Thursday was arguably the most important day of the week leading up to the Senior Bowl — it marked the final day of practice for both teams, and thus was the final opportunity for players to impress scouts before Saturday’s game.
While Tuesday’s opening practice offered them a chance for them to get comfortable and Wednesday’s gave them a chance to show how much they’ve committed to memory, Thursday’s practice should have represented the culmination of everything players learned during the week.
Some guys seized the day, some did not — but here’s what I noticed during a bone-chillingly windy Thursday afternoon:
▪ Deebo Samuel might be the best wide receiver in Mobile this week. The South Carolina product continued to showcase footwork and separation ability that could launch him up draft boards over the next few months. Per The Draft Network, Samuel admitted he needs to improve his blocking but he was lethal during red zone drills and his hands were automatic — he also drew praise on the sidelines from Mobile native and Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who also played at South Carolina.
▪ Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney was on the field for both team’s practices, but head coach Ron Rivera was not at any Senior Bowl event during the week. I spoke with one defensive back who met with Hurney, who suggested to him the Panthers are looking for that “edge” they’ve lacked since Josh Norman left Carolina. It’ll be interesting to see which defensive players from this year’s class the team believes fit that mold.
▪ Former Charlotte 49er Nate Davis capped off a solid week of practice for the North squad. He measured well at Tuesday’s weigh-in at 6-foot-3, 317 pounds and showed off some impressive strength against large-conference talent. One assistant coach I spoke with said Davis not only has a place in the league but also has the talent and versatility to play either guard spot. We’ll have more on him in the coming days.
▪ Keep an eye on Oklahoma offensive guard Dru Samia over the next month heading into the NFL scouting combine. He’s part of a vaunted Oklahoma offensive line and made a habit of literally stopping rushers in their paths in pass protection throughout the week. It’s too early to tell whether he’s a first-round option for the Panthers but he could add some depth and stability to their interior offensive line.