Senior Bowl preview: Which players stood out on the first day of practice?

Senior Bowl preview: Which players stood out on the first day of practice?

WR Tylan Wallace, in the end zone again for Oklahoma State.
WR Tylan Wallace, in the end zone again for Oklahoma State.
Image: Getty Images

In a year where we won’t have an NFL Scouting Combine, the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama will have even more weight than normal. For the players in Mobile, it’s a great opportunity to compete against good talent and put solid film on tape. Practice matters just as much, if not more, than the game on Saturday, and it started yesterday. After watching the film, let’s look at some players that may have helped their case as we head towards the draft.

We’ll start with the “American” squad:

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Shi Smith: WR, South Carolina (5’10” 186 lbs.)

Shi Smith: WR, South Carolina (5’10” 186 lbs.)

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Image: Getty Images

Shi Smith looked fantastic, running some of the cleanest and crispest routes of the day. On multiple occasions, he completely dusted a defensive back with fluid and fast breaks in his routes. He had one of the best catches of the day where he climbed the ladder to go get it. I was impressed.

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Kadarius Toney: WR, Florida (5’11” 189 lbs.)

Kadarius Toney: WR, Florida (5’11” 189 lbs.)

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Toney showed good speed in drills yesterday, and showed a good ability to attack the defender to gain leverage in his routes. Toney broke out this season in his senior year with 984 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Kylin Hill: RB, Mississippi St (5’10” 214 lbs.)

Kylin Hill: RB, Mississippi St (5’10” 214 lbs.)

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Image: Getty Images

We don’t get to see much from running backs early in the practice week, but we do get a look at some blitz pickups in a one-on-one drill. Kylin Hill stonewalled a defender in a pass protection drill, which is a great way to make sure a running back stays on the field on passing downs. After three injury-plagued games this season, Hill opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. He ran for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 180 receiving yards and a score in his Junior year.

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Marquez Stevenson: WR, Houston (5’10” 182 lbs.)

Marquez Stevenson: WR, Houston (5’10” 182 lbs.)

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Stevenson is one of a few wide receivers in Mobile this week with similar body sizes - under six feet tall and under 200 pounds. These smaller wide receivers need to prove that they can contribute, and Stevenson popped on film with easy speed. He got behind defenders at will in drills on day one.

Now over to the “National” team:

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Demetric Felton: RB/WR, UCLA (5’10” 200 lbs.)

Demetric Felton: RB/WR, UCLA (5’10” 200 lbs.)

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Fulton is a fascinating player, because he was used all over the field at UCLA. He also served as their kick returner. Felton isn’t a true running back, but isn’t a true wide receiver either. Although he’s listed as an RB this week, he worked out with the WRs in multiple drills. He showed that he has explosive quickness off the line and was able to run very nice routes.

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Tylan Wallace: WR, Oklahoma St (5’11” 193 lbs.)

Tylan Wallace: WR, Oklahoma St (5’11” 193 lbs.)

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Image: Getty Images

Wallace was listed at six feet tall during his playing career, so I was a little disappointed to see him measure at 5’11”. Still, he showed that he can play as a true deep threat. He displayed arrogant hands, good separation, and a great ability to adjust to the ball in the air.

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Cade Johnson: WR, South Dakota St (5’10” 186 lbs.)

Cade Johnson: WR, South Dakota St (5’10” 186 lbs.)

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Image: Getty Images

One of my favorite things about the Senior Bowl is players from smaller schools getting an opportunity to show out. Cade Johnson did that on day one. Quick releases, good speed, easily gains leverage, and he just looks slippery. He could be an interesting slot receiver at the next level.

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Nico Collins: WR, Michigan (6’4” 215 lbs.)

Nico Collins: WR, Michigan (6’4” 215 lbs.)

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Nico Collins is a large human being. Quarterback play has been atrocious at Michigan, but he still managed 729 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns on just 37 receptions in 2019 before preparing for the draft this year. He has raw size and talent, and he plays big and dominant. His releases were crisp for someone his size, and he can win downfield. I’m intrigued to see what he does for the rest of the week.

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Rhamondre Stevenson: RB, Oklahoma

Rhamondre Stevenson: RB, Oklahoma

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This is an Honorable Mention. Someone at the University of Oklahoma needs a stern talking to. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson was listed at 247 lbs. in his playing career. Looks like someone made a typo that was never caught, because Stevenson weighed in yesterday at 227 lbs. A 20-pound difference is inexcusable, yet hilarious.

The prospects in Mobile will continue to work and learn from their coaches this week as they seek to better their draft stock come April.

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