Once again not too shabby on the weather front considering it’s January in Mobile. Cloudy and mild, with more wind than Tuesday. But the rain held out for both team practices. My Draftnik companions wanted to talk QB among other topics.
So we tried to reach a consensus on the QB rank and failed miserably. So let me give you my rankings based on college career, weigh-in numbers and two days of practice here. I am more than a it surprised at my list:
1) NATHAN PETERMAN/Pitt THis player was not much more than a body a few years back when he transferred from Tennessee to PITT. But with him at the controls PITT developed into one of the most prolific scoring machines in college football. And given tools to work with I have seem how far he has come already this week. I think he has a high FBI and now plays a very cerebral game at QB. His arm and mechanics look much better than two years ago. And I have a hunch working with a QB guru for the next few months will only add to the equation. I don’t see him as a First Rounder, but he could indeed go Top 100, first 3 Rounds. He may star in the actual game this Saturday.
2) SEFO LIUFAU/COLORADO This guy seems slow in making his decisions sometimes. His delivery overall is far from speedy as well. But he has that it factor. Throwing accuracy is erratic and he forces the ball into traffic at times. But he makes things happen both with his legs and arm. he reminds me of a bigger, modern version of JOE KAPP, who was one of the toughest QB I ever saw and nothing more than a winner. SEFO has at times run himself into injuries and that will be a major concern. He has big hands and big bones.
3) DAVIS WEBB/CAL The tall guy played musical chairs with picking a new program for 2016, and pissed a lot of people off. But he came in and led a team that lost GOFF and others, and made them respectable with his version of the Sonny GIBBS run-and-shoot O. Overall, I feel his accuracy is very good, despite cries from several of my Draftnik friends. He is well spoken and claims to luv the game of football.
4) JOSHUA DOBBS/TENNESSEE Ask me again tomorrow and DOBBS probably ends up with a different rank. he is a great leader and a very smart kid. He has nice size. But even down here he will wow you for 3-4 plays and then do something that makes you grimace on the next down. I wouldn’t draft him early but I’d luv to have him to work with on my roster.
I need to see more of PIPKIN and BEATHARD, but I think they rank in a tie for 5th right now. Ain’t no CARSON WENTZ down here this year folks.
BRENDAN LANGLEY/CB/Lamar is a smooth athlete, with almost ideal size for the Corner at 6’0/199 lbs. He looked marvelous today during drill work, looking smooth and fast in his back pedal technique. He also looks to have the loose hips to make the turn on the ball. He gets burned at times, but i think a great deal of that stems from covering receivers with a lot more speed and size than he is used to. He could star in the game Saturday.
I spent more time watching COOPER KUPP today and continue to like what I see. I saw him drop one ball today, primarily because he initially broke the wrong way on the throw. He has nice, reliable hands overall. He also looks natural fielding punts and he may get that job on game day. He also showed his willingness to catch in traffic on several occasions today.
An under appreciated athlete is getting more and more attention as the days go by here. He plays S, but looked like a slightly thin LB at the weigh-in. He shows some cover skills, but most of all he reads the offense and gets to the ball in a hurry. His name is OBI MELIFONWU/S #20 . He amassed a ton of tackles and INT while at UCONN, but his team was scoring challenged and lost a lot of games, thus causing him to fly under the prospect radar so to speak. Secrets out here folks that he’s the real thing.
JALEEL JOHNSON/DT/IOwA, continues to dominate if 1-on-1 pass pr with a combination of strength, quickness off the ball and great hand usage to push blockers aside while he rubs off them and into the backfield. OL seem to be having a big problem getting their hands into his chest plate. I looks to me like he blockers are starting to hold him in desperation.
FCS star DEREK RIVERS is having an interesting time here this week. He’s technically being counted on to convert to OLB, but is seeing reps at DE in the pass rush drills. He is indeed to slight to play full time at the pro level with his hand down at 6’4/250, but if he can split time between de & OLB, and get moved around ala “Where’s Waldo” to confuse blockers he could make a valuable weapon in today’s NFL. He just has a knack, with speed & spin moves, of getting into the pocket. I wold also add that he is very active and strong in his hand use from what I have seen in 1-on-1 work.
Like RIVERS, another guy getting moved around a lot to take advantage of his pass rush ability is ex-Badger VINCE BIEGEL. I think I see BIEGEL being way ahead of RIVERS in his OLB play. He and TJ WATT combined as one of the best pass-rushing OLB in the nation last season. He comes from a long line of wrestlers and football players in his family tree. He’s a smart kid, as I listened into him answering some questions after practice today with some FALCONS reps. He was in such demand I have yet to visit with him and present him with a bag of Pigskin Paul M&M’s. Sorry about that Cuppie.
TONY GONZALEZ was pounding the football into the wind on FG attempts this afternoon. He finally missed on his second attempt from 53-yards out. Quite an impressive display from the good sized guy (6’0/201). The wind was gusting today and right into his face and his kicks.
After clearing out equipment and resetting the stage, it was the South’s turn to practice at 3PM with clouds moving in and he wind gusting even harder. But we did escape the day without rain which hopefully will hit tonight and clear off for the afternoon practices.
It appears that the South players are dropping like flies. Five players were not present today because of injury, and the fact that 5 new players are here or on their way as replacements tells me that any talk of being ready for game day is mostly cheap bar talk for the injured. Hey are FORREST LAMP/OL, NICO SIRAGUSA/OG, ISAAC SIATA/OG, JOSH CARAWAY/E/LB & RUDY FORD/S. I’ll key in the replacements tomorrow when I am sure they are here. Anybody feeling capable of playing, especially along the OL, might want t send a resume and phone number to the Senior Bowl offices, just in case.
A fascinating player, who is an excellent athlete and smart player, is LB ALEX ANZALONE of Florida. This nice sized athlete is having a good week here, but his career has been marred by injury. He missed the second half of the 2016 season with a broken bone in his arm. He’s practicing at MLB and is making a lot of plays. He also shows the ability to drop into pass coverage. He’s channeling his inner CLAY MATTHEWS, with long blonde locks flowing from his helmet. The medical component of the NFL Combine is going to be a major deal for ANZALONE.
I spoke yesterday about what a load STEVIE TU’IKOLOVATU has been for the North. Today I am going to tell you that EDDIE VANDERDOES/UCLA is his counterpart on the South. He’s not quite as big on the scales, but his body is massive and blockers are finding it very hard to stop him from getting to wherever he wants to go. He’s 6’3/320 with a baby face and seems to be fully recovered from a knee injury in 2015. I watched him all season and you could see the recovery from the injury progress late in the year. I am surprised with both he and STEVIE laying in SoCal that there weren’t a few earthquakes in the region last fall.
I’ve had my eyes on DAMONTAE KAZEE/CB/San Diego State the last two days and this young man is making his mark. He shows good ball skills and is a very willing and reliable tackler for his size, at 5’10/183#. He broke up several balls in drill work today and frustrated a couple receivers who could not avoid his tackles out in space. He had a nose for the ball as an Aztec. Don’t bet against him picking off a throw come Saturday. He may make a very solid Nickel CB for the NFL.
Just as a little side note here, I would add that CAM SUTTON/CB/TENNESSEE did some very nice work in drills and in coverage later in practice today. If I were to name starting Corners for the South right now KAZEE and SUTTON would be my guys based on their overall work in practice.
To put a little extra shine on the kicking work of GONZALEZ in the earlier practice, we’ll just say that JAKE ELLIOTT, who looked just fine yesterday, really struggled against the winds this afternoon, missing more kicks than he converted.
From Mobile, I will say good night and be back tomorrow covering more football at Senior Bowl Week.