MOBILE, Alabama – The skies cleared up for the final day of practices at the Senior Bowl after Wednesday's workouts were held indoors due to torrential rain. Fran Duffy and Chris McPherson offer their top players from Thursday as the game inches closer.
Fran's North Team Standouts
CB Corey Ballentine, Washburn: The cover man from Washburn has been a favorite of analyst Tony Pauline all week long on the Journey to the Draft Podcast, and I thought he had an impressive outing on Wednesday in one-on-one drills, netting a couple of pass breakups on the perimeter. The small-school corner certainly made a name for himself this week.
WR Terry McLaurin, Ohio State: Outside of Deebo Samuel on the South team, no receiver was more well-rounded this week than Terry McLaurin. An athletic freak who should test well, McLaurin is a team captain, a great special teams player, and proved to be a technician both with his releases and as a route runner. He had a very good week of practice and ended the week with an exclamation point of a Thursday.
RB Karan Higdon, Michigan: The two-year starter from Michigan stood out in one drill in particular, the pass protection session against blitzing linebackers. This was expected, as Higdon was a standout blocker throughout his career, but I thought he further proved himself in that arena in Thursday's practice.
C-Mac's North Team Standouts
I focused my attention on the O-line/D-line drills, so my standouts are concentrated along the line of scrimmage.
OL Michael Dieter, Wisconsin: During the 9-on-7 drills, Dieter was utilized as a pulling guard and helped spring big runs by backs Dexter Williams and Tony Pollard. He got great push against defensive lineman Byron Cowart on another rep.
T Chuma Edoga, USC: North head coach Jon Gruden ended the practice with a best-of-three one-on-one O-line/D-line matchups at the 50-yard line with the entire team watching. In the final battle, Edoga capped off a great week by stonewalling TCU's L.J. Collier to give the offense the win.
DE Charles Omenihu, Texas: During the team period, Omenihu flew off the edge to beat Edoga which forced quarterback Daniel Jones to get rid of the ball sooner than he wanted. Omenihu followed that up on the next snap by getting into the backfield and tapping running back Karan Higdon.
DT Renell Wren, Arizona State: He stood out during the 9-on-7 period by getting good penetration in the backfield. He was also difficult to handle during O-line/D-line one-on-ones. I will note that he did get beat by Kansas State's Dalton Risner in the first rep of the one-on-ones to end the practice. Risner was fired up and went over to let Gruden know.
Fran's South Team Standouts
CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky: The oversized corner from Kentucky appeared by my eyes to have a good day of practice, drawing "oohs" from the crowd after violently breaking up a screen pass in the flat and competing at a high level in one-on-one reps against receivers on the outside.
EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion: The Old Dominion grad flashed for me in the one-on-one drills, winning in a number of ways both off the left and right side as a pass rusher. Ximines will need a great workout at the Combine to work himself into the Top 50 picks, but he's got a plan of attack as a pass rusher and impresses with the little things he does getting after the quarterback.
WR David Sills, West Virginia: This isn't just because I wrote a long piece on the West Virginia product over the weekend, but I think Sills is just an impressive prospect. He's got good size, moves well, and plays the ball exceptionally in the air. I was impressed by some of the grabs he made in the red zone today in one-on-ones. He has faced adversity this week, as he needs to get better with his releases off press coverage and with creating separation as a route runner, but he's a very intriguing developmental talent at the wide receiver position.
C-Mac's South Team Standouts
I got to see the receivers battle the defensive backs, especially in the red zone drills.
WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion: The small-school wideout ran nice routes to win in the red zone one-on-one drills. He won on a rep in 7-on-7s with a nice out route to get open in the back right side of the end zone.
CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky: He battled in the red zone drills but finally broke through with a beautiful pass breakup on an attempt in the flat which he diagnosed perfectly.
WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina: A fun rivalry this week was Samuel against Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson. Samuel showed he can be a red zone weapon in all of the drills throughout practice -- one-on-one, 7-on-7, team. He was a consistent performer throughout practice.
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State: Loved the bend he showed to get around tackle Dennis Daley to get in the backfield during a team period. He nearly came away with a strip-sack in the red zone team period.