Wide Receivers Dominate Senior Bowl Practices

Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Day 3 of practice in Mobile, Alabama, is officially in the books. After a week full of intense battles (and hamstring stretches), some players have separated themselves from their peers in the big pre-draft event.

No position had more on the line than wide receiver, where it’s especially easy to get a grasp of athletic and technical capabilities. Last year, wideout prospects like Terry McLaurin and Deebo Samuel rose to the occasion, and both are now making immense impacts as young NFL stars. Needless to say, the opportunity was a big one for pass-catching prospects. Particularly in one-on-one drills where many made their impacts felt, potentially raising their stock. 

Here are summaries of all 15 receivers in attendance.

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

After being flagged during his physical at the start of the week, there's unfortunately not much to say about Brandon Aiyuk. Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy did say the Arizona State wideout had a first-round grade from every team he’s talked to which indicates the NFL seems to be very high on his pro potential.

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Chase Claypool is a tricky study on tape and came into the week as a big-bodied, red-zone threat who struggled to create separation. Measuring in at a sturdy 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, Claypool’s weigh-in sparked some tight end talk which hasn’t necessarily been quieted. The Notre Dame prospect looked extremely fluid, technically savvy and put forth solid efforts on all three practice days. But he still lacked juice. Claypool’s best position at the next level might be in an Evan Engram or Jonnu Smith-type inline receiving role where he could become a mismatch nightmare.

Denzel Mims, Baylor

Denzel Mims has put forth the best performance of all the wideouts here. He has simply looked flawless. A long-legged vertical threat, his immense catch radius has been on full display and stop/start skills are much better than advertised. He eats up space with ease and his size and physicality have caused trouble for corners all week, especially when stacking press coverage at the line.

K.J. Hill, Ohio State

There’s just something about these Ohio State receivers and the Senior Bowl. After McLaurin burst onto the scene with his technical savvy and flawless route-running last year, K.J. Hill has done the same in 2020. He isn’t the biggest or the fastest, but Hill’s quickness, nuance and insane one-handed catches consistently put him on the highlight reel. Take it for what it is, but I had one name pop into my mind while watching Hill: Tyler Lockett.

James Proche, Southern Methodist

Similar in size to Hill, James Proche just didn't quite stack up to the Ohio State receiver this week. Showcasing abnormally large hands, the SMU product made some great contested catches, but for a small receiver, he didn’t gain nearly enough separation consistently. Proche lacks burst at the position, which given his small stature hurts him a great deal. 

Michael Pittman Jr., USC

A receiver who has looked great at times and mediocre at others, Michael Pittman Jr. put together a performance similar to his USC film. He showed more burst than advertised but did get outplayed from other deep threats like Denzel Mims. I heard a scout compare the Trojan prospect to former Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd, and I think that comparison has been very justified this week.

Quartney Davis, Texas A&M

I was excited to see Quartney Davis this week given his elite agility and exceptional quickness. His style of play fits excellently in a one-on-one atmosphere, and to no surprise, he showed off his change of direction skills in style. Drops were an issue, however, as was beating more physical press corners — also a theme on his film. It was a good overall performance, especially on Day 3, but not spectacular.

Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt

Kalija Lipscomb was perhaps the least talked about wideout in attendance and didn’t do anything to change his quiet perception this week. He was hardly noticeable out on the field and had a few good reps, but mostly looked stiff and ordinary. He’s a solid Day 3 option, but in a strong WR class, he certainly shouldn’t be anything more than that.

Devin Duvernay, Texas

Devin Duvernay wasn't really able to use his electrifying straight-line speed and superb contact balance this week, so he turned in a relatively disappointing performance. He actually looked far stiffer than I anticipated and has also struggled with drops — something he hardly ever had an issue with at Texas. Put as much stock in it as you want, but Collin Johnson, the other Longhorns wideout prospect, had a much superior week. 

Collin Johnson, Texas

Johnson has earned quite the paycheck with his Senior Bowl performance. After a 2019 season that at times had him look like the Longhorns fourth-best receiver, Johnson used his gazelle-like frame to its full potential this week. He was quicker than anyone expected with his nuance and craftiness awe-inspiring for a 6-foot-6 wideout like himself. He’ll rise up boards after this.

Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

I was hoping to get some definite answers from Antonio Gandy-Golden this week, but the opposite took place. Known as a vertical threat with a knack for incredible catches, he proved just that throughout this week. Unfortunately, some of his separation issues continued to plague him, as he was inconsistent against press coverage and even had a few uncharacteristic drops. A few exceptional nine routes showed his deep-ball potential, but Mobile was ultimately a mixed bag for the Liberty prospect.

Van Jefferson, Florida

Outside of Mims, I’m not sure any wideout had a better week. Van Jefferson was already known for his savvy route-running and quick-twitch ability, but not even his biggest fans expected this type of performance. Dominating one-on-ones, the Florida product battled with the best corners Mobile had to offer, including UCLA’s Darnay Holmes, and still came out on top. As a limited athlete, he’ll likely struggle at the combine in Indianapolis, but this is a very strong start to his pre-draft process.

Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

Jauan Jennings doesn’t “wow” on first glance and tape, and his Senior Bowl performance is no exception. His physicality and aggressive tendencies still shone through, however, just like in college. He isn’t flashy, but this week helped prove that whoever takes Jennings on Day 2 or 3 will be a happy customer.

Austin Mack, Ohio State

You know that phrase “a lot of Swedish but not much Finnish?" Well, it applied to Austin Mack this week. He's strong in his route-running and consistently got open, but the OSU product just couldn’t hold onto the ball, struggling at the catch point and in contested situations. The chance to earn a lot of money was there. He just didn’t seize it.

Tyrie Cleveland, Florida

A late addition to the roster, Tyrie Cleveland had a relatively surprising week, looking like he belonged and potentially working his way into a solid Day 3 selection. It was nothing to hit home about, but he had some impressive reps, highlighted by the one below.

Written By:

Carter Donnick

Publications Intern

Publications Intern at The Draft Network. Very Canadian.