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Senior Bowl Week Recap: How did potential Falcons targets perform?

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With the conclusion of the Senior Bowl, we’ve gotten another valuable data point for the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. How did some of the Falcons top targets perform this week in Mobile?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Bowl week has come and gone, and with it we have a little more data on some of the top prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. This year’s class featured a number of players of great interest to the Falcons, and we know that the team has a strong history of drafting players from Mobile.

There were a number of prospects who impressed and disappointed this week at the Senior Bowl. Based on reports—big shout-out to The Draft Network for their phenomenal coverage this week—and my own personal scouting, I’ve compiled a brief list of some potential Falcons targets who raised or lowered their stock in Mobile.

Impressed

C/G Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU

If you’ve been following my mock drafts, you know I’ve always been very high on LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III. He’s a good athlete with excellent size for the center position, but he had some warts to his game on film that kept him from being talked about as a top prospect.

After a dominant Senior Bowl week where he appeared to be the only offensive lineman capable of stopping DT Javon Kinlaw—who I’ll talk about below—Cushenberry has seen his stock rise significantly. Cushenberry’s size, athletic traits, and ability to anchor coupled with his strong performance against some top talent in Mobile have elevated him firmly into the second-round discussion. The Falcons would likely need to target him with the first of their two second-round picks at this point.

DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

While South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw was already considered to be a first-round talent by just about everyone, he managed to elevate his stock even further with a very impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. Kinlaw’s explosiveness and incredible power proved too much for just about every offensive lineman in the Senior Bowl practices, save one (shout out to Cushenberry).

Most seem to have an EDGE pegged for the Falcons at 16, which I think is the most likely course of action. But don’t sleep on the possibility of Atlanta adding Kinlaw, who would slot in immediately next to Grady Jarrett and could form one of the most dangerous interior defensive lines in the NFL in 2020. If the team’s top choices at EDGE are gone, Kinlaw would be an incredible consolation prize.

LB/EDGE Joshua Uche, Michigan

An under-the-radar prospect who reminds me a bit of UCF LB Shaquem Griffin, Michigan LB/EDGE Joshua Uche may have been the biggest winner of Senior Bowl week. At 6’1, 241, Uche isn’t your typical EDGE prospect and looks more like a traditional off-ball LB. However, Uche has tremendous pass rushing ability and showed it off against top competition at the Senior Bowl. He’s incredibly fast and bendy and can fly past offensive linemen with his athleticism.

Uche also demonstrated excellent coverage ability and agility in space, making him a very versatile player on defense. He’s far too small to hold up for three downs on the outside, and his tackling technique still needs work. Uche clearly doesn’t fit neatly into a single positional box, which could turn off some teams. But for a creative coaching staff, Uche could thrive in a hybrid off-ball LB/pass rushing specialist role.

C/G Matt Hennessy, Temple

Temple C/G Matt Hennessy was a player I hadn’t watched at all prior to the Senior Bowl. But after hearing the hype he was generating this week in Mobile, I decided to check him out. At 6’4, 302, Hennessy certainly has great size for the center position, and he was consistently good in pass protection. He’s a good natural athlete too, but Hennessy struggled at times against big, powerful DTs—particularly as a run blocker.

In Mobile, Hennessy put on a dominant performance in pass protection. He continued to win with his athleticism and size, but also demonstrated improvement in handling power rushers. I’m still not sure that Hennessy will ever be a dominant run blocker at the NFL level, but his size and consistency in pass protection should make him a target for the Falcons on Day 2.

Disappointed

C Nick Harris, Washington

Heading into Senior Bowl week, Washington center Nick Harris had quietly begun to approach the top of the rankings at the position. With Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz falling due to concerns about his injury and regression in play in 2019, and Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey returning to school, the opportunity was there for Harris to claim the top spot with a strong Senior Bowl performance.

Instead, my concerns about Harris were confirmed. At 6’1 and only 293, Harris was always going to have an uphill battle in the NFL. In college, he made up for it with phenomenal athletic ability and strong technique. But at the Senior Bowl, Harris struggled against size (expected) and quickness (surprising). At this point, I’d be very nervous about targeting Harris before Day 3. His size limits him to a center-only projection, and he’ll only be of interest to zone-scheme offenses.

EDGE Alton Robinson, Syracuse

I’ve wanted to like Syracuse EDGE Alton Robinson due to his ideal size, athletic traits, and explosiveness—and the fact that I’ve gotten to watch him play in person. But Robinson failed to follow up a promising 2018 season in 2019, logging just 4.0 sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss in 12 games. That caused his stock to fall significantly heading into the Senior Bowl, but he still had a chance to turn heads with a strong performance in Mobile.

Unfortunately, Robinson struggled all week in the practices, losing a lot of one-on-one drills and generally looking lackluster against much of the competition. To his credit, Robinson did manage to log 2 sacks in the game itself, but I’m not sure that’ll be enough to lift him out of the Day 3 range.

Who are some players from the Senior Bowl you’d like to see the Falcons add in the 2020 NFL Draft? Are there any prospects who stood out to you during this week’s practices and the game?