Senior Bowl Day 1: Luc, Perryman shine, QBs disappoint as expected
MOBILE, Ala. -- Senior Bowl practices can be a little, let's say, rough around the edges. Players are fighting for their NFL futures in a pressure-packed environment, loaded with coaches and scouts, with unfamiliar teammates and coaches.
The first outing this week was no different. Everything ramps up from here, with the North and South teams pulling on full pads Wednesday and Thursday. So what was true on Day 1 may not be true on Day 2 or by game time on Saturday.
A few prospects did stand out Tuesday, though, for better or worse. Some thoughts from the first set of practices:
(Note: Because of logistics, I saw more of the North workout than that of the South. The practices started with a 15-minute difference, at locations 30-plus minutes apart. If the notes skew toward the North roster here, that's why.)
Quarterback play is as advertised, unfortunately
Tuesday's action was just another reminder that the 2015 quarterback class is Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and a bunch of nondescript guys. In fact, only five of the six quarterbacks listed on the Senior Bowl rosters actually took snaps -- Auburn's Nick Marshall suited up with the South cornerbacks. (More on him in a moment.)
The best of the remaining quintet, to no one's surprise was Baylor's Bryce Petty. He showed decent touch on deep balls, though he did struggle at times getting passes to the perimeter. Behind him, only Colorado State's Garrett Grayson looked comfortable at the helm, and he fumbled a snap early during North practice. East Carolina's Shane Carden and Oregon State's Sean Mannion were extremely hit or miss, as advertised. And Alabama's Blake Sims may have been among the biggest disappointments on Day 1. Sims' sights were way off during simple pass-and-catch drills, with no defenders on the field. At one point, he sailed a hitch route to Devante Davis several yards off-target.
Adding to the quarterback headaches, UCLA's Brett Hundley was one of nine prospects highlighted by Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage as guys teams "should dig a little deeper on," because of their decisions to sit out this week. Savage noted that Hundley had an offer on the table to attend.
Hopefully, the quarterbacks settle in as the week progresses, thereby allowing at least one to emerge from the muck.
Nick Marshall at cornerback
The quarterback-turned-cornerback did not look out of place Tuesday. That's perhaps the highest praise Marshall could have asked for heading into the afternoon, as he transitioned to the secondary against some explosive wide receivers.
He allowed a few completions, including one deep ball to speedy Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett, but mostly looked the part of a long-term defensive back prospect. The transition will not happen overnight, but it does seem possible after Day 1 here.
Jeff Luc is a beast
Luc was one of a few guys who turned heads during Tuesday morning's weigh-in, when he checked in at 5-foot-11 and a stout 263 pounds. Despite looking every little bit of that 263, the Cincinnati linebacker still flashed impressive movement during practice. Luc was able to turn and run with the North's running backs, save for one takedown of Ameer Abdullah during a pass route.
The inside linebacker spot is one to watch this week, and Luc, off a 134-tackle season, might not be far off the lead.
Two Hurricanes shine
While Luc started the week strong, the highest-rated inside linebacker headed into the week was Miami's Denzel Perryman. His coverage can be a little spotty -- the Jaguars' coaches, in charge of the South team this week, chatted him up after a couple of plays where he was late getting to his man.
But there were no such concerns against the run. Midway through the South practice, the crowd in attendance let out a collective cheer, leading to this exchange between two scouts in front of me:
"What happened? I missed it."
"Perryman blew somebody up. Probably happens a lot."
Perryman's Miami and South teammate, WR Phillip Dorsett, also earned some cheers. More than once, he turned the cornerback responsible for him inside-out during one-on-one drills.
A rough start for Ty Montgomery
The Stanford wide receiver can set fire to the open field when he finds it, but Tuesday will not go down as his finest hour. For starters, he checked in at 5-foot-11, three inches shorter than he had been listed. Then during practice, Montgomery dropped multiple passes with no defenders present.
Carl Davis was good; Grady Jarrett was great
It can be tough to get a feel for matchups involving linemen when the players are in shells (basically, just helmets and shoulder pads). That said, both Iowa's Davis and Clemson's Jarrett won several times over up front, both in one-on-one drills and 11-on-11 action.
Davis found himself up against Duke guard Laken Tomlinson repeatedly, and that's a head-to-head worth tracking this week. Score that one from the North's Tuesday practice in Davis' favor. Jarrett later overwhelmed the South's linemen, consistently knifing through into the pocket.
Remember the name Lynden Trail
Senior Bowl week often makes a star of one or two small-school guys. Put the Norfolk State DE atop the list for 2015.
He measured in at 6-foot-6, 262 pounds and is impossible to miss when he's on the field. (For comparison's sake, Jimmy Graham is 6-foot-7, 265 pounds.) Trail covers a lot of ground quickly, a trait he showed off by diagnosing a South offense play-action, then chasing down QB Blake Sims for what would have been a crunching sack had contact been allowed.
Zack Hodges struggled
The North coaches moved him all over the place Tuesday, from rushing off the edge with a hand in the dirt to dropping in coverage as an inside LB. Nothing really worked. Hodges was raw, at best, when asked to play pass defense and Kent State's Casey Pierce blew him up twice on run plays.
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound Hodges carries a lot of upside as a pass-rusher. He may not be viewed as much more than that if he can't shake off Tuesday's showing.
All of the marks from the weigh-in are available on NFL.com.
A few to note, outside of the Incredible Shrinking Ty Montgomery: The 343-pound weight for flat-out huge Washington DT Danny Shelton, who pumped his fist after that number was announced; Owamagbe Odighizuwa, at 6-foot-3, 266 pounds with a wingspan of 81 3/4 inches; and Petty, who is a well-built 6-foot-2, 230 pounds.