January 23, 2013 2013 Senior Bowl - Wednesday North Practice
Shane P. Hallam
President, Draft Countdown
Draft Analyst, Draft Countdown
Throughout the week the North practices have been considerably more active, eventful and well-paced than their South counterparts and that was the case again today. Most of the scouts, coaches and decision makers would be heading out of town before the North takes the field again so this would be the players final chance to make an impression and a number of them took full advantage.
• Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher continued to dominate. Fisher makes it look easy and could start on the blindside in an NFL game tomorrow. Fisher is now the favorite to be the first player from the 2013 Senior Bowl to come off the board on Draft Day and based on his performance in Mobile it wouldnít be hard to make a case for the Top 10 overall.
• North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams is extremely quick and really fires off the ball. Williams consistently got the best of his opponent in one-on-oneís today and showed why many feel he will be a first round pick in April.
• Texas WR Marquise Goodwin continues to impress. Goodwinís rare speed and burst has been well-documented and he certainly eats up the turf in a hurry but the guy is also a pretty good wideout. Not only did Goodwin separate with ease for two deep balls on nine routes but he also layed out for a couple of outstanding catches.
• Missouri Southern DT Brandon Williams is quick, has nimble feet and moves surprising well for a 341 pounder. Williams fared well in the one-on-oneís, even showing off a spin move at one point. With all that said, the thing that impressed me most about Williams was his motor. After his reps Williams would literally sprint to get back in line and the fact that he is putting forth that type of effort on something that would ordinarily be innocuous really speaks volumes.
• Illinois DE Michael Buchanan had a curious day. Despite being a fantastic athlete with great speed and burst Buchanan continually utilized a bull rush in the one-on-oneís rather than just trying to run right past his opponent. Buchanan had a disappointing senior season and has failed to stand out this week which could lead to the dreaded ďUnderachieverĒ label. Personally, I am still on the bandwagon but then again I am a sucker for long, rangy pass rushers.
• Syracuse OT Justin Pugh has short arms, is not very powerful or stout at the point of attack and doesnít get much push as a run blocker. However, if Pugh lands with a team that runs a zone blocking scheme that utilized his quickness and athleticism like most expect those deficiencies will be masked to a degree.
• UCLA DE Datone Jones has at the very least solidified his status as a second or third round pick this week and has probably moved up most draft boards. An impressive physical specimen who profiles as either a left defensive end in an odd front or a five-technique in an odd front, Jones won his one-on-one battles by utilizing an array of different methods including a spin move and edge rush.
• Texas DE Alex Okafor primarily used a bull rush in his one-on-one matchups limited success today but when he finally did mix it up with some speed off the edge it was a different story. Wonder why he didnít do it more often?
• North Carolina St. QB Mike Glennon was already having a great week in Mobile but today was his best performance yet. Glennon really excelled going down the field deep, connecting on a number of long passes to multiple targets. Now Glennon had a bad moment or two as well but if there were any doubts about who the most impressive quarterback in this game was Glennon put them to rest today.
• West Virginia C Joe Madsen held his own against the Northís extremely talented group interior linemen in the one-on-oneís, proving to be stout at the point of attack.
• Purdue DT Kawann Shortís performance left something to be desired today, especially in the one-on-oneís. Short struggled to get off blocks and really didnít make much of an impact. On a positive note Short does move better than expected and you canít help but be impressed with his thick lower body.
• S.M.U. DE Margus Hunt really didnít flash and the only notable part of his performance was a lackluster spin move that looks like it is taking place in slow motion. There is no question that Huntís sheer size is eye-popping and long-term upside tantalizing but at this point the guy just isnít a great football player. Hunt may get over-drafted based on his workout numbers but make no mistake about it he is a project with considerable potential.
• Dave Quessenberry of San Jose St. was a tackle in college, is being projected to guard by many and was also getting some reps at center today. As they say, the more you can do the better and that is the definition of versatility. Quessenberry had good and bad moments on Wednesday but overall has probably helped himself this week.
• North Carolina ILB Kevin Reddick has a thick frame but looked sluggish. The same goes for Rutgers ILB Steve Beauharnais. Now both Reddick and Beauharnais are decent players but neither possesses any dynamic qualities.
• Notre Dame C Braxston Cave was disappointing and an inability to anchor at the point of attack was evident in the one-on-oneís. Cave doesnít look like anything more than a late round pick.
• Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib had what may have been his worst performance of the week so far but he's still been better than every signal caller in Mobile this week with the exception of Mike Glennon of NC St. and perhaps Tyler Wilson of Arkansas.
• Harding OLB Ty Powell is emerging as one of the most fascinating small school prospects in this class. A junior college transfer who played defensive back in 2011, defensive end in 2012 and is now making the transition to outside linebacker, Powell fit in and looked right at home in his new role. An explosive athlete with a terrific burst, Powell could fly up draft boards in the coming months.
• Elon WR Aaron Mellette played pretty well. Caught an excellent 9-route ball beating Dwayne Gratz from Mike Glennon. Showcased nice feet on an in route where he gained separation. Got physical with Trufant on a rep and held his own
• Michigan WR Denard Robinson struggled to adjust to his new position once again. He had 2 drops in the first ten minutes of reps. Was starting to recognize hand usage against Jordan Poyer but seemed fairly sloppy trying to get away from defenders. Fumbled a kickoff return
• Kansas State WR Chris Harper had an excellent day of practice. Showcased his ability to extend his arms and expand his catch radius in drills. Was a bit sloppy in the stop and go drill, but made up for it on a battle with Phillip Thomas where Thomas was right on him but Harper made a great leaping catch near the sideline. Good physical talent
• Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton had to adjust to a ton of balls thrown to him today but did it effectively. May have had the best catch of the day adjusting to a ground ball thrown by Ryan Nassib and catching it. Got the best of Desmond Trufant on a drill but ball was poorly thrown
• Syracuse WR Alec Lemon was a late addition but showcased soft hands. Did not get much separation or explosion off the line though
• Marshall WR Aaron Dobson continued to showcase his long arms to clutch balls above his head. Beat TJ McDonald on a 9 route thrown by Mike Glennon for a touchdown as well. Solid day
• UCLA RB Jonathan Franklin looked excellent again today. Surprisingly shift for a player his size and was evading defenders in the 11-on-11s. When he catches passes, he drops his pad level immediately before contact and drives his feet. Actually showed pass block ability as well in Backs on Backers
• Oregon RB Kenjon Barner was very patient even when running outside. Showed soft hands and nice balance when being hit from the side. In 11-on-11s, he hit his 2nd gear on a swing route, bobbled the ball but ultimately caught it. Took Kick returns as well. Struggled up the middle in 11-on-11s, when a hand got on him he wasnít moving anymore
• Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse got blown up in the Backs vs. Backers drill but came back with some feisty attitude. Gets lost when running the ball, but it allowed him to pick up some sneaky yards. Didnít stand out as overly fast or athletic for his size and just didnít seem equal to the competition
• Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk struggled in the Backs on Backers drills and did not effectively power block. When he was on the move, he did okay in that area. Showed soft hands in space. Profiles as more of an H-Back
• Western Kentucky TE Jack Doyle showed some good ball tracking skills catching a pass in tight space and turning it up field. Didnít use his hands very effectively as a blocker in 11-on-11 drills and struggled with leverage
• Colorado TE Nick Kasa turned around his practice after an early wide open drop. Showed toughness in the blocking game and showcased his athleticism on a vertical route. Used long strides to get up field quickly. Seemed to have huge upside and improved throughout the practice
• San Jose State TE Ryan Otten looked slow and sluggish for a lot of practice drills. He turned it on a bit more in 7-on-7s utilized a double move to get himself open. Seemed to show some blocking upside in 11-on-11s too
• Florida International S Johnathan Cyprien had a great practice. Looked fast in the drills. He kept his hips low and was extremely lean moving around the bags. Made a nice leaping grab in catching drills. Seemed to also play midfield well on 11-on-11s and could turn and run
• Connecticut CB Dwayne Gratz had a poor practice today. He was beat numerous times over the top on 9 routes and other than one diving pass defense, Gratz was struggling to keep up
• Boise State CB Jamar Taylor was smooth and physical throughout the practice. He used his hands effectively in press coverage and stuck with his man almost every rep. Seems like he can cover starters
• Utah State CB Will Davis had a solid day. The highlight was breaking up a pass to Denard Robinson who he would not let separate. There were times he got caught flatfooted, but Davis was pretty physical
• USC Safety TJ McDonald did not separate himself from the safety pack today. He was often slow to make decisions in the 11-on-11s when covering and didnít seem to affect the plays very much
• Oregon State CB Jordan Poyer showcased his natural ability playing very tight 1-on-1 with WRs Denard Robinson and Aaron Dobson. Didnít showcase great closing speed in the 11-on-11s but his talent is evident
• Connecticut CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson had a solid day of practice and looked very physical at the line of scrimmage. Almost intercepted an underthrow by Mike Glennon at one point. Forced WRs off their routes during 1-on-1s
• Fresno State S Phillip Thomas showed some sloppy footwork in early drills. Was beat up the field a few times, but seemed to command the middle of tbe field better when running Cover 2 in the 11-on-11s
For the most part this practice was just more of the same, with the guys who have been standing out all week continuing to impress. With the most important sessions now in the book the bulk of the heavy lifting is done and all that's left is a light special teams day, the walk-through and of course the game.
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