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Senior Bowl Standouts: American Team, Day 1

The first day of Senior Bowl practice is in the books. Two teams; American and National, coached by the staffs of the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins respectively. Both teams got their first onfield work in today and both practices had their fair share of standouts to talk about. Let’s take a look at who stood out for the American team on day one of practice.

Jamie Newman- Quarterback- Wake Forest

Perhaps the best performance of the day came from someone who didn’t play at all in 2020. The day started for Newman with weigh-ins where his hands measured a large 10 inches from thumb to pinkie. That’s really good. I know many people tend to roll their eyes at things like hand measurements, but there’s a reason NFL teams still want to know how big QB hands are. Historically the most successful quarterbacks have had large hands, that’s not to say that large hands predict success, but some league evaluators believe that large hands will allow some quarterbacks to have the success they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Beyond that measurement, Newman looked like the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl. While that may not be as high of a bar as it was last year, Newman did look better than possible late first-round pick, Mac Jones of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Newman has a big arm and threw well all day long. If Newman keeps up this pace, he might have literally made himself millions of dollars this week in Mobile.

Kadarius Toney- Wide Receiver- Florida

Toney is looking like a highly talented receiver if you’re in the market for a sub 6’ speedster. One on one drills always favor the receiver but Toney made more DB’s look silly today than anyone else. He won in multiple ways and seemed to create consistent separation. He ran varied routes and made plays when given the opportunity.

He also spent time fielding punts and Matt Rhule ended practice by giving Toney the ball on an end-around. After successfully running the play Rhule could be heard saying “Ha! Tricked ya!”. If Rhule is using Kadarius Toney to trick opposing defenses after 2 hours of coaching him on the field, imagine what some NFL teams think they’ll be able to do with the guy.

Kadarius Toney has more to prove this week but he’s off to a great start so far.

Trey Smith- Guard- Tennessee

Trey Smith was one of my favorites coming into the week. The chances that the Colts actually draft him are impossibly slim, but Smith is making his case to be the first guard taken during the 2021 draft.

One on ones almost always favor the defender in these drills but Smith’s work here was nearly flawless. Not only was Smith good in drills but when it came time for the first-team offense to line up against the first-team defense Smith, once again, stood out. No one wants anyone to hit the ground during these practices, coaches could be heard yelling “keep him up!” throughout the day. On one play, Smith engulfed his defender and torqued him away from the play and onto the ground. There wasn’t much he could have done to prevent his man from hitting the ground as no one who is so thoroughly dominated can continue to stand.

Smith’s powerful block created a pile that the coaches did not appreciate. However, seeing that sort of ability from Smith against the quality of defenders that can be found here in Mobile, made him a big winner on day one.

Payton Turner- Defensive Line- Houston

Turner is another player who turned plenty of heads during Senior Bowl weigh-ins this morning.

Beyond that insane wingspan, Turner played multiple positions up front for the Houston Cougars and today he lined up inside at defensive tackle. Despite being just 270 pounds, he held up well on the interior.

In the coming days, it would be great to get a look at Turner as an outside rusher against the tackles here in Mobile but either way his movement skills, toughness on the interior, and off the charts wingspan all added up to a very good day for the latest defensive line stud from Houston.

Tomorrow is another day full of practice and another chance for players on both teams to make a positive impression and possibly move up some draft boards, making themselves a lot of money in the process.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about specific players attending this year’s Senior Bowl. I’ll go back over my notes and see if anything stood out about the guy, good or bad!