The Senior Bowl began today in Mobile, AL, with the first day of practices getting underway in the afternoon. Both teams spent the day working on simple installation of the schemes for the game on Saturday. There were also multiple periods of individual and 1-on-1 drills.
Around the Block sent multiple scouts to Mobile this week to check out the prospects. In this article, Mitchell Wolfe and Felix Davila will highlight their Senior Bowl standouts on the American squad from the first day of practice.
Mitch: Of all the position groups on the field today, the American defensive line stood out above the rest. Jermaine Johnson and Devonte Wyatt were probably the most impressive Senior Bowl standouts. But nearly everyone in this group won the majority of their reps. They consistently wrecked their opponents in 1-v-1 sessions and team drills.
The running backs could not find any holes because the defensive linemen were blowing up the run plays. The defensive line also consistently put pressure on the quarterbacks. With that being said, the offensive line began to gel towards the end of the 11-on-11 portion, so we’ll have to see if this group performs as well tomorrow.
Mitch: Despite the defensive line’s dominance, one offensive lineman on the American squad played well. Max Mitchell from Louisiana consistently held his own in the 1-v-1 part of practice, including multiple reps where he stonewalled Jermaine Johnson. He was one of the few offensive linemen who had success against Johnson all day. Mitchell needed to show he could survive against elite competition this week; he did so during Tuesday’s practice.
Felix: One of my favorite receivers on the day was Danny Gray. I was impressed by how much faster he was compared to film, and he demonstrated excellent hands, ball tracking, and just overall adjustment to passes from the various quarterbacks. Gray also showed he’s been working on his release package, matching footwork with active hands to get open consistently and separated quickly.
These traits were showcased on a bomb from Malik Willis for a touchdown. Gray torched his defender outside and up, gaining several yards on the defender. He helped himself plenty today.
Mitch: Cameron Taylor-Britt had a lot on his plate during practice today. He played both inside and outside as a cornerback and even played both safety positions. Taylor-Britt is an excellent athlete (he played quarterback in high school), and his versatility was on display at practice today. He made several good tackles and nearly intercepted multiple passes as well.
In practice situations that are generally favorable to the offense, Taylor-Britt consistently performed above expectations. He was one of the few Senior bowl standouts among the defensive back group.
Mitch: Even though the American team had the lower-profile group of tight ends, they performed just as well, led by Greg Dulcich. The UCLA product looked exceptionally fluid running routes in the open field. He caught the ball easily, smoothly transitioning into a runner after the catch. He still has to prove himself as a blocker, so we will be keeping track of that over the next few days. But he was among the Senior Bowl standouts today.
Mitch: While the entire group of defensive linemen flourished, John Ridgeway seemed to struggle. He displayed good power and strength off the snap but did not have much of a pass rush plan after that, especially in 1-v-1 pass rush drills. He seemed to completely rely on his power without possessing or using any type of counter. Ridgeway was decent in the run game, as his size and strength make him very difficult to move. But he needs to show more creativity in the coming days.
Mitch: The guard from Virginia Tech stood out in his group, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Lecitus Smith looked noticeably less chiseled than the other offensive lineman. While this is not the most catastrophic of problems, it was odd to see.
Additionally, he struggled against the strength and power of the SEC interior defensive linemen. Devonte Wyatt, Neil Farrell, and Phidarian Mathis all gave him serious trouble in the 1-on-1 sessions. They also pushed him backward during the team drills. Hopefully, Smith can perform better in the coming practices.
Felix: The wide receiver out of Ole Miss has flashed some great playmaking ability in his career, but today was a rough start. Drummond had some nice routes with fluidity but struggled to create separation from what I saw. Most glaring, however, were his drops. He had a few catches that were blatant drops off his hands, even on routes where he burned the opposing defensive back.
He can easily turn it around with good performances the rest of the week, but dropping easy passes are an absolute no-no.