Things are just getting started in Mobile, Alabama, as the weigh-ins and the first practice at the Senior Bowl have concluded.
On site for the Bengals were offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Lazor was focusing intently on the northeast corner of the field where the offensive lineman where going through drills. This comes at little surprise as the offensive line is the biggest need for the Bengals this offseason.
As it turns out, the players that stood out on both the North and South teams were offensive lineman. On the South team, left tackle Alex Cappa looked clean as a whistle in the one-on-one drills. The fifth-year senior from Humboldt State was easy to spot with his long Nick Mangold-like hair coming out the back of his helmet, and he not only forced stalemates in drills, he abused whichever edge went up against him. Cappa will get great reviews from evaluators because of his finisher’s mentality, despite playing in Division II.
Moving inside, the best guard coming into this week was UTEP’s Will Hernandez, and he put his power on display. Weighing in at 340 pounds, Hernandez has a framed completely maximized. He gave up zero inches all day and pushed back any defender lined up across from him. He was the one guy who got audible “wows” from scouts and fans alike, including myself.
Will Hernandez had himself a day. pic.twitter.com/mJvozokrRP— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 23, 2018
Hernandez caught the eyes of the Bengals representation as well.
#SeniorBowl: #Ravens scooped up #Alabama DE Da’Shawn Hand in the hotel and spent quite a bit of time with him today...#Bengals were locked into #UTEP guard Will Hernandez...a LOT of love for UT-San Antonio DE Marcus Davenport...#Redskins clearly QB focused.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 24, 2018
At center, both Bradley Bozeman from Alabama and Mason Cole from Michigan looked stout in one-on-ones and 11-on-11s. Something to note in these practices is that defenders will always have the advantage, so if offensive lineman are winning consistently, that speaks volumes.
Bozeman measured in with short arms (31 5/8”) but showcased tremendous ability to shoot his hands out and lower his hips. Cole looked very spry getting out of his stance performing reach blocks and noticeably more comfortable playing inside compared to left tackle, which was his position last year.
“I feel like that’s where I can excel the most and have the most success, and I can make an impact on a team, and help a team win. I feel like that’s my best spot to do both (of) those things.” Cole explained to me about transitioning to center full-time.
Cole broke Michigan’s record for most consecutive starts on the offensive line, and he’s played every position on it. With versatility and plenty of experience, Cole’s checklist has few unmarked boxes.