If the NFL Draft starts in Mobile, consider this the start of our draft content here on Buccaneers.com.
We got our first look at some extremely talented prospects that will be analyzed over and over again from now until the end of April. The Senior Bowl is a chance for players to shine and for the general NFL-following public to turn their attention to the draft.
I've already gone over the standouts from the National Team at this year's Senior Bowl, but now here are some for the American Team, coached by the Detroit Lions.
-Where the Jets practice seemed to take a bit to get going, the Detroit Lions staff seemed to place more of an emphasis on special teams. After the individual drills period, the team went straight into field goal drills. They also practiced punt formations and return formations midway through the practice.
-Speaking of the staff, the guy in charge of wide receivers was former Bucs' offensive assistant and Indiana quarterback (with a stop as an NFL wide receiver, I guess) Antwaan Randle El. It was good to see a familiar face having success with his group.
-The field was broken into two parts and while the offensive line and defensive line scrimmaged against each other, running run play after run play, the wide receivers and defensive backs had one-on-one drills. It then switched when the lines did one-on-ones while the rest of the skill players did seven on seven.
-On the first day, where the lines were scrimmaging against each other, the player that stood out the most right away was interior offensive lineman Ed Ingram from LSU. He was super physical and in one of his first reps immediately shut down his defender to the point that he fell to his knees. Later on in the practice, he impressed in team drills. He got his defender off his base and was great about being aggressive and attacking across the line.
-In that same period, OL Braxton Jones out of Utah immediately wrapped up his defender like he was trying to give him a hug. But it stopped him in his tracks and Jones didn't move.
-Florida fans rejoice. It seems you've got yourself a running back who is impressing down here in Mobile. Dameon Pierce is the definition of a bowling ball, hitting his gaps hard and even in pass protection, putting his nose there in the pile. He probably shouldn't lower his head prior to contact but he plays with a lot of physicality when he's sent out to block.
-Another small school guy to keep an eye on is App State's D'Marco Jackson. The linebacker seemed super rangey and had great coverage skills. He went step for step with a tight end and ended up breaking up the pass as the tight end caught it on the first day, looking comfortable immediately.
-In the seven-on-seven period of Day 1, the hometown South Alabama receiver Jalen Tolbert had a great catch after adjusting well to the ball in the air with a defender right on him. The long pass came from Liberty QB Malik Willis, who was every bit the mobile QB he's been touted. Though, more than once I saw him stumble or even trip in the backfield. He's just a burst of energy back there, which could be a problem but it could also help make things happen after the play has broken down.
-I saw Willis complete a first-down pass to San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger completely on the run. The throw itself was a laser and had come after Willis had actually fallen down in the backfield with a defender chasing him. The only thing I noticed as practices went on is that Willis was a little unsure on his feet when playing backyard football and waiting to see who would come open by scrambling around the backfield. That's just something to keep an eye on.
If you want standouts from the National Team, click here.