The college all-star circuit is complete, draft meetings start this week for a lot of teams and the combine is three weeks away. Here are some notes we have from the last couple of weeks …
1) After Texas’s Bijan Robinson and Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, there’s a traffic jam of running backs in this year’s class jockeying for position in the Day 2 and Day 3 mix. To that end, a couple of guys were able to make progress at the Senior Bowl. One clear winner was Tulane’s Tyjae Spears: Multiple evaluators raised his name after he built off a strong season and bowl game with a good week catching the ball, running routes and running after the catch, which is (obviously) vital in today’s game.
2) Houston WR Nathaniel Dell will be picked apart for his size (he came in at 5'8" and 163 pounds), but his explosiveness and open-field ability most certainly stood out, as scouts project him into the sort of do-everything slot role we’ve seen brought to life in the NFL in recent years. Meanwhile, Stanford’s Michael Wilson might’ve been the best pure receiver at the Senior Bowl, while Michigan State’s Jayden Reed also impressed with his clean route-running and ability to catch anything thrown his way.
3) Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave was one of the players scouts were most excited to see, and he didn’t disappoint. He checked in at 6'5" and 255 pounds, and he showed off his physicality, route-running ability, speed and hands. (All of which matter since injury cut his final college season short after two games.) It wouldn’t be a surprise if Musgrave is the first tight end taken, in front of Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, who’s been on the NFL’s radar since he was a true freshman.
4) The battle we wrote about last week to be the first right tackle taken will march on, with Tennessee’s Darnell Wright and Ohio State’s Dawand Jones both having shown well in Mobile. At 342 pounds, Wright flashed solid movement skills, while the 375-pound Jones broke the Senior Bowl record for wingspan (89.5"!!). And it was a good week for the linemen in general, with Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron, Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz, Alabama OT Tyler Steen (who looked good playing some inside) and Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan all helping themselves.
5) Iowa State edge Will McDonald IV and Kansas State’s tall, long CB Julius Brents both came away from the week having elevated their stock at premium defensive spots.
6) Fresno State QB Jake Haener, the MVP of the actual game, had a good week despite it being a mediocre one in general at his position. Haener’s reputation for being heady and a gamer, if lacking a bit in size (6 feet and 200 pounds), showed up consistently. Haener certainly won’t crack the draft’s top quarterback group (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson) and is probably still behind Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, too. But among and against the next group of quarterbacks, Haener made progress last week.