The first day of practice at the Senior Bowl brought plenty to talk about. The American team took the field after the National team but they did not disappoint. The Senior Bowl workouts will be talked about for the next few months, here are some early reactions to Tuesday’s practice, specifically from the wide receivers, tight ends and defensive backs of the American Team.
1. Shi Smith | South Carolina | WR | 5100 | 186 | 7548 | 3128 | 968
The slot wideout had himself an excellent day working out at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday. Smith showed extremely impressively in route-running ability. He was able to create serious separation with his excellent foot speed and knee flexibility. More impressively, he showed tremendous concentration and hands on one of the highlight plays of the day. He used elite athleticism to get up and catch an overthrown ball. Smith is another great wide receiver in a great wide receiver class. If he continues to perform like this, he will push himself up draft boards.
2. DJ Daniel | Georgia | CB | 5115 | 183 | 8100 | 3300 | 918
One player who can stand to gain a lot from the Senior Bowl is Daniel, who did plenty to help his stock. He showed stickiness in one-on-ones, mirroring the opponent’s routes very easily. Daniel also has tremendous length and showed that he knew how to use it well. This is important for Daniel who had trouble staying on the field at Georgia. If he can show the talent most feel he possesses, he could be someone who teams are clamoring for. Daniel has a style of play that makes him an attractive candidate to improve his stock if he continues to play as he did on Tuesday.
3. Kadarius Toney | Florida | WR | 5111 | 189 | 7448 | 3048 | 948
No surprise here, Toney looks outstanding in his first day at the Senior Bowl. We know Toney is an electric route runner who creates huge plays with his effortless change of direction. Toney showed even more traits on day one of the Senior Bowl. He demonstrated an excellent ability to trackballs in the air. He also showed some physicality, which should really boost his stock. Some have Toney going in the first round and it shouldn’t shock anyone if and when he does. The Senior Bowl will only help to solidify that.
4. Austin Watkins Jr. | UAB | WR | 6014 | 207 | 7600 | 3100 | 948
His draft stock was going up, on a Tuesday, as Watkins Jr. flashed excellent body control in his route running, along with tremendous foot speed to gain separation in routes. He also displayed soft hands and outstanding deep ball tracking. Watkins Jr. will be one to watch for the week, going up against much better competition than he did at UAB.
5. Marquez Stevenson | Houston | WR | 5100 | 182 | 7500 | 3100 | 848
If you have a need for speed, Stevenson is your man, as he strapped on the jet fuel rockets! He was simply untouchable on a couple of routes that he ran. On a straight go-route downfield he completely blew by the corner. He then had an in-route that he burst through with foot speed and solid change of direction to gain separation. The combination of speed and shiftiness is bound to warrant a ton of attention from NFL scouts.
6. Amari Rodgers | Clemson | WR | 5094 | 211 | 7400 | 3000 | 948
It’s clear why Rodgers is going to be an immediate impact slot player in the league. He showed off impressive route running ability, gaining separation quickly. He also showed that his smaller stature would not be a concern, going over the top for a deep ball over the middle. If you thought Trevor Lawrence was the only reason for his success, think again. Rodgers will continue to impress throughout the week and could be one of the top slot wide receivers off the board come April.
7. Noah Gray | Duke | TE | 6035 | 240 | 7818 | 3148 | 938
It was a down day for Gray who did showcase his versatility by lining up at tight end and H-back early on, while working on run plays. He got manhandled a few times blocking. Blocking was not one of his strongest characteristics, however, he showed that it’s going to be a tough transition for him at the next level. When tasked with blocking linebackers he had a huge problem keeping up with them. His hand usage was poor in blocking and he didn’t move his feet well from the three-point stance. Gray will need to show more in the next couple of days for his stock.
8. Shawn Davis | Florida | S | 5105 | 199 | 7828 | 3148 | 948
The Gator's safety is off to a rough start in Mobile. First, his measurements were not excellent. He is a little undersized for his position and he has trouble covering slot receivers. His size translates to a nickel/safety role at the next level but he showed Tuesday that coverage is not his strongest asset. He got beat badly on multiple plays and really just looked out of place covering receivers. Davis will have to perform well for the rest of the week or he could see his stock drop a bit.
9. Ifeatu Melifonwu | Syracuse | CB | 6025 | 212 | 8018 | 3218 | 900
If you gave up on Melifonwu after his first two coverage one-on-ones, then you missed out on a super solid day. Melifonwu got beat twice right out of the gate but finished the day amazing with some beautiful coverage snaps to finish it off, completely blanketing the opposing wide receivers. He then put on a clinic at the release drill. He was able to show off his outstanding press-man abilities. Melifonwu also weighed in amazingly today. All added together, Melifonwu had an outstanding day and should rise if it continues.
10. Tyree Gillespie | Missouri | S | 5117 | 207 | 7528 | 3128 | 958
This is one of the best safeties in the draft and has already shown that in Mobile. Gillespie showed two important things for his stock. The first is that he can cover. No, it wasn’t the best coverage of the day, but he did show the ability to mirror some of the most electric receivers at the Senior Bowl. Secondly, he showed just how quickly he can fill gaps in the run game. The explosiveness and timing he possesses in the run game were on full display at Tuesday’s practice. Gillespie will continue to etch his name up boards with performances like this.
*Be sure to check back throughout the week for our exclusive coverage of the Reese’s 2021 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. For more in-depth scouting reports, be sure to reserve your copy of the 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication!