Local prospects impress: Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins and Western Michigan wide receiver D'Wayne Eskridge both had good first days for the National Team at the Senior Bowl Tuesday. Collins, who opted out of the 2020 season, showed terrific ability to get off the line of scrimmage and gain separation. His best catch of the day was a toe-tapping 25-yard gain showing off terrific body control along the right sideline in a team drill.
Eskridge showed off his world class speed and ability to stop and get to full speed in a couple steps. He had a great catch and spin move in a one-on-one drill to leave a corner in his dust. Good start to the week for both players.
QB attention: This is a great class of quarterbacks here in Mobile, led by Alabama's Mac Jones. The Lions could be in the market for one in this year's NFL Draft. I thought the most impressive of the bunch Tuesday was former Wake Forest and Georgia signal caller Jamie Newman, who opted out of the 2020 season.
Newman had a good grasp of the offense, and solid mechanics and footwork with good zip on the ball. He also dropped a couple of beautifully thrown deep balls right in the bread basket in one on ones. The American Team QBs were much more impressive than the National Team QBs on Tuesday, and I thought Newman had a really good day.
Big man on campus: Alabama guard Deonte Brown weighed in at 364 pounds this week. At that size, he has to prove this week he can still move and show off the quickness necessary to play in the interior in the NFL. He was good in one-on-one pass-rushing drills Tuesday, and is trying to be the best interior o-lineman down here along with Tennessee's Trey Smith.
Pass rushers: The pass-rushing drills between the offensive and defensive linemen are always popular here in Mobile. I focused more on the defenders Tuesday, with the plan to take a closer look at the offensive linemen on Wednesday. Which pass rushers impressed me the most? Washington defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike was really impressive. Size, speed and strength, Onwuzurike has it all. I also took note of Rashad Weaver (Pittsburgh), Ade Ogundeji (Notre Dame), Quincy Roche (Miami) and William Bradley-King (Baylor).
Practice drills: It's always interesting to see how the different coaching staffs run their practices and what drills they use. The Carolina staff is coaching the American Team. During an individual period with the running backs, a coach took one of those big exercise balls and was standing about seven yards off the line of scrimmage where a linebacker would typically be. The coach would throw the ball at the backs after they received the handoff and got to the line of scrimmage, forcing them to stay alert and cut around it. I've never seen that one before.
Opportunity knocks: The Senior Bowl is a showcase, and when there's an opportunity to make a play, it's imperative players make the most of it. Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks made a terrible decision in a team drill to try some kind of spinning throw while being pressured. He threw the ball right to California cornerback Camryn Bynum, but Bynum dropped it. Credit Bynum for being in right spot, but I bet he'll be thinking about that one tonight.
Making the QB look good: Jones was pretty steady all day at quarterback for the American Team, but sometimes a quarterback needs some help from his receivers. During a one-on-one drill, Clemson wide receiver Cornell Powell and Tennessee's Josh Palmer made back to back diving catches for completions on Jones throws. That's one way to endear yourself to the quarterback as a receiver, and a good way to continue to get the ball thrown your way too.
Catch of the day: That goes to South Carolina's Shi Smith, who made an awesome leaping/diving catch along the right sideline on a ball thrown by Newman in a one-on-one drill. Smith had a step on Missouri's Tyree Gillespie, and made a terrific play that got some oohs and aahs from his teammates.