Senior Bowl Day 1 observations: Towering Ohio State OL dominates, QBs underwhelm

MOBILE, Ala. — Dawand Jones was the talk of the week during the first few days at the 2023 Senior Bowl.

Jones opened the week measuring 6-foot-8, 360 pounds with the longest recorded wingspan in the 74-year history of the Senior Bowl at 89.5 inches. And that size and length got him through an impressive first practice with coaches, scouts and executives from around the present league. At the same time, the first day of practices was not completely padded and was walkthrough-heavy. Still, the former Ohio State standout offensive tackle was impossible to miss as the biggest man on the field, and he didn’t let anyone outdo him Tuesday afternoon.

He had shining moments in those meaty one-on-one reps against defensive linemen, including against some of the more intriguing names in Mobile. Jones got the best of the Army edge rusher Andre Carter, not to mention Notre Dame Isaiah Foskey. Carter didn’t have much of a chance, with Jones rushing him back and not taking his foot off the gas. Foskey couldn’t get around the big man, with Jones finishing the drill by putting Notre Dame’s all-time sack leader on the turf.

And there wasn’t much offense vs. defense for either the American or National teams on Tuesday. Jones still took care of business, flashing his strong hands and feet against Oregon’s DJ Johnson in one of those dropback waits. Jones also helped the Texas running back spring Roschon Johnson for a few big gains, with no defender able to move the Buckeye.

Pro Football Focus ranked Jones 10th among offensive tackles in this year’s draft class. The analytics site had allowed just 15 pressures over two seasons starting in Columbus. If Jones continues to look like this, an upward arrow on his stock ahead of the scouting combine.

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See below for more observations and takeaways from the first day of walkthrough-heavy practices in Mobile:

– There is not much to talk about the quarterbacks after the first day. And while this can be understood, with the group throwing the receivers who met only in the last few days, it was still seen. Fresno State Jake Haener bobbled his first snap, then lost control of two more during the first 15 minutes. It was reminiscent of Desmond Ridder’s display on the first day of practice last year. Haener eventually settled in, flashing that short-to-average accuracy that would propel him to a successful college career. He probably had one of the best throws of the day, too. Haener put a tight-window ball to a BYU receiver Puka Nacua along the sideline. It was an impressive catch, no doubt, but the quarterback dropped that one in the bucket safely away from the defender. Haener turned that brutal start into a pretty solid day. He was crisp in team drills and one-on-ones, settling into a groove with his teammates for the week. BYU’s Jaren Hall had his fair share of drops and even lost the ball uncontested when he fell behind in team drills. It was a day to forget for the speedy playmaker. Those two handled the National team reps, with Louisville Malik Cunningham deal with an apparent stomach bug. According to Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, Cunningham is expected back on Day 2.

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And there wasn’t much to report back from the American team’s practice, with an even heavier walkthrough focus. The music and atmosphere were turned down to end the day as well. With an up and down day, TCU’s Max Duggan flashed on a throw out of the pocket, threw an interception over the middle. although of the Shepherd Tyson Bagent he was disturbed. He and Houston Clayton Tune he seemed to struggle, failing to get that chemistry with the pass-catchers clicking. There wasn’t much of anything worth noting in the deep or intermediate passing game outside of Haener’s toss.

— Illinois running back Chase Brown you will look to recover after the first challenge session. Brown failed to secure a swing pass by himself in the backfield. He got toast in a pass-blocking drill, too, losing a fumble while trying to do a spin move. Brown is an intriguing prospect after posting 1,643 yards and 10 scores on a whopping 328 carries. On the other hand, Tulane’s Tyjae Spears had an impressive catch-and-run on a screen, hitting another level to break away from defenders.

— Coastal Carolina inside linebacker Jerrod Clark flashed a few times in the early session. Clark did not dominate any of his one-on-one opportunities. But the big man flashed some athleticism and awareness. He got a hand to knock away a pass at the line and caught two of his own streaks before the ball hit the turf in a forced-fumble drill. The 6-foot-4, 345-pounder had 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season. If Clark can flash a little more in those one-on-one chances, follow his name throughout the rest of this draft cycle around these parts.

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— Alabama tight end Cameron Latu they finished the day with an impressive move at the line of scrimmage. Latu sold the block, then made a nice cut outside off, wide open for the long-on catch-and-run. He is one of the names you should watch tight end. Purdue’s Payne Durham he’s another one of those guys to track, he’s looking strong in blocking scenarios but doesn’t get many chances in the passing game on Day 1.

— Tennessee defensive lineman Byron Young flashed serious juice rushing the passer during the second practice. He flew around Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Steen in one rep and was a small number whenever he was on the field. Young had 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks over two seasons for the Volunteers. Steen bounced back and managed another fast spin attempt, this time from Iowa State Will McDonald IV. Other highlights from the trench drills in the US team session include the Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron handles Young’s spin better than anyone. And Steen bounces back after taking that early loss, also fearless against LSU’s Ali Gayepass-rush attempt of.


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