2019 Senior Bowl: Deebo Samuel wins the week, Deshaun Davis and Rock Ya-Sin make their case
The South squad may not have the marquee QBs, but they have playmakers at virtually every other position
MOBILE, Ala. -- The weather finally broke for the last padded practice at the Senior Bowl on Thursday, and under cloudless skies many of the players who impressed early in the week continued to do so with the game now two days away.
The conversation starts with South Carolina's Deebo Samuel, who had the best week of anyone. Coming into Mobile, scouts questioned Samuel's deep speed -- he averaged 14 yards per reception in college -- and he answered those questions from the moment he stepped on the field. He ran by defenders all week, and also flashed his jaw-dropping change-of-direction skills during red zone drills on Thursday.
This is the first stop on the predraft caravan that winds its way to Nashville in late April for the 2019 NFL Draft, but Samuel has gone a long way in erasing the biggest concerns about him when he arrived in Mobile.
The same can be said for Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis, who we identified as one of the players to watch heading into Senior Bowl week. We noted last week that the issue scouts most wanted clarity on was Davis' ability to drop into coverage.
Davis admitted before the first practice that his strength is, in fact, stopping the run -- that's what he was known for at Auburn. But he can cover, too, something he showed throughout the week.
And here's your friendly reminder that Davis remains laser-focused on getting to the quarterback too; here he is during one-on-one drills with running back Bruce Anderson, who never had a chance:
Rock Ya-Sin impresses in Mobile
The NFL loves big, physical cornerbacks, and Rock Ya-Sin is a 6-foot--2, 190-pound playmaker. He starred at Temple last season after transferring from Presbyterian College in South Carolina after the school was dropped from FCS to a non-scholarship program. The move to FBS wasn't a problem for Ya-Sin, who had two interceptions and 12 passes defended in 12 games with the Owls.
He was just as tenacious in Mobile this week, regularly going up against Deebo Samuel and more than holding his own against our MVP of Senior Bowl practices.
And here Ya-Sin is against Anthony Johnson, another physical wideout:
There's more: Ya-Sin, despite being 6-foot-2, was one of the fastest players at Thursday's practice, according to Zebra Technology, just behind Deebo Samuel.
Scouts have known about Ya-Sin since the late summer, and he quietly continued to make a name for himself until this week, when he burst onto the scene. Now there's talk that he could be a first-round pick, and while Greedy Williams remains the most athletic cornerback in this class, Ya-Sin isn't far behind.
More notes from Thursday's practice
- Rock Ya-Sin wasn't the only long, physical cornerback on the South roster. Lonnie Johnson Jr. is 6-foot-3, 206 pounds and played on a really good Kentucky defense. While he's still raw, he has all the measurables. And when Johnson puts it all together, it's a lot of fun to watch:
- New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks has impressed scouts with his athleticism, and he's already drawing comparisons to Darius Leonard, the Colts 2018 second-round pick who led the NFL in tackles.
- Clemson wideout Hunter Renfrow has flown under the radar this week but that's the nature of his game. He's not going to beat you in a footrace but he's the savviest player on the field, and that served him well in Mobile.
- Texas A&M's Daylon Mack has made himself some money these last two weeks, starting at the Shrine Bowl where he was unblockable and continuing this week where he was ... unblockable against better competition. After an up and down 2017 season, Mack caught fire down the stretch in 2018. If he can maintain that consistency in the NFL, he'll have a long career.
- Oshane Ximines has one of the best names at the Senior Bowl, and the Old Dominion standout has also made his case as an edge rusher. He's only 247 pounds, which sometimes makes it difficult for him to get off blocks, but he had one of the quickest first steps we saw this week and that will serve him well at the next level.
- No conversation about Senior Bowl week would be complete without mentioning Montez Sweat, the Mississippi State defensive end who logged 22.5 sacks his last two seasons. He's big, physical and strong -- all things NFL teams want in an edge rusher -- but he came to Mobile with questions about his flexibility around the edge. He answered those questions and then some; we've regularly had Sweat going near the end of the first round in most of our mock drafts, but we wouldn't be surprised if he ends up among the first 15 players selected.
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