Senior Bowl Observations
* *Reese's Senior Bowl week continued in Mobile, Alabama, with practices on Wednesday. The week leads up to the Senior Bowl, which airs from Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 1:30 p.m. CT this Saturday on the NFL Network.
- Conditions at the Senior Bowl improved on Wednesday, but it remained cold
On Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, there was a real threat of rain throughout the day, but the schedule didn't allow for adjustments. Wednesday's practices were shifted from the morning to the afternoon, so, while chilly, this allowed for a rain-free afternoon in Mobile.
As noted by Bleacher Report's lead NFL Draft writer, Matt Miller the temperature dip into the 40s can actually help evaluators, because as we know, weather conditions aren't always perfect on Sundays in the National Football League:
- Missouri offensive lineman Connor McGovern has been ruled out for the remainder of Senior Bowl Week due to injury
As noted in Tuesday's observations, Missouri's McGovern left the South team practice very early on Tuesday during drills. On Wednesday, he was ruled out of Senior Bowl activities for the remainder of the week with a hamstring injury.
Here were the other moves for both teams announced Wednesday morning:
Lost: Ohio State linebacker Josh Perry (groin)
Added: Arizona State running back D.J. Foster
Lost:Florida tight end Jake McGee (hamstring); Missouri offensive lineman Connor McGovern (hamstring)
Added:Arkansas State tight end Darion Griswold
North team practice observations
- Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller continues to the talk of the Senior Bowl
Most of the late buzz entering the week surrounded North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, but since the practices have begun, the analysts in Mobile can't say enough good things about OSU wideout Braxton Miller.
During the one-on-one portion of practice Wednesday, Miller consistently beat his defender regardless of who was up against him, and when the practice script switched to 11-on-11, that theme carried over.
- Boise State safety Darian Thompson may be the best defensive back in the Senior Bowl game
Just as Miller performed well on the offensive side of the ball, it could be said that Boise State safety Darian Thompson had just as good a day on the defensive side of the ball.
Thompson showed speed and an ability to stay stride for stride with some of the North team's best receivers. During times in practice when Thompson dropped into zone coverage, he still made the extra effort to go for ball that could be potentially be picked off out of the air for interceptions.
In addition, during the 11-on-11 scrimmage, Thompson showed a knack for seeing a play develop in the backfield on rushing attempts.
- Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib overpowered North team offensive linemen
Younger brother of New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib, Penn State's Carl Nassib had a nice day for the North team on Wednesday as well.
Nassib looked especially good in the offensive line-versus-defensive line drills, where he consistently dominated opposing offensive linemen using a bull-rush move. On this particular play, Nassib is shown beating Stanford offensive tackle Kyle Murphy.
He will be someone to watch closely in Saturday's Senior Bowl game.
South team practice observations
- South team wide receivers Sterling Shepard, Charone Peake and K.J. Maye all looked like they will be draft prospects
The wide receiver trio of Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard, Clemson's Charone Peake and Minnesota's K.J. Maye is a fun group to watch for the South team, and they showed up once again on Wednesday.
Shepard got opposing defensive backs to bite a number of times during one-on-one drills using sharp quickness and solid route running, especially on comeback routes.
Maye had one of the noteable plays of the day on opposing defensive back Sean Davis out of Maryland. Maye beat Davis bad on a double move that found him 5 yards ahead of him and wide open for a touchdown in a one-on-one drill.
- A special teams note—Duke's Ross Martin hits a 60-yard field goal
Remember the name of Duke kicker Ross Martin, who hit a 60-yard field goal during the South team's practice. The kick drew an audible cheer from the crowd.
- Defensive lineman Noah Spence continued to build a very strong case
- A "look-who-it-is" moment: former Chiefs offensive coordinator and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson answered questions at the Senior Bowl
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT – NORTHERN IOWA DEFENSIVE BACK DEIONDRE' HALL
From Blue Springs, Missouri, to the University of Northern Iowa, to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
That's the very literal pathway for Northern Iowa defensive back Deiondre' Hall, an admitted Kansas City Chiefs fan and a former Blue Springs High School basketball and track standout who decided to pick up football during his junior year as a Wildcat.
"I saw that I could get a scholarship for it," he explained. "Basketball always got pushed by my mom and dad. You know—'Get a scholarship for this, make it happen.' They're both basketball players. So when football came on, junior year, I finally got a chance."
Hall took to football right away. Like with basketball and track, Hall explained that he fell in love with the game. During his senior season with the Wildcats, he played both offense and defense as a wide receiver and free safety, respectfully.
On offense, Hall had 35 receptions for 710 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 52 tackles, 8 pass breakups and 4 interceptions. Hall received first-team all-state honors and his Wildcats team finished with a 7-3 record. Hall was also named a finalist for the Otis Taylor Award, given to the best receiver or tight end in the Kansas City area.
But even despite all that success, Hall didn't receive many college offers—that was until the University of Northern Iowa reached out.
"My senior year of high school, I was still on edge of what I really wanted to do," Hall explained. "Actually getting a scholarship UNI stuck with me. They gave me the chance, they gave me the opportunity."
Hall started 6 games as a true freshman for Northern Iowa in 2012, and then became a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2013. Hall led UNI in interceptions in each of the past two seasons, recording 5 in 2014 and 6 in 2015. At the end of the 2015 season, Hall was named as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Associated Press and Athletic Director Associations' All-America first teams.
It was that level of skill, along with unusually high arm length (34 3/4") and wingspan (82 3/8") measures, that drew intrigue from NFL teams and got Hall an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
And now that he's in Mobile, he said he wants scouts to know just how hard he's willing to work to achieve his dream.
"I'm a hard working guy, as generic as it may sound," he said. "I'm a hard worker and I'm long. So I think that's one of the bigger things right now for coming out as a corner or a defensive back. Teams are liking the longer corners. I'm a physical guy. I'm not afraid to stick my head in there and get in the action."
Ask him about his Chiefs fandom, and the local Kansas Citian in Hall lights up. As it turns out, Hall's favorite player is someone he shares a namesake with.
"I use to love Dante Hall—dude was just so nasty with the ball," he said. "That Broncos game I remember that punt return and him just juking everybody back and took that back."
But back then he was just a fan; now, he could have a one in 32 chance of becoming an actual member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Just the thought of that overwhelms Hall.
"That would be huge," he said. "[For] draft day and what not, I'll definitely be back home in Kansas City, so if I was to get that call, that would be huge."