The 2019 NFL Draft process officially started Tuesday morning at the Mobile Convention Center, as 114 draft-eligible prospects filed in for the National Scouting Weigh-In to be measured and weighed before each NFL team’s group of scouts. From there, they split into their North and South teams, dove into their playbooks, received lunch and spoke with the media. Then they geared up and went to work.
Redskins.com is on site in Mobile, Ala., speaking with prospects and scouts and observing practice at Ladd Peebles Stadium. Here’s a recap of the first day.
--One of the main purposes of the Senior Bowl, at least from a scouting perspective, is to match perception and expectation with reality. The local scouts for the Redskins have been following and evaluating top players in their region throughout the college season, and sometimes get brief face to face time when they visit a school, usually with just a coach. “He’s a great kid” can only be trusted so far until you actually get to meet him yourself. This week, scouts get the opportunity to sit down with the players they’ve studied for the past four months and get to know them on a personal level, both in formal and informal settings. They also get to watch them face some of the best in the country.
--The most notable event Tuesday wasn’t about the prospects, but from a 17-minute press conference from Redskins team president Bruce Allen. In between the North and South practice sessions, he spoke with local media about a variety of concerns, from quarterback Alex Smith to the fan base. “I appreciate the love and care from all of our fans that have reached out to him, and NFL players from around the league with this injury,” Allen said. “It’s a tough thing for him and his family, and all the care has helped him quite a bit. We’ll see where it goes, we’re optimistic. If anyone can come back its Alex. I’m sure he wanted to shoot hoops at the game yesterday but we’ll see.”
Allen also briefly mentioned the structure of the front office, which hasn’t had a general manager since Scot McCloughan. “We have a lot of confidence in Doug [Williams] and his staff, with Alex [Santos] running the pro department, and Kyle [Smith] running the college department,” Allen said. “Doug doesn’t want to negotiate contracts, that’s not his forte’. He’s a great leader of men, and he’s got a super eye for talent, so we feel comfortable with our department right now.”
We’ll have more from Allen’s press conference the rest of the week.
--The Redskins will likely be in the market for a quarterback in this draft, and depending on how it unfolds, that could mean taking a passer in the first round. Based on the success of quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen last year in Mobile, the Senior Bowl feels more important for quarterbacks looking to improve their stock out of school. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, who has already been mocked to the Redskins, certainly feels that way, as it was reported he took an extra class in the fall so he’d academically qualify to play this week, despite not actually being a senior.
--Penn State quarterback Trace McSorely spoke to the media and to Redskins.com on Tuesday. The Ashburn, Va., native had a prolific career with the Nittany Lions, breaking the school’s all-time record for passing yards. He met with the Redskins Monday evening, one of several quarterbacks that scouts met with, and said he rooted for the team growing up with his parents.
“Just being in Ashburn, you run into Redskins all around,” McSorley said. “Growing up as a kid I remember seeing Sean Taylor walking around and looking up to him. Right down the road. Never really went to a lot of games, but I would watch on T.V.” The Briar Woods High School product mentioned he would often go to football camps at the Redskins’ facility and said he’s leaned on former teammates – specifically Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton – who went through the Senior Bowl gauntlet last year. McSorley’s other Redskins connection is through former linebacker Eddie Mason, who was one of his personal trainers throughout high school.
--While most of the quarterback talk has centered around players that are too short (think Kyler Murray), that’s not a problem for 6-foot-7 Tyree Jackson from Buffalo. The biggest advantage, he told Redskins.com, was his ability to see over the line of scrimmage. He’s been working with mentor Jordan Palmer, Carson’s brother, who took on that role for Josh Allen last year. Jackson certainly has the arm strength, though watching him at practice on Tuesday, his throwing motion relies mostly on his upper body. It should be intersting to see how he progresses throughout the draft process.
--On the practice field, the most impressive player I saw was edge defender Montez Sweat from Mississippi State. On one play in particular, he bull-rushed offensive tackle Tytus Howard and laid him on his back in two seconds. The Redskins could be in the market for an outside rusher depending on what happens to Preston Smith in free agency.
--Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders found out his fiancée went into labor this morning. He told reporters he was waiting for baby updates and was very excited despite not being present (the couple had discussed him staying in Mobile in the case she gave birth earlier than expected). Later Tuesday evening, he announced his daughter’s birth on Twitter. At 320 pounds, he made headlines last week when he put out a video of himself back flipping. At the end of the North practice session on Tuesday, he did a back flip for his teammates after the huddle, a fitting and celebratory way to end an eventful day.