didn’t catch a pass. I’ll have to go back and review that. Either way, I wasn’t too impressed with him during the week regardless. The others played very well despite the loss. Mike Gesicki of Penn State wowed me on the final day of practice and consistently won in the red area. He reeled in three grabs for 39 yards in the game and improved his stock. Gesicki is simply a really good route runner and always finds a way to create space from the defender. The only downside is he isn’t the best blocker in the world.

Tyler Conklin of Central Michigan and Durham Smythe of Notre Dame both came away with touchdowns. Conklin showed some nice athleticism as a former basketball player. You can see in the touchdown thrown by Allen, he actually lines up at fullback and outruns Darius Leonard for the score. Conklin also blocked well.

The best pure blocker of the tight ends goes to Smythe. When you talk about sealing the edge in the run game, Smythe did that all afternoon. Smythe didn’t have a ton of production because he was used primarily for that blocking role. However, we did see that this dude can definitely catch a ball thrown his way. Smythe lead all tight ends with three catches for 48 yards and a score. He caught one on a beautiful play action ball by Josh Allen. The important thing in the NFL when dealing with game planning is now that we know Smythe can catch, you can’t just assume this guy will stand in and block every time. That’s a great weapon to have for a play caller. Is he the fastest tight end? No, but he has some wiggle to him with powerful hands. You have to have some juice to you out running Shaquem Griffin.

Offensive Line:

It’s hard to watch five offensive linemen at the same time so I will have to review the film but there are definitely some things that jump out. Most of the time if you don’t hear the guys name on the broadcast, that means he probably did a pretty good job. So I’m going to break this into two paragraphs. One for the good, one for the bad.

The left side of the starters had a great day. From left tackle to center, that included Tyrell Crosby of Oregon, Will Hernandez of Utep, and Mason Cole of Michigan. A lot of the big runs in the ground game came on that first possession. What I found so interesting was watching Will Hernandez pull around the corner and clear the way for Kalen Ballage. For a 330 pound guard, I wasn’t sure how well Hernandez could move. Well, forget that concern because he just goes out and kills people. Crosby was really the only sure pass protector out there for the North. He has ideal size and really didn’t allow a pressure during his game action. I should really throw Wyatt Teller in this mix, the other guard in the starting lineup by Will Hernandez was overshadowing him. Teller and Cole were just all but solid in both the run and pass game. Just like I said earlier, the North had better players. Maybe Vance Joseph was the problem.

I also give Jamil Demby of Maine a lot of credit, he got stuck dealing with Marcus Davenport for much of the second half. The problem is he is a guard or right tackle, not a left tackle. However, I do really like what I saw from him during the practices which explains why he likely got the reps at left tackle during game action.

Now it’s time for the bad. I’m not sure how you can draft Brett Toth at this point. Sure he moves really well, there’s no doubt about that. He even kicked up down the field on some run plays which is what he was accustomed to doing in college. The problem is he can’t block anybody. Oh, did I also mention he has to finish up his Army commitment for at least two years delaying his NFL debut? Marquis Haynes pretty much dominated him in the second half as the entire second unit for the North was pretty abysmal up front. Watch Toth at the bottom of the screen below. I seriously can’t tell you what he’s trying to accomplish.

The same can be said for Brian O’Neill, the Pitt tackle. He moves well but he can’t block anyone either. O’Neill couldn’t block anyone all week in practice either so I’m not sure why I’m surprised. He was just a complete eyesore at right tackle in the starting lineup. It also tells you something when all the big runs in the game came from the left side of the line. You can see in the clip above in the Mayfield section at the right tackle spot, he’s high in his stance and just gets completely bullied in his hand fighting. Sean Welsh and Scott Quessenberry were also bad in the game which continues the trend from practice.

Defensive Line:

The Buckeyes showed up well in this game. Despite being downright awful in practice, Jalyn Holmes played well recording two tackles for loss. Tyquan Lewis, the more polished version, also recorded two tackles for loss. Lewis is really a nightmare at times. He comes with scheme versatility and probably makes up part of the best defensive line in college football this past season.

I mean you can really just pick a name out of a hat when it comes to the interior defensive lineman. NC State was unblockable whether it be B.J. Hill or Justin Jones. Even Bilal Nichols came in as a late add from the East-West Game and made an impact. Harrison Phillips of Stanford even showed out. In the clip below, it gives you a sense of the kind of pressure this line was forcing. Too bad they still got crushed.


Nick DeLuca flashed a bit in the practices as sort of a downhill thumper. He was tied for second on the North team with 6 tackles. Fred Warner of BYU was the other with 6 tackles, a player who I haven’t talked about at all. It was odd to watch as Dewey Jarvis, a late add from Brown was on the field but didn’t play particularly well. I’m not sure any of those linebackers are worthy of anything more than a fifth-round pick.

In terms of specific tools, Mike McCray of Michigan showed he can really cover. When scheming for sub-package linebackers, McCray broke up two passes that really should have been completions. He played well in the run game with 5 tackles but more importantly moved well around the field.

In terms of edge rushers, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had a pretty nice day. There were times he got engulfed by a huge tackle but other times where his speed was overwhelming. He has to stand up in the NFL so the combine will be important for his stock. Kemoko Turray was named the MVP of pass rushers and for good reason. Turray has really good bend around the corner along with perfect size (6-foot-4, 255). Watch him come around the corner and smoke Mike White. I wonder what position he really is but he stood out.

Defensive Backs:

It’s hard to find a defensive back you like when the entire secondary gets shredded for 45 points. Think about it, this secondary gave up 5 passing touchdowns! I said it all week in practice, I seriously couldn’t find a defensive back I liked.

I bragged up Michael Joseph of Dubuque in practice. The problem was it turns out that he can’t run at all. This dude got smoked time and time again on deep balls. These are the times when we find out the small school guy can’t hang. Scratch the praise, Joseph isn’t going to make it. Could he be any further behind D.J. Chark?

Seriously, what can you even say? The corner situation was so bad that they had a safety, Armani Watts, playing corner. Even the players that did well, what can you really say. Secdrick Cooper came away with an interception but didn’t do anything else. I also didn’t get to see him in practice after getting added so late. Therefore, I can’t comment on my thoughts. I mean just look at DeMarcus King here.

If I have to pick out an MVP of the group, Trayvon Henderson of Hawaii showed he can tackle well as an in the box safety. Henderson notched a team-high 10 tackles and wrapped up well. He might be the best safety of the group. I’m just not sure how fast he is or high well he can cover. Does that explain the struggle I’m having writing this section?

On the corner side, I think Isaac Yiadom has to be the clear MVP. He didn’t allow a reception and has really great long speed. He might not ever be an interception machine but he plays the ball really well. Duke Dawson also played well but he’s probably a safety lacking long speed.

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