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Senior Bowl Practice Report: Final thoughts from a busy week in Mobile

(Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)

My time at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl has come to a close. In 14 years of traveling to Mobile, Ala., I have never stayed for the actual game on Saturday. In fact, most scouts, general managers or coaches that are here in Alabama do not stay for the game either. Instead, everyone heads for the airport after Thursday’s practice wraps up.

There is a lot to go over and take in from such a jam-packed week of activities. We see a lot on the field and learn a lot about the players during this week. However, there is a lot of information gathered behind the scenes and especially during the night scene here in Mobile. Knowing the right people to talk to, I can get a good idea of a team’s intentions as the draft draws near.

Here is my weekly wrap-up report for the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl.


Raiders Want a Quarterback?

The Raiders may want to get in on some quarterback action in the 2020 NFL Draft. The draft is going to be in Las Vegas at a spectacular, one-of-a-kind spot in front of the fountains at the Bellagio. The players are going to be taken to the draft stage via boat in something we’ve never seen before in this made-for-TV event.

We may see the Raiders go after Utah State’s Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s having a great week here at the Senior Bowl and Love is drawing some comparisons (not by me, even though I do really like his game) to Patrick Mahomes. The Raiders have the No. 12 overall pick and may be looking to find an heir apparent to current starter Derek Carr.


Teams Love Josh Jones

One of the best offensive tackles down here at the Senior Bowl is Houston’s Josh Jones. He’s considered raw by some in the scouting community from a technique standpoint, but all the athletic traits are there for Jones to be a devastating blocker at the pro level.

That player Jones just embarrassed in the above play is not some slappy. In fact, North Carolina’s Jason Strowbridge is one of the best rushers at this game. That was an outstanding play from Jones, but it is one of many he’s had during this week of practice. We’ll see how high Jones sees his stock climb, but this week has been outstanding for the young tackle.


Proceed with Caution

I’ve done this a long time, so I can advise that readers need to be careful where their “draft insider” information comes from. NFL teams are hesitant to talk to anyone in the media. Bad teams usually talk more than good teams, but scouts are nervous to be seen talking to someone that is not in the league.

At the Senior Bowl, scouts are mingling with plenty of media – and plenty of small-time media members looking to make a quick name for themselves. Scouts are very wary about who they talk to and are not going to just hand out information like they’re handing out Halloween candy.

There are some “insiders” who try to promote they talk to scouts, coaches or general managers, but they simply don’t. Instead, these guys will just try to lie about it because who is going to really know in the general public?

There are some who have built reputations of varying levels and varying quality using this strategy. Those in this industry know who those people are and most are nice enough not to say anything about it. I’m not going to name any names here in this article, but I just want to put the cautionary tale out there so fans know what to look for when reading supposedly “inside” information.

Most of these fraud “insiders” talk to agents. An NFL agent will tell you the color of the sun if blue if it helps his client. Agents can be good people, really good people, and some of them are scumbags – but ALL of them do what is best for their client and will spread information that makes their client look good. Some will spread information that makes other players look bad. Fans need to know that some “insiders” aren’t talking to anyone except for an agent – if that.

So when you’re reading information leading up to the NFL draft, be careful because it might be nothing more than propaganda being spread by some player’s representative. I have worked hard for 14 years to create, maintain and harvest relationships within the scouting community and it really grinds my gears when I see someone patting themselves on the back as an “insider” when people in the league don’t know them or don’t like them and nobody in any official capacity (other than agents) talk to them.

Okay, rant over – back to more positive stuff!


Give Me Liberty

This is a historic wide receiver class, and the players at the Senior Bowl reflect that. One of the best players and most consistent performers all week has been Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden. He’s caught the attention of the scouting community and was one of the players I was most excited to see this week during practice.

His ability to pluck the ball out of the air make him a potential special player in the pros. He has incredible “my ball” mentality and can win contested catches with ease.

Gandy-Golden is an ascending player in the 2020 NFL Draft. Before this week, Gandy-Golden was seen by some as a Day 3 prospect, meaning he would go somewhere from the fourth round on. After this week, and with an impressive showing at the Scouting Combine later this year, I could easily see Gandy-Golden sneaking into the third round.


Misc. Notes

The Miami Dolphins have wanted Tua Tagovailoa for quite some time. He is clearly their top priority in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Dolphins have three first-round picks, but Tagovailoa will be their pick at No. 5 overall – if he’s there.

Depending on what happens with Oregon’s Justin Herbert (who is having a great week in Mobile), Tagovailoa may not be on the board when the Dolphins first pick comes up. We could see a quarterback run of teams trading up to get in front of the Dolphins, so they have to be ready to move – maybe even move one of their coveted 2020 first-round picks – to get their guy.

The Broncos were spotted chatting up LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan after practice this week. Yes, they’re set at the starting tight end position with Noah Fant, but getting additional depth at the position is not a bad thing. In fact, Sullivan’s athletic profile, hands and ability to separate make him an intriguing mid-round prospect for any team. It’s just interesting to note that Denver has taken interest.

Javon Kinlaw shut it down after two days of outstanding practice. He’s been dealing with some minor tendonitis in his knee and is just being smart about it. Kinlaw is certainly a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft and he could be a top-10 selection.