The first day of Senior Bowl practices can be a grind. The players have to be up early for the weigh-in process, then go through endless interviews during media time before they finally hit the field for practice. For most of the wide receivers in attendance, when they do step on the practice field, they're working with quarterbacks for the first time.
This is not only a difficult task because of the long day, but it’s a transition working with new players. As I’ve mentioned before, completing passes is a timing-based skill. When you’re working with quarterbacks who you don’t have rhythm with, it can be hard to get going during competition drills.
Despite the practice being a bit uncomfortable for some wide receivers, there were still some standouts from the day.
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Samuel reaffirmed my opinion that he’s the class of the position at the event. He kicked off his day by catching a deep ball during one-on-one periods on a route that he changed his pace and then bursted downfield. During seven-on-seven and team, he caught multiple passes right in the middle of the defense.
Built like a rock at 216 pounds, Samuel has intriguing traits with the combination of speed, strength and explosiveness.
Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
McLaurin entered the week with a lot to like on film, but he far exceeded my expectations during practice. During one-on-ones, he slipped by cornerback Kris Boyd at the line of scrimmage and created a ton of separation vertically. On another rep, he won down the field with speed.
The game comes so easy to McLaurin, expect to hear words like “natural feel” to describe him.
Jakobi Meyers, North Carolina State
Meyers showed awesome cuts during all periods today, with crisp and fluid footwork. During one-on-ones, he badly shook Amani Oruwariye on a slant route, and won another contested rep against Oruwariye. He’d continue his strong play late in practice by catching a deep touchdown during the team period.
David Sills V, West Virginia
If there is one thing we already knew about Sills, it was that he could win vertically. That continued during one-on-one periods, catching two 9 routes for touchdowns. With the proper footwork and length to beat press, he’s hard for defensive backs to match. On top of that, he’s added six pounds to his frame as he checked in at 210.
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Hart is undersized, but foot quickness is a blur. That short-area speed helped him separate from slot corners and safeties throughout his entire practice today, but especially during one-on-ones. Though he has an obvious lack of length, he showed real confident ball skills today. Hart is a versatile piece with kick and punt return experience, giving him four-down capability at the next level.
Other wide receivers who had positive practices on the first day: Anthony Johnson, Keelan Doss, Andy Isabella, Tyre Brady, Hunter Renfrow
Wide receivers who didn’t quite do enough to help their outlook on the first day of practice: Travis Fulgham, Gary Jennings Jr., Jaylen Smith, Alex Wesley, Jalen Hurd (weighed-in, but did not participate due to injury)