The American team had their first practice of Senior Bowl week in the early afternoon on Tuesday. The players wore shells: helmet, shoulder, pads, and gym shorts. The full pad practices are held on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Senior Bowl star power at quarterback is on the National team with Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. The American team got an underwhelming trio of Tulane’s Michael Pratt, South Alabama’s Carter Bradley and Tennessee’s Joe Milton III. Among the three, Pratt had the best day of practice. He showed enough arm strength to make the required throws while also displaying some accuracy and timing. Pratt does not have an all-world skill set by any means, but he looks like he has the upside to potentially be a decent backup quarterback at the NFL level.
In this practice, it was immediately evident that Milton has a powerful arm and can really spin the ball. He has easy arm strength to go vertical and is still able to fire some heaters into tight windows. Milton needs work, however, because he throws passes too hard in the short areas of the field, which leads to drops from his receivers. Milton needs to work on throwing a more catchable ball and reducing the velocity of his passes. He has a quality skill set for the NFL, but he is a project who needs a lot of development to become a more polished passer.
One of the most physically imposing players at Senior Bowl from either team is Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton. The 6-foot-7, 328-pounder is a monster who certainly passes the eyeball test. As WalterFootball.com reported in the Hot Press, league sources feel Guyton is more talented than former Sooners teammate Anton Harrison, who went in the first round last year to Jacksonville. However, Guyton was inconsistent for Oklahoma. Additionally, NFL team sources said character concerns keep Guyton from being a first-round lock.
Guyton’s inconsistency was on display in his first Senior Bowl practice. In the early going of the one-on-ones, Guyton had some nice wins, getting depth in his drop and stonewalling a pair of speed rushes from Houston Christian edge rusher Jalyx Hunt. Shortly later, Guyton overset to the outside too much, which allowed Houston edge rusher Nelson Ceaser to get a win by darting to the inside. That pattern repeated itself over some reps in the team scrimmage.
While Guyton is massive, he is not naturally physical or violent, which is bewildering for an offensive lineman of his size. Team sources said Anton Harrison showed a lot more grit and fight at Oklahoma than Guyton did. Guyton has a good skill set with upside, but he needs to get more consistent on the field and show more tenacity. Guyton also needs to convince teams in the interviews that the maturity issues are behind him and he is ready to be a professional.
Texas A&M guard Layden Robinson is a power right guard for the NFL, and he put that on display on Tuesday. Robinson was a force in the run-play one-on-ones and in the team scrimmage, where he generated a push at the point of attack. However, Robinson is limited athletically, which could be seen in the pass-rushing one-on-ones when he had some losses to speed rushes. He also lost a rep to Alabama’s Justin Eboigbe after getting knocked off balance. Robinson then fell to the ground, letting Eboigbe run free to the quarterback.
Robinson has starter potential given that he is tough, strong and nasty. But his lack of athletic ability and foot quickness make him a better fit for a power-man scheme because he could be limited on some of the wide zone-runs as a pro. Robinson could be a second-day pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but whichever team selects him will need to demonstrate some patience for him to develop as a pass blocker at the next level.
Blocking Texas nose tackle T’Vondre Sweat was a huge challenge for the offensive linemen in the opening session of Senior Bowl week for the American team. Sweat ran over a number of blockers in the pass-blocking one-on-ones, showing power and unnatural quickness for a massive nose tackle. In one rep, Sweat had perhaps the most impressive win of either practice when he completely ran over Arkansas center Beaux Limmer in a blur.
Sweat also has times when he doesn’t seem to go as hard. That could be because of gaining too much weight, and maintaining his conditioning is going to be a constant issue to monitor for his pro team. Some teams have Sweat graded on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft, while others think he might sneak into Round 1. Sweat had a solid start to the week, but if he dominates on Wednesday and Thursday, that could really help his chances of going as a first-rounder in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Two other defensive tackles who flashed some ability on Tuesday were LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Florida State’s Braden Fiske. Jefferson was a load in the ground game, holding his gap and making some impressive run fills. Fiske is fast off the ball with an impressive first-step. They are both sleepers who could be nice value picks from the 2024 NFL Draft.
Georgia running back Daijun Edwards had an impressive outing on Tuesday, getting his week started on a good note. In the team scrimmage, Edwards had a fantastic run on which he dodged a defender with a spin move in the backfield before cutting back against the defense for a big gain. Shortly later, Edwards picked up serious yards on a screen pass, allowing his blocks to develop before exploding down the field. The 5-foot-9, 202-pounder is undersized to be a three-down starter and a bell-cow running back. However, he could be a very nice weapon as a No. 2 back who also contributes as a receiver out of the backfield.
An interesting prospect to watch this week is Miami’s James Williams. Williams played strong safety for the Hurricanes, but he is playing linebacker in Mobile. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has the size to fit the linebacker position well, and he did a nice job of flying across the field to snuff out a screen in the team scrimmage. Williams could be a versatile defender capable playing some strong safety in the base or goal-line defense while also being a fit for sub-package Will linebacker or being a three-down Will linebacker. If Williams practices well at linebacker on Wednesday and Thursday, that could really help him to show that he can handle the position change for the next level.