Lockport native Sean Kugler is back in the NFL after a five-year stint as head coach at Texas-El Paso.
Kugler, arguably one of the top 20 defensive linemen Western New York ever has produced, was hired three weeks ago as new offensive line coach for the Denver Broncos.
He's coaching the North team at the Senior Bowl with the rest of the Broncos' staff, and he has firsthand knowledge of one of the top three guards in the 2018 Draft, UTEP's Will Hernandez.
"He's an extremely physical lineman," Kugler said. "He's got outstanding work ethic. He comes from a great family. He's a high-character kid who's going to give you his best every day. He's nimble. He's an excellent puller. He's a great finisher. He's going to have an outstanding pro career wherever he ends up."
Hernandez likely is going to fall between 25th and 60th on most draft boards. He's a 6-foot-2, 340-pounder who moves like a 310-pounder.
Kugler, who starred at Lockport's DeSales Catholic and then at UTEP, resigned from his alma mater in October after an 0-5 start. He went 18-36 over five years but took the Miners to a bowl game in 2014. Kugler, 51, coached the Bills' offensive line under Dick Jauron from 2007 to 2009.
Kugler's oldest son, Robert, was first-team All-WNY for Orchard Park's state-title team in 2009 and played at Purdue. He's now a graduate assistant coach under Chris Peterson at the University of Washington. Kugler's younger son, Patrick, just finished a five-year career at Michigan. He was starting center this season, and he's also pursuing a coaching career. He has landed a GA assignment under Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Big rebounder: Iowa State's Allen Lazard stood out among receivers on Wednesday and Thursday. He's a 6-4, 227-pounder who figures to rank between seventh and 16th among WRs on draft boards. Figure him to be a second- or third-rounder. Lazard had a bunch of drops Tuesday but was much sharper the past two days.
One of his nice catches was a red-zone TD in the right corner of the end zone on a fade route. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield made the accurate throw despite a bad shotgun snap. Mayfield also hit him on a 17-yard dig route on which he got separation.
"No knock to my quarterback at Iowa State, but he doesn't have the same arm strength as Josh Allen," Lazard said after Wednesday's practice. "So when we're doing routes out here, it's the first time really getting an NFL quarterback prospect throwing a ball that's not dropping at all, not rising. So it was different but I got used to it."
Lazard is not a burner but he showed some quickness in 1-on-1 drills to get over the top of cornerbacks a couple times. He caught a pretty go-route from Allen Wednesday.
Penn State WR: Another receiver who boosted his stock was Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton, who was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster after playing well at the East-West Shrine Game last week.
Hamilton finished this season as the Nittany Lions' all-time leader in receptions with 204. He's 6-foot and 3-4ths and 202 pounds. However, questions about his speed raised doubts during the season about whether he would get drafted. He looked like a sharp route-runner and got open at the top of his routes all three days.
"Just create separation," Hamilton said of his objective. "I know the knock on me is if I can get separation. Not a lot of people know about my speed. Really just coming out here and showing I can create separation and get open and run the whole route tree. I think that's what I did well this week."
More injuries: Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd, Miami DE Chad Thomas and Clemson linebacker Dorian O'Daniel all were ruled out for the game due to injuries. All are middle-round prospects.