MOBILE, Ala. -- We're only one day into the Senior Bowl at Mobile, Ala., but already a handful of prospects have made a positive impression, whereas a few who entered with something to prove got their week off to a slow start.
Here's a short list of players who impressed on Day 1, and a few who disappointed.
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Mannion suffered through a disappointing senior season, but scouts still view him as a quarterback prospect with intriguing potential. The 6-5, 227-pounder is one of the few pocket passers in the 2015 class with experience directing a pro-style offense; the experience directing Mike Riley's version of the West Coast offense served him well on the first day of practice at the Reese's Senior Bowl. Mannion looked comfortable executing three- and five-step drops from under center and efficiently worked through his progressions at the top of his drops. Although he misfired on a few throws in drills, he certainly possesses enough arm strength to make all of the requisite throws at the next level. Given the lack of elite passers in the 2015 draft, Mannion could work his way up the charts with a strong finish to the practice week.
Lockett and Crowder could carve out key roles in the NFL as dynamic return specialist/slot receivers. Each displays the speed, quickness and burst that coaches covet as multi-purpose playmakers, yet they have the potential to run routes and make contributions as WR3's early in their careers. Watching Lockett run routes at the South practice, I was impressed with his stop-start quickness and burst getting out of his breaks. He has a knack for setting defenders up with a little wiggle at the top of routes, and his strong hands stood out when he plucked the ball effortlessly out of the air in drills.
Crowder was equally impressive at the North practice, displaying explosive short-area quickness out of breaks. He is a natural route runner with the patience and awareness to find soft spots in zone and also displays the instincts to run away from defenders in man coverage. With Crowder also exhibiting exceptional quickness with the ball in his hands, it is easy to see him making an immediate impact at the next level as a "two-phase" weapon.
Golson lacks the ideal size to be a frontline starter as a pro, but DB coaches are quickly falling in love with the possibility of him filling a role as a nickel corner. The 5-10, 176-pounder displayed impressive footwork and short-area quickness in coverage, while also exhibiting outstanding instincts and awareness in coverage. He repeatedly made bang-bang plays on the ball in one-on-one and team drills, showcasing the playmaking skills that made him one of the top cover corners in the SEC. Although his slender frame could make him a liability against big-bodied receivers in the NFL, Golson's explosiveness and natural ball skills make him a hot commodity as a sub-defender.
Sims was pegged as a game manager with limited pro potential during his run as the Crimson Tide starter, and his performance at the South practice probably did little to change that opinion. Sims struggled completing intermediate and vertical throws in team drills. He failed to put enough velocity and zip on his throws into tight windows, leading to a number of deflections from defenders closing quickly to receivers on the perimeter. Additionally, Sims seemingly struggled with the quarterback-center exchange in drills, leading to questions about his ability to direct the offense on Day 1. Although most quarterbacks experience their fair share of struggles at the Senior Bowl, Sims' slow start could make it hard for some evaluators to view him as anything more than a developmental prospect at the next level.
Montgomery has all of the physical tools to develop into a quality receiver at the next level, but he must exhibit better focus, concentration and toughness to excel as a pro. Montgomery seemingly struggled adjusting to the stringent demands of the Titans' coaching staff, and his inability to turn his game up a notch when challenged will lead to questions about his mental toughness. Of course, that perception could change if Montgomery brings his A game the rest of the week, but the Cardinal standout must show evaluators that he has the game to match his impressive physical gifts.
Golden is a hard-working edge defender with an impressive motor, but I don't know if that is going to be good enough for him to carve out a role as a pass rusher at the next level. Golden looked a bit mechanical in his pass-rush attempts and doesn't have the explosive pop to overwhelm blockers with bull-rush maneuvers. While I like his effort and believe he could carve out a niche in the NFL if he hones his skills as a special-teams standout, Golden will need to put more tools in his toolbox to be a quality rusher as a pro.