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How They Fared: Penn Staters in the Senior Bowl

Penn State had four representatives on hand in Mobile, Ala. this past week for the Senior Bowl, where players had a chance to showcase their talents in an effort to boost their draft stock.

Offensive tackle Donovan Smith, defensive end Deion Barnes, defensive back Adrian Amos, and linebacker Mike Hull all participated in the week’s events, which included one-on-one drills, positional drills, scrimmage situations, and the game itself.

Here’s how Penn State’s Senior Bowl representatives fared throughout the week.

Mike Hull saw the least action of the group, after he was forced to leave Mobile early as a result of knee troubles that stemmed from an arthroscopic procedure he received around two weeks ago. While he was unable to impress on the field, he recorded at least one moral victory this past week: He measured exactly six feet tall, which should keep scouts interested in what he can bring to the table as an NFL inside linebacker.

Thankfully, Hull didn’t suffer the same fate that a handful of prospects did during weigh-ins, where many measured much shorter than their school’s official listings read, seriously affecting their draft stock in some cases.

Two players were spotted meeting with teams during the first two days. Donovan Smith was seen speaking with John Urschel’s Baltimore Ravens, while Adrian Amos was seen with the San Diego Chargers, a team in need of some depth at safety.

Speaking of Donovan Smith, most experts believe that he increased his draft stock exponentially, finishing as one of the Senior Bowl’s highest risers. His performance throughout the week, as well as in the game and in the weight room, have scouts drooling over his upside. During one-on-one sessions, Smith was matched up with some top pass-rushing talent, squaring up against players like Utah defensive end Nate Orchard — who projects as a first round pick after leading the nation with 19 sacks — and Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, seen widely as the top interior lineman in the 2015 draft class.

Me and my boy @55s_up out here at the Reese’s Senior Bowl putting in work. Good players make each other great and that’s what we are doing #NorthSquad

A video posted by Donovan Smith (@dsmith_76) on

Smith gave Shelton a run for his money, keeping one of the nation’s dominant interior forces at bay during drills, as seen here in a clip posted by Smith on Instagram.

It wasn’t just in drills, either. Smith flashed moments of brilliance in almost every event throughout the week, including the actual game, where he outplayed Pitt tackle T.J. Clemmings significantly. Clemmings, one of the draft’s more highly-regarded tackle prospects, had a generally disappointing week after underwhelming in drills and live competition. It was Smith who was the beneficiary of Clemmings’ shaky play, as the big-bodied left tackle saw his stock shoot up considerably.

Smith’s Senior Bowl performance even caught the attention of former Penn State legend Ki-Jana Carter, who had nothing but praise for the young lineman.

Deion Barnes’ week got off to a shaky start after he became the victim of over-listing, dropping one inch while gaining five pounds. Barnes is now officially listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, seen by some as a slightly undersized pass rusher when compared to the typical NFL mold. Still, Barnes managed to make the most of his opportunities, receiving plenty of early action in defensive line drills, and flashing his potential when rushing the quarterback.

Barnes’ stock didn’t fluctuate too drastically, but if anything he proved that he could develop into a force with his speed off the edge, a trait that entices many NFL defenses incorporating the traditional 4-3 scheme, where Barnes fits in as a conventional defensive end.

Amos had a relatively quiet week, but impressed scouts in one-on-one match-ups. Amos lined up against many of the nation’s talented receivers, including Big Ten rivals Tony Lippett from Michigan State and Devin Smith from Ohio State. He flashed solid speed when closing in on a receiver coming out of his route, and reinforced his intensity against the run, delivering his fair share of big hits. Most scouts raved over his intangibles, like his ability to lead a secondary, playing the proverbial defensive quarterback position. He is smart and sound, and has the weight to boot, coming in at 6-f00t, 214 pounds, a favorable measure for an NFL safety.

Amos was exposed during live competition at times, badly whiffing on David Johnson’s touchdown run as he closed in. Amos still has some work to do, but if he puts together a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, he should remain a lock to be drafted in day three of the NFL Draft.

It was a good week across the board for Penn State’s Senior Bowl representatives, who padded their résumés with the hopes of increasing their draft stock. With the NFL Scouting Combine next on the schedule, followed by Penn State’s Pro Day, all four will get at least two more chances to showcase their talents prior to the draft in an effort to climb up teams’ draft boards.

Photo: Bobby Chen/Onward State

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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