With the Senior Bowl set for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern in Mobile, Ala., the five local entries from Boston College and UMass have already garnered plenty of attention.
Through the week's worth of practices, UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella has been someone basically every evaluator and coach holds high praise for. Boston College offensive guard Chris Lindstrom, safety Will Harris, tight end Tommy Sweeney, and defensive end Zach Allen have also been catching compliments, and will be in line to snag more when the game kicks off.
As we look forward to Saturday afternoon, here are a few things each player wants to show off for the scouts.
— So far, everyone loves Isabella's route-running qualities and ability to separate from defenders. Pure speed also seems to be a plus attribute for the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder, and his run-after-catch skills have always been strong. The only aspect of Isabella's game that some seem to be unsure of, purely because of his size, is the receiver's hands in a heavy traffic situation. This was not an issue in college, per se, but when Isabella gets to the NFL, many project him to be working mostly out of the slot, and the battles for the football will be against bigger and stronger players. At UMass, Isabella showed he can line up on the outside, too, and we also believe he can do that at the NFL level. Still, on Saturday, scouts will be looking to see how Isabella can come away with the ball when the size of defenders becomes a greater issue.
— Lindstrom, a Dudley native and Shepherd Hill alum, had a tremendous career at The Heights, and has continued with a nice week down in Mobile. The 6-4, 310-pounder basically had a perfect season in pass protection in 2018, and has been one of the best pulling guards in the country over the course of his career. There is not much Lindstrom must do to up his profile Saturday other than what any player at his position can in this setting. Basically, as long as he wins his share of 1-on-1 battles, shows a propensity for getting to the second level and hitting moving targets, anchors well against pass rushers, and communicates well with his fellow linemen, scouts will see many of the positive things Lindstrom can bring to the table. So far, Lindstrom has come as advertised as a dependable cog up front. All he needs to do is maintain that reputation.
— This draft cycle, the defensive linemen probably stick out more than any position group in terms of high-end quality and depth. That's why Allen has a chance to really make a difference in where he is picked Saturday. The New Canaan, Conn. native and 6-5, 285-pounder made 6.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss this season, so everyone knows he can get into the backfield and make plays. But for edge defenders like Allen, it is important to show he can do so in a variety of ways. It just means that if your bull rush isn't working, you can switch to an equally effective swim move or speed rush on the next snap to get the job done. Even if Allen does not come away with a sack, if he can get pressure with multiple techniques, he will help his stock.
— For Sweeney, the 6-5, 260-pounder must show that he can be the complete package from a receiving and blocking standpoint at the next level. In college, Sweeney was certainly that. Over the course of his career at The Heights, Sweeney made 99 receptions for 1,281 yards (12.9 yards per reception) and 10 touchdowns. The Ramsey, N.J. native also made his mark as a strong blocker when needed in an offense that committed heavily to the run. In today's NFL, it is becoming harder and harder to find a tight end who can serve both roles at a high level. If Sweeney can continue to stake his reputation as someone with a well-rounded skill-set and not a one-trick pony, then he will help himself on Saturday.
— Harris has set himself apart over the course of his career at BC with his ability to set a physical tone as a tackler in the back end. The safety made 75 stops this season, including one for loss. The 6-2, 210-pounder from Suwanee, Ga. did not rack up a lot of interceptions (5) over his four years at The Heights, so scouts on Saturday are going to want to see more from Harris as someone who can make plays when the ball is in the air. Still, they will also want to see just how much Harris' physicality translates to the next level, and the thought here is that they will not be disappointed in that regard.