January 24, 2013 2013 Senior Bowl - Thursday North Practice
President, Draft Countdown
Todayís practice was supposed to be primarily a special teams session but the North squad actually did a lot more than expected. Needless to say it was a pleasant surprise! In fact, it may have been one of the most enjoyable practices of the entire week. There was a sparse crowd at Fairhope Municipal Stadium which made for a laidback atmosphere. Most of the NFL personnel had already left town as well, except of course for Packers GM and noted grinder Ted Thompson who always seems to be the first to arrive and last to leave. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was also in attendance, no doubt overseeing his Oakland coaching staff and taking full advantage of the opportunity to evaluate all of the prospects up close and personal. The weather couldn't have been any better, with the sun and warmth soaking the field, and a number of prospects made one last case for themselves before the actual game.
• Marshall WR Aaron Dobson had an up and down day. On the positive side Dobson was targeted frequently in the 11-on-11ís and made a number of catches. Dobson also did a nice job of extending to snag a ball above his head. However, on the downside Dobson dropped a number of balls in the drills and team activities.
• Texas WR Marquise Goodwin just continues to make big plays and today he caught another deep ball in 11-on-11ís that was essentially a touchdown. It makes you wonder why this playmaker was so underutilized during his college career.
• S.M.U. DE Margus Hunt has been a disappointment after generating a lot of hype heading into the week due to his rare size and intriguing upside. However, it looks like Hunt is a better physical specimen than football player at this point. Thatís not to say Hunt canít develop into a good player at the next level, but he is clearly a project. Hunt was put through linebacker drills today with the other potential hybrid pass rushers and didnít fare well. In fact, it looked like Hunt was the worst of the four man group. Hunt looked stiff and awkward in space and his hands left something to be desired. Hunt is a raw ball of clay who could conceivably project to more than one position but outside linebacker didnít appear to be one of them.
• UCLA DE Datone Jones is expected to be either a base end or five technique in the NFL but I was surprised by how well he performed in the linebacker drills. Now Jones wasnít the best of the group but he was far from the worst and did a solid job overall, especially for a guy who is 280 pounds. I doubt Jones will ever be a full-time linebacker at the next level but it may not be as absurd of an idea as once thought.
• Ty Powell of Harding, Sio Moore of Connecticut and Travis Johnson of San Jose St. are all playing linebacker at the Senior Bowl this week but they ran through the drills with the potential conversions, setting the tone and showing their teammates how it was done. As anticipated each looked relatively comfortable.
• Illinois DE Michael Buchanan looked very smooth and fluid in the linebacker drills. An outstanding athlete with a long, rangy frame and excellent speed, Buchanan could very easily make a living rushing off the edge in the pros just like his former Illini teammate Whitney Mercilus is doing with the Houston Texans.
• Texas DE Alex Okafor didn't look great in the linebacker drills but wasn't awful either. In my opinion it would be a stretch to use Okafor standing up, especially on a consistent basis. However, I said the same thing about another former Longhorn Sam Acho and he has proven capable of doing it with the Arizona Cardinals. Even so I'll be surprised if Okafor is anything other than a defensive end in an even front.
• Washington CB Desmond Trufant has undoubtedly been one of the stars of the week and came away with another interception today. Trufant has made himself a lot of money in Mobile and should now be in the first round conversation. I know I'll be moving Trufant up in my rankings to the #3 slot in the cornerback rankings and Johnthan Banks of Mississippi St. should be looking over his shoulder.
• I am going to go out on a limb and predict that North Carolina ILB Kevin Reddick will be selected by Oakland in April. Today Reddick was very vocal and a leader on the field, calling out instructions and helping to get his teammates lined up properly. Reddick seems like the type of guy that Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen said the organization is looking at the press conference the other night, which is someone who loves the game of football, is willing to work hard and will put the team first.
• Syracuse OT Justin Pugh looked awfully svelte without a full compliment of pads. While Pugh may lack the ideal bulk and strength that you look for he could excel in a zone blocking scheme that accentuates his impressive athleticism. Pugh has also earned high marks from scouts this week for his maturity and elite intangibles.
What was expected to essentially be a lost day actually wound up being chock full of action. Now it wasnít a full pad practice so there wasnít much to glean from either the offensive or defensive linemen. With that said getting to see those defensive ends perform linebacker drills was easily one of the highlights of the week. Now all that is left is the walk-through on Friday and of course the big game itself on Saturday.
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