Day 1 is a challenging day for Senior Bowl participants. After arriving the day prior, the festivities get underway early in the morning with weigh-ins in which they showcase their physique in front of literally the entire NFL... in their underwear. After the measuring is completed, an extensive media session follows in which prospects are pulled in every direction by media members looking for interviews. After that whirlwind, it's finally practice time in which nearly every NFL scout, coach an executive is watching their every move. The prospects are tasked with performing at their highest level, with teammates they have never worked with and under the direction of coaches who often want different things than they've ever been asked to do. On top of that, the weather conditions were cold, windy and a bit damp.
Needless to say, there was a lot of sloppiness on display. Let's examine my top takeaways from the South Squad on Day 1.
- Houston CB Isaiah Johnson looked impressive. His length is exciting and so are his coverage skills. A converted wide receiver, Johnson impressed in man coverage and with his competitive toughness.
- Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin checked in a bit smaller than expected but he thrived in coverage. He did give up one vertical route but was otherwise shut down in his coverage reps.
- The Senior Bowl was always going to a be a great showcase for Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham. His clean mechanics that lead to accurate throws when there is no pressure or coverage to read were on full display in the context of the practice.
- Texas A&M DL Kingsley Keke caught my eye. While his first step is slow, his hand combating skills and flexibility for a man of his size are incredible. If he can soften a rush angle, Keke has rare fluidity in the lower half to bend corners which showed up in 1v1 reps.
- There is a lot to like about the physical skill set of New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks and he showed up with a chiseled frame. A safety convert, Hanks' senior tape is littered with mis-reads but his range and physicality are obvious. With less "thinking" required of him in the context of the practice, Hanks showcased his athletic ability and physicality throughout the day.
- Although Louisiana Tech EDGE Jaylon Ferguson now owns the NCAA sack record, his game tape didn't reveal a very imaginative pass rusher and that continued today. Even in 1v1s, Ferguson lacked a plan and illustrated poor vision to read the blockers set and battle it most effectively. I still have a lot of questions with him.
- There was a lot of buzz surrounding Washington State OT Andre Dillard entering the event and its easy to see why. His foot speed and easy lateral movement skills are exactly what the NFL is looking for in an outside blocker. I still have questions about his functional strength and anchor, but his mobility is exceptional.
- Mississippi State C Elgton Jenkins and Oklahoma G Ben Powers really stood out with how well they mirrored rushers and absorbed contact. They both have outstanding anchors and were walls in pass pro today.
- I loved the work South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel put in today. His footwork, ball skills and hands were on full display today as he uncovered quickly on routes and made catch after catch. He may not be the tallest or longest receiver but he is a true alpha at the catch point. He has playmaking upside to every level of the field.
- I entered the Senior Bowl high on North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson and he made me look smart on Day 1. The most exciting component of Anderson's game is his receiving skill set which shined on Tuesday. He put linebackers in a blender as a route runner, creating easy separation but also showcased really good ball skills to adjust and haul in off-target throws.