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Senior Bowl wrap up and Orlando Brown Jr. trade implications

Mobile provided some insight into the draft picture

NCAA Football: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the 2020-2021 NFL season has concluded with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning their second Super Bowl, it’s officially draft season!

Despite COVID-19’s greatest efforts, the 71st Senior Bowl took place in Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl is the unofficial kickoff to draft season. With the 2021 NFL Combine undergoing major reforms, the CFB season being reduced in many ways, as well as scouts being largely unable to attend games or interact with players over the past year, the Senior Bowl took even more precedence this year. Jim Nagy and the Reese’s Senior Bowl crew provided well thought out accommodations and the event went on as it has for the seven decades prior, which gave the scouting process a wonderful sense of normalcy.

There is plenty to take from the event in Mobile, 135 players participated throughout the week. With the NFL salary cap potentially reduced up to $25 million from last season as opposed to the expected $10 million growth that typically occurs in non-CBA years, this draft could have major implications, perhaps beyond what we’ve seen before in terms of rookies being asked to take on a major role next year.

The offensive and defensive line play dominated the Senior Bowl. There were certainly playmakers across the board, but I found myself encapsulated in the battles going on at the line of scrimmage. There were several players who stood out consistently. I’m not going to get into Quinn Meinerz, because at this point, you’ve already seen his highlights and heard of his legendary week. I will simply add that he’s a stud who has smooth feet, refined hand strikes and outstanding drive from his lower half. If you haven’t, a quick Google search will bring an assortment of clips and articles.

Let’s dive into some other Senior Bowl standouts that might be able to help the Baltimore Ravens in the 2021-22 season:

Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma University-

Humphrey only got better as the week moved on. He’s not an elite athlete in terms of speed or movement skill, but he’s a stalwart between the B-gaps who has extremely strong recovery skills. His vice grip hands and wrestling background seem to give him confidence in allowing interior rushers to work laterally, show their intention, then reset and wall them off. When attacked downhill, Humphrey has a strong anchor and good hand placement. While a natural center who was a three year starter at Oklahoma, Creed displayed some awesome reps at guard as well, showing his sturdy base and versatility.

Per Pro Football focus, Humphrey didn’t allow a single sack in nearly 1,300 pass blocking snaps as a Sooner. He’s a technically sound pass protector who can stymie bull rushes regularly, plus is a people mover between the B-gaps. He isn’t a super mobile center, but can get the job done pulling. Humphrey is a lifelong center, who would bring snap consistency to a Ravens team that desperately needs it. While it’s early, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Humphrey go before the 27th pick in the draft, but it feels more likely that Humphrey goes in the 25-40 range of the draft. The Ravens could do much worse in the first round, although rookie centers tend to experience a bit of a learning curve. Humphrey will likely be off the board before the Ravens are slated to pick in the second round (58th overall).

David Moore Jr., C/G, Grambling St.

Moore was anointed the American Team’s offensive linemen of the week by the defensive linemen he faced throughout the week. He showed improved lateral quickness to accompany his devastating strike power and drive. He had a few of the “wow” plays of the week. His versatility is intriguing. He’s a bit shorter than the traditional guard, at only 6-foot-1, but uses his natural leverage well and is a bowling ball among pins working into the second level.

Moore is the mauler that the Ravens are currently missing up front. He can drive off the ball, work to the second level, pass or take double teams well and looks for work in pass pro. He consistently keeps his hands low and inside. He moves incredibly well for his 350 pound frame, much more fluid than Deonte Brown (who has a similar but larger build) and showed great work into the second level all week. The versatility between center and guard would be a welcome sight. As a center, Moore would be an awesome counter against bull rush heavy 1-technique defenders.

Dillon Radunz, OT/OG, NDSU.

Radunz improved his stock as much as anyone in Mobile throughout the week. Proving lean as opposed to undersized, he emphatically erased concerns about size and competition level. His even keel stance, balance, flexibility and no-nonsense strikes silenced his opponents day after day.

The former Bison showed incredible movement skill. He flew down the field on screens, pulled from guard alignments gracefully and rarely misstepped in pass protection. Radunz looked almost as if an NFL veteran snuck in to show the young bucks how it was done. His frame carries virtually no bad weight and he anchors extremely well considering his mobility. I would be utterly shocked to see Radunz slip out of the top 40 picks in April. He solidified that he was worth a first round pick throughout the week seamlessly integrating into each variation of drills and simulated games. Considering that NDSU only played one game this past fall, he was all the more impressive. If Radunz had been remotely overwhelmed in Mobile, it could’ve been chalked up to rust compounded by playing against higher level competition than he’s accustomed to. The fact that he performed so well he was ultimately named player of the week by his peers goes to show the level of talent that the 22-year-old possesses.

D’Ante Smith, OT, ECU

Smith is probably a dominant post defender on a basketball court. He has rapid and precise feet that shift his 6-foot-7, 290 pound frame in a hurry. He spent some time at guard in Mobile, but he’s a bit too long and thin there. He’s plenty violent in space as a tackle and plays through the whistle with finishing power. Smith appears to have great stamina, often outlasting rushers and putting them in the dirt. With his length, mobility and violence, he showed everything teams want in pass pro from an OT. His quick feet allow him to be aggressive early in reps, particularly when rushers try to beat him with speed rushes around the arc. He trusts his feet and length to recover if he does get beat, which wasn’t often throughout the week.

Smith still needs some refinement in close quarters, but his violent finishing coupled with length and mobility are glorious. The 2021 tackle class is incredibly deep, and Smith could be available in the third round. Some label him a “project”, but he just needs to keep his eyes up in power run situations.

Trey Smith of Tennessee and Alex Leatherwood of Alabama both had their early struggles. Leatherwood consistently struggled with strike placement, while Trey Smith continuously attempted to jump set 3/4i technique defenders. Leatherwood was beat around the arc by a litany of rushers, failing to gain depth in his sets to activate his length.

Leatherwood may be best suited to move inside as a guard with great length at the next level. Smith had an enlightening on the final day of practice in Mobile, where he shut down all opposition with strength and technique.

Rounding out the offensive linemen standouts, TAMU OT Dan Moore Jr. and Cincinnati OT James Hudson both had substantial positive reps throughout the week. Moore’s footwork isn’t clean yet and Hudson is still a work in progress as a recent defensive line convert, but the developmental traits were apparent with both.

The injury to All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley showed both how important depth is, while also highlighting the Ravens need to add talent this offseason. The Ravens rotated right tackles throughout the second half of the season, while shuffling the center and right guard positions as well. Snap issues reared their heads in two of the Ravens key losses this season (New England and Buffalo), which must urgently become a non-issue.

With Orlando Brown Jr. tweeting his desire to play left tackle, the reported interest that the Ravens are getting for the Pro Bowl blocker could be a dual edged sword. Considering Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, Teven Jenkins, Samuel Cosmi, Jalen Mayfield, Liam Eichenberg and Jackson Carman, the 2021 tackle class is the deepest in recent history. Whether or not the depth will drive down the potential return in an Orlando Brown trade is yet to be determined.

If the Ravens are able to acquire a 2021 first round pick and a mid round pick, then they could certainly make lemonade of a tough situation. With Brown due for a big pay day, that can could potentially be kicked far down the road. The Ravens will gain cap flexibility to be spent at another position if they acquire a top pick, then find a competent right tackle in the draft. While few draft picks are sure things, this class has tackles in all shapes, sizes and scheme fits. The Ravens have a successful track record at finding talented tackles all throughout the draft. It will be interesting to see how the right tackle position pans out over the next few months.

Offensive line aside, there were standouts across the board at other positions. Starting with the edge defenders and interior defensive linemen:

William Bradley-King, edge, Baylor

WBK can do it all. He has a long arm bull rush, he can cross chop into a rip, convert speed to power, two hand swipe, club and arm over. His toolbox is full. He can beat pass blockers in a variety of ways, while playing with gap integrity against the run. A red star player for me, WBK turned heads at the Senior Bowl after a quiet first (and only) year at Baylor by way of Arkansas St.

WBK generated buzz throughout the week and consistently showed up against the run as well as when rushing the passer. He’s polished and developed. The only question is whether he possesses the dominant athleticism to beat up on high caliber linemen. He marries hand usage, IQ, consistency and versatility. He’s spent time standing up as well as with his hand in the dirt. King feels like a high floor player who can be an early contributor, while looking to shape his body and flirt with dominance by the end of his rookie contact.

Rashad Weaver, edge, Pittsburgh

Weaver loves to spin. Almost too much. The All-American has length, explosiveness and advanced hands that give blockers problems.

Weaver can get caught off balance because he rushes with explosion and leaves his torso open at times. Dillon Radunz was able to stall and reject a few of Weaver’s rushes with patience and even sets. Weaver’s game is explosion off the line and finesse to work around rushers. If he makes strides with a long arm bull rush and is able to disrupt patient pass setters from their spot, then counter the finesse when they reset, the sky is the limit. He wins now, but he could be unstoppable if his bull rush continues to improves.

Cameron Sample, IDL/edge, Tulane

You can stick Sample anywhere across the defensive front and he will win. He wins with physicality, pneumatic get off and lateral quickness. Sample’s snap anticipation and get off are fun to watch! Seldom is he not the first linemen out of their stance and working upfield. He has size to man interior gaps, length to attack the perimeter and is simply a problem.

The “tweener” label gets thrown around when evaluators examine Sample. I don’t see a tweener, I see a versatile mismatch maker. Sample can hold the edge, slip blocks and assert himself into a gap, or line up inside and beat interior linemen one on one. Find the slowest offensive linemen out of their stance and put Sample over them. He will beat them to the punch more often than not.

Quincy Roche, edge, Miami

It’s quite difficult to poke holes in Roche’s game. That’s the highest compliment a prospect can be given. Roche fits into the stand up linebacker in terms of size (6-foot-3, 243 pounds) with solid length (32 inch arms, 80 inch wingspan). He has experience there, and is as polished of a technician as they come. He also has great speed to run the arc, with good flexibility to corner and “run the hoop,” attacking quarterbacks from six-o’clock when blockers try to wash them around the outside. Roche uses timely and precise stabs with his long arm when speed rushing, often displacing blockers enough to propel from the stab and win the corner. There’s no wasted motion in Roche’s rushes, every movement has intent and purpose. Sparsely does he fail to figure out the Rubik’s cube that unlocks his path to the quarterback.

Levi Onwuzurike, IDL, Washington

Injuries to other linemen gave Onwuzurike an opportunity to showcase himself working overtime. The former Husky responded by making play after play with some epic battles against Quinn Meinerz and Creed Humphrey. He has devastating power in his hands and plays with sturdy leverage. When he gets linemen off balance, it’s over. Onwuzurike wouldn’t be a surprising late first round selection and should be a lock to be one of the top 64 picks.

Jordan Smith, edge, UAB

Smith has prodigal length and wild quickness considering his six-foot-six frame. Not many players with his size can ghost tackles cleanly to win the corner. I can’t recall seeing a player with his frame win with speed to the edge so frequently. He can swim inside or swipe and cross face. Using his length sacrificially, Smith will extend an arm and use his massive wingspan to lunge inside to wrestle down quarterbacks. He’s awesome in pursuit with raw speed. He could convert speed to power more, but while he’s a work in progress, Smith has tools that can’t be taught.

Daelin Hayes, edge, Notre Dame

Hayes is the proverbial bull in a China shop, yet can levitate on cross chops. He also looked fluid in coverage against tight ends at times, which further displays his freakiness at 261 pounds. He can run through a brick wall as a bull rusher if his momentum is unchecked. It seems that Hayes is still finding his place and what frame to carry, which makes him moldable. Showing strong reactionary rushes, he can make himself skinny and has an innate feel for the timing of punches, avoiding them and countering. Hayes might best project as a SAM linebacker who can do a little bit of everything with some development. He will abuse tight ends who stay in to pass protect, while providing strength at the point of attack and working to expand his pass rush plan.

As you can see, there were tons of viable, talented interior players on both sides of the ball.

While I wanted to focus on the trenches, the Senior Bowl also featured intriguing playmakers at the skill positions. Two pairs stood out, one on each side of the ball. Clemson Tigers Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell gave defensive backs problems all week, while UCF Knights Aaron Robinson and Richie Grant were arguably the two strongest defensive backs. Oklahoma’s Tre Brown also had a standout week. Receivers Nico Collins and Sage Surratt showed size and movement skills that could help Baltimore in their everlasting search for a true “X” receiver. I’ll be going into greater detail on receivers and safeties in the weeks to come.

The Ravens offensive and defensive lines have the most holes to fill this offseason. It’s easy to forget how many transactions occur during free agency, sometimes shifting “needs” or alleviating them altogether. However, with the potential uncertainty regarding Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, Derek Wolfe and Orlando Brown Jr., compounded with subpar play from the Ravens interior offensive line, makeovers are imminent in the trenches on both sides of the ball.