Senior Bowl standouts from the first two days of practices
By James Cunningham
Senior Bowl practices are underway and this officially marks the beginning of draft season. Prospects across the board are making names for themselves, and Mike Maccagnan, along with several other members of the Jets’ front office, is in attendance.
Whether it is a day one prospect polishing his draft resume or a day three prospect trying to catch scouts’ eyes, players are working hard to get their names on teams’ big boards and the New York Jets are looking for players who stand out among the rest.
Baker Mayfield is a prime example of a prospect who made a name for himself by performing well in the Senior Bowl. He was originally projected to be picked in the teens and he wound up being the first overall pick in the draft.
The Jets will be eyeing several prospects at the Senior Bowl and they have already met with several players. Who’s drawing attention from scouts and front offices? Here are three winners from day one of the Senior Bowl practices.
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Sweat was nearly a lock for round one when he arrived in Mobile, but his stock is skyrocketing after his monster Day 1 performance. He had no need to compete in the Senior Bowl, but he went anyway to prove himself even more than he already has and he’s done just that so far.
The Mississippi State defensive end put on a show during Day 1 of practices. For starters, he showed off his power all day long. He put a man into the ground on one of his reps, which caught NFL scouts’ and Twitter’s eye.
His impressive day went beyond this highlight. Sweat looked very athletic as well, which some scouts hadn’t seen prior to the practice. He showcased his agility and his ability to bend and get around linemen. Sweat is putting himself in the conversation of a top 10 pick and his stock could rise even further if he continues to perform well.
Next: A Speedy, Crisp Route Runner
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
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Deebo Samuel was regarded as a first or second round pick two years ago until he broke his leg and sprained his foot in the same season. He then worked his way back, had a good senior season, and earned a ticket to the Senior Bowl. Now, he’s earning his way back into Day 2 conversations.
Samuel had a sharp first practice showing he can do just about everything. Whether he was beating cornerbacks over the top, getting himself open on crisp routes, or just bringing down balls in tight coverage, Samuel caught everything. He’s winning over scouts using his clean route running and elite speed.
I mean, this route is just filthy.
Deebo Samuel’s foot speed is disgusting… pic.twitter.com/6dYpe7BSXt
— Jake (@SeedsofJake) January 22, 2019
Samuel is catching eyes around the league with his Senior Bowl performance thus far. He’s currently placed as a late Day 2/early Day 3 prospect, but he’s climbing his way up draft boards. The Jets could certainly use a player like Samuel who can win plays using crisp routes or downfield speed.
Next: A Lengthy, Talented Cornerback
Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky
Lonnie Johnson came into the Senior Bowl with a lot to prove. Josh Allen and Benny Snell stole the show at Kentucky, but Johnson quietly played very well in his senior season. On Day 1, he showcased his length and athletic ability and put his name out there for NFL scouts to look into.
Johnson’s huge for a corner, standing at 6’2″ and having 32” arms. Teams love seeing corners with long arms because of the advantage in getting a hand on the ball or just making life difficult for any receiver, big or small.
Johnson’s strong day went beyond his measurements. He stuck to receivers all day long, changed directions nicely, and disrupted routes with his length. Johnson’s a Day 3 prospect as of now, but a strong finish to the Senior Bowl week could put him in Day 2 conversations.
The Jets are in need of a long term solution at cornerback to play alongside Trumaine Johnson and Lonnie Johnson is showing he has the potential to be that solution.