We go right from Shrine Bowl practices into Senior Bowl practices, where more than 100 of the top seniors available for next April’s NFL draft took the field for two separate sessions. There were some outstanding performances, and here’s an early look at the leaders in the clubhouse.
Tuesday Senior Bowl Practice Headlined by Pair of Big Ten Tackles
Jaelyn Duncan, LT, Maryland
Of all the tackles on the field today, Jaelyn Duncan looked the most athletic, nimble, and NFL-ready. He strictly played on the left side and dominated everyone he faced.
Duncan blocked with tremendous fundamentals, used his hands incredibly well, and showed terrific footwork sliding off the edge. He also did a great job anchoring at the point, which has been his nemesis in the past.
Dawand Jones, T, Ohio State
Dawand Jones was not as athletic as Duncan, but he was close. The most surprising aspect of Jones’ practice today was the way he handled undersized speed rushers — Isaiah Foskey and Thomas Incoom, to be specific.
Jones quickly set up off the snap, immediately got his hands into opponents, and engulfed them at the point. He’s a huge man with incredible stature, and Jones towered over everyone. Jones also displayed much better footwork and pass-protection skills than anyone could have ever imagined.
McClendon Curtis, G, Tennessee Chattanooga
During last year’s Senior Bowl, it was Cole Strange of UT-Chattanooga who impressed everyone on his way to being a first-round pick. McClendon Curtis picked up where his former teammate left off and was also very impressive on Day 1.
Curtis has an NFL body and the power to complement his frame. He blocks with great leverage and effectively used his hands. For most of the first practice, Curtis controlled opponents from the IA level and really turned heads.
Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin
Keeanu Benton looked like a man amongst boys in practice and demolished the opposition during 1-on-1 drills. He looked explosive, powerful, and did a tremendous job playing with leverage. Benton also went hard on every snap, and his intensity was infectious.
Dylan Horton, DE, TCU
Dylan Horton displayed a lot of athleticism as well as explosion, but what was really impressive is the way he held his ground and even played off blocks to make the tackle. Horton went toe-to-toe with Richard Gouraige of Florida on a few occasions during full scrimmage and got the better of him, despite giving away 40 pounds.
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Horton is starting to show signs of being a three-down defender, which will only boost his draft stock.
Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell, WR, Houston
Several receivers stood out today, though none as much as Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. He fired off the snap and then ran routes, which were insanely quick and sharp.
No one, and I mean no one, could cover Dell, who easily ran away from defenders in the open field. He made several nice catches on crossing patterns and on deep routes, embarrassing the corners charged with covering him. The only blip on Dell’s radar today was two dropped punts when his squad practiced special teams.
Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State
Jayden Reed was another receiver who stood out on Tuesday, making several nice receptions and humiliating defenders. He ran solid routes and displayed a real nice burst of speed. Reed’s ability to track the ball, as well as his eye/hand coordination, were impressive.
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
Tyjae Spears gave everyone on hand what they expected to see at the Senior Bowl — several long runs and the ability to take it the distance. Spears’ whole running style is impressive, from the patience he shows waiting for blocks to develop, to the vision he possesses and the ability to hit the hole with authority.
The fact he’s a slightly shorter ball carrier who runs behind his pads allows Spears to get lost in the traffic and hide behind his linemen.