It was a starkly different day for the seniors compared to last week’s East-West Shrine Game. While that one was a defensive showcase with 24 combined points, the Senior Bowl brought an air raid to Mobile. The South took down the North handily by the score of 45-16, but the result was secondary. What really mattered were the individual performances of players looking to improve their draft stock.
From the Vikings’ perspective, there were players on both sides of the ball who comported themselves well and may have entered the Vikings’ radar. The top two senior quarterbacks, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield, impressed during the Senior Bowl week. But both are likely to be top-10, maybe even top-five picks in April, well out of the Vikings range. So they will not be on this list. Instead, we will look at five players who are A) at positions of interest for the Vikings and B) are in the Vikings draft range.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma
There was not a pass-rusher in the game Saturday who jumped off the screen like Okoronwko. He flashed the burner speed around the edge that was a matchup nightmare throughout his college days. But he also showed he was not a one-trick pony. Okoronkwo brought a couple moves besides the straight line drive and dip. He can set up an outside move then dart inside and he also showed a decent club move.
The one drawback to Okoronkwo for the Vikings is that he is a bit of a tweener: Not quite big enough to be a 4-3 end but not quite the athlete of the premier pass-rushing linebackers. At 6-foot-1, 240, he is thicker than Danielle Hunter but lacks the length. Still, the pass-rushing potential was undeniable.
Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Hernandez was the most impressive of the senior guards this week. He is massive at over 340 pounds but also possesses good lateral quickness to be an effective pass blocker. In the run game, he fires off the ball and gets immediate push, though at times it gets him out over his skis. He also has relatively short arms, but makes up for it with good feet and strong hand play. Despite playing at a smaller school, he showed no dip in play on Saturday when going up against major conference defensive linemen.
O-lines got the better of the pass rush 1-on-1s again at the #SeniorBowl yesterday.
UTEP OG Will Hernandez erasing Ohio State DL Jalyn Holmes here. pic.twitter.com/OE4W3iBe1l
— Ben Stockwell (@PFF_Ben) January 25, 2018
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport fits the bill more of what the Vikings are looking for in a 4-3 end. He was quiet on Saturday, at least relative to Okoronkwo, but he did record half a sack and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. What jumped out more with Davenport is the physical traits. He is built like Hunter at 6-foot-6, 255, he has good initial burst off the ball and hand fights as well as anyone. His motor is good, though he plays a little high, and given his height, that leaves him vulnerable at times. But when his technique is solid, he is tough to block. Davenport could fit the bill to fill the role that Brian Robison will soon vacate.
The potential 1st round pick from UT-San Antonio gets to Baker Mayfield for the sack.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2018
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Lauletta’s stock soared with his performance on Saturday. Prior to Senior Bowl week, it was a question mark whether Lauletta would be drafted at all. Now, he looks to be a lock for a day three selection. The game’s Most Outstanding Player, Lauletta managed to upstage the Senior Bowl’s focus players, Mayfield and Allen with 198 yards and three touchdowns while completing 66.7 percent.
He showed it all: he stood tall in the pocket, got the ball out quick, threw downfield with accuracy, found tight windows, all while both in shotgun and under center. Arm strength will continue to be a concern with Lauletta moving forward. But his grasp of the pocket, something that FCS quarterbacks usually struggle with, seems to have improved, at least on this one day. In a way, Lauletta showed the traits that made a certain other Vikings quarterback succeed in 2017 despite poor arm strength.
ANOTHER ONE!@kylelauletta throws his 3rd TD of the game.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2018
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