MOBILE, Ala. -- The 70th annual Senior Bowl is in the books and the storyline to start the week remains the same: It's all about the quarterbacks. Missouri's Drew Lock and Duke's Daniel Jones came to Mobile as potential first-round picks looking to improve their draft stock. Several NFL evaluators told CBSSports.com early in the week that they were split on Lock and Jones, but that's almost certainly changed.
Yes, Jones was named Senior Bowl Most Valuable Player -- he went 8 of 11 for 115 yards and a touchdown, which led all North passers -- but the numbers don't tell the entire story. With temperatures in the mid-50s, the sun shining and hardly any wind to speak of, Jones' downfield passes regularly wobbled, and many of the throws he got away with here on Saturday would be interceptions in the NFL. Ohio State's Terry McLaurin made a nice adjustment on a flea flicker pass from Jones that was slightly underthrown and behind the wide receiver.
That play was good for 25 yards. A player later, this happened:
On the stat sheet that's two throws, 44 yards and a score for Jones. Never mind that McLaurin did all the work on the first pass and Andy Isabella -- one of our players to watch heading into the week -- took a screen pass, hit full speed two steps later and broke a tackle on his way to the end zone. All he does is make plays; Isabella led the NCAA with 141 receiving yards a game, and he led the Senior Bowl with seven catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
And while Jones gets the MVP hardware, those watching know that Lock was the real star. He started the game and was composed from the first snap when he rolled right only to find Montez Sweat in his face, made an arm-angle adjustment to find McLaurin for a 12-yard gain. First down. Two plays later Lock pump-faked the defense out of position and came back to NC State's Jakobi Meyers across the middle, but Meyers couldn't hang on.
A series later and facing fourth-and-4, Lock rolled right and found Isabella for an eight-yard gain. It was poised, effortless -- and something an NFL quarterback is expected to do. But it was the pass on second-and-10 from the South's 26 that we'll remember most.
Yes, that's an incompletion but Lock put it the only place he could and McLaurin couldn't come up with it. That's the throw scouts will be talking about.
Not much else to get excited about at QB
It's worth stating this -- and repeating it every few paragraphs: One game isn't going to make or break any of these players. Practices are more important for scouts, coaching and general managers -- it's why most of them headed out of town by Thursday -- but even with that caveat, the quarterbacks not named Lock were, in general, underwhelming.
There were exceptions -- NC State's Ryan Finley entered in the second half was looked a lot like the Ryan Finley we've seen throughout his college career: great anticipation thrower who sometimes struggles to come off his first read. Still, he was extremely poised in the pocket, and his best throw came in the third quarter when he threw to his right, just clearing Miami safety Jaquan Johnson who was flashing underneath, and hit UC Davis wideout Keelan Doss in stride for an eight-yard gain.
Doss, an FCS standout, told us this week that he was in Mobile to prove that he could consistently get off the line of scrimmage and create separation. Mission accomplished.
Two plays after finding Doss, Finley had college teammate Jakobi Meyers lined up to his right. He knew where he was going before the snap, taking three steps before firing a back-shoulder throw in Meyers' direction that is just slightly underthrown. Meyers couldn't hang out, but he'll tell you he should always make that play.
If Finley was the most efficient passer on the field, Buffalo's Tyree Jackson was the most exciting. He didn't see the field until the fourth quarter, and he wasn't interested in easing his way into things. Instead, Jackson came out firing:
We've talked all week about Lock's arm, but Jackson's might be better. The issue, not surprisingly, is that sometimes Jackson struggles with accuracy and timing. That wasn't the case on the 54-yard bomb above, or on the laser he threw a player later to West Virginia's Gary Jennings.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Jackson was unfazed because he came right back and found West Virginia's David Sills on a back-shoulder throw that required both timing and touch.
There's a lot to like about Jackson's game, but he's still raw and will require time to develop at the next level.
Other players who shined
Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu told us this week that he was "a bigger version of Chandler Jones." He looked like it on Saturday. He just missed a strip-sack early in the game and his hard work paid off in the third quarter:
And he just missed another sack against Jackson in the fourth quarter.
The talk all week was about how Montez Sweat was getting after it. Kansas State's Dalton Risner w would have none of it on Saturday, doing a great job to keep Sweat off the stat sheet (he finished with one tackle; it was impressive, for sure, but you'd like to see more). Risner is expected to kick inside in the NFL, where he'll be a Day 1 starter, but it's clear he can play tackle too. He and Boston College's Chris Lindstrom (another potential first-rounder) were doing work during the game
Chris Lindstrom and Dalton Risner we’re getting fired up with each other all week. Risner said to @BenjaminSolak “I love Lindstrom. That dude’s a Guard. He’s a GUARD!” Not sure what that means but their combo blocks are pretty #SeniorBowl: pic.twitter.com/W792Cu3tfs— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 26, 2019
It was a tough afternoon for Kris Boyd, the Texas cornerback who had a good start to his week. He told us after Tuesday's practice that he loves playing press man but needs to work on his technique. We saw evidence of that on the South's second series when he was twice flagged for pass interference.
Hunter Renfrow remains awesome.
He won't be a first-round pick, and he may not go on Day 2 either. But whichever team takes Renfrow will get a lot of what we saw above -- and every week at Clemson where he played in 53 games and had more than 2,100 receiving yards.