Senior Bowl Notebook: Observations from Day 1

The 2024 Reeses’ Senior Bowl is officially underway.

The annual pre-draft event, held in Mobile, Ala., invites the best draft-eligible seniors from across college football to compete against each other in front of NFL Scouts and executives. This year comes with the added wrinkle that underclassmen are now eligible to compete.

Director Jim Nagy says this is one of the best Senior Bowls in recent memory and opened his press conference discussing the incredible star power that the event has added with the addition of select underclassmen.

Practice kicked off on Tuesday afternoon and the Texans Wire’s own John Crumpler was on the ground to look at potential future additions for the Houston Texans.

Quinyon Mitchell Steals the Day

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl is an incredible event for players to elevate their draft status and turn three practices into life-changing money in front of NFL scouts. As such, it’s worth discussing the day’s winners before anything else.

Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo starred with the National Team on Tuesday and had the best performance of any player during Day 1. Listed at 6-foot, 195 pounds the All-American was dominant in coverage during both 1-on-1 drills and the team drill period. He did not allow a completion during the individual drills and defended two passes during the team period.

He showed fluid hips, great acceleration, and generally excellent instincts at the position as he traveled with receivers and made plays on the ball all day.

Mitchell can cement his status as a first-round talent with a continued presence in Mobile and his performance against the incredible receivers in this group is one of the week’s earliest developments. How he’ll ultimately stack against players such as Kool-Aid McKinstry and Nate Wiggins could very likely be traced back to how he did Tuesday.

American Team Quarterbacks make evaluations difficult

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The American Team roster is loaded at wide receiver. Names like Ladd McConkey, Xavier Legette, and Johnny Wilson make up a position group that has a ton of future NFL talent.

Unfortunately, that talent may be very difficult to evaluate in Mobile due to uneven quarterback play.

South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Tennessee’s Joe Milton, Tulane’s Michael Pratt and South Alabama’s Carter Bradley all struggled throughout the day in a noticeable fashion. It’s not unusual for quarterbacks at this event to have some difficulty adjusting to new coaches, new receivers and a brand new playbook to digest.

However, for a team that has multiple receivers that Houston fans may be interested in, it’s worth noting their evaluation notes may be inconsistent for factors outside of their control.

Other Notable Standouts

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond Mitchell, there were other players that had great days. That topic immediately goes to Michigan receiver Roman Wilson and Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey. Wilson showed off explosion and fluid routes during the individual period and was constantly open during the team period. Meanwhile, McConkey showed off the footwork that made him devastatingly effective at Georgia and made the most of sub-par quarterback play from the American Team quarterbacks.

Both are projected as Day 2 wide receivers and could be a valuable pick by a team such as Houston that may want to add one more piece to their receiving corps. Neither fit traditional receiver archetypes such as “ball winners” or “speedsters,” however, both are phenomenal players and fit the mold of receivers who have found ample success entering the league over the past few seasons.

Tight end is likely a need with Dalton Schultz as a pending free agent and there are several strong candidates in Mobile. Notably, Penn State’s Theo Johnson and Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott had strong days not only blocking but showing off reliable hands when targeted by their quarterbacks.

Either would likely be available on Day 3 of the draft and could offer an immediate contributor to Bobby Slowik’s scheme that can be demanding towards the responsibilities of tight ends in the running game.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire