2024 Senior Bowl: Day 1 notebook from the first day of practices

The 2024 Senior Bowl practices kicked off on a sunny Tuesday in Mobile, Alabama. The National and American teams took to the field at the home of the University of South Alabama Jaguars with over 100 aspiring NFL prospects hoping to show their best in front of hundreds of NFL scouts and media.

Here are some of the notable takeaways from the first day of practices.

Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell is as good as advertised

Mitchell has been getting projected into the latter half of the first round pretty consistently. Anyone who hadn’t seen the confident Rockets cornerback play before learned why on Tuesday.

After measuring in at a little over 6 feet tall and a well-built 195 pounds, Mitchell showed off his sticky man-coverage skills in drills. It’s telling that in a drill where the offense has a distinct advantage, Mitchell racked up a few winning reps in 1-on-1 drills. His physicality at the line and quick hip flip and fast feet shone through.

Mitchell was flagged once for holding, but one of the things that impressed was how quickly he adjusted his jam and holding to how it was being called. That stood out in very stark contrast to the two Penn State cornerbacks on his team, Kalen King and Johnny Dixon. Both were guilty of holding multiple times and never adjusted their style to fit the (generally lenient) officiating of the day.

The quarterbacks

The National roster has the most prominent passing names in Mobile with Oregon’s Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. of Washington. Both are considered potential first-round picks, and they each gave enough ammunition to their advocates to justify the hype.

Penix was a little more up-and-down, notably in throwing down the field. Nix showed the stronger arm than Penix, though less movement skills when under pressure. Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman is the other QB on the National team, and he had the best throw of the practice session with a laser down the seam to Michigan’s Roman Wilson. Hartman has to sidestep an interior rush and climb the fringe of the pocket and unleashed a very accurate throw that hit Wilson perfectly in th ehands down the field.

On the American team, the quarterback play was more of a struggle. Some of that is a function of the interior offensive line not being very good on the first day of practice. Michael Pratt from Tulane was the most consistent in delivering accurate throws with some zip and anticipation. He also was the only QB I saw who threw a ball away instead of trying to force something.

South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Joe Milton from Tennessee, and Carter Bradley from South Alabama all had some moments but probably didn’t help themselves in terms of draft stock. Milton, all 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds of him, wowed by doing a standing backflip and sticking the landing during one break in reps. Great party trick and display of athleticism, but if he doesn’t show more touch or a less deliberate delivery it won’t matte rmuch.

Players I thought helped themselves

For context here, my focus during National practice was more on the skill position players and on hte lines during the American session.

Notre Dame CB Cam Hart--used his length and closing burst well to break up a couple of passes, including one short out route that he ran better than North Carolina WR Tex Walker and nearly picked off. Instincts and feet were both good.

Oregon C Jackson Powers-Johnson--quickly proved worthy of his billing as a potential first-rounder. His ability to get out in space and engage targets with balance and power was exemplary.

Oklahoma OT Tyler Guyton–showed better balance when pas protecting on an island than I saw on his Sooners tape, and Guyton also finished his blocks with a tenacity that wasn’t always there either. Good day.

Marshall RB Rasheen Ali–great feet and vision to sift through small holes in between the tackles. Ali also had some nice reps in passing game drills, both receiving and pass protection.

Western Michigan DE Marshawn Kneeland–he was the fastest defensive lineman on either team, chip-timed at over 19 MPH during one play. Won a pass rush rep with a very nice inside rip and didn’t get knocked off his path from a pretty good effort at a recovery block.

New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube–instant acceleration and a high top-end gear for a 210-pound running back. The FCS standout proved he could hang on the bigger stage. Impressed in punt return drills.

Texas OT Christian Jones–had a bad rep early but fought back and handled the rest of the 1-on-1 pass protect drills very well. Ate up a quick inside spin move from Missouri’s Darius Robinson, who also had a pretty good afternoon.

Lousiville WR Jamari Thrash--very good at accelerating past the DB in the open field on deep routes; definitely showed a second gear. Thrash made a couple of very nice downfield catches as well as a sideline snatch on a ball that wasn’t quite on target.

Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley–my working player comparison for Corley heading to Mobile was Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. Saw nothing to dissuade me from that in a practice where Corley showed strong hands, good burst after the catch and nifty releases off the line and out of breaks.

Florida State DT Braden Fiske–At 295 pounds, he needs to win with speed and seizing the advantage on his first step. Fiske, a transfer from Western Michigan, did that consistently in both individual and team drills. He did a great job getting his hips and shoulders deep past the desired blocking point before the opposing lineman could set up.

Cal LB Jackson Sirmon–had the defensive play of the day (that I witnessed anyway) with an athletic interception thanks to a quick reaction and a pressure by Fiske. Sirmon covered a lot of ground quickly in a couple of run reps in team drills.

Guys who need better days ahead

Every tight end. It just wasn’t a good showing for any of the group on either team. There were some rep wins, to be sure, but especially with the National team it just wasn’t anything that made anyone take positive notice beyond a random play here or there. Most notably, Minnesota’s Brevyn Spann-Ford looked quite sluggish and leggy in his running.

Penn State CB Johnny Dixon–brought him up earlier, but when multiple coverage reps earn multiple penalty flags, it’s not a good sign. He was guilty of both a hold and defensive pass interference–separately–on the same play on a pretty simple shallow post route.

Iowa P Tory Taylor–Taylor did not have a good day. Boomed a couple of 60-yarders but also shanked two in a three-punt series, one of which went about 20 yards. There isn’t even token defensive pressure put on the punters, either.

Alabama DE Justin Egboigbe–not sure he had a single win in 1-on-1 pass rush drills. There just wasn’t any plan of attack other than charging straight into the block and hoping for the best.

Washington State EDGE Brennan Jackson–didn’t see what happened to Jackson, but he was noticeably limping on hte sidelines and had his left leg in a full sleeve. The preliminary report was a rolled ankle.

North Carolina WR Tez Walker--he had some wins and even flashed a little sizzle in the open field, but I thought Walker took too long to get off the line and had some wasted steps and motion in several of his routes.

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire