There’s no greater networking platform in football than at the Senior Bowl. I’ve been spouting this message for three years and I will continue to do so for as long as I can. Many unique opportunities arise as the NFL and the college football world collide for a week in southern Alabama, including ones that you’d never expect where plausible.
The Bengals’ Director of Player Personnel, Duke Tobin, was kind enough to sit down for 20 minutes with The Athletic’s Joe Goodberry and myself and have a different kind of discussion.
Tobin, who rarely speaks to the media, was as genuine and candid as a regular Bengals fan would’ve expected. We talked draft philosophy, the evolution of player evaluation, and other conceptual topics regarding the game of football. How do the Bengals put together their draft board? What kind of context is important for quarterback production?
For these answers, check out the embedded file at the bottom of the article.
After our interview with Tobin, Day 2 of practice got underway inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Much like on Tuesday, the trenches for the South squad stole the show working against each other in the South endzone. Bengals’ offensive line coach Jim Turner’s direct and blunt communication style is unleashing intense reps from little known O-line prospects.
The standout from yesterday had to be Mississippi State’s Tyre Phillips. A massive man at 342 pounds, Phillips is built like a tank and was impossible to move in pass protection at the left guard spot. He was the only one that stopped South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw consistently, and that’s a remarkable feat considering Kinlaw has been arguably the most dominant player down in Mobile this year.
Kinlaw isn’t the only defensive lineman that’s turning heads. Someone that caught our eyes a bit more on Day 2 was North Carolina’s Jason Strowbridge, who simply looked like a man possessed when 7-on-7 running drills got underway. Whether it was splitting double teams or just unleashing violent hands, he was on another level.
Back to the offensive line, Wake Forest’s Justin Herron had a very nice day as well. His anchoring ability was only matched by his hand placement. He also was always quick out of his stance in the zone blocking drills. Herron was primarily a tackle at Wake Forest, but saw work at both guard spots and more than held his own.
first at left guard, now at right guard, wake forest’s justin herron has had a tremendous day in both phases pic.twitter.com/jTTPNmXuOX— john sheeran (@John__Sheeran) January 22, 2020
Playing next to Herron were Temple’s Matt Hennessy and Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson, who all played beautifully next to one another. Hennessy and Jackson rotated duties at center and all three displayed fluent abilities as pullers in power concepts and getting to the second level in zone concepts.
The best performing receiver down here is probably Florida’s Van Jefferson, who is simply making a clinic of high-pointing contested catches upon stacking cornerbacks on vertical routes. Jefferson, Michael Pittman Jr., and Denzel Mims have all been impressive getting open down the field.
At tight end, LSU’s Stephen Sullivan has continued to look like the best athlete in terms of route running, but Dayton’s Adam Trautman is not-so-quietly making a case for himself. His ability to manipulate defenders out of his breaks is so natural that his added athleticism makes him even more dangerous. He’s been getting starting reps for the North as well.
Day 3 of practice will be held indoors due to inclement weather, so the players will at least be able to practice in stable conditions one last time before Saturday’s game.