2018 NFL Draft Guide, Online edition ($29.99)
2018 NFL Draft Guide, Online edition ($29.99)
Former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki has all of the tools to become one of the NFL's next multi-dimensional tight ends. The former Under Armour All-American and Southern Regional High School (N.J.) basketball and volleyball standout often leapt over the competition in Happy Valley. He is a player who has shown a knack for the clutch grabs on some of the team's biggest stages. We caught up with the Academic All-Big Ten standout during the week of 2018 Senior Bowl practices to discuss his confidence, athleticism and goals for the future.
DN: In terms of your week (Senior Bowl 2018) how have you felt it has gone? Seems like you've been a tough match-up for a lot of the guys covering you, both safeties and linebackers. How have you felt about your route running?
Gesicki: I felt really good all week. Starting on Tuesday and leading all the way up to this practice and then through it. Felt really good. I'm a kind of guy that's really confident in my abilities. So when I line up I know I'm going to win. Whether it's man coverage or if it's zone I'm going to find that open spot. So, all week in the one-on-ones that's all of the stuff that I take pride in. It's you versus another man and I'm doing whatever I can to win.
DN: It seems like a lot of your numbers that you've had -in terms of your workout numbers- were amazing in school. 10'7" broad, you run in the 4.5-range and 38, 39-inch vertical. Talk a little bit about some of your goals for the combine and Pro Days.
Gesicki: Yeah, the combine...that's kind of something that people ask me, 'Are you nervous for the combine?', all that kind of stuff. No, I'm not nervous at all. That's kind of what I do. I run fast, I jump high, I'm strong, all that kind of stuff. So when I go to the combine I've got goals and aspirations that I want to reach. Whatever it is I'm going to continue to train and continue to work hard. I obviously want to run anywhere around the 4.55-range in that area (40-yard dash). Like you said, I want to get up in the long jump and try to break the record of 11'2" for tight ends. I want to get somewhere around 11'3. Just continue to show off my athletic ability.
DN: Finally, confidence has always been a big part of your game. When you get a one-on-one matchup, you've wanted the ball throughout your career. Talk a little bit about what brings that out in you.
Gesicki: My entire life it's just kind of been who I am in terms of confidence. Playing basketball growing up, if there was three seconds left I want to take the last shot. Now (at PSU) if we are in the Red Zone, one-on-one, I want the ball. Last play of the game, put it up to me on third down. Whatever it is, that's just kind of who I am. I'm a big-time competitor. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. I'm very confident in my abilities. So when I get out on the field and my number is called, I know I'm going to come up and deliver.
DN: Best of luck man. Appreciate the time.
Gesicki: Thank you very much.
----2018 Senior Bowl practices, Day 3
DraftNasty staff reports
Former Missouri wide receiver J'Mon Moore sat down with DraftNasty to talk about bouncing back, route running and what makes him such a dangerous receiver after the catch. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Moore averaged 15.7 yards per reception with 21 touchdowns during his career. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his last two seasons on campus.
DN: Your straight-stem (as a route runner) and not having a lot of wasted movement is very important. What have you worked on to improve that?
Moore: Just one of the things that I always work on when I think about route running is trying to play as low as possible. Because I know I’m a tall, long guy. I think about the best way to get to my depth without giving away anything and then kind of switching it up at the top of the route.
DN: When you catch the football, you run angry after the catch. Who did you kind of grow up and pattern that after?
Moore: Growing up, I played a little bit of running back. I played in the streets of Houston and we used to do sideline-kill. Once you get in that grass, I didn’t like getting tackled. I used to just run mad. Usually when I get the ball, I kind of run with a type of aggression because I don’t like to be tackled. So, I kinda think that aggression just came from me growing up. It started at a young age.
DN: Back-to-back seasons with 1,000 yards. You played with a quarterback (Drew Lock) who set an SEC record for touchdown passes. You were the No. 1 receiver but Emanuel Hall this year also showcased his speed. Former triple jump guy. Who’s the fastest out of you and Emanuel Hall?
Moore: I give it to E-Man (Hall). E-Man’s a track guy. Let him have that one.
DN: But it seems like you’re a 4.4-guy?
Moore: Yes sir, I’ve got some speed to. But Emanuel is elite speed. That’s him. He’s got that straight-line speed. I got the straight-line speed but I got that lateral too, side-to-side. I can get a little shifty. I’ve got some good body control.
DN: Absolutely. Who was the toughest corner you’d say you went against?
Moore: Toughest corner. I want to give a shot out to that Florida corner. He’s young, can’t remember his name (CJ Henderson). He’s going to be good. The best corner that I saw…um, I like Lammons.
DN: South Carolina (Chris Lammons).
Moore: I like him. He was a pretty good cat. He did his thing. That was kind of one of my bad games, but I liked his style.
DN: If you were to say that there was a game that the scouts come up and say, ‘This is a game that I want you to watch’, and maybe if they ask you why, what game would that be?
Moore: Game that I want somebody to watch. Uh, I wanna say…Florida was a good game. But, I’ll tell them to turn on the Arkansas game, even though I had a lot of drops that game. That was the game I had the most drops. Even though I dropped the ball like that, I was still able to be focused. I didn’t let those drops get to me. I just moved forward from them, I stayed in the game.
DN: And you’re referring to that back-shoulder catch at the end of the game.
Moore: Yes sir. I was just able to put those drops to the side and not let them build on me and mess up my whole flow of the game. So, I think I did good with the adversity during the Arkansas game.
DN: What’s your best route? The deep stops on the outside, you do those pretty well.
Moore: I’m like a double-move guy. Really, I like any double move. I like slant, sluggo (slant-and-go), I like post-corners, corner-posts, whatever. I like double moves. I like those kind of routes.
DN: Well, you’re going to get an opportunity this week man (Senior Bowl). Want to wish you the best.
Moore: Yes sir.
--DraftNasty staff reports, 2018 Senior Bowl
There aren't many quarterbacks who give up the ball and decide to become lead fullbacks. Former San Diego State Aztecs fullback Nick Bawden did that and more. After starting two games for the Aztecs at quarterback in 2014, he made a successful transition to the position. Bawden was the lead blocker for two 2,000-yard running backs in his career. He gives a lot of the credit to current San Diego State offensive coordinator Jeff Horton. DraftNasty's Corey Chavous caught up with Bawden during the week of 2018 Senior Bowl practices this past January.
Corey: Wanted to ask you a little bit about working with Jeff Horton as the offensive coordinator (San Diego State). He is a guy I had some familiarity with and we worked together for awhile (St. Louis Rams). He had a lot of good things to say about you. Not only on your approach, but just how smart you were. Talk a little bit about your ability to grasp a number of different pro-style concepts.
Bawden: Starting with my intellect for football. I just love the game. Student of the game. Trying to learn as much as I can from as many people…reaching out to people on Instagram, stuff like that. I learned so much from Coach Horton. That’s pretty cool that you guys go way back, cause he’s been so influential in my life. I can’t thank him enough for all that he’s done. He’s really taken the time to help me learn this game the way I have.
Corey: You’re being asked to block on a lot of counters and do some of the things that an NFL fullback would be asked to do. It’s one thing to do it and get to the assignment, but then there is another to do it and finish with some ‘Nasty’. I like ‘Nasty’, and you’ve got a lot of that in you. Talk about ‘Nasty’ and why that’s important for you…to send a message when you connect on people.
Bawden: Yeah, I mean there’s not many of us left. A fullback has got to be the most physical guy on the field at all times. Whether that’s in special teams or running iso (lead isolations), running counters, like you said. That’s just my mentality. I want to impact the game to where linebackers are thinking about me and not where the ball is.
Corey: You’ve blocked for two 2,000-yard rushers (Donnell Pumphrey, Rashaad Penny) among others. You’ve also blocked for Juwan (Washington) and did he come close to a thousand this year?
Bawden: He was close yeah but not quite (759 yards, 6 yards per carry, 7 TDs).
Corey: The year before (2016), the 2,000 and 1,000-yard double (Pumphrey and Penny).
Corey: What does that mean to you?
Bawden: It’s been incredible. Like I said, there’s nine other guys on the field so it wasn’t just me. We’ve had some really good O-linemen and some really good tight ends. But I’ve been put in a really good position and that’s all thanks to Coach Horton.
Corey: What’s the one thing you want NFL scouts to know that you’re going to bring to the next level that they may not know as much about right now?
Bawden: Just my versatility. I can line up in the I-formation and run Iso (fullback lead isolations) all day, but I can run down and cover kicks, cover punts, be on kickoff return, be on punt return. Be on all of them. I want to be a core special teams guy and be able to contribute any way I can.
Corey: No doubt. Thanks a lot for your time.
Corey: One more question. Who was the toughest opponent you went against in school?
Bawden: Individual player?
Corey: Yeah, individual player.
Bawden: I’d say Harrison Phillips, the D-tackle from Stanford. He’s actually out here this week (Senior Bowl). We’re training together down in San Diego.
Corey: Y’all beat them this year.
Bawden: We did. We did. He had like ten tackles against us at nose though (11 tackles, ½ QB sack, ½ tackle for loss), so that was pretty crazy.
Corey: Yeah, I actually announced one of your games this year.
Bawden: Oh really. Which one?
Corey: Northern Illinois (CBS Sports Network).
Bawden: Okay. That was a dogfight.
Corey: Enjoyed watching you.
Former Cincinnati Bearcats offensive tackle Korey Cunningham is an example that hard work pays off. It’s not often that you find a former 220-pound tight end blossom into a 315-pound all-conference tackle in just a four-year period. The transformation landed him a berth in the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he performed admirably at guard on game day. He described the arduous weight-gaining process late in 2017.
“I would have protein shakes and chipotle three times a day,” the second-team All-AAC tackle explained during a pregame meeting with CBS in late November 2017. “Then I would do extra workouts at night.”
Aside from the Chipotle visits, he also had lots of white rice and brown rice to get up to around 2,100 calories per day. It speaks to his commitment. On the field, his improvements have been just as dramatic. He became more sudden in his kick-slide and it resulted in better finish as a pass protector. Never was this more evident than on a few occasions against 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin during their 2017 battle. Perhaps more telling was his 2016 encounter with former Temple star outside linebacker and 2017 Arizona Cardinals first-round pick Haason Reddick.
“After the game against Reddick, I gained a lot of confidence,” Cunningham stated. “I’m just staying positive, enjoying the moment and having a good time.”
Words that resonate on a day-to-day basis.
It is no surprise that he earned Cincinnati’s Jim Kelly Spirit Award at the postseason senior awards banquet.
If his work ethic is any indication, he could very well ‘enjoy’ the 2018 NFL Draft.