Day Three Experience
Day three was abridged for me as I had to spend most of the day traveling back home. Mobile gave us the full gauntlet of weather during Senior Bowl week. On Tuesday, we were in the high 70s, while by Thursday, it was dark and cloudy in the low 50s. I am sure the coaching staff was happy about this, as they saw the players deal with various game atmospheres.
The level of play was elevated once again as the players became more comfortable with each other and the level of competition they were facing. The tension of three days of one-on-one drills was also reaching a boiling point as trash-talking was at an all-time high on day three.
Wide Receiver Takeaways
It is important to remember the context of an event like this. Context is everything when evaluating these rookie prospects. The cornerback group Jim Nagy brought in is very strong. One of the best in Senior Bowl history. They are big, physical corners; both were on full display all week. The drills had an officiating crew, and the yellow flags were flying for both sides of the ball. These drills aren’t strictly representative of a game situation.
The other thing to remember for this wide receiver group is how poor the quarterback’s play was. None of these quarterbacks will go before day three of the NFL draft and will profile as career backups. That is a big difference from past events that have included quarterbacks like Kenny Pickett, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, and Baker Mayfield. Those guys have spent significant time as starters at the NFL level. Poor quarterback play is something that has held back the receivers all week long.
One thing that doesn’t get discussed unless you are there in person is how players change position groups throughout the week. This could be for several reasons; coaches may want to see a player play multiple positions, a coach may think a player has the best chance of getting drafted at a new position, or even an injury may force a roster shuffle. These moves weren’t announced from what I saw, so you had to have a keen eye for them.
Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins was one player I had a feeling would be switched during the week. Standing amongst the receiver group, here clearly towered over his peers as one of the largest in the group. One of the first things I noticed Thursday morning was that Higgins was warming up with the tight-ends. The word quickly spread throughout the stands as many scrambled to find an area to grab a picture for social media. Amongst the tight ends, Higgins now looked like one of the smaller players. His position designation will be essential to pay attention to in the next few months.
The Cream of the Crop
Many trends continued on Day 3 of Senior Bowl practice as those that dominated days one and two continued. Players that dominated all three days have vastly improved their draft stock over those that have only shined a single practice. It will be essential to pay attention to what happens during the game. We want to see those players continue this trend in a full-speed game environment.
Amongst the receivers, Jayden Reed and Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell proved themselves at the group’s top after Day 3. Neither of these players had problems gaining instantaneous separation in the one-on-one drills. They also combined these moves with some excellent hands. Both players were proficient hand-catchers, a critical skill you want to see at the next level.
By far and away, the highlight of practice on Day 3 was whip route by Tulane running back Tyjae Spears. He pulled one of the nastiest moves I have seen by a running back and put a Pittsburgh linebacker in a complete blender. This was just the cherry on top for what has been one of the most exciting players to watch this week. He has secured himself day two NFL draft capital and is currently shooitng up my rookie rankings.
That’s A Wrap
Jim Nagy, Molly Middleton, and the entire Senior Bowl staff truly did an amazing job putting this event on. As a first time attendee I now see why they say that the draft starts in Mobile. I highly recommend all football fans to attend this event in person at least once. On top of watching some high level football, being able to interview these players at a personal level was truly a humbling experience. Once my body has recovered from all the heat and travelling I will have plenty of content for everyone throughout next week!
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I hope you enjoyed this piece in our Draft Nerds series. Be sure to check back often, as we will cover all 32 NFL franchises. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!