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Senior Bowl Day 2 Practice Recap: Risers, Fallers & Takeaways (2024)

Senior Bowl Day 2 Practice Recap: Risers, Fallers & Takeaways (2024)

Two practices are down, and one remains. Some players bounced back on Day 2 after a down Day 1, while others didn’t stand out as much on Wednesday after impressing on Tuesday. Our own Derek Brown, Thor Nystrom, and Eric Froton share their risers, fallers, and takeaways from Day 2 of Senior Bowl practices down in Mobile, AL.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Senior Bowl Day 2 Practice Recap

OF NOTE: Sioni Vaki (Utah)

Utah S Sioni Vaki ran routes with running backs at the outset of Wednesday’s morning practice. Vaki was back deep prowling at safety for the defense in a team session 10 minutes later.
Thor Nystrom

Quarterbacks

RISER: Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)

Washington QB Michael Penix once again clearly displayed the best pure arm talent of all quarterbacks in attendance. The reps he struggled were the same as yesterday — when there was quick pressure. And while we’d like to see improvement in this area tomorrow, we should also acknowledge that, in this area – his Achilles’ heal – Penix is going to need time. But this much is certain through two days in Mobile: Penix has been the best quarterback here, so far.
Thor Nystrom

RISER: Michael Pratt (Tulane)

Though there were some rough spots for this QB group with many scouts lamenting the over-reliance on check downs we’ve seen in the team sessions thus far. On the contrary, I thought Pratt was assertive downfield and took some shots across the deep middle that some others in this QB group have been reluctant to test. He played much better than yesterday when he had some opening day jitters, which is in line with the steady improvement we’ve seen from Pratt since arriving on campus as an unheralded mid-three-star recruit. This season, Tulane’s star signal caller improved his deep pass attempt rate from 12.9%-to-18.7% with a 45.3% deep completion rate (12th best in FBS), as his ADOT increased from 8.9-to-10.9 yards as Pratt sought to create more explosive plays through the air. On Day 2, Pratt settled in and showed some of the poise and arm talent that has him vying to be an early Day 2 selection.
Eric Froton

FALLER: Bo Nix (Oregon)

Oregon QB Bo Nix had another down day on Wednesday. He wasn’t doing anything down the field, and his accuracy has been errant even in the intermediate range. For someone that some saw as a first-round pick heading into this event, Nix has been wildly risk-averse.
Thor Nystrom

Nix had another rough day. He fumbled a snap, displayed a late trigger drawing a “sack,” and was consistently off-the-mark passing. If you are a Nix truther, it was a tough day to watch his performance. After Day 2 of Senior Bowl practice, it’s clear that J.J. McCarthy stands alone in his own tier behind the top three quarterbacks in this class, as Nix and Michael Penix Jr. have not proven that they belong in that tier. Any hopes of Nix sneaking into the first round of the NFL Draft have been smothered, and now he’s likely trying to hold onto any possible round-two hope that still exists.
Derek Brown

FALLER: Sam Hartman (Notre Dame)

Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman is badly struggling at the event. During one particularly brutal stretch of reps on Wednesday, somebody in our section cracked that receivers were going to start “needing to tie their shoes” when they got to the front of the one-on-one line with Hartman behind center.
Thor Nystrom

Running Backs

RISER: Kimani Vidal (Troy)

Troy RB Kimani Vidal’s movement has stood out at the Senior Bowl. On Wednesday, Vidal looked very strong on routes, consistently gaining separation. He was smoothly catching the ball and fluidly transitioning upfield into a runner. Interestingly, this was the area of Vidal’s game that he specifically pointed to during our Tuesday on-field interview as wanting to dispel doubts about to evaluators this week.

I ranked Vidal as the No. 2 RB in Mobile heading into the event. My pre-event notes on him: “Vidal has a true bowling-ball build at 5’8/220. Battering-ram style, low to the ground and hard charging in a sawed-off frame. Shifty and bouncy in tight quarters, tough to square up. Very good contact balance — not affected by off-angle attempts. Vidal’s combination of agility and power led to 92 broken tackles in 2023, No. 2 in the nation. Tackle breaking machinations include a nasty stiff-arm. Proved he can handle bellcow usage with over 300 touches last season. Managed to remain productive against loaded boxes. A tough, assignment-sound pass-blocker. He’s also a decent receiver who had either 22 catches or 200 receiving yards in all four years on campus. Vidal is an underrated back who could form a strong combo back to Jaylen Warren, a back he resembles.”
Thor Nystrom

RISER: Cody Schrader (Missouri)

For the second-straight day, Missouri RB Cody Schrader was a winner. Schrader belongs. His athleticism has been a little better than advertised. Schrader’s passing-game work this week has also been better than we anticipated heading in. Schrader’s footwork is very hard for defenders to match in space.

My notes on Schrader heading into this week: “Never-say-die grinder. Broke out in 2023 in a zone-heavy scheme that accentuated his strengths — vision, footwork, and one-cut slashing. Runs low to the ground and keeps his leg churning. Doesn’t have a ton of natural power and isn’t a bulldozer, but breaks arm tackles and off-angle attempts. Agility isn’t joystick, but has sharp cuts and quick feet. Nice tempo to his style. Patient to allow blocks to develop, urgent when the opportunity arises. Not going to hit any home runs in the NFL. Schrader is improving as a receiver but needs more work in this phase. Schrader could really improve his odds of staying on the field if he brought the same junkyard dog attitude he does to running the ball into pass-pro. That aspect of his game needs improvement.”
Thor Nystrom

I wasn’t immensely high on Cody Schrader entering this week despite his impressive stat lines. He has won me over as the week has progressed, though. Schrader has a thick lower half, which should help him hold up to the grueling punishment of the NFL. He has also been extremely fluid in receiving reps both in team drills and 1-on-1s. Schrader has earned separation at a high enough clip for me to think that he could offer more receiving utility than he was able to show at Missouri, as he never managed more than 22 receptions in any collegiate season.
Derek Brown

RISER: Ray Davis (Kentucky)

Though he’s somewhat squat at 5’84/220, Temple/Vanderbilt/Kentucky RB Ray Davis has shown fluidity, balance and an ability to catch the ball that he hadn’t been able to show off prior to the 2023 season when he secured 32-of-39 passes for 324 yards and a strong 1.30 yards per route run average, which was a sharp uptick from the .77 yards per route he posted in 2022 at Vandy. A grinder who uses his low center of gravity to dart underneath and agility to dodge would-be tacklers, Davis could parlay his Dameion Pierce-like dimensions into a backup role with room to be a relevant fantasy contributor if injuries strike. He’s looking like a great speculation shot in the 4th round of Dynasty Rookie drafts, and could even climb into the late-third with a strong set of testing at the Combine.
Eric Froton

RISER: MarShawn Lloyd (USC)

Lloyd continued to boost his NFL Draft stock on Day 2 of practice. He routinely flashed the explosive play ability that is littered through his tape and allowed him to finish third and 18th in breakaway percentage over the last two years (per PFF). Lloyd has displayed a three-down skillset in Mobile. His ability as a receiver has been front and center with multiple crisp routes, zero drops, and impressive catches as he has dusted defenders. I have a third/fourth-round NFL Draft grade currently. At his basement, the fourth round of the NFL Draft will not conclude without Llloyd’s name being called.
Derek Brown

RISER: Isaiah Davis (South Dakota State)

Davis has consistently made plays and taken advantage of every opportunity that he has received in Mobile. Despite finishing 102nd and 133rd in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets, per PFF) over the last two seasons, Davis has looked like a proficient receiving option at the Senior Bowl. His short-area quickness and fluid hips have served him well, as he has earned quick separation in his routes against defenders. After finishing 35th and 17th last year in yards after contact per attempt and PFF’s elusive rating, Davis’s rushing talent should not be questioned, but entering this week, his receiving utility was fair game. He has answered questions about that part of his game, which will only help his draft stock.
Derek Brown

FALLER: Javon Baker (UCF)

There’s no other way to put it. UCF WR Javon Baker has been nondescript in Mobile. It hasn’t been a terrible week, but there hasn’t been much to write home about either. Physically, he clearly belongs. But Baker is failing to consistently generate separation in drills and hasn’t made many plays. One ball in Wednesday morning’s session doinked off his facemask when he wasn’t looking back to the quarterback when Michael Penix was under duress.

Based on the upside his tape showed on the boundary, I ranked Baker as the top wide receiver at the event. He’s been far from that so far. If Baker doesn’t turn it around on Thursday, he’ll be stock-down this week. There is probably nothing he can do on Thursday to leave this event as my No. 1 receiver.

Here was my report on Baker coming into this week: “Former five-star recruit who realized his potential after transferring to UCF. Very sudden mover who plays with unmistakeable attitude. Press corners better bring their boxing gloves and their tap shoes. Varied release package with a matrix of footwork. Was a downfield killer — 17.1 aDOT — despite good-but-not-great speed, in large part because of his my-ball determination. Attacks the ball in the air and latches on, undeterred by contact. He was unsurprisingly one of the class’ best contested catch receivers, despite the bloated aDOT, going 20-for-36 in those instances the past two years, mostly in downfield scenarios. A contortionist in the air when reeling in poorly thrown balls.

Baker isn’t the most agile, but his overall routes are better than adequate, in part because he understands leverage and tempo, and in part because he can so quickly throttle into and out of route brakes. He does a decent job stacking, but Baker’s lack of elite wheels can lead to more company at the catch point when he’s tailed from behind — this superpower of his will have to convert to the NFL to remain a downfield maven. Baker had a red-flag drop rate over 10% the past two seasons, something he needs to clean up — this is a concentration issue, as his reel of highlight grabs would attest.”
Thor Nystrom

FALLER: Jacob Cowing (Arizona)

Arizona WR Jacob Cowing is getting overpowered. After measuring in at 5’8/165, perhaps that isn’t a huge surprise. But his lack of ability to consistently separate one-on-one this week has been highly disappointing. Cowing was having trouble freeing himself from Cam Hart in team. Coming into the event, I ranked Cowing as the Senior Bowl’s No. 4 receiver coming into the event. I might have been too high on him.

“Slot receiver with catch-the-chicken-in-the-coup agility. Earlier in his career, at UTEP, Cowing showed that he could win downfield, with aDOTs of 14.8 or higher in each of his first three years on campus. But the last two years at Arizona, playing beside future R1 pick Tetairoa McMillan, and mostly with a QB who struggled with accuracy, Cowing was relegated to a near-the-LOS role, with his aDOTs plummeting to 8.4 and 6.7, respectively. This usage didn’t allow him to show his full skillset. Either way, Cowing is ridiculously difficult to stay with one-on-one because of his footwork and effortless change-of-direction. When he has space to work with, the same movement skills make him a handful after the catch. In 2023, this aspect of his game was a bit handcuffed, since many of his touches were telegraphed near the line of scrimmage and waves of defenders were immediately en route.”
Thor Nystrom

FALLER: Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (Georgia)

Rosemy-Jacksaint entered Mobile with the likelihood that he would have to make his mark in the NFL as a run blocker, and that has not changed after two days of practice. Rosemy-Jacksaint has had issues gaining separation in both team drills and 1-on-1s. His best reps have come when he’s been asked to run short, out-breaking routes, but he’ll have to show more than that to still hear his name called during the NFL Draft. If he doesn’t flash more on Day 3, it’s possible he could be headed for UDFA status in April.
Derek Brown

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Wide Receivers

WINNER: Johnny Wilson (FSU)

FSU WR Johnny Wilson, who was up-and-down on Tuesday, had a strong session on Wednesday. He was gaining separation in one-on-ones, and his hands were reliable. Wilson has played well enough at receiver during the event that we likely won’t get to see him at tight end. That’s disappointing. But it’s hard to disagree with allowing him to fail as a receiver before forcing him to switch.

My notes on Wilson heading into the week: “Absolutely enormous target. Wilson is taller and heavier than Mike Evans, Allen Lazard, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Wilson is one of the class’ best blockers — on reach and width alone, he’s exceedingly difficult to breech. Over the last two years, Wilson played nearly 90% of his snaps on the boundary. It’s extremely possible that the NFL will see him as a Darren Waler-like “big slot” hybrid. Wilson’s intimidating size can play against him on the boundary when, for instance, press corners can get under his pads and jar him towards the boundary off the line. It also very much plays against him along the route path when trying to create space, as those long legs labor to quickly change directions. However, and it must be said — Wilson has skills you don’t see in players this big, including a dynamic release package that mostly freed him from press bullies. Wilson has strong north-south athleticism for a big man — you don’t have to squint to envision him being a nightmare down the seam, and when you play him off, you leave yourself susceptible to him screeching on the breaks and coming back to the ball, something he’s surprisingly good at for a tall oak.”
Thor Nystrom

WINNER: Jha’Quan Jackson (Tulane)

Tulane WR Jha’Quan Jackson was a handful for defensive backs during one-on-ones on Wednesday. He made multiple plays downfield after toasting his man. He was playing so well that after Jackson finally dropped a ball during Wednesday’s team session, we joked in the bleachers that we’d jinxed him by talking about how well he had been playing. It’s easier for smaller, shiftier receivers like Jackson to win in one-on-one drills at this event – and that must be said. But for a guy who entered the event looked at as a special teams guy as much as an offensive player, Jackson’s strong day receiving must be noted.
Thor Nystrom

RISER: Xavier Leggette (South Carolina)

What a difference a day makes, the 6’1/223 hulking wideout was maligned for his unimaginative route running on Day 1, choosing to go for the home run ball down the sideline rather than manipulate his defender to create higher percentage opportunities for himself. On Day 2 that all changed with Leggette working the second-level like a pro by using advanced footwork on his releases and deftly leveraged breaks to free up unobstructed catch opportunities. His highlight reel grab came on a 12-yard out that Leggette secured at full-extension, causing gasps among the onlookers. Despite Leggette barely making an impression during his first four years on campus, he wrested control of the SoCar WR room through sheer hard work and determination according to his QB Spencer Rattler, who I interviewed at the Day 2 media session. Rattler could not say enough about how Leggette is a legitimate self-made man who amazed his teammates with regularity last season. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us on Day 3.
Eric Froton

How much difference a day can make? Wow! Legette looked like a different wide receiver on Day 2. After lumbering through his routes during Day 1 with middling change of direction ability, he was reborn on Wednesday. Legette consistently earned separation, notably on out routes and near the boundary, with more suddenness and explosion. It didn’t matter who was under center, as Legette consistently earned targets through team drills. This was the type of day that Legette truthers would rejoice with, and the doubters (myself) would remain silent. He definitely opened my eyes some. I hope to see him build upon today with another strong day at Thursday’s practice.
Derek Brown

JURY’S OUT: Tez Walker (UNC)

UNC WR Tez Walker has been up and down each of the first two practices. He’s made a few plays downfield – notable in a group that hasn’t produced many in sum – but has also had multiple bad drops. Today, in one notable example, a money-ball clanked off his hands near the sideline after Walker had won separation on an out-breaking concept.
Thor Nystrom

JURY’S OUT: Jamari Thrash (Louisville)

Louisville Jamari Thrash was gaining easy separation throughout Wednesday’s practice, showing a nice ability to slam on the breaks and throttle back up immediately in and out of his route breaks. Thrash would have been a clear winner today, but he had issues with drops. I can’t give him a total pass on that after his 11.3% drop rate last year.
Thor Nystrom

Tight Ends

WINNER: Theo Johnson (Penn State)

Penn State TE Theo Johnson has been by far and away the best tight end at the event through two days. He put on a show on Wednesday. Johnson caught a ball on every rep of one-on-ones until the very end of the session, when one finally hit the turf. Johnson’s arrow is pointed decidedly up this week.

Here was a snippet of my notes on Johnson heading into the week: “One of the better size/athleticism combinations in this tight end class. But man is he inconsistent. Playing in a Penn State offense that often deployed 12-personnel, Johnson showed flashes the past few years, especially as a receiver, but also would disappear into a non-factor for full games at a time. Need to see some consistency this week.” Mission accomplished so far.
Thor Nystrom

This is the second straight strong day of practice for the former Nittany Lion. Johnson was open all day in 1-on-1s. He caught nearly everything thrown in his direction while he earned separation in his routes. I was unable to find any all-22 film for Johnson before arriving in Mobile, so I entered this week in the dark about what to expect on the field. For a player whose per-route efficiency sagged in 2023, he has been a happy surprise this week. He offered some hope for receiving upside in 2022 as he finished 30th in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets per PFF). I doubt Johnson ever ends up as the focal point of an NFL passing attack, but with the week that he has had so far, I could envision scenarios where he continues to build upon his receiving skillset in the NFL and becomes a trusted third option in an aerial attack.
Derek Brown

FALLER: AJ Barner (Michigan)

Barner was used as a glorified security blanket for his first three years at Indiana, reeling in 28-of-49 passes (57%) for 199 yards, 7.1 YPC and three touchdowns for the Hoosiers in 2022. However Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh saw something in him, plucking Barner out of the transfer portal prior to this season. He carved out a role as the TE1B to Colson Loveland’s TE1A this season, delivering a career-high 82.2 offensive grade while catching 69% of his 32 targets while more than doubling his yards per route average from .57 in 2022 to 1.19 last year with UM. While his movement ability is on par with his Senior Bowl contemporaries, Barner had noticeable trouble separating in both 1-on-1’s and team drills on Day 2. To make matters even more complicated, when Barner was able to wiggle free, balls were ricocheting off his hands. I was optimistic about his NFL potential heading into this event, but Barner needs a strong Day 3 showing if he wants to earn NFL Draft capital.
Eric Froton

Barner had a tough Day 2. He was jammed up on routes and had issues at the catch point. For a player who ranked 79th and 139th in yards per route run over the last two years (per PFF), Barner has proven to this point that his receiving upside is not high in the NFL. Barner will have to block his butt off to hang in the NFL.
Derek Brown

FALLER: Ben Sinnott (Kansas State)

Sinnott was inconsistent at best on Day 2. He won plenty of his reps from a route-running perspective but then had issues at the catch point. Sinnott wasn’t strong at the catch point as he dealt with defenders contesting his receptions and had multiple drops in the process. Sinnott needs a strong Day 3 to affirm that the ability he flashed on Day 1 is real.

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