Senior Bowl notebook, Day One
MOBILE, Ala. — 2018 Senior Bowl practices kicked off Tuesday with Vance Joseph’s South club hitting the field first at Ladd-Peebles stadium.
Here are some of PFW’s observations from Day One:
· We observed the first practice alongside a number of top decision makers in the press box, where the day’s first collective gasp came immediately after Auburn ILB Tre’ Williams annhilated San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny in the backfield. Williams, who has nice size (6-2, 225 pounds), filled on time and knocked back the 220-pound Penny with force, jarring the ball loose and recovering it.
· Not long before Williams’ wallop, South Dakota St. TE Dallas Goedert caught a nice touchdown up the seam in one-on-one drills. Goedert is the biggest tight end in Mobile at 6-foot-4 and 262 pounds, but he flashed impressive separating ability to gain a step on his defender and soft hands to secure a well-placed ball.
· We made our way down to the field for the latter half of the South practice, when the 1-on-1 linemen drills were heating up. One of the day’s bigger winners — both in team and individual drills — was UTEP OG Will Hernandez. After opening up a huge running lane in team drills, Hernandez was king of the stalemate in his 1-on-1 battles. What stands out about Hernandez is the strength of his hands; when he engages a defender and locks in, it’s game, set and match.
· Another clear winner from the North practice was athletic West Virginia safety Kyzir White, the younger brother of Bears WR and former 7th overall pick, Kevin White. On Tuesday, Kyzir White broke up a Baker Mayfield pass intended for TE Mike Gesicki early on. Known more for his size and physicality, White showed off impressive instincts and urgency when breaking on the ball on more than one occasion, also knocking loose a throw from Josh Allen.
· Speaking of Allen, it wasn’t a great start for one of the week’s more scrutinized players. His arm talent is obvious, but so was his lack of timing and touch with his receivers — understandable on Day One — but he never seemed to gain a lot of traction, unlike the week’s feature attraction, Mayfield.
· Back to the one-on-one blocking drills, where Michigan C Mason Cole had a forgettable first practice. Cole struggled with the power of Stanford DL Harrison Phillips, who planted the Wolverines’ converted tackle on one bull rush. Cole likely moved inside in his final to seasons at Michigan to compensate for a lack of quickness, but it was quickly evident he’ll need to continue adding lower-body strength to help his anchor.
· Pitt OT Brian O’Neil was, shall we say, resourceful in his individual battles. It wasn’t always pretty, but he got the job done. Conversely, Oklahoma DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s first-step quickness was blinding, and he showed some creativity with a spin move, but there was no counter or closing ability that we observed.
· Two receivers on the North squad caught our eye — Colorado State’s Michael Gallup and Iowa State’s Allen Lazard. Gallup was on the receiving end of a Mayfield dart off a quick slant, showing a nice catch radius and quickly turning upfield for a nice gain in team drills; Lazard showed good hands and body control to adjust to a throw behind him in one-on-ones.
· Marcus Davenport, UTSA’s EDGE rusher who arrived in Mobile straight from central casting, won before he even stepped on the field. Checking in at just a hair under 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds, the All-Conference USA player absolutely looks the part of an NFL defender. But he had his issues throughout his first practice, getting steamrolled at the point of attack vs. Humboldt State OT Alex Cappa on one run play.