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Raiders Draft: Senior Bowl wide receivers-cornerbacks 1-on-1s records

See who was winning out wide down in Mobile

Mississippi State v Memphis
Calvin Austin III
Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

MOBILE, AL. — One-on-one competitions are a unique evaluation tool for NFL Draft prospects that the Senior Bowl provides the Las Vegas Raiders, the 31 other teams in the league and pretend internet scouts like me.

While these mano a mano matchups don’t tell the whole story of the week, they do offer some insights on how these prospects fared when the competition level rose and they were left on an island with no help.

But before we dive into the details, there are a few housekeeping items to go over.

A player can earn one of three results on each rep, a win, loss or draw. Wins and losses are pretty straightforward, did the receiver create separation and catch an on-target pass? Getting open on an off-target throw would also be a win for the wideout, and an incompletion that the defensive back doesn’t force is considered a loss. So, a drop where the receiver creates separation from the corner would go down as a loss for both players.

The only exception I made to that rule was for Day 2. It was pouring rain for both practices and drops are just going to happen when the weather is that bad. For those reps, I credited receivers with wins if they just created separation.

Draws can be slightly more ambiguous. Anytime the wideout ran a short route against a defensive back playing off coverage, I chalked that up as a tie. Schematically, the defense would be giving up that throw and looking to rally to the ball after the catch, so as long as the defensive player was in a position to do so it’s no harm no foul. For winning percentages, draws count as half a win.

I also kept track of what I considered to be a “dominant win” or DW. That would be a receiver creating several yards of separation and likely winning down the field — only one DW was given on a slant — and they had to catch the ball with no rain exceptions. For cornerbacks, it was a matter of playing air-tight coverage and disrupting the route.

As you can see by the percentages below, this drill admittedly favors the offense, especially on in-breaking routes where the defensive backs would normally have help in an 11-on-11 setting. Also, there’s no safety over the top so cornerbacks are put in a tough spot where they either have to play press and bail to protect against deep routes, or play off coverage and give away the cheap stuff.

One last note, this is only the wide receivers’ and cornerbacks’ reps and some players, like Jalen Pitre, were taking reps at safety against tight ends and running backs too, so that’s why they have fewer total matchups than the rest. Injuries and late additions played a factor in that, too.

American Wide Receivers

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Calvin Austin, Velus Jones
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Calvin Austin III, Memphis: 7-0-1 (94%), 5 DWs
  2. Velus Jones Jr., Tennessee: 9-4 (69%), 2 DWs
  3. Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama: 8-5 (62%), 2 DWs
  4. Tre Turner, Virginia Tech: 3-2 (60%), 0 DWs
  5. Dontario Drummond, Ole Miss: 5-4-1 (55%), 1 DW
  6. Danny Gray, SMU: 3-4 (43%), 1 DW

Austin is the clear standout from the American group. He didn’t lose a single rep and made people look silly in the process. Whether it was in the open field on Days 1 and 2 or near the goal line during the last practice, his speed, quickness and change of direction skills were on full display.

Another potential deep threat that emerged for the Raiders is Velus Jones. I had the Tennessee product going five for five on his down-the-field routes, including a nice double move to get a dominant win. He is going to be a 25-year-old rookie, so that’s something to keep in mind, but he could be a valuable late-round target.

Heading into the week, I just wanted to see Jalen Tolbert beat top competition and that’s what he did. The South Alabama Jaguar beat a two-time national champion on one of his first reps and did more than hold his own throughout the week.

American Defensive Backs

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
Tariq Woolen
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Tariq Woolen, UTSA: 3-4 (43%), 1 DW
  2. Akayleb Evans, Missouri: 2-3 (40%), 0 DW
  3. Mario Goodrich, Clemson: 1-2 (33%), 1 DW
  4. Roger McCreary, Auburn: 1-3-1 (30%), 0 DW
  5. Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska: 1-3-1 (30%), 0 DW
  6. Alonte Taylor, Tennessee: 2-6 (25%), 1 DW
  7. Josh Thompson, Texas: 1-7 (13%), 0 DW
  8. Derion Kendrick, Georgia: 0-5 (0%), 0 DW
  9. Tycen Anderson, Toldeo: 0-5 (0%), 0 DW
  10. Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston St: 0-6 (0%), 0 DW

Measuring in at 6’ 3 3/8” with 33.5” arms, Woolen caught my attention during the weigh-ins and his play on the field backed it up. He saw a resurgence on Day 3, when they moved the drill into the red zone, going 2-1 by my count in that practice. The former Roadrunner ironically might have some questionable speed, but he’s got the length and track record to make you at least flip on the film.

Comparing guys like Evans and Kendrick by this drill alone is where I think you can lose some of the context of the week. Evans had a better record but didn’t look quite as sharp as Kendrick from a tools or traits perspective, and the latter stood out more in the seven-on-seven and team drills.

Taylor-Britt is another player to keep tabs on from this list because he did take quite a few reps as a safety in addition to having a solid performance as a corner. He also fared better in the red area and could be a versatile defensive back the Raiders look to target.

National Wide Receivers

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Christian Watson
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Kahlil Shakir, Boise St: 11-3 (79%), 3 DWs
  2. Christian Watson, North Dakota St: 12-4 (75%), 1 DW
  3. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati: 5-2-1 (69%), 1 DW
  4. Braylon Sanders, Ole Miss: 6-4 (60%), 1 DW
  5. Bo Melton, Rutgers: 8-7-1 (53%), 1 DW
  6. Romeo Doubs, Nevada: 6-10 (38%), 0 DW

Shakir is obviously the first guy that jumps off the page, but to add a little context to his success, the majority of his wins came on slants or short ins. He showed a nice release package to beat press coverage, but he lacks the speed to win down the field and struggled more when the drill got moved up into the redzone.

Watson dominated in nearly every area of the field though. He was 8-2 in the open field and 4-2 near the goal line, winning on a wide variety of routes. At 6’4” and 211 pounds with 10” hands, he clears every size threshold as well and could be a valuable mid round target for the Silver and Black.

Cincinnati was well-represented in Mobile and Pierce was a big reason why. Even on some of his losses, he was creating separation seemingly all day on Tuesday and Wednesday before sitting out on Thursday.

National Defensive Backs

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
Gregory Junior, Tariq Castro-Fields, Coby Bryant
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn St: 6-2 (75%), 0 DWs
  2. Joshua Williams, Fayatteville St: 5-6 (45%), 1 DW
  3. Coby Bryant, Cincinnati: 3-5-1 (39%), 1 DW
  4. Gregory Junior, Ouachita Baptist: 4-7 (36%), 1 DW
  5. Jaylen Watson, Washington St: 2-4-1 (36%), 0 DW
  6. JT Woods, Baylor: 2-4-1 (36%), 0 DW
  7. Verone McKinley III, Oregon: 1-2 (33%), 0 DW
  8. Jalen Pitre, Baylor: 2-5 (29%), 0 DW
  9. Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh: 3-10 (23%), 0 DW
  10. Kerby Joseph, Illinios: 0-3 (0%), 0 DW

I had one corner finish with a winning percentage above 50 percent, Castro-Fields who currently has a fourth-round projection on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board. He could be another diamond in the late Day 2 to early Day 3 range come April, and at the very least, he’s someone to at least look into.

Williams is a Division II star who made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl. He had the second-highest winning percentage among cornerbacks in the one-on-ones and measured in at 6’ 2.5” with 32.25” arms. He might be an under the radar prospect for now, but don’t be surprised if he starts climbing up some boards now that he’s garnered some attention.

Bryant was another Bearcat who stood out. Unlike a lot of the others in this group, he had a lot of expectations heading into the week, and he delivered. He was one of the most consistent performers throughout the week and was one of two defensive backs — Williams being the other — to record at least one win per day.