Day one of the 2020 Senior Bowl is in the books as a chilly, windy day greeted the fans, scouts and draftniks on hand at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in beautiful Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday. (Yes, I know it was hard for me to complain, when it was 3 degrees in Milwaukee when I flew down here on Sunday).
The first day of practices down here are always interesting, as none of the players really know what to expect and the pace and tempo of practices is a bit inconsistent at times as players are in unfamiliar situations. That generally starts to go away about two thirds of the way through practice, and the guys are really able to cut it loose. That’s what happened here this week, as the practices got under way.
As a disclaimer, I normally follow the fat kids around (offensive and defensive lines), so I don’t have super strong takes on most of the skill guys or really anything that happened during WR/DB 1 on 1s or pass skelly:
The first practice of the day was held by the South team, coached by the Cincinnati Bengals’ coaching staff. This practice seemed to flow easier than the Detroit Lions-led practice in the afternoon, but nonetheless, here are my takeaways:
- My biggest takeaway of the day was St. John’s offensive tackle Ben Bartch. The Division III standout absolutely held his own in the early practice, beating Florida’s Jabari Zuniga and Auburn’s Marlon Davidson. My only concern for Bartch was whether he was strong enough to handle upper tier power from legitimate prospects, and he passed with flying colors. I don’t want to get too far ahead here, but I don’t think an Ali Marpet-esque rise could be out of the question here for Bartch.
- In the same group, Clemson’s John Simpson, LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III, and LSU guard Damien Lewis also stood out. Three of the more powerful players here held their own, including Cushenberry III on Javon Kinlaw, who I’ll talk about here in a second.
- Alex Taylor, a 6’8” and a half inch offensive tackle from South Carolina State, also stood out in pass pro. He’s very raw, but his pass protection prowess will help him adjust to the NFL. He could be a Day 3 developmental project.
- South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw is the best player here, and it was evident immediately. He was impressive at the weigh in, and then on the field his explosion off of the ball and burst into offensive linemen was overwhelming from the jump. He got the best (in a drill designed for him to do so) of Simpson from Clemson two reps in a row. Kinlaw doesn’t have much to benefit from practicing the rest of this week, so it’ll be interesting to see if he does or not.
- Auburn’s Marlon Davidson is an interesting prospect. He played all over the defensive line for Auburn, and this morning weighed in at 297. This should pretty much take EDGE out of the equation, making him primarily an interior penetrator. His quickness and athleticism at that weight was impressive today, though his moves often didn’t land and he needs a more thorough rush plan.
- The last guy I really need to see more of is Penn State’s Cameron Brown. A 6-foot-5 233-pound linebacker who excels in coverage and space, he also had a nice pass rush rep. Could be a big time chess piece for a creative defensive coordinator.
As the day wore on and the wind and chilly temperatures continued, the Lions’ less than exciting start to practice didn’t help to grow excitement from those in attendance. Nonetheless, we slaved on, and I have takes from that practice as well, again, almost solely based on the trenches.
- Michigan’s Ben Bredeson and Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson both had strong days. Two of the more physical players in attendance took little time to establish as much. Both did well in both run fit 1v1s as well as pass pro 1v1s.
- Washington’s Nick Harris is the premier center here at the event, but he had an up and down day. He’s a cerebral player and usually gets to the right spot, but he’s a bit limited physically at 6-foot-1 and 293 lbs. He struggles to anchor against power, and will need to continue to improve in that area.
- Miami’s Trevon Hill stuck out to me as someone who I need to pay more attention to. The former Virginia Tech standout made some impressive plays today as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has questions to answer to NFL scouts about his off-field past, but he’s answering the on-field questions thus far here in Mobile.
- During the team period at the end of the practice, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool made a few nice catches. He’s an impressive athlete at just under 6-foot-4 1⁄2 and 229 lbs. He could eventually be a tight end convert, but he’s someone to watch who has the physical profile the Packers seem to look for.
- Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton also flashed multiple times during the day. A large man at just under 330 lbs, he’s got a quick first step and could be used in multiple roles by an NFL team along their defensive line.
I’ll be back tomorrow to let you in on the happenings of Day 2 down here in Mobile!