After seven long hours stuck in a car with our fearless leader Scott Reynolds – I’m kidding, it wasn’t that bad – it was nice to finally get out to Ladd-Peebles Stadium to watch the next crop of NFL prospects do what they do best.
The Senior Bowl was set up a little different this year. Instead of having players and media members jockey around from two difference stadiums, both North and South practices were held in a central location. This proved to be highly beneficial as it gave the media plenty of time to not only make their observations during practices without the fear of being late for another, but it also gave us here at PewterReport.com the opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, which will be coming soon.
For the players, putting on their helmets and pads (even if it wasn’t full pads today) was surely a relief from the awkward weigh-in period they had to endure during the morning session.
Like the East-West Shrine week, the first day is usually the time for the best athletes to really stand out, and there were plenty of players who did. Some we could have guessed. Others were names that were low on the radar when it came to researching for this week.
Here are some players who got off to a great start on the practice field after day one.
JOSH REYNOLDS WR TEXAS A&M – SOUTH
Going into the week, Reynolds was highly touted by us here at PewterReport.com. His game tape through his career showed a player who consistently made catches away from his body, constantly using his length to his advantage.
Reynolds’ day, however, started off a bit shaky, but not because of anything he did or didn’t do. When measurements were being made, Reynolds’ hand size came in at just under 9 inches. That’s a much smaller hand size than what most expected due to his 6-foot-4 size – the average threshold you’d like to see from big wide receivers is between 9 and 9.5 inches, anything above is a plus.
To make matters worse, Reynolds had three drops in the first drill of practice. This surely made those who noted his measurements this morning question his catching ability.
However, once the real football began (1-on-1s, 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s), Reynolds looked like the coveted prospect scout watched on tape in 2016.
Not only did he look fine, he looked like the best receiver on the field that day when it was all said and done.
In a draft class loaded with talented tight ends, Alabama’s O.J. Howard is quickly separating himself at the top from the rest of the pack.
On Tuesday, Howard looked like the dynamic, mismatch weapon scouts and general managers are hoping he’s going to be. The clip above was a simple throw and catch, but against zone coverage like that, it’s easy money. Having Howard on the field forces a defense to oddly adjust in coverage, either abandoning zone completely, or playing it so tight over the middle it opens up space in other areas.
At the media diner after practice, Howard continued to reiterate that he loves to be involved in the blocking game as well. He certainly started to solidify his “complete tight end” title in the minds of NFL personnel members today.
Ok, this Buccaneers-Aggie connection is getting to be a little much. Tampa Bay could either be interested in a Texas A&M receiver who plays the same position as Mike Evans, and/or they could also be interested in a Texas A&M safety with the same last name as Mike Evans.
Anyways, regardless of the strange connection that seems to be brewing between Tampa and College Station, Justin Evans really showed up on Tuesday in a position that is hard to get noticed in events like this.
Evans showed good range when asked to play in single-high situations like in the clip above, and his instincts for where the ball was going was also noteworthy. Evans is a natural for the safety position, and that’s important. Depending on what the Buccaneers do with their now free agent safeties Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte, Evans could be an option. He may even be a first-year starter if selected and things work out that way.
You have to be kidding. Three Texas A&M prospects in a row?
No, we’re not kidding.
Hall first caught eyes in a warm up drill where the defensive lineman were simply getting into their stances and exploding out of it. Hall was the player who had the best leverage and probably the best punch.
That showed in 1-on-1 drills like in the clip above. Hall can get so low and still explode up so fast. he usually does that to the outside, but in the play above, he showed he’s not just a one-trick pony. Hall looked like the top EDGE rusher on the day.
Hunt stood out today amongst the running back crowd.
It’s hard to get noticed as a running back on day one because so much of the running game had to do with chemistry with the offensive line. But in plays like the one above, Hunt was still able to keep his name fresh in the minds of scouts and general mangers with good plays in the passing game.
On another note, after the practices on Tuesday, the coaches, players and media members all gathered for a meal where the media could interview any player throughout the night. PewterReport.com got a sit-down interview with Hunt who said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are his favorite team, and that he would love to come to Tampa Bay and play in their offense.
NEXT MAN UP
John Johnson, S, Boston College: Really turned some heads with his athleticism today. We’ll be watching him more closely as the week goes on, but in a defensive back group that was sub-par on the day, Johnson was a stand out guy.
Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky and Indiana, OT, Dan Feeney: Lamp and Feeney are clearly the best interior offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl after day one. Both of those guys handled their assignments well, and were good in 1-on-1s. It will be hard to take the crown from them this week.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Kentucky: Kupp had a hot and cold day. At times, he was the man we saw on tape who could win with great footwork and short speed. However, like many of the other wide receivers today, Kupp had his fair share of easy drops. We need to see a more consistent Kupp tomorrow.
Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State: Here;s a name most didn’t think they’d be be reading about after the first day – or at all, for that matter. Williams was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster this year, but despite being just 6-foot and 200 pounds, he was making good catches through contact, including one where he burned the stronger, more physical Damontae Kazee for a touchdown.
Incase you missed it, PewterReport.com was live on Twitter at the end of the day recapping all the top offensive players, and brining up guys who need to step it up after game one. Scott and Trevor will be doing live Twitter videos each day through the week. Follow us on Twitter to make sure you never miss a live update, and feel free to ask about prospects you’re hoping for in Tampa next year who are at the Senior Bowl this week.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com
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