MOBILE, Ala. -- Two days of practices are in the books here at the Reese's Senior Bowl, and Thursday will give prospects one last chance to shine in a practice setting with NFL evaluators watching.
Here's a look at four who are impressing, and a couple who have disappointed.
Smith opened a few eyes last week with his impressive MVP performance at the East-West Shrine Game and he is certainly building upon that momentum with his play in Mobile. The 6-foot-4 5/8, 270-pound pass rusher has flashed the quickness, burst and athleticism that scouts covet in nickel edge defenders. Smith is not only capable of bending and bursting around the corner, but he is slippery enough to win with nifty inside maneuvers against overaggressive blockers. In addition, Smith displays a high-revving motor that will allow him to rack up garbage sacks on extra-effort plays off the corner. With Smith dominating his peers on the all-star circuit, the Kentucky standout's stock is poised to soar in pre-draft meetings in a few weeks.
White entered Senior Bowl week regarded as one of top cover corners in college football, but scouts worried about his size (5-9 3/8, 180) and frame at the next level. Although those concerns are certainly valid in today's game with big-bodied receivers dominating on the perimeter, White's outstanding footwork, short-area quickness and ability to transition allow him to shadow pass-catchers closely in space. After watching him work in drills, I'm convinced that his cover skills translate well to the pro game and it's easy to see him making a contribution as sub defender in a zone-based scheme that also features some "off"-man elements.
Tomlinson and Havenstein have really impressed scouts with their technical skills and awareness this week. Each player has shined in drills, despite facing some of the toughest run stoppers and pass rushers in the country. Part of their success can be attributed to their solid understanding of their respective games, which allows them to minimize their weaknesses by using clever tricks at the point of attack. Tomlinson, in particular, has been terrific working in tight quarters, utilizing a short set and quick punch to stone rushers in their tracks in one-on-one drills. In addition, he has shown the ability to anchor against power and protect the middle of the pocket to keep rushers out of the quarterback's face.
Havenstein has shown exceptional savvy and awareness neutralizing rushers off the edge. He does a great job of protecting his inside, yet displays the quickness and length to force rushers to take a wide angle around the corner. With Havenstein exhibiting sound technique and poise at right tackle, the former Badger has certainly helped his cause at the Senior Bowl.
Petty is squarely in the spotlight this week as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2015 class, but he needs to pick up his performance over the next few days to convince scouts that he is worthy of being the No. 3 quarterback on most draft boards. Petty has struggled stringing together completions in team drills over the past two days and the questions persist about his ability to transition into a pro-style system after thriving in Art Briles' innovative scheme at Baylor. From his raw, unrefined footwork under center to his inconsistent ball placement on intermediate and deep throws, Petty is a work in progress and he will need time to develop at the next level. Thus, teams considering Petty as a long-term prospect should carefully monitor his development over the week and see if he makes progress in the aforementioned areas with more repetitions. If Petty shows improvement on game day (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network) and finds a way to play in rhythm, scouts will feel better about his potential to develop into a quality starter down the line.
Clemmings was targeted by several NFL scouts as one of the offensive tackles with the athletic potential to develop into a blind-side protector as a pro, but he will need some time to refine his fundamentals and technique before manning the marquee position on the offensive line. Despite his impressive footwork, balance and body control, Clemmings struggled against pass rushers in one-on-one drills and isn't ready to face premier rushers as a left tackle. It's important to keep in mind that he has played on the offensive line for just two seasons after spending his early career as a defensive end, but he is not quite ready to handle the rigors of playing on the blind side. While scouts won't ding him harshly for his struggles in drills, evaluators will certainly temper their expectations about his transition from right tackle to left tackle as a pro.