MOBILE, Ala. — While the game is set for Saturday, Thursday wraps up the practice week at the Senior Bowl which is more important for the Las Vegas Raiders’ and NFL’s talent evaluators when it comes to the NFL Draft. Day 3 was much quieter as a handful of prospects shut it down and didn’t participate after having strong sessions during the first two practices.
However, a few players got some redemption with bounce-back performances, most notably when it comes to the Raiders’ quarterback options.
I’ve been hammering Bo Nix all week, so it’s only right that I give him his flowers after a solid performance on Thursday. The red zone was the emphasis of practice and Nix showed off some impressive accuracy throwing to the shorter areas of the field. He was also a lot more decisive and threw with better anticipation. To a degree, he finally looked comfortable out here.
Meanwhile, Michael Penix Jr. had a few nice throws as well, including a good ball on the run that found a wide receiver in the back of the end zone. However, he did have some accuracy issues at times and Nix was the better performer, in my opinion. Overall, the tilt in Mobile between the two Pac-12 QBs still favors the former Husky, 2-1.
Unlike Wednesday, there wasn’t a real “surprise” performance on Day 3. That being said Spencer Rattler has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks all week and that wasn’t much different today. Rattler has plenty of arm talent, that’s for sure, it’s just a matter of how comfortable teams will be with his decision-making.
The offensive line was better than the defensive line during both practices on Thursday, so there weren’t many notable performances from defensive tackles. But, after having a tough showing on Day 1, Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat stacked a couple of good days on top of each other.
He’s a massive human being — 6’4” and listed at 360 pounds — who can be hard to stop when bullrushing. Sweat overwhelmed a couple of guards and centers during the one-on-one pass rushes, including a few who had a strong week. Against the run, the former Longhorn continued to be hard to move as one might expect.
The other interior defender who caught my eye was Justin Eboigbe from Alabama. He showed some power as a pass-rusher, winning with a long-arm move and with a bull rush. In the full-team period, Eboigbe had a TFL on the goal line to cap off the day for the American team.
I have been kind of disappointed with Florida State’s Braden Fiske, whom I had high hopes for heading into the week. Fiske’s use of hands, or lack thereof, was concerning on tape and that was his biggest issue during the Senior Bowl.
That started to make more sense though when he measured in with just 31-inch arms, meaning he lacks the length to make the first significant contact with his hands against offensive linemen. The Florida State product does have some impressive quickness that has shown up a few times in Mobile, but being a sixth-year senior with technique flaws while lacking length is going to be a lot to overcome.
As previously discussed, Quinyon Mitchell has been the undisputed best cornerback here, so he was quickly pulled off the field (like by his agent) ahead of practice and didn’t participate on Thursday.
There weren’t many other corners who stood out but Cam Hart from Notre Dame had a nice session. He had at least one pass breakup and has been a steady riser all week, as ESPN’s Jordan Reid notes that Hart’s stock is “moving toward the early-Day 3 discussion as a zone a zone-scheme corner at the next level”.
Interior Offensive Linemen
As expected, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson didn’t practice on Thursday after dominating during the first two seasons before suffering an injury on Wednesday. He’s still a name to keep tabs on during the draft process.
Delmar Glaze from Maryland had several impressive reps during the one-on-ones. He stayed within his frame and showed a strong anchor in pass protection. Glaze is currently projected as a fifth-rounder according to NFL Mock Draft Database, but that could change after a strong week.
The other guard to keep an eye out for is UConn’s Christian Haynes as a potential Day 2/third-round pick. He’s a really impressive pass blocker, only surrendering 15 pressures over the last two seasons combined per Pro Football Focus, due in part to his great grip strength. Haynes and Sweat were a fun matchup to watch all week.
Below is a round-up of a few clips from Tuesday’s practices taken from X, formerly known as Twitter.
Bo Nix was able to bounce back today with a good red zone session. Anticipates the corner route on the spot concept for the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/2ZxKlafgfI— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) February 1, 2024
Bo Nix has done a nice job in low RZ work. Decisive with easy zip. pic.twitter.com/vAnbXeFJwY— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) February 1, 2024
Best QB performance at the Senior Bowl hands down. Spencer Rattler has been so comfortable down here this week. Letting it rip. pic.twitter.com/Hp28d5qZie— Kyron Samuels (@kyronsamuels) February 1, 2024
When T'Vondre Sweat's motor runs hot, he's a freight train in the middle. This is against Christian Haynes, who got a couple center snaps during 1-on-1s. pic.twitter.com/MxKiD29VXW— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) February 1, 2024
Maryland OT Delmar Glaze has done a nice job this week.— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) February 1, 2024
Underrated name in a deep tackle class that’s been dominant at both G & T at times. pic.twitter.com/nPSOuyVDTP