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Winners and Losers from the first day of Senior Bowl practices

Andre Simone Avatar
January 22, 2020

MOBILE, Ala. —The first day of the Senior Bowl is always the toughest, as players are poked and prodded all day, starting in the early morning with weigh-ins, then talking to endless members of the media and finally practicing for the first time with new teammates and coaches.

In a whirlwind 10-hour day like that, it’s hard to always keep standards and play high at a consistent level, though the few that are able to do so certainly stand out, while others didn’t fare so well.

There’s plenty of time to repair things with two more practices and the game ahead of us, but one day in, here are the biggest winners and losers with a special focus on receivers and cornerbacks.


Dane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh

Jackson was far from the most celebrated defensive back in Mobile, but once the quick-twitch 5-foot-11 cornerback hit the field, he was as impressive as anyone at any position. Jackson was ultra-smooth in his transitions, keeping everything in front of him and making quite a few plays on the ball with three pass deflections in one-on-one drills.

Jackson looks perfectly suited for a zone-heavy scheme where he can read the quarterback and let his instincts and ball skills take over. He was physical at the line of scrimmage in press and wasn’t deterred by some of the bigger wideouts he went against despite his 180-pound frame.

Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty

With lots of buzz surrounding the 6-foot-3, 220-pound, small-school receiver, Gandy-Golden came in and exceeded the hype, showing off his strong hands and much better quickness in-and-out of breaks than expected. The increased level of talent from what he faced in college didn’t affect him at all.

With his big frame, when Gandy-Golden gains position on a defensive back, he’s almost unstoppable as he’s just too big to get around. As he keeps working on refining his routes, the sky is the limit for Antonio, who was also faster than expected downfield.

Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame

Always a fairly well-liked prospect, the Notre Dame cornerback came in and took care of business in a workmanlike effort shutting down receivers in one-on-ones, playing sticky coverage, and always keeping his guy on his hip.

He didn’t show Jackson’s ball skills coming downhill, but might’ve been more impressive in a straight line defending deep routes.

The talent is all there for the Greer, South Carolina product who could shoot up draft boards if he’s able to consistently play at a high level.

UCLA corner Darnay Holmes also had a good day. Holmes didn’t show off the ball skills like Jackson, or the speed Pride Jr. put on display, but he was feisty and sticky in coverage. He deserves at least an honorable mention for his performance.

Van Jefferson, WR, Florida

While teams look for speed at wide receiver, the Gators’ talented 6-foot, 197-pound wideout made his case as he easily wiggled open from one-on-one coverage, showing strong hands and great athleticism for the position.

Despite the strong day of practice, Jefferson was focused on what he needs to do better going forward.

“Some things I can improve on, but it was a good day,” when I pressed Jefferson, he clarified how he could improve. “Just getting on my routes faster, getting off the line faster, not shaking and moving. I think I can improve on that and get better at that.”

Jefferson prides himself on his route running and ability to get open on press coverage, something that was clear as he was virtually flawless attacking one-on-ones.

Standing tall on the podium

Typically, we keep our winners and losers strictly based on on-field performance, but considering how highly the Broncos have valued high-character the last few years, we’re adding a couple of winners from the media session—it’s worth noting that the two most impressive prospects we spoke to a year ago where Dalton Risner and Drew Lock.

This year, the most impressive, engaging, and self-assured prospects were LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III and Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones.

Both were candid and very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their game, with Cushenberry really driving home the fact that he just wants to compete regardless of all the top talent he already faced in 2019, having won a national championship a little over a week ago. While Jones’ confidence and demeanor also stood out as neither disappointed on the field with both having solid showings on the day.


Two more receivers stood out on the day from the same school but on different squads, as late addition Austin Mack looked smooth and lighting fast out of his breaks. Teammate K.J. Hill put on a show in one-on-ones, getting open at will for easy completions that even the inconsistent group of North quarterbacks couldn’t miss.

Mack was a true surprise, and while he did have to double-clutch a few passes, he still had a big day, while Hill’s showing wasn’t nearly as shocking. In an offense full of weapons, neither produced at elite levels in college but both made opposing defenders look outmatched on a regular basis Tuesday.

Play of the day

Collin Johnson undresses Dane Jackson

The big Texas wideout looked a bit laborious in and out of his breaks but was dynamite on this play, leaving the best cornerback on the day in his dust in this one rep.


North quarterbacks

Jordan Love, Shea Patterson and Anthony Gordon came in with intrigue and none impressed on day one. All three struggled to consistently put their receivers in position to make plays.

Love had his flashes but also some bad misses, Gordon was fine, though nothing special, while Patterson looked completely out of place, spraying the ball all over the field.

All this made it tough on the North receivers, who didn’t have many quality balls to make plays.

It didn’t help that the South quarterbacks looked much better, with Justin Herbert showing plenty of polish and even Steven Montez having a few nice flashes. The contrast was striking between the two groups and something we’ll have to keep monitoring throughout the week.

Quartney Davis, WR, Texas A&M

With all the talent in the world, Davis was set up to have a huge day but didn’t quite meet expectations, as he started things off with a drop against air and ended the day with a muffed punt. In between the two drops, he wasn’t as quick or lethal in-and-out of his breaks as we hoped and didn’t really show off his speed either. The bigger concern is that his hands looked inconsistent as he seemed to lose ground to other speedy receivers like Van Jefferson and even SMU’s James Proche.

Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska

While Jackson was timed as the fastest player on the day maxing out at 20.8 MPH, he did not look good in coverage, regularly getting beat and struggling to make plays on the ball. His awareness and ability to track the ball was underwhelming, as was the aforementioned long speed to stick with deep routes.

More problematic is that Jackson has shown the same issues on tape, a major concern for him going forward despite having all the physical tools to be an NFL starter.

Michael Pittman, WR, USC

If you had swapped Pittman’s helmet with Gandy-Golden’s, it would’ve all made sense as Pittman struggled to create separation after declaring earlier in the day that he would surprise teams with his speed at the Combine. His quickness was lacking too, though he did get free on a go-route that helped his cause.

The talent is still there, and Pittman’s shown more than enough on tape to not overact after just one day, but with the high expectations coming in, his day was disappointing, though his quarterbacks certainly didn’t help.


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