MOBILE, Ala. --- The crowds of scouts are getting smaller in the stands at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Most teams just keep their scouting staffs around town for the week of practice, but there's still plenty of players standing out. On Thursday, the star attraction (Carson Wentz) was sharp, multiple defensive backs made plays on the ball and the Buffalo Bills still have a large contingent in attendance.
Here's what the Bills saw from the North on Thursday...
— Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal is in Mobile and he was watching the wideouts very closely on Thursday, right down on the sideline in front of the position drills being conducted by the Dallas Cowboys coaches. Former Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller has looked the part. There are several different body types here, too. Michigan State's Aaron Burbridge (6-1, 208) has made contested catches this week, including one on an absolute dart of a back-shoulder throw from North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. In the final team red zone drill, Wentz put the ball on a rope to Burbridge's outside and he was in tune, adjusting on a very NFL-like play in tight coverage against Virginia's Maurice Canady.
Of all the wideouts Thursday, Burbridge probably stood out most. He uses his body well and caught everything thrown his way.
One area Miller will probably need to improve? Getting off the jam. One Cowboy coach worked with him for a few extra minutes when he struggled one rep.
Not surprising from someone with his production in college. Burbridge had 85 receptions for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He's projected as a third-round prospect by CBS Sports.
— Speaking of Wentz, this was probably his best practice. He's been smooth in the pocket, decisive with his decisions and easily has the strongest arm of the bunch. Drill to drill, his energy has been high, too. He's the one shouting and leading as much as possible, fully aware that all eyes are on him. Out of the FCS, he hasn't been in pressure-packed situations like this week often.
— Play of the Day? No doubt, that belongs to West Virginia safety KJ Dillon. He blew up one running play about 3-4 yards in the backfield, drawing a roar. Just crushed him. There's no touch football down here in Mobile — these players understand it's one prolonged job interview and Dillon, a lower-round prospect, made the most of it Thursday with this jarring collision. His last two seasons with the Mountaineers, Dillon had 14 tackles for loss and four interceptions.
— The best defensive back on the North team? Boise State's Darian Thompson. He keeps making plays on the ball. In 7 on 7 in the red zone Thursday, he broke on one slant route for a difficult pass break-up. And he did it without clutching or grabbing, surely what scouts want to see with flags flying so freely in the NFL today. We've talked about him plenty this week, but for good reason. Safeties often struggle in this Senior Bowl setting, looking to stiff in space or hesitant in breaking on the ball. Thompson has been active all three days.
— Busy morning for Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett. He had one bad drop a red zone drill that was picked off by fellow Buckeye Tyvis Powell. But Vannett also caught a tight-window touchdown from Kevin Hogan (in 7 on 7), and then another touchdown later (in 11 on 11) on a corner route from Cody Kessler. Vannett wasn't used much as a receiver in Urban Meyer's offense, catching 19 passes in each of the last two seasons so it's an important week for him. There's been ups and downs.
— The next best defensive play of the day belongs to Minnesota cornerback Eric Murray. The 6-foot, 199-pound was tested on a jump ball from Kessler to Cincinnati's 6-foot-2 Chris Moore in the corner of the end zone and responded. It was a great throw, seemingly in the only place Moore could've gotten it and Murray turned his best at the last moment, fully extended vertical and batted the ball away for the break-up.
Murray has competed all week and probably would've gotten called for a handful of flags if the action was live. Either way, teams probably love the feisty disposition — Murray's battles with Ohio State's Miller have been compelling and after this end-zone PBU and instantly, repeatedly signaled incomplete.