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Senior Bowl, Day 1: Tre’Davious White Soars, Desmond King Slips

The first day of Senior Bowl practices began under clear skies and a strong wind. Which NFL Draft prospects stood out at defensive back?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-North Practice
North squad wide receiver Trent Taylor of Louisiana Tech (5) runs around a blocking dummy during practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Credit: Glenn Andrews
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Practices for the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl kicked off this Tuesday and did not disappoint. Both squads played with energy and showed off a great spirit of competition. Thanks to the New Orleans Saints losing their entire opening day cornerback depth chart to injuries in 2016, this position group is a great place to begin my review of the first day’s practices.

South Team Cornerbacks

  • LSU’s Tre’Davious White entered the Senior Bowl week with a fair share of hype and so far he’s living up to the billing. During the first team period of South Team practice, White easily baited Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs into throwing an interception by hanging back about half a yard from the receiver. White anticipated the ball’s path and jumped the route, then showed the ball skills to pick it off for the first turnover of the week.

One area that White can improve is defending out and hook routes. His preference to cede a little breathing room to receivers can pay dividends like on that interception, but it can also let crafty route-runners like North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer exploit that space and make easy catches outside White’s reach. This was something I picked up on from White’s college tape, so hopefully he can get a handle on it throughout the week now that he’s working with NFL coaches.

  • Damontae Kazee from San Diego State has been mentioned as a sleeper around #SaintsTwitter, but his first day of practice reps was a mixed bag. Kazee has a bad habit of not turning his head when defending deep routes. He trusts his eyes to tell him how the receiver is tracking the ball so he can make a play to contest the catch, but in the NFL that will lead to penalties. It also led to a pair of touchdowns allowed to Western Kentucky wideout Taywan Taylor and Grambling receiver Chad Williams.

North Team Cornerbacks

  • I’ve been a big fan of Iowa cornerback Desmond King throughout this process and came into Senior Bowl week with high hopes for him. Those hopes were immediately shattered along with King’s ankles by some nice double moves from receivers like Michigan’s Amara Darboh and Louisiana Tech’s Trent Taylor.

Insulated by Iowa’s zone-heavy scheme against the threat of fleet-footed wideouts, King looked mismatched during the first North Team practice. He doesn’t have the raw speed to go downfield with these guys and was abused by refined route-running. I hope he tapes his ankles well for the second day of practice.

  • On the other hand, Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis had a strong day of practice. Lewis looks better-equipped to match up with quick opponents and consistently ran tighter coverages than the other North Team cornerbacks. He competed for most of his catches and only seemed to struggle when charged with covering someone for almost six seconds. That’s a nearly impossible task that won’t happen often in real game situations.