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Senior Bowl Takeaways: Final Thoughts and Data

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After observing a week of practice down in Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl week, the FTN crew collected their final observations. The team also took a dive into the FTN Data practice charting for some numerical confirmation on what they saw with their eyes.

Full disclosure: Obviously, these sample sizes are small, and 1v1 drills are not designed for defenders to be successful. This was just a cool exercise in using data to confirm what we were all seeing through the week.

All data cited in this article is per FTN Data.

 

Brett Whitefield’s Takeaways

  • Liberty QB Malik Willis looked sharp all week. While no QB had a “flawless” week, Willis was clearly the best on the field and also impressed me with how engaged he was, often coaching guys up on the sideline or helping the other QBs through drills. Willis also took his coaching to heart and really pushed himself to get through his progressions while also resisting the urge to scramble or check the ball down. The same could not be said for the other QBs. Willis has the temperament and raw tools to be a franchise QB. The only hurdle he faces now is proving to teams he can be a more consistent thrower of the football. This week was a good start though as he was by far the most accurate QB in Mobile putting 92.6% of his passes “on target.”

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  • Tennessee WR Velus Jones Jr. was impressive all week and likely improved his stock quite a bit. As a guy who was off my radar, I thought Jones showcased incredible burst and speed running routes this week on his way to ranking second in WR win rate generating separation on 92.9% of his routes in 1v1 drills. Perhaps more impressively, he tied for first in what we at FTN Data call “high-quality wins” in which the receiver generates at least two full steps of separation. Jones is an older prospect in this year’s draft so will likely have an uphill battle as far as proving his value to NFL teams but hopefully for him, this week went a long way in proving maybe he has value as a WR4 deep threat.
 

Derek Brown’s Takeaways

  • Former Florida Gator RB Dameon Pierce had a banner week. For a player who never racked up more than 123 touches in any season in college, he flashed three-down size and skill set. Pierce measuring in at 5-foot-9 and 220 pounds while excelling in both pass protection drills and 1-on-1s was a delight to see. He was one of only three running backs to log a 100% win rate (he had five targets) in 1-on-1 receiving drills. 
  • I’m walking away from Senior Bowl week higher on WR Khalil Shakir than when I entered the process. He looked slow in and out of his breaks during positional drills during the first day, but as the week progressed, he flipped the switch. Shakir finished second among wide receivers in win rate (92.9%) during his 1-on-1 reps. He also came down with both of his contested catch opportunities. The numbers back up what my eyes saw all week as he was creating separation with ease against various corners. 
  • Sam Howell entered the process QB1 on many draft boards. If you were looking for Howell to separate himself from the pack or justify your belief in his skill set, then you’re probably disappointed with his showing in Mobile. Howell had a roller-coaster week overall as a passer, finishing third in adjusted completion rate (58.8%) and dead last in on-target pass rate (68.6%). Howell’s collegiate resume, skillset, and the completion of this quarterback class will keep him in the first-round conversation, but he needs a strong showing at his pro day to help his draft stock. 
 

Chris Wecht’s Takeaways

  • Only one wide receiver won on each of his 1v1 routes versus a defensive back, and that was Memphis WR Calvin Austin III. He is small but had no trouble giving his QB a throwing window for each route. That included two “high-quality wins” where he had significant separation from the defender. He will likely never develop into a true WR1 for his future NFL team, but he can definitely find a role in the slot for a team that takes a shot on him.