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Senior Bowl notebook, Day 3: Deebo Samuel caps off great week

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  • By Chase Goodbread and Lance Zierlein NFL.com
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MOBILE, Ala. -- With Reese's Senior Bowl week winding down, 100-plus prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft had one last chance to impress in practice on Thursday. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein and Chase Goodbread provide a look at the stars of Day 3, as well as notes from interviews with coaches, scouts and players.

Five standouts from Day 3 of practice

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina: He was fantastic all week. He's physical, well put together and runs good routes. Receivers get grabbed a ton out here at Senior Bowl practices. The corners are really grabby -- things that are going to be penalties at the next level. Not only did he play through it, but a lot of times he worked himself wide open through his physicality inside the route and route acumen. He was smart in terms of how he got out of his brakes, and he caught everything that was thrown his way. I talked to a couple of teams that were really excited about what he did in the first two days here and there's no way they're not going to like what they saw today. -- Lance Zierlein

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn: Stidham had some really nice throws on Thursday, fitting the ball into tight windows and delivering it cleanly and crisply. Everything about him from the talent to the character to the traits -- they're all positives. The real test for him is going to be how he handles pressure in the pocket in live situations, which makes Saturday's game a big deal for him. He has a lot of what you want in a QB, but poise is a concern after he was under tremendous duress this past season at Auburn because that offensive line just didn't protect him. -- Lance Zierlein

North squad offensive line: This unit got whipped on Day 1 in all the one-on-one drills and team scrimmages. It was a complete 180 on Thursday. I thought this group was very talented coming into the week and I was disappointed with what I saw from them on Tuesday. They rose to the occasion today, though. OTs Kaleb McGary (Washington) and Dalton Risnor (Kansas State) may have helped themselves as much as anybody just by putting on the pads. They are thickly built and play with a little attitude. They showed good strength and physicality. I think eight of the 10 offensive linemen for the North have a pretty decent chance of going in Rounds 1-3. Risnor and OG Chris Lindstrom (Boston College) love playing next to each other. Erik McCoy (Texas A&M) and Garrett Bradbury (N.C. State) both did an excellent job at center. These guys came together as a unit and shined on the final day of practice. -- Lance Zierlein

Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame: Williams was a beneficiary of the North O-line's dominant performance. He can stick his foot in the ground and go. He showed good agility, fluidity in his hips, vision and the ability to process what he sees quickly and burst when he finds a crease. He can catch the ball, too, although he wasn't asked to do so at Notre Dame very much. He has good size (5-foot-11, 215) and speed, and he doesn't have a lot of tread off the tires (257 carries in four years at ND). I won't be surprised if he goes on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3). -- Lance Zierlein

Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama: He played really well today, and actually all week. He lined up at defensive end for the Tide, but I think he's going to move down to defensive tackle in the NFL. He'll either be a nose tackle or a three technique. He's really good with his hands, like most Alabama defensive linemen. He really played well in one-on-ones on Thursday and showed he has the body type and play traits to make the switch to an interior position. He proved he can take control against some guys that are a little bigger than him. He's probably a Day 3 pick (Rounds 4-7), but he could work his way into Round 3. -- Lance Zierlein

MEDIA SESSION NOTES: What we learned from Jon Gruden, Hunter Renfrow and more

Scout's perspective: Among eight quarterbacks on hand for the Senior Bowl, the pair from the ACC -- Duke's Daniel Jones and N.C. State's Ryan Finley -- have been the most impressive among them this week, according to an NFC scout. Both play for the North squad, along with another quarterback who's drawn praise this week in Drew Lock of Missouri.

Jones has displayed a quick release and threw effectively in the early practice on Thursday, connecting with two receivers who have consistently made plays this week in Ohio State's Terry McLaurin and UMass' Andy Isabella. Finley has shown good accuracy and has had a familiar face to throw to in practice in Jakobi Meyers, his leading receiver with the Wolfpack last season. -- Chase Goodbread

Lock on Lock: For all the praise Missouri's Drew Lock has received this week for his arm talent, he believes leadership is what ultimately separates him from other quarterback prospects. With four years of starting experience at the college level, and having played for three different offensive coordinators, he's had to be adaptable.

"I think it goes back to being able to lead a team. You put me in any situation, I'm going to be able to get us out of it," Lock said. "I'm going to be able to make us a better team, regardless of what's going on. I think that's a big thing to look for in a franchise (QB)." -- Chase Goodbread

Renfrow leaves fear behind: Hunter Renfrow is the lightest player at the Senior Bowl, but having won two national championships at one of the college game's elite programs, he's not the least bit intimidated by the competition.

"I was really nervous coming in, and I shouldn't have been. These guys are unbelievable, but I'm not really overwhelmed by the talent out here, just because we had such freaks at Clemson," Renfrow said. "I'm so glad I was able to go to a place like that."

The former Tigers slot receiver weighed in at 175 pounds on Tuesday. He also measured with the smallest hands (7 3/4 inches) and shortest arms (29 inches). But he didn't forget to pack his uncanny ability to get open for his trip to Mobile, and it's showed up time and again in drill work. -- Chase Goodbread

Gruden's view: Although the scouting contingent at the Reese's Senior Bowl tends get thinner by the end of the practice week, the game on Saturday remains a valuable impression for players. North coach Jon Gruden pointed to one aspect in particular that makes game performances a vital part of the experience for NFL personnel executives.

"It will certainly weigh in because it's full-speed live. When you're live ... that's the only evaluation we're lacking," Gruden said. "We can have all these controlled environments all we want, but the best evaluation is live."

That's especially true for running backs, who can't put their true power on display in practice because ball-carriers aren't tackled to the ground all week. The 2015 game proved to be a boost for one-time All-Pro David Johnson, a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals that year. Johnson followed a strong practice week with a 19-yard touchdown in the game, along with a 38-yard kickoff return and recognition as one of the most promising performers of that year.

You could say the same thing for QBs -- Baker Mayfield's week in Mobile last year was the first step in his draft-season rise to the No. 1 overall pick. So yes, NFL teams will be watching -- closely -- when the game gets underway on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network. -- Chase Goodbread

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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