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Lunchbreak: Zierlein Highlights Day 2 Standouts from Senior Bowl Practices


There is only one day of practice left at the Reese's Senior Bowl, but they will take place inside Thursday due to inclement weather.

Practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, were outside on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lance Zierlein of was on the scene to watch the North and South teams on Wednesday, and he highlighted a few offensive players that stood out to him.

Zierlein began his list with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.

I came into this week thinking Herbert was the best quarterback here in Mobile, and he's only solidified that belief with his performance through his first couple Senior Bowl practices. He looks confident out there, and he's not making many mistakes with his decisions. And this is a crucial week for him. Where he ends up going in the draft will be determined more by how he fares this week than his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Everyone knows he has the talent of a first-round, franchise QB, but the big question for him at this event is how does he lead his teammates? How does he step up and perform consistently? The Senior Bowl gives him a better stage to display his abilities in those areas than the combine, and he's been up to the challenge to this point. I've been very impressed with his intermediate tosses across the field. Those are throws not everyone can make, but he made it look kind of easy.

Zierlein also came away impressed by Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson.

On tape, right off the bat, you can see Jefferson's a coach's son based on how he competes (his father, Shawn, is a former NFL receiver who currently serves as the New York Jets' WRs coach). Van's production with the Gators wasn't great, but when you ask around about that issue, the fact that UF's QB play has been inconsistent pops up quite a bit. I know this much: His routes are impeccable.

His ability to get open underneath and disguise his breaks is really fun to watch. He made tight-window catches against some pretty good corners on Wednesday. If he's able to break a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the combine, he's going to get pushed up the draft board. Wherever he goes, he has a chance to outperform his draft position.

Zierlein also took notice of Houston tackle Josh Jones.

Jones had some ups and downs during Tuesday's practice — it's not uncommon for offensive linemen to start off a little slower than defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl — but on Wednesday, he was impressive. He got into Wisconsin LB Zack Baun — one of the top performers on Tuesday — and moved him down the field.

In pass pro, he was shutting people down. I talked to some personnel people here who shared my enthusiasm for his performance. He looks better than Tytus Howard did here last year. I think Jones is a second-round tackle, but it won't be a surprise if he gets pushed up the board, just like Howard, who went to the Texans in Round 1 last year, did. He's a physical specimen and a lock to go in the top 40. He's just too long, too athletic, and has too much potential at left tackle to last long in the draft.

Zierlein also mentioned a pair of defensive backs — Utah's Terrell Burgess and Notre Dame's Troy Pride, Jr. — as players that impressed on Wednesday.

The Reese's Senior Bowl kicks off on at 1:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday on NFL Network.

ESPN Ranks a Vikings Hire in Top 2019 Underrated Moves

With 32 teams across the NFL, there are hundreds of roster moves and coaching decisions that transpire each offseason.

The hope for each team, of course, is that each move pays off in a big way. Some do, and help a team make a deep playoff run, while others don't and sometimes lead to a frustrating season.

The Vikings made a handful of personnel changes in the 2019 offseason, choosing to let some players leave while adding others. Minnesota also brought in a handful of new faces on the offensive coaching staff.

ESPN writer Dan Graziano took notice of the Vikings decision to hire Gary Kubiak as the team's Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor, and recently ranked it among the best underrated moves any team made in 2019.

Graziano wrote:

He was not the offensive coordinator, but Kubiak (as well as run game coordinator Rick Dennison and QBs coach Klint Kubiak, who came with him) helped evolve [Kevin] Stefanski's offense into one that played more to QB Kirk Cousins' strengths. A zone running scheme and an emphasis on play-action helped revitalize the Minnesota offense and propel the Vikings into the postseason.

Stefanski, who's now off to Cleveland as a head coach, credited Kubiak as an invaluable sounding board and a helpful-but-not-intrusive influence on the offense, which performed at a high level for most of the season.

Stefanski and the handful of new coaches were committed to running the ball, as the Vikings rushed for 2,133 total yards, the sixth-most in the NFL. Minnesota was also sixth with 19 rushing scores.

The Vikings finished third in the NFL by running the ball on 49.07 percent of their offensive plays, a stat that trailed only Baltimore (56.02 percent) and San Francisco (49.21 percent).