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Senior Bowl Day One: Winners from the skill position groups

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Who won the day from the skill positions?

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Ballard’s favorite event of the season has finally started. It was a full day at the Senior Bowl as the players weighed in, went through media day, and had their first day of practice. It was a long day for the players and some of these top Seniors aced the opportunity in every way from the get-go. In today’s piece, I’ll be giving my winners of day one on the practice field and some other news and notes from the first day of practice.


Quarterbacks

It was a fairly up and down day overall for this group on the field. The biggest winner by far though was Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. He looked sharp in his footwork, confidence, and arm strength all afternoon. In pass skel, he consistently put the ball where his receivers could make a play. His biggest highlight of the day was when he launched a 50 yard bomb down the left sideline in perfect position for Ohio State wide receiver Austin Mack to make a catch. Herbert then ran 50 yards down the field to congratulate the receiver on a big play. Excellent day for the potential top ten pick.


Running Backs

The running backs overall had a pretty good day one. As a group they won a majority of their routes against the linebackers and showcased some very good speed and quickness in the process. TCU running back Darius Anderson looked quick and fluid all day with great burst in his cuts and through the hole. UCLA running back Joshua Kelly was also a standout as he won continuously in one-on-one pass catching drills. Florida running back LaMical Perine also looked real smooth and compact in all his movements today and really showed that three down ability that teams love.


Wide Receivers

The receivers overall had a very good day as they overpowered the weaker cornerback group for most of the day. Ohio State wide receiver KJ Hill was basically uncoverable in one-on-ones as he dominated with excellent route running and quickness. He also looked comfortable operating against press man coverage which was a very pleasant surprise. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson was also a huge winner with how sudden and quick he was in one-on-ones. He was excellent all day. Texas receiver Colin Johnson and Baylor receiver Denzel Mims also had very good days as Johnson looked quick and fluid for his size and Mims showed out both as a pass catcher and as a blocker. Late addition Tyre Cleveland from Florida also showcased very impressive speed and tracking ability.


Tight Ends

It was a fairly uneventful day for the tight end group as a whole as they didn’t really wow me in any way that stood out. Dayton tight end Adam Trautman moved really well for his size and made a couple plays with great fluidity. He is definitely a player to watch as this week progresses. The other tight end who really caught my eye was Brycen Hopkins from Purdue. Maybe didn’t have a dominant practice but he moved really well and was a very personable interview with anyone who came to talk to him. He is someone who I will watch closely the rest of the week.


Off Ball Linebackers

While it may not have been an outstanding day for this group, they did show a lot of good things on film. Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun looked really fluid no matter where he played today. He’s an interesting player who can cover and rush the passer and he definitely helped his stock on day one. Cal linebacker Evan Weaver also moved well in his zone drops in certain drills that impressed me. Akeem Davis-Gaither from Appalachian State was all over the place all day and was just a couple steps away from making highlight plays. Expect him to make a big play or two throughout the week. Penn State linebacker Cam Brown also impressed me just by how long and physical he looked all afternoon.


Cornerbacks

The cornerback group overall was fairly poor today but there were a few good showings in there. Pittsburgh cornerback Dane Jackson was outstanding all day outside of one rough rep against Colin Johnson. While he measured in under 6’0” and with just 31” arms, he looked really fluid and quick all day and was by far the best cornerback that was on the field today. AJ Green from Oklahoma State also looked good as his length and physicality did well for him. Both Darnay Holmes (UCLA) and Kindle Vilder (GSU) had rough moments but both were scrapping and not giving an inch all practice. Both of their stocks are up for me despite getting beat a couple times.


Safeties

The safety group, like a lot of the defensive groupings, did have their struggles but had a few standouts. Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn measured in at a massive 6’3” 212 pounds and looked every bit of it on the field. What really impressed me was how well he moved in space with that size. He came downhill fast and looked comfortable doing so. The other standout was Michigan safety Khaleke Hudson. He could be a linebacker, corner, or safety at the next level but it doesn’t matter. He is going to be a punch you in the mouth player regardless. Had a few holds in coverage but was very physical all afternoon.


Other news/notes from the day

  • Colts’ Head Coach Frank Reich was in the parking lot after weigh-ins signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. It may not be a newsworthy story but it was nice to see the Head Coach interacting with the community down here in Mobile.
  • There have been a few conflicting reports on quarterback Jordan Love and his day one practice, stating that he was either “incredible” or “terrible”. Personally, I think he showcased his arm talent and ability that we all knew he had. The biggest concern for me was his inconsistent accuracy and placement. He missed quite a few throws high and was way off with his timing all day. Hopefully those things improve this week.
  • A player that I was very excited for was Washington tackle Trey Adams due to his connections to Chris Strausser and the Colts’ need at left tackle. Through talking to Washington center Nick Harris, I learned that Adams had to pull out late due to injuring his hamstring during training last week. He was “pissed” that he couldn’t be down here but is rehabbing now.
  • A few players that were inconsistent but flashed down here today were WR Devin Duvernay, WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr, Baylor RB JaMycal Hasty, and Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant