Hoge’s Day 2 Senior Bowl Observations: O.J. Howard Is The Star Of Mobile

Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

MOBILE, Ala. — Two more Senior Bowl practices are in the books here in Mobile. Here are my observations from Day 2, starting with the North team, which is coached by the Bears:

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North

– Every year a number of small school players arrive at the Senior Bowl and get tested in 1-on-1 matchups against players from big-time programs. I’m always encouraged by the ones who show they quickly belong (Bears cornerback Deiondre’ Hall fit this mold last year). This year, Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp is standing out, constantly getting open and giving his quarterbacks windows to get him the football. He’s not going to win the testing drills at the Combine, but he holds more receiving yards (6,464) than any other player who has ever played any level of NCAA football. He’s simply a really good football player. As an added bonus, he can be a returner too.

– Temple’s Hassan Reddick had a strong day Wednesday and continues to be a handful in pass rushing drills. He needs to prove he can drop back into coverage, but he looks like a potential second-round talent, either as an outside or inside linebacker.

– Illinois defensive end Carroll Phillips was not a guy I was expecting a lot from this week, but he has put together two very solid practices. He looks good rushing the quarterback as a 3-4 outside linebacker and made a great play to break up a swing pass Wednesday.

– I labeled Pitt’s Nate Peterman as the Day 1 winner among the quarterbacks and he put together another strong day Wednesday in windy conditions. It’s not quite to the level of Derek Carr in 2015 or Carson Wentz in 2016, but Peterman is separating himself from the Senior Bowl pack of QBs a little bit.

– Wisconsin’s Corey Clement looks like the best of the North running backs. He packs a punch and is a one-cut back who can hit a hole hard. I have some durability concerns about him, but if he can hold up health-wise, he can be a solid NFL running back.

South

– Among the South running backs, I like BYU’s Jamaal Williams. A Bears scout spent a very long time talking to him after Wednesday’s practice and I can’t blame him after seeing the way Williams puts his foot in the ground and hits open gaps. Williams isn’t as tall as Matt Forte, but there’s a similar style there.

– The South team quarterbacks are still unimpressive. I continue to like Davis Webb’s arm, but there is zero touch on his throws. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs has to put too much effort into his deep ball and I’m still waiting to be wowed by Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin.

– Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia is a legitimate player. He’s very sound in his technique and has held up well against pass rushers from bigger programs.

– Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has been the most obvious star of practices this week. It’s not even close.

– Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram isn’t as impressive as Howard and isn’t nearly as big, but he has good hands and can be dangerous running up the seam. He’s more of an H-back who can be split out wide.

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.