The Senior Bowl practice field may be the most exciting time of the year for Chris Ballard and company but Media Day is my personal favorite. Getting an opportunity to learn more about these players and talk to them face-to-face is a great opportunity and I got a ton of good interviews on the day. Last year, I only landed a few interviews but was still able to get players such as Rock Ya-Sin and Kaleb McGary. This year, I was able to land a lot of big name guys down here at the event. So today, here is part one of two of my interviews from the Senior Bowl Media Day event
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Size: 5’11” 201 pounds
Senior Stats: 65 catches for 1,192 yards and 8 touchdowns.
ZH: A big thing for me with receivers is how they beat press coverage. Walk me through how you beat press off the line of scrimmage.
BA: So having a defensive head coach who played corner, I just talked to him a lot and I would ask him what the first thing a DB is thinking going into press coverage. He told me that they don’t want to get beat deep. He said they want me to play at the line so he wanted me to use my speed and be explosive. Every route, you have to make them believe you are running a deep ball or a fade route so I just try to be explosive out of my first step and once you get them going it is kind of like a chess match. You can do different things from that point.
ZH: A big part of your game is winning vertically. What is typically going on for you when you are working vertically?
BA: (When working against press coverage) You have to stack the DB and get on top or even before that you have to hand fight. Then you have to leave room for the quarterback to throw and we talk about the red line all the time so he can lead you to the sideline and give you a chance to make a play. The deep ball is already a low percentage throw so you have to leave space on the sideline for your QB.
ZH: Last question. You pulled out his week due to injury but you are still here going through the process. What are trying to show teams throughout this week?
BA: Just getting into those meeting rooms with coaches and showing them that I can talk football and get on the board and show them that I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about.
In honor of "Brandon Aiyuk Is A First Rounder" Day, here's something we wanted to see from N'Keal Harry. pic.twitter.com/1rZrTnpEdK— JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) January 21, 2020
Jonathan Greenard, DE, Florida
Size: 6’3” 263 pounds
Senior Stats: 53 tackles, 16 TFL, 10 sacks, 3 FF, 4 pass deflections, and 1 interception
ZH: You made the jump from Louisville to Florida this past year. Why the jump to Florida and how was that change for you on the year?
JG: Yeah Coach (Jeffrey) Grantham, my Defensive Coordinator, recruited me out of high school and the opportunity presented itself after the coaches at Louisville got fired so once that happened, it was a no brainer to get down to Florida.
ZH: A big part of your game is your burst and get off but lets talk about your hands. What is your number one go-to move?
JG: I like the swipe bend and I can use the swipe bend to spin as well and it helps my speed rushes too. There are a few other things I can keep up my sleeve too.
ZH: Does your plan of attack ever change if the tackle is setting one way or not?
JG: Yeah if they are jumping me then I’m going to look to counter inside but most times guys try to cut me off and I have to either go through them or inside them. It just depends though because once you see those different sets then you have to react a certain way.
Jonathan Greenard laid the BOOM pic.twitter.com/lNwlOUAEFl— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 1, 2019
Terrell Burgess, DB, Utah
Size: 5’11” 192 pounds
Senior Stats: 81 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 1 interception
ZH: So you played all over the place last year from safety to corner to nickel. Where do you feel most comfortable going into this week?
TB: This week they are having me play a little corner as well but I feel comfortable in the box and more comfortable zone dropping but I can play on the edges too if that’s what they need me to do so I’m excited to show what I can do at all these spots.
ZH: “Zone eyes” is something that gets thrown around a lot in the scouting community. In your best way to describe it, what are “zone eyes” for a defensive back?
TB: A lot of things go into zone drops like reading where the receivers are lined up and pattern matching, you know so knowing your keys. To an extent, you can look at a formation and understand what you are going to run before you run it. Your eyes kind of have to be on the quarterback and kind of know the exact route that is going to be run before they even run it. So the eyes I guess are just looking back at the quarterback and back at the receiver, taking those quick peaks back and forth, and the rest is just making a play.
ZH: You are down here with seemingly the entire Utah defense. How does it feel to have your teammates down here this week?
TB: It’s nice to see some familiar faces. I’ve got a few guys where I’m training at so that’s nice too but it’s nice to see familiar guys like Francis (Bernard), Leki (Fotu), and Brad (Anae). We worked hard all season so I’m excited we can put on a show down here.
ZH: There are a lot of bigger receivers down here. How do you mitigate that size difference between them and yourself as a corner?
TB: You kind of just have to play bigger than yourself. I’m not very tall so everybody is going to be taller than me so at this point it is just playing bigger than yourself, know that you are here for a reason and knowing that they still have to go through me to catch the ball regardless of height.
If you're looking for a 2020 safety prospect to fall in love with... Utah's Terrell Burgess should be on your radar. Intelligent playmaker in both man and zone. pic.twitter.com/lxEoN3h7jZ— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) December 19, 2019
Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
Size: 6’3” 241 pounds
Stats: 61 catches for 831 yards and 7 touchdowns 6
ZH: Coming into this week, Jim Nagy said in his presser that he said you’ll jump 40+ inches at the combine. Can you commit to that number?
BH: (Laughs) You know, he may have been gassing that a little bit. I don’t want to go out there and say I’m going to jump a 40 inch vertical but if I can get around mid to high 30’s, I’ll feel good about it.
ZH: Big thing with tight ends is route running with this new NFL. How would you describe your route running?
BH: Whatever route you want me to run, I’d just need a couple runs at it to be very good at it. That is where my game really sets itself apart from others from that receiving standpoint and having that basketball background in being able to make quick cuts and see linebackers with your eyes from stemming or creating leverage or separation between people.
ZH: Last question. Colts fans love your game being that you played at Purdue. How would it feel for you to play in Indy next season?
BH: I gotta say, I’d be extremely fortunate to be drafted by any team but the Colts being just an hour away from school and having friends and family in the area, I think they would be just as happy as I would be to be in Indy next season.
Brycen Hopkins came in just under 6’ 4” and has people concerned?!?!?— Austin F (@unclemike21) January 21, 2020
That’s fine, let him drop to Chicago pic.twitter.com/v7DarnGmLM
KJ Hill, WR, Ohio State
Size: 6’0” 192 pounds6’0”
Stats: 57 catches for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns
ZH: Throughout the years at Ohio State, they have had a lot of talent at wide receiver. How did you stay productive with all those guys coming through OSU?
KJH: I just stay in my own world. Some games I may get two balls, some games I may get 10 balls but I just did what I could to catch everything that came my way. I feel like when quarterbacks see that and coaches see that, they try to get you the ball more because you are consistent.
ZH: My biggest takeaway from your game was your route running. Was that a big focus at Ohio State for you?
KJH: I feel like I just stuck with my strengths. My strength was route running so I wanted to get even better at it every time I could. Getting with guys like Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell and working with the best on it. Coach Hartline came in and took my game to another level also with everything else so I felt like a combination of all that helped me out.
ZH: The Colts have drafted an Ohio State player each of the last three years in Malik Hooker, Tyquan Lewis, and Parris Campbell. How would it feel to continue that tradition and play in Indy alongside your former teammates?
KJH (a big smile on his face): I would love it! You have some guys on the team that could help me like they would always do, some big brothers, so I would love to be a Colt.