MOBILE, Ala. — The first day of Senior Bowl practices is a long day for the players. It starts with a early (and awkward) weigh-in in their underwear as hundreds of people watch, continues with a grueling practice and then concludes with team meetings, media interviews and job interviews with prospective NFL teams.
For our purposes here, we’ll focus on the practices. Here are some quick-hitters from today’s South practice, coached by the Cleveland Browns, and the North practice, coached by the Chicago Bears:
Podcast: Hoge & Jahns from the Senior Bowl
– It’s kind of hard to evaluate the wide receivers when the quarterbacks can’t get the ball within 10 feet of their target. Accuracy was a problem for the South team quarterbacks Tuesday. As suspected, Cal’s Davis Webb showed off the biggest arm in Mobile, but he consistently missed high. Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin is a big-bodied quarterback with good mobility, but he lacks height and was also inaccurate Tuesday. Surprisingly, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs showed the best touch among this group on Day 1.
– North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer weighed in at just 5-8 1/2, 179 pounds and he looks even smaller when you stand next to him. But man, he runs crisp routes and always seems to be open. One NFL assistant coach told me today: “He’s super explosive. No one here will cover him.” Switzer always stands out on the tape when you watch North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky and my first impression seeing him in-person was this: He’s a smaller, better version of Bears wide receiver Daniel Braverman. Braverman was drafted in the seventh round last year.
– A wide receiver you probably don’t know much about: Grambling’s Chad Williams. He’s just a little over 6-feet tall, but he plays bigger with a big body and ability to high-point the football. Williams showed off great hands Tuesday.
– Texas A&M’s Justin Evans is a safety the Bears might want to take a look at in the second or third rounds. He showed off great range, breaking up a deep pass along the sideline. I’d like to see him make more plays on the ball the rest of the week.
– The quarterbacks on the North team don’t have particularly strong arms, but they were much more accurate on Tuesday. Pitt’s Nathan Peterman was probably the winner among all of the Senior Bowl quarterbacks on Day 1. He has a quick release and good touch on his passes and has a reputation for making good decisions with the football. As for arm strength? It’s similar to Matt Barkley’s — good enough if he makes the right decisions.
– Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh was struggling a little bit in individual drills. Bears wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson was critical of Darboh’s route-running and once he finally ran a satisfactory route, he dropped the ball.
– Charlotte defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi showed good quickness off the ball. The first impression was a positive one.
– USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu stood out in the Rose Bowl and he’s a load in the trenches despite being only a shade over 6-1. He’s much quicker than he looks.
– Wisconsin outside linebacker Vince Biegel was strong in team drills, especially against the run, but looked overwhelmed in one-on-one pass rush drills against offensive tackles. He’s going to have to be a guy who falls back on his lengthy collection of good tape.
– It’s impossible to evaluate punt returners in this kind of practice setting, but Louisiana Tech wide receiver Trent Taylor, Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Iowa cornerback Desmond King and Lamar cornerback Brendan Langley all received punt return reps for the North. Just some names to keep an eye on as the Bears could use a returner in this year’s draft class.