Crimson Tide Prospects Finish Up Senior Bowl Practices
Senior Bowl practices are finished. Now just the traditional senior showcase awaits in Hancock Whitney Stadium Saturday afternoon. Though the Crimson Tide program sent seven players to Mobile, Alabama, only four will wear their crimson helmets once more.
Coming into Thursday morning, the status of wide receiver DeVonta Smith and center Landon Dickerson was known: neither would participate athletically, though both would be present all week to meet with teams and a few media appearances. However, the status of Najee Harris was forewarned upon the announcement of his accepted invite.
Thursday morning the National team was down to just three active running backs as Harris never took the practice field.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told reporters during the day Harris would not play on Saturday after two days of light drill work.
Overall, Harris still made a positive impression on everyone at the event this week. Many expect Harris should be a first round pick who had nothing to prove. After showing his competitive edge, Harris may have done more for his stock with his attitude alone than the showcase game could have done for him.
As for the American team, Alex Leatherwood, Deonte Brown and Mac Jones all put in strong efforts to close the practice sessions.
Leatherwood was next to desperate for a dominant day, and it appeared he came close to finding one Thursday afternoon.
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Leatherwood came out with the first team offense to start the opening team scrimmage for practice and looked strong in his pass sets and run blocking assignments equally. Unlike previous days, Leatherwood was able to keep forward momentum, taking his early successes and holding onto them for the rest of the afternoon.
Leatherwood's improvement didn't go unnoticed. Independent scouts in attendance were pleased to see a bounce back performance for the left tackle prospect.
His running mate Deonte Brown continued his reign of dominance in the trenches. For the second straight day he showed quickness to the point of attack and arrived with violence. He stonewalled would be pass rushers on multiple occasions as well.
The storyline remains the same for the man they call "Cornbread." He's solidified his draft stock a second-round prospect in most circles and he's garnered a lot of respect for his ability coupled with his behemoth size. With a clean showing Saturday, Brown looks to be one of the safer options for a team looking for a power style guard to add to its offensive line.
Mac Jones had an interesting day, to say the least. Overall, he carried over his solid performance from Wednesday, showing the same poise and accuracy teams adore in his profile.
Jones showed command of Panthers's offensive coordinator Joe Brady's offense throughout the day, but still flashed that easy-going personality that has always defined him.
Worrisome however is a tweaked left ankle that could jeopardize his opportunity to play Saturday in the showcase.
Jones shook it off, and tried to participate as much as possible in practice after nicking his ankle a second time in the final scrimmage period.
Mac wasn't able to take part in the scrimmage any further, showing only a slight favor of his left ankle. He didn't carry a heavy limp at all, which could be a good sign. Jones mentioned in the post-practice media session he was already dealing with some annoyance in his right ankle.
Much like Harris, Jones's stock won't be punished for missing the game Saturday. Those who are critical of him may point to the injuries, but Jones's draft position is fairly set at this point.
The next time we see Jones, Brown, Leatherwood and long snapper Thomas Fletcher will be Saturday at 1:30pm for the Senior Bowl showcase game, only on NFL Network. Tide 100.9 will be in attendance for coverage of the Crimson Tide stars as they take the first steps towards the NFL Draft.
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