Friday, April 19, 2024
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The Hunt Report: 2024 HBCU Combine, Legacy Bowl practice standouts

The final postseason all-star game in the NFL Draft cycle is the HBCU Legacy Bowl, which is entering its third year in existence and held in New Orleans. This has become a great event for HBCU prospects that has grown every year. 

What I like most about this event is the pairing of the rosters. It is a great chance to see how the conferences, and subsequent talent, stack up against each other on the gridiron. 

Team Robinson, named after the legendary Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson, is composed of players hailing from the SWAC and SIAC. While Team Gaither, named after Florida A&M’s legendary coach Jake Gaither, is composed of prospects from both the MEAC and CIAA. 

How the week is set up is there’s an HBCU Combine at the beginning of the week, which includes players who are not participating in the week of practices, in addition to some of those who are. 

Let’s take a look at some of the standouts from this week in New Orleans, starting with the HBCU Combine.

HBCU Combine standouts

WR Marcus Riley, DB Eric Smith: Florida A&M 

Both players were the buzz of the combine because of their electrifying speed and explosiveness displayed during 40-yard dash and agility testing on Monday. Riley blazed an unofficial 4.34, which was the best among the receivers, and also had a 10-9 broad jump as well as a 3.9 short shuttle. Smith was able to match Riley’s feat in terms of leading his position group in the 40-yard dash with a 4.32 unofficial time. Just an amazing display of speed and explosiveness coming from the former Rattlers.

WR/KR Taymon Cooke: 5-11/184, North Carolina A&T

Cooke is one of the best kickoff returners in the draft class, so obviously teams wanted to see if the speed shown on film would show up against the stopwatch. He didn’t disappoint, running a blistering unofficial 4.39 40-yard dash. It is his ability to continue to increase speed as he’s running that is most impressive. During the on field portion of the combine, you saw this show up in how he was able to track and accelerate to the deep ball.

RB Jarveon Howard: 5-10/215, Alcorn State

Howard ran an unofficial 4.52 40-yard dash and had an impressive 10-8 broad jump.

His on field workouts just echoed the burst and explosiveness shown in his 40 time and broad jump. The footwork was where it needed to be, and he caught the ball rather well. From what I heard from multiple scouts is that he was a great interview. Needless to say the former Alcorn State star was checking a lot of boxes on Monday.

S John Huggins: 6-1/211, Jackson State

Speaking of checking boxes, if you want to stand out you better be at or near the top of lists involving your name. Huggins was among the standouts during the positional work in addition to his impressive unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.47. An explosive athlete, who moves well in all directions, is the type of prospect you want playing in your secondary.

LB Tre’Vion Sherman-Green: 5-11/204, Prairie View A&M

The fastest time by a linebacker at the combine was by Sherman-Green who ran an unofficial 4.40-yard dash. Insane burst and explosiveness, the former Prairie View A&M star’s speed combined with his measurements, had scouts envisioning him potentially getting a look more as a safety as opposed to a traditional linebacker. But with that speed, as a potential core special teamer, he definitely helped himself. 

LB Lawrence Richardson: 6-1/224, Morgan State

Richardson is such a fluid athlete. He’s your classic run-and-chase backer fit for today’s game. It was great to see him perform in an unfamiliar environment and do exactly what he did throughout his entire career at Morgan State. Richardson had a fantastic combine workout. 

HBCU Legacy Bowl practices

Team Gaither

QB Davius Richard: 6-2/225, North Carolina Central

Richard competed in the Hula Bowl last month, so having recent football playing experience really helped him hit the ground running here at the Legacy Bowl. He’s the top HBCU passer in the draft class, displaying all of the requisite tools you want to see from your signal-caller. Stacking back-to-back strong all-star game performances could push him up into Day 3 territory of the NFL Draft.

WR RJ Mobley: 6-1/200, Winston-Salem State

Mobley also has an excellent workout during the HBCU Combine and is 1st Team All-Look the Part as well. His testing definitely translated to the field as he was, hands down, the best and most consistent receiver in attendance here in New Orleans. In my opinion, Mobley made the most money this week in front of scouts.

OL Matthew Foster: 6-5/307, Virginia State

I was the color analyst for the Virginia State-Norfolk State game back in September and I remember marveling at the sheer size of the Virginia State offensive line. So I am not surprised to see Foster and his teammate Breyon Gaddy here at the Legacy Bowl. Foster’s got the length you want at the position and was getting a lot of cross training here across the offensive line. Athletically he matches up well and has good footwork in pass pro. To me, he’s just scratching the surface of what he could potentially be as a pro. 

OL Evan Gregory: 6-4/305, Norfolk State

A mauler in the run game, Gregory plays with a great base and fundamentals. He’s a technically sound lineman who gets movement consistently at the point of attack. It was his effort during each rep that really stood out to me. He epitomizes the ‘no plays off’ mentality.

OL Tairiq Stewart: 6-5/310, North Carolina A&T

Scouts raved about Stewart, who’s physicality and dominance throughout the week really stood out. He’ll fight you through the whistle and really just continue to top the previous day’s effort on the next day. Trust me, how he performed this week didn’t go unnoticed by the teams in attendance. 

S Jordan Toles: 6-1/207, Morgan State

Toles had a lot of buzz coming into the week among scouts I spoke with, they were excited to see him perform. What was good for him is that he tested well and went out and showed good ability matching up in space. I knew he had top notch ball skills, having called a lot of Morgan State but it was great to see him more so used in the alley and in man coverage than he was back in college. 

DL Darrian Brokenburr: 6-2/264, Howard

Brokenburr has a very good burst off the ball and you saw that manifest itself positively in run fit drills as well as team period where he was a consistent nuisance on both ends of defense, vs. the run and vs. the pass. He could potentially get a look as a potential SAM backer based on how well he moved this week.

DL Noah Washington: 6-4/275, Morgan State

I thought from a defensive line perspective, Washington had the best week. He showed the ability to line up in many different techniques across the front, even as an edge rusher and was disruptive. During OL/DL 1-on-1s, his heavy-handed one arm bar move was able to consistently walk linemen back into the QB. His versatility raised a lot of eyebrows this week.

CB Jae’Veyon Morton: 5-8/164, Morgan State

Listen, I am Team Size is Not a Skill, so don’t judge the diminutive corner by his measurements. Instead, judge him by what he does on the field. Morton had a tremendous Day 3 where he ended up with a pick six on one play and the very next rep was able to make a diving pass breakup on the goal line. These are the types of plays defenders his size have to make in order to impress scouts. Morton also had himself a good week at the College Gridiron Showcase back in January.

CB Omari Hill-Robinson: 5-10/179, Bethune-Cookman

Hill-Robinson’s ball skills were well known and regarded coming into the week, and he didn’t disappoint here at the Legacy Bowl. I thought he showed potential as an outside corner moving forward because of his willingness and ability to challenge receivers above the rim for the ball. He plays a lot bigger than his size for sure.

Team Robinson

QB Jyron Russell: 6-3/210, Edward Waters

I thought Russell threw the ball consistently well throughout the week. Good size for the former D2 QB and showed he could make the intermediate throw with ease, also throwing well outside the numbers. 

TE Tristan Letlow-Ballard: 6-4/240, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Scouts were buzzing all week about how well Letlow-Ballard looked the part and how he performed during the week. He had a really good combine workout in terms of drill work and also was one of the more consistent pass-catchers on Team Robinson. 

TE Kamari Young: 6-2/238, Florida A&M

Another consistent pass-catcher was the FAMU product, who brought a little bit more juice to the position. Young had a certain quickness and burst about his game that caught some defenders by surprise. In the run game he more than held his own during team periods as well. During 1-on-1s, we saw both Young and the aforementioned Letlow-Ballard win their respective matchups. 

RB LaDarius Owens: 5-8/185, Texas Southern

One of the better backs in the SWAC was also one of the standouts here in attendance. We didn’t see Owens catch a lot of passes in college, so it was good to see him used in the passing game during the week. He was another prospect who paired a good combine workout with a good week of work during the live practices as well. 

DB Cedric Anderson: 6-3/192, Grambling State

To me, Anderson was the best defensive back in attendance. What really stood out to me the most was how he was able to match up man-to-man with receivers on a consistent basis. His transitions were smooth, considering he’s a 6-foot-3 defender, and he sprinkled in the right amount of hand usage to tie up the receiver. He was listed as a safety, but after seeing him play corner all week I believe that’s where we’ll see him more than likely play as a pro. 

Here’s a look at one of his many good battles with WR Corintheus Edmonds of Fort Valley State.

DB Joshua Heyward: 6-0/194, Benedict College

Heyward matches good size with good ability and had an impressive week. Watching him compete up close at the Hula Bowl and now at the HBCU Legacy Bowl, you can see he has the athleticism necessary to succeed as a pro. I like how well he closes on the ball, without drawing a penalty. He’s the type of defender who has length and knows how to play with length. 

DL Loobert Denelus: 5-11/286, Benedict College

Denelus had a stellar Day 3 from a disruption standpoint. Just a constant problem all day long for the offensive line. Even in 1-on-1s, he showcased a lot of tools in his toolbox, drawing some impressive nods from scouts who took notice.

LB Myles McHaney IV: 6-2/224, Prairie View A&M

McHaney aced the Off the Bus look, as he is a finely tuned athlete. The application of that look was equally as impressive, as his ability off the edge was evident during team periods and in 1-on-1s. He’s got the twitch and the saavy to be an excellent blitzer or pressure player wherever he lands as a pro.

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