With the help of Eric Galko of OptimumScouting.com, here’s a quick synopsis of how several local prospects fared at this week’s Senior Bowl.
1. Jordan Willis, 6 feet, 3 3/4 inches, 255 pounds, DE, Kansas State
The Kansas City native and Rockhurst product ripped it up all week and finished on Saturday with a flourish, recording two tackles (both for loss), two forced fumbles and a pass breakup on the way to being named the most outstanding player on the South squad for the game. “He’s got a lot of athletic ability, he’s had a fantastic week of practice this week, especially when it comes to setting the edge,” Galko said. “His ability to work through double teams was really impressive. That, combined with probably a strong combine, is going to put him in that top-40 discussion.”
2. Connor Harris, 5-11, 241, ILB, Lindenwood
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The Blue Springs South product entered the week with much to prove after an insanely-productive Division II career, and while he finished Saturday’s game with six tackles — tied for the second-most on the team — Galko said Harris left the week with some areas to work on. “I thought he struggled some in traffic against the run throughout the week,” said Galko, who added that Harris also needs to tighten up his pass coverage, particularly in space (even though he had a pick-6 on Tuesday). “His lack of great hip fluidity hurt him this week in practice,” Galko said.
3. Aarion Penton, 5-9 3/8 , 177, CB, Missouri
After a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game last weekend, the St. Louis native put together another good week at the Senior Bowl and finished Saturday’s game with three tackles. “Having the back-to-back (good) weeks is important, not just because he played well but because NFL teams like seeing guys for two weeks,” Galko said. “Penton did a good job of showing he could be a nickel guy in the NFL and that’s what he came here to do.”
4. C.J. Beathard, 6-2 5/8 , 219, QB, Iowa
Beathard completed one of two passes for 4 yards Saturday while taking a backseat to Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman. Beathard did have a 43-yard touchdown called back due to a penalty, but he was also sacked three times, fumbling twice. “On film, looks like a poised passer,” Galko said. “But seeing him in practice — and especially watching back on film — he just seems skittish in the pocket, delayed in his reads throughout the week, and that was unexpected.”
5. Nate Gerry, 6-1 7/8 , 214, S, Nebraska
He finished Saturday’s game with three tackles. Productive player with ball production the last two years (eight interceptions). The combine will be important for him. “He needs to showcase his athletic ability,” Galko said. “His range was a bit limited this week in terms of breaking on the ball outside the hash marks, but ... his instincts, his ball skills are great.” Could be a top-four round pick if he runs in the 4.6-range in the 40-yard dash.
6. Jahleel Johnson, 6-2 7/8 , 309, DL, Iowa
Johnson turned in a strong effort this week and finished Saturday’s game with three tackles. Tested out well and had a fantastic week in a setting geared for players like him. “Johnson has first-step quickness, stays low and is explosive and can drive in the backfield easily,” Galko said. “He’s a guy who can get penetration without necessarily using rush moves. He showed that on film repeatedly, and I think he entered and maybe left the week as one of, if not the best, defensive tackles.” Galko added that Johnson might have the look of a top-64 pick now.
7. Desmond King II, 5-10 1/8 , 206, CB, Iowa
King finished the game with two tackles. Showed who he was; had a reputation as a strong tackler and physical corner who might end up being a Cover 2 corner or safety. “I think he struggled substantially in the red-zone drills and timing his jumps — it’s going to be an issue,” Galko said. “But he’s a smart corner, a physical corner. ... I think he showed the ability to click and close.”