Though we unfortunately don’t have boots on the ground in Mobile for this week of Senior Bowl practice, there are plenty of outlets providing updates, highlights and analysis of everything going on in Alabama.
We’re only one day deep into practices for the North and South teams—coached by the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively—but here are some of the biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s practices, along with the rest of the Senior Bowl events thus far.
Get to know Javon Kinlaw
All of the hype around defensive tackles thus far have been around potential third overall pick Derrick Brown. But hot on the Auburn defender’s tail is South Carolina interior defender Javon Kinlaw.
All Kinlaw has done since landing in Mobile is knock the interview process out of the park:
Javon Kinlaw acing this presser.— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) January 21, 2020
Incredible backstory, very personable, a great sense of humor, and a strong purpose.
... hit his benchmarks in the measurement phase:
The tape measure and scale did nothing but boost Javon Kinlaw's draft profile at the Senior Bowl. 6-foot-5, long arms, 315 pounds.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) January 21, 2020
... and dominate one-on-one reps during the first practice:
oh my god, javon kinlaw pic.twitter.com/O5K389DdOd— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 21, 2020
Though he’s not part of the Lions-led North team, DetroitLions.com’s Tim Twentyman took immediate notice of the 315-pound lineman.
“He’s also got the get-off, footwork and quickness of a player much smaller than he is,” Twentyman wrote. “He was a beast in pass-rushing drills vs. the offensive linemen. He’s an impressive player to watch all week.”
Lions practice draws some criticism from media
While many of the Detroit media didn’t think anything of the way the Lions ran the North practice, some of the national media provided their frustrations. The most notable complaint was that the Lions spent a little too much time stretching and conditioning, and not enough of actual football being played.
Here’s just a sample of the criticisms:
Day one of the 2020 Senior Bowl practice is in the books and it was… well it happened. All joking aside, the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff put on the better show with the South squad, while the Detroit Lions stretched their way through a snoozer on the North side. Hopefully the Lions’ staff will pick up the pace now that everybody is nice and loose, but there wasn’t too much to take away from their session.
Personally, I don’t take anything from these complaints. Most of the media is there to scout the players. I understand their frustration with not being able to do that right away, but it’s not the Lions’ job to put these players on display. It’s their job to keep them healthy, prepare them for real NFL practices, and put them in the best position to perform well this Saturday.
From an entertainment standpoint, sure, we’d all love practices that were just one-on-ones or full-team drills, but that’s not how it works in reality and it’s not how the Lions operate. It’s interesting to note that Detroit’s philosophy was noticeably different than Cincinnati’s, but different doesn’t necessarily mean worse here.
Also worth noting: It was just Day 1 of practice.
“Combine install and stretching implemented during Lions practice and it provides important context behind the lack of media-friendly activity on Tuesday.”
New Lions coaches make first impressions
Chris Burke of The Athletic has an enlightening article on the sights and sounds of the Lions’ first practice at the Senior Bowl. Because it’s behind a paywall, I’m not going to copy and paste a lot of his work, but here are a few notable things.
While Burke didn’t have much to say about new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin in his first practice, he did make note of a defensive coach taking on a new role. Lions director of football research, David Corrao, was putting linebackers and defensive backs through a blitzing drill on Tuesday. Detroit is currently without a specified linebackers and DBs coach, so Corrao is picking up some extra work here. Burke notes that Corrao has experience as a defensive coordinator, so it’s not like he’s being put in an awkward position.
In one instance, Corrao saw his input immediately impact Michigan edge defender Josh Uche. Burke explains:
After one unsuccessful rep, Corrao pulls him aside for a brief conservation. Uche lines up again and gets stymied; he returns to talk to Corrao. Right before the end of the segment, Uche flips to the other side and wins a rep, working around the pocket and then swatting down on the QB’s arm.
As for new special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs, it sounds like fans can expect a vocal, energetic presence on the practice field.
“Coombs promised that he’d bring a little juice to the special-teams coordinator role,” Burke wrote. “If this is a preview, he wasn’t lying. His is the only voice carrying from the field to the stands as the Lions put their North roster through a round of positional work.”
Here’s a little video of Coombs coaching up the North team:
Kerry Coombs’ son, Brayden, among the coaches leading drills at Senior Bowl practice. Brayden Coombs just became the special teams coordinator for the Detroit Lions, who are coaching the North team; the Cincinnati Bengals, his previous employer, are coaching the South team. pic.twitter.com/lx0bAv9yms— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 21, 2020
North team could have an edge rusher the Lions are interested in
While the player observations remain shallow after a light day of practice, one guy who seemed to be a consensus standout among the North team was North Carolina defensive end Jason Strowbridge.
All I could think of standing next to Bill Belichick on the sideline on Tuesday while watching Strowbridge was Deatrich Wise. The former Tar Heel looks like a Patriots pass rusher. Wise went to the Pats in the fourth round in 2017. A lot of times you’ll see guys with traits who are kind of raw go in that round, and Strowbridge might fit that mold. He’s tough. He’s physical. And he helped himself on Tuesday.”
“Patriots pass rusher,” you say? Hmmmmm...
Strowbridge was awesome during practice on the first day. He displays a very aggressive style, and he brings a non-stop, hair-on-fire approach, which makes blocking him a tough task. Strowbridge won outside, inside, and with power today. He was one of the day’s big winners.
The 6-foot-4, 267 pound lineman could really play anywhere from 3-tech to Jack linebacker in Detroit, but is most comfortable the closer he is to the center. As a Day 2 or 3 prospect, expect the Lions to give him a good look this week.