Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala., kicked off on Tuesday with the National and American teams taking the field. The day started warm with temperatures in the 60's, but chilled into the 50s as the sun dipped behind clouds and dusk approached.
Both practices lasted two hours and featured teams in "uppers" – helmets and shoulder pads with shorts. The National Team practiced first at 11:30 a.m. CT
*Given the QBs and WRs often need a day to get into a rhythm, this was a good chance to focus on the offensive and defensive lines. Two offensive linemen jumped out from the rest - Boston College's Zion Johnson and Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning.
Johnson (6'2, 314) lined up at left guard and center during 1-on-1 drills. He anchored well against power rushes and was only beat once with a swim move while playing center. He played left guard in 2019, left tackle in 2020 and moved back to left guard in 2021, but never lined up at center in school.
Penning (6'6, 330) with impressive with his 34¾-inch arms. He was the starting left tackle for the National Team, the same position he started at for Northern Iowa for three seasons. He showed good athleticism and a little bit of a nasty streak, finishing a couple of plays by slinging the defender to the ground. During 11-on-11 drills, he did exactly that, except the defender rolled into his quarterback's legs. Everyone walked away unscathed.
*Even next to other very large athletes, Minnesota right tackle Daniel Faalele stuck out as a massive human being on the practice field yet it was surprising to discover his measurements were 6'8 and 387 pounds. He has massive 35 3/8-inch arms and moves better than his weight would make an observer think possible. He led the way on an outside run during 11-on-11 drills and made a block in space in front of Missouri running back Tyler Badie.
*A couple of defensive tackles stood out while watching the offensive linemen work. University of Connecticut's Travis Jones (6'4, 326) played with excellent power throughout the practice. He was tough to move inside. Ohio State's Haskell Garrett (6'1, 298) is a bit undersized, but he showed excellent explosiveness and punch using power and quickness to beat interior offensive linemen.
*Two skill players on the National Team stood out. Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford showed some excellent short-area quickness while making a defender miss in the hole during team drills. North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson (6'4, 211) was hard to miss. He was able to separate in the secondary on different occasions to make plays down the field.
*The game's tight end group looks strong. Ohio State's Jeremy Ruckert (6'5, 250) caught a low pass cleanly with his hands just above the grass and made it look easy.
*The American practice featured a very impressive set of defensive lineman. The defensive line and linebackers lived in the backfield during 9-on-7 run drills, but they'll be in full pads during the next two practices when the offensive lineman can be a little more physical.
*Florida State's Jermaine Johnson Jr. (6'4, 259) flashed more than any other edge player. He showed a combination of power and quickness that had him living in the backfield on run and pass plays. Fellow edge rusher, South Carolina's Kingsley Enagbare (6'3, 261), got home for a sack during 11-on-11 drills.
*Arkansas' John Ridgeway (6'4, 327) is a massive defensive tackle who was a constant presence in the middle of the defense and had a tackle for loss during 9-on-7 rushing drills. The American offensive line had trouble blocking him most of the afternoon. Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (6'3, 307) was also a force to be reckoned with inside, showing strength in the run game and the ability to get after the passer.
*Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford had a pair of tackles for loss in the run game and LSU linebacker Damone Clark added one of his own.
*North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell looked the most comfortable throwing the football with very smooth mechanics during a few glances of the American team. Malik Willis' ability to be dynamic with the football as a passer and a runner also flashed.