It was Day 2 of 2024 Senior Bowl practices and the National Team had the morning session again. I was anxious to see what differences would develop in this session versus yesterday.
Senior Bowl 2024 Wednesday Practices
National squad – Wednesday morning practice
Early in this session, I had a good opportunity to watch some serious action in the RB group. I was surprised when I took a good look and realized how ripped MarShawn LLOYD is. I guess I confused his being relatively short (5’091) with also being lightweight, which I realized was not the case. Lloyd had weighed in at a solid 217 lbs., which is mostly muscled and toned.
He runs with power and quickness and can change direction in a flash. Lloyd also demonstrated good hands as a receiver. I guess he may indeed be the top (albeit Day 2) RB taken in this coming Draft.
I was also impressed again today with the work of UNH/RB DYLAN LAUBE #40 who shows quick feet as a runner, quick jump-cut ability, and good contact balance with the ball in his hands. The real bonus with Laube IMO is that he may be a better receiver than a pure runner.
He made an exceptional one-handed catch of a screen pass and rocketed upfield at one point today. He’s going to be an excellent 3rd down RB as a pro. If he shows well at the Combine, which I expect him to, he should be a late Day 2 draftee.
Among the OL group, yesterday’s standout TALIESE FUAGA was adequate but tailed off a bit from his dominance of practice 1. But I thought that DOMINICK PULI #71 of Kansas was solid as a rock most of the morning. He is a fairly big guy at 6’043/323 lbs. but that height and arm length of 33 6’8″ have him taking most of his reps at OG. But he did handle some OC duties at times today. And he is handling the position switch with ease right now. He is like a brick wall when they turn to full scrimmage work.
I am hesitant to criticize the work of anyone, but one guy who has disappeared already to my eyes has been Oregon DL #97 BRANDON DORLUS, who has just hasn’t shown much, or dominated anyone in 1-on-1 action, or along the DL in full action. He only weighed in at 272 lbs, which is below the listed weight I had on him. And he doesn’t show any particular quickness or play speed. Every time I spot his number he seems to be stymied by a blocker.
Yet another player who seemed to have come alive today is ER AUSTIN BOOKER #49 of Kansas. He’s inexperienced with only 2 seasons of playing time as an RS Soph. And he looked overmatched yesterday in 1-on-1’s. Today he displayed edge rush ability. He won most reps in the 1-on-1 mostly with speed and spins, but also showed some surprising upper body strength at times. He carried that over to pursue the ball and pressure the QB during scrimmage time.
The WR group presented a new cast of star performers today. I like the looks of BRENDEN RICE #13, yes the son of JERRY RICE. He is not at his dad’s skill or athleticism level but he has a nice overall size of 6’021/212, and 32 3/4″ long arms. He also has a very flexible body and can twist and turn and contort his frame in adjusting to off-target throws. I call him “bendy”, kinda like Gumby, and could see him as a Receiver 3/4 in the NFL.
RICKY PEARSALL #11 from Florida is having a solid week, as expected. I am anxious to see what speed numbers he posts at the Combine. He gets separated and runs away from DB after the catch. He also shows good hands and looks to have some vertical to his game on 50/50 balls. I could see him evolving into a solid WR3 on an NFL team.
I was pleasantly surprised that Notre Dame CB CAM HART, #2 had another good day in running his coverage in phase with receivers and battling to swat balls away from the hands of those he covered. He did well yesterday when he recorded an INT, though I felt he could have been called for PI on that throw. But he is less handsy than a lot of the DBs I have seen here this week. That won’t fly for Rookies in the NFL. You have to establish yourself in The League for the refs to leave the flag in their pocket when you grab a bit on receivers.
Overall it was a bit less urgent of a practice today than yesterday to my eyes.
But things turned around quite a bit in the afternoon from the American squad. They took their Head Coach TERRELL WILLIAMS to heart when he called on them to come out with more urgency & intensity today, after expressing disappointment in a general lack of intensity/urgency on Tuesday.
AMERICAN Squad Afternoon Practice
As I have seen happen at All-Star venues over the years, the ebb and flow of player intensity changes from day to day quite often, whether it’s the tone of the entire team or the performance of the individual players. It was both today for this afternoon. After yesterday’s tongue lashing the guys turned it up a notch, especially among the two line groups.
Overall, I would say today was DARIUS ROBINSON Day among the linemen. ROBINSON has some serious pass-rush ability, but he is not just an Edge Rusher. He is big enough and athletic enough to bring pocket pressure from the inside or the edge, in a 3-point stance, or standing up. ROBINSON stands 6’5 and weighed in at 286 lbs. He has 34 3/4″ arms and 10 1/2″ hands. I think he will also time well for his size at the Combine. He just destroyed blockers today in all drills and scrimmage work. He has all the tools and the physical coordination to put them to good use. And he showed out today. First Rounder maybe?!
As ROBINSON dominated another DE/Edge Rusher also did some outstanding work today in 1-on-1’s: That would be DE ERIC WATTS from UConn #96. His measurements are just crazy: 6’054/277 with 35 3/4″ arms, 84 3/8″ Wingspan. He looked raw as hell last season in college, but today I think we got a glimpse of how much upside he has if developed properly. I see him as a CLOWNEY-type DE in time. He might have a big game on Saturday if his switch is on max effort.
On the other side of the coin, we have T’VONDRE SWEAT who declined to be weighed when he was being measured. Former Vet Scout Daniel Jeremiah was asked in Tuesday’s NFLN broadcast (I think by Charles Davis) to estimate what he thought SWEAT #93 actually weighed and DJ slowly answered 3-7-4. SWEAT has surprising athleticism for his size and used both today during 1-on-1s.
On rep after rep he just charged blockers, gave them a full body hit, and then just pushed them back through the pocket, knocking several of them on their asses. He’s just a massive guy and I am guessing that more than a few NFL teams would love to have him anchoring the DL on the Nose if they could keep him somewhere in the 340 lb. range. He was a monster today!
On the other side of the ball OG CHRIS HAINES #63 of UConn had a very good day blocking from his OG slot, with a few reps at OC. He’s a huge man himself at 6’024/318 and 33 7/8″ long arms. He frustrated a lot of DL today but none more than LSU DT Jordan Jefferson, who got angry and ripped Haines’ helmet right off. A lecture about penalties and injuries followed from HC WILLIAMS, who is a DL Coach by trade.
Wanted to mention Texas OT CHRIS JONES #70 who had a super day yesterday in his blocking, but lost more than he won today. That is how life goes in the world of pro football. You constantly face competition in practice from guys who excel at the highest level at most positions. You can’t win them all, and Jones’ fate today, much like that of FUAGA above, was proof of that reality.
On the bright side, JAVON FOSTER #75 LT from Missouri had another good day in 1-on-1 drills. He is a big guy, who looks even larger than his 6’054/309 weigh-in numbers indicated. His 35′ arms help him make up in steady but not quite dancing footwork. He holds his own, might be a Day 2 Pick, and could start in the NFL with a good OL Coach to help him improve his fundamental blocking skills.
I was underwhelmed yesterday by the WR group for this team, other than Ladd McConkey. But today a couple of other guys stepped up to potentially boost the receiving corps.
JOHNNY WILSON #14 WR/TE Florida State is working as a wideout for this game, and had a mediocre practice yesterday. At 6’6/237 he is not an inline TE, but he should be able to flex into multiple roles in the receivers room. At 6’6/237 with 35 1/4″arms and 9 1/2″ hands, he could be a major problem for most defenses. But he may have TE speed, not wideout speed.
Can he get separation in the NFL? We likely won’t get that answer here this week, but he is a large target and may be able to out-battle some smaller DB into catches. He has done that both days. Most of the throws have been under 10 yards so far, but he has been able to turn and get another 5 yards or so before going down. Mark him down as a fairly early Day 3 draftee.
Yesterday we didn’t see much of a weapon threat from XAVIER LEGETTE/ #17, who had been primarily a Special Teams ace in college. But that changed in 2023 when he emerged as the Gamecocks top WR. He’s 6’1/223 and at today’s practice, he was getting separation and showed good vertical and good hands going up and catching a couple of semi-contested throws. That’s what he needs to do to help his squad this week and prove a few things to NFL teams.
Tyler Guyton did NOT dominate today like he did yesterday, but he is still the best OL on this squad. His length at 6’7 with 82″+ wingspan, combined with a mean streak and good footwork looks to be that of a developmental late FIRST ROUND Pick to me.
Buckle your chin straps and turn your recording devices on for Thursday to NFL Network. Thursday is moving day for NFL scouts so the last practices with pads tomorrow are all out for most of these players. The action should ratchet up another notch tomorrow.
Cheers from Mobile.