I hit the road last week for a pair of games, starting with Miami at North Carolina on Thursday, followed by Florida State at Clemson on Saturday. I was able to take a close look at several prospects, including a pair of senior quarterbacks who had tough outings.
Here are my thoughts on certain prospects I saw. These players jumped out, and the results were mixed. I also heard some buzz from a few scouts who I was able to talk with during the trip.
As always, all draft-eligible non-seniors are tabbed with an asterisk.
QB Stephen Morris (6-foot-2, 211 pounds, Scouts Inc. grade: 79)
This was my first live look at Morris, and I came away slightly underwhelmed.
During warm-ups, his lack of ideal size was noticeable, and the ball did not jump off his hand as I anticipated. In the game, Morris threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns while missing open receivers on a few other throws.
My biggest concern: his struggles against pressure. Morris failed to sit in the pocket and often anticipated pressure by falling away from his throws, which affected his accuracy. This was the root cause of his first two interceptions. In addition, his mobility while trying to escape pressure was disappointing, and it will be something to monitor moving forward.
OT Seantrel Henderson (6-8, 345, Scouts Inc. grade: 76)
Henderson has one of the biggest frames I have ever seen in person. He did not start but was used in a rotational role. When he plays with quality pad level, he has the size and inline power to open up creases as a run-blocker. And with his length, when he was able to get into quality position, he flashed a jarring punch to shut out rushers off the edge.
The biggest issue for Henderson is the character baggage he comes with. Henderson was suspended against Georgia Tech for violation of team rules, and I spoke with multiple scouts before the game who have heavy concerns regarding Henderson's off-the-field issues and accountability.
OLB Denzel Perryman* (6-0, 240, Scouts Inc. grade: 30)
Perryman lacks ideal height, but he caught my eye throughout the game. He has a strong frame, flashes quick recognition skills, and has above-average range. Perryman is a heavy and explosive tackler who was constantly around the ball. He is the team's leading tackler and is beginning to catch scouts’ eyes.
TE Eric Ebron* (6-4, 245, Scouts Inc. grade: 91)
This was my second time seeing Ebron in person this season, and he continues to impress. He turned in a monster game with eight catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. Ebron's size, athleticism and versatility provided matchup problems throughout the night for the Hurricanes, who were unable to handle him with one-on-one coverage. He continues to make a strong push as the first tight end to come off the board if he declares for the draft.
DE Kareem Martin (6-5¼, 264, Scouts Inc. grade: 80)
Martin was much more disruptive against the Hurricanes than when I saw him earlier in the season against South Carolina. He finished the contest with eight tackles, including four tackles for loss, and a sack. Martin used his length to set the edge against the run and also showed a quicker first step as a pass-rusher. He has an ideal frame, but lack of explosiveness and consistency against higher competition could bring up concerns as we progress further in the evaluation process.
DC Jabari Price (6-0, 200, Scouts Inc. grade: 30)
I had not seen Price on tape prior to the game, but he was hard not to notice after the kickoff. He was instinctive and aggressive in run support. What jumped out most was the top-end speed he displayed running down Miami RB Duke Johnson from behind early in the first quarter to prevent a touchdown.
Price also showed adequate coverage skills, and he limited separation throughout the game. Price created a buzz among the scouts in attendance, who will likely take a closer look at him on tape.
QB Tajh Boyd (6-0¾, 224, Scouts Inc. grade: 70)
Boyd turned in a subpar performance against Florida State. On Saturday, what was most glaring was his lack of height and his inability to deliver accurately from the pocket against a Seminoles pass rush that was relentless. He was late with a few decisions and failed to recognize pressure at times. This led to two interceptions and fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
There is a lot to like about Boyd’s competiveness, above-average arm strength and adequate mobility. However, his struggles against one of the most talented defenses he will face this year only reinforces the fringe Day 2 grade we currently give him at this point.
WR Sammy Watkins* (6-0½, 205, Scouts Inc. grade: 93)
Watkins had solid production in a losing effort with eight catches for 68 yards and touchdown. He continued to show the strength and explosiveness as a route runner that have scouts so intrigued with him. Watkins has exceptional ball skills and strong hands; he consistently catches everything away from his frame. He put his hands on display with his touchdown catch in the first quarter, when he opened up and grabbed a ball thrown behind him on a slant route. He has the look of a top-15 pick and a No. 1 receiver at the next level.
DT Timmy Jernigan* (6-2, 298, Scouts Inc. grade: 93)
Jernigan has an impressive and thick frame from top to bottom. He also had a strong presence during pregame warm-ups and has begun to take on a leadership role on the defensive line.
On the field, he was highly disruptive throughout the contest. Jernigan displayed an excellent combination of quickness and power. He also flashed heavy hands, jarring blockers on more than a few occasions. One area that really stood out was Jernigan’s ability to redirect. Plus, he has good overall range at nearly 300 pounds. He is an ideal 3-technique and has solidified his first-round grade.
OLB Telvin Smith (6-3, 218, Scouts Inc. grade: 50)
After getting an up-close look at Smith, I see that he has good length but is on the lean side. Reports are that he has never checked in over 220 pounds.
However, Smith's presence was felt on the field right off the bat; he helped force a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. He showed excellent instincts and played with an infectious energy throughout the game. What's most impressive about Smith, though, is his elite range both as a run defender and in coverage, where he shows the ability to match up in man coverage.
Smith’s lack of bulk will be called into question, and he will fit in primarily as a weakside linebacker. But he is a playmaker who will find a niche, especially with the NFL trending toward a passing league.
DC Lamarcus Joyner (5-8¼, 187, Scouts Inc. grade: 75)
Joyner lacks size for a defensive back, which can ultimately affect a prospect's grade. However, he appears to be an exception, and he has a knack for making impact plays. In fact, there was no bigger play in the contest than his sack that jarred the ball loose from Boyd and was returned for a touchdown, giving the Seminoles a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.
Joyner has exceptional closing burst and excellent versatility, with experience at safety, cornerback, nickelback and as a special-teams contributor, and he looks to be squarely in the Day 2 mix for this May’s draft.
It should be noted that there were several other Florida State prospects who showed well on Saturday night, including WR Rashad Greene, WR Kelvin Benjamin, RB Devonta Freeman, RB James Wilder Jr., DB Terrence Brooks and QB Jameis Winston.
In fact, it’s hard to argue that there is a better player in the country than Winston at this point because of his impressive physical tools, mental capacity and poise on the big stage. In general, as far as the teams I've seen in person this season, the Seminoles have one of the more impressive rosters and are neck and neck with LSU from the eyeball test in terms of NFL-caliber bodies.