The road to the NFL Draft has started as the Reese’s Senior Bowl is underway in Mobile, Alabama this week. Vikings Wire Managing Editor Tyler Forness has boots on the ground in Hancock-Whitney Stadium, home of the South Alabama Jaguars, giving us a first-hand look at the prospects who hope to live out their dreams as NFL players in April.
For some, it’s a foregone conclusion that they will hear their names called as the draft rolls around. For others, they will have to earn that right. Forness will give us his insights as this week of practice goes along and highlight names that fans of all teams, not just the Minnesota Vikings, should keep their eye on.
We start with the National Team, who ended their practice Tuesday morning.
Michigan WR Roman Wilson looks as advertised
With how run-heavy the Michigan Wolverines were this season, those in the passing game, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy, had questions surrounding them heading into the pre-draft process.
Roman Wilson answered some of those questions on day one.
Wilson showed easy speed and separated easily from defensive backs in both the one-on-one and team periods.
Roman Wilson with easy separation all day in 1 on 1s. He didn’t lose a rep so far. pic.twitter.com/2uhXd5lDjA
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) January 30, 2024
New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube impresses
New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube was a name to watch going into this week as a potential riser due to his unique usage at the FCS school.
Laube has arrived in Mobile ready to make himself a household name. Forness reports that Laube had some real burst around the edge and could not be stopped in one-on-ones.
Dylan Laube is a guy folks… pic.twitter.com/ANEAuaRwnV
— Coach Luke Krumich (@KrumichSports) January 30, 2024
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. flashed
The questions looming around this quarterback class begin to be answered this week as two of the top names in this stacked class are competing in Mobile.
Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. flashed good ball placement and accuracy, a good sign if he is hoping to sneak into the back half of the first round.
Clean pocket for Michael Penix Jr.
Jackson Powers-Johnson at center.
Roman Wilson makes the reception near the right sideline. pic.twitter.com/9Gx7DF3PIh
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) January 30, 2024
Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman impresses overall, struggles under center
Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman struggled a bit while under center. He didn’t have to play under center at either Notre Dame or Wake Forest. That inexperience reared its ugly head as he fumbled a snap under center.
Overall, it was a okay day for Hartman, but the comfort under center is something to watch for as the week progresses.
— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) January 30, 2024
USC WR Brenden Rice struggles to get separation, ends up winning anyway
USC wide receiver Brenden Rice had a good day overall but struggled to gain separation from defensive backs in the first practice.
Rice is a big-bodied receiver who was able to box out defenders on the way back to the football, but the reps were certainly physical throughout.
Brenden Rice is winning with physicality on every rep. Killing it today pic.twitter.com/VPnZTac03V
— Tyler DeSena (@DeSenaSports) January 30, 2024
Marshall RB Rasheen Ali turns heads
Marshall RB Rasheen Ali turned heads on day one with his explosiveness and elusiveness in both one-on-ones and the team period.
Ali came into Mobile as a possible day-three draft choice, he could see himself rise with a great week.
— Mike Maher (@mikeMaher) January 30, 2024
North Carolina WR Devontez Walker shows flashes
North Carolina’s Devontez Walker had an up-and-down day but overall looked to be in great shape.
While he did drop a pass early, he still flashed good hands later on in the day.
Nice speed release from Devontez Walker off the line of scrimmage against Kalen King.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) January 30, 2024
USC RB Marshawn Lloyd impresses
Southern California’s Marshawn Lloyd looked agile and explosive today.
Lloyd showed off his ability to get in and out of cuts quickly, making him a deadly weapon in one-on-ones.
USC’s Marshawn Lloyd showing off the hands. The running back had some nice runs today including a nasty cut to avoid a tackle for loss. #Texans have just Dameon Pierce signed to active roster at RB. pic.twitter.com/a4XUCel8YM
— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) January 30, 2024
Oregon QB Bo Nix struggles
While one Pac-12 quarterback excelled, the other struggled. Bo Nix showed off some inaccuracies in some of his throws today.
Nix was a tad late on some of his throws and didn’t impress like he needed to for his first impressions of the week.
Florida WR Ricky Pearsall continues to make plays
Florida’s Ricky Pearsall had a chance to make his mark on the draft process and he is doing just that.
Pearsall showed great tracking ability and ball control while getting open consistently throughout the day.
Clean win off press and a nice contested catch for the touchdown in 1-on-1s pic.twitter.com/S8PaVtmbmu
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) January 30, 2024
Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell has stellar day
One of the names starting to pick up traction heading into this week was Toledo’s Quinton Mitchell and he did not disappoint.
Mitchell flew around the ball and was making plays all over the field with a great mixture of physicality and athletic ability.
Spoke to Quinyon Mitchell after #SeniorBowl practice about his technique since I noticed he would attack the receiver rather than the ball
“You can’t get to the ball without being by the receiver. Coach says each one (INTs) are worth 2.5 million”
— Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno) January 30, 2024