by Pigskin Paul Guillemette,
of Paul's Pigskin Place and
GBN Special Scout with contributions
from Colin Lindsay, GBN Editor and Publisher
It has become an annual tradition (10 years) for Pigskin Paul
to post an end of the week All-Practice squad at the Senior Bowl. In
answer to several readers who contacted me, Who am I to break with
QB DEREK CARR
RB CHARLES SIMS
FB JAY PROSCH
WR JARRED ABBREDERIS
WR JORDAN MATTHEWS
TE C.J. FIEDOROWICZ
T ZACK MARTIN
T BRANDON THOMAS
G GABE JACKSON
G MICHAEL SCHOFIELD
C TYLER LARSEN
DE DEE FORD
DE CHRIS SMITH
DT DAQUAN JONES
DT AARON DONALD
MLB CHRIS BORLAND
OLB KYLE VAN NOY
OLB CHRISTIAN JONES
CB CHRIS DAVIS
CB STAN JEAN-BAPTISTE
S KENNY LADLER
S JEREA THOMAS
Note I did not consider
players who joined the practices later in the week (like CROCKETT
GILMORE) feeling even 3 ½ days worth of practice was little
enough time to make judgments on many players of pretty much equal
ability. I am also practicing just a bit of literary license to move
CHRISTIAN JONES from MLB to OLB.
GUYS WHO PLEASANTLY SURPRISED ME
ZACK MARTIN/OT/NOTRE DAME
JERICK McKINNON/RB/GA SOUTHERN
GUYS WHO DISAPPOINTED ME
JEFF JANIS/WR/SAGINAW VALLEY
TELVIN SMITH/LB/DLORIDA STATE
WILL SUTTON/DT/ARIZONA STATE
BILLY TURNER/OT/N. DAKOTA STATE
WEDNESDAY MORNING: NORTH PRACTICE
Wednesday is usually the heaviest practice day of the week as
it generally features the most hitting and activity of the week. There
will be no pads for the rest of the week until game day. It’s time for
coaching staffs to get their players into game mode and establish team
goals and objectives.
Cold but sunny and very little wind greeted us at Ladd-Peebles Stadium
this morning. Coffee and hot chocolate were pouring out of the
Watched DOUG PEDERSEN/TE/Wisconsin again today and it certainly looks
like the FALCONS are trying to get a solid read on his all-around
ability. He’s flip flopping in practice between an H-B slot and an
inline TE position. The kid continues to hold up in pass protection
drills from either spot and he’s making some nice catches, with good
after catch run yardage. Answering a question about his TE group at the
presser tonight HC MIKE SMITH was lukewarm in his answer. So is he
really unimpressed, or is he attempting a poker bluff because his team
really needs a pass catching TE to replace TONY GONZALEZ, now really
I think we are watching the two best all-around guys at the S position
in this practice. DEONE BUCANNON/Washington Sate may be the smoothest,
most polished S in the game. He’s a true center fielder who can play in
the box as required. He can have problems running with faster
receivers, thereby losing rack of the ball in the air. He was just a
tick late on several occasions getting his hand up as the ball zipped
in on deep throws.
DEZMAN SOUTHWARD of Wisconsin is athletic enough that the coaches are
giving him some reps on the Corner. And he is holding his own out
there. But he really shines back at S. He moves around to help cover
the slot and finds the ball readily in pursuit to help. He’s going to
be a work in progress, but should make a very nice early Saturday Draft
Another S, Baylor’s AHMAD DIXON shows flashes and really likes to
deliver the big heat. But I just get the sense that he tries to play
that intimidator role a bit too much. At just under 6’ tall and 205
lbs. he’s likely to get hurt trying to be the tough guy.
CHRIS BORLAND was explosive again today in 1-on-11 and in drill work.
He had another INT in the short middle of he field and ran circles
around some blockers.
DAQUAN JONES/DT/Penn State uses his 323 lb. frame and a quick burst to
just rumble past blockers in a regular basis. He clogs up the middle of
the line of scrimmage and can penetrate into the pocket with
regularity. He looks to be an ideal player for a team looking for that
jumbo 3-technique in a 4-3 defensive scheme. He’s not the flash player
that HAGEMAN is, but he shows something on just about every play. He
will be a coach’s favorite with his work ethic.
There was some strong buzz the past few weeks when people envisioned a
220-plus pound CB coming to town in the form of STAN JEAN-BAPTISTE from
Nebraska. He actually checked in at 6-2 3/8” and a rocks olid 215
pounds. That is still a great size, ala the recently retired NNAMDI
ASOMUGHA. After eyeballing JEAN-BAPTISTE in drills and 11-on-11, I
think eh has some solid similarities to NNAMDI. He is not a ball hawk,
and won’t pile up big interception numbers, but he’s good at staying
with receivers and deflecting balls away. His 32 3/8”arms certainly
help him out in that department. During 11-on-11 he jumped high to
break up a potential TD pass to Jared Abbrederis. This player may post
some impressive numbers at the combine, and if he does his Draft stock
could be rising significantly. Mark him down as a riser right now.
PIERRE DESIR/CB/Lindenwood (MO) looks like a much more aggressive,
confident defender this week than he did last week at the Shrine venue.
That would make sense for a small school kid who got a taste of big
time competition and survived in St. Pete. Combine that confidence with
some NFL level coaching and he may be poised to make his mark this
weekend and set the stage for a combine appearance in Feb.
One of the biggest surprises for me among the offensive line here has
been MICHAEL SCHOFIELD/OT/Michigan. The almost 6’7 tall, 303 pounder
has looked agile, mobile & hostile in a controlled manner. He’s
using his 33 ½” long arms to great advantage keeping defenders
at bay. His technique gets a bit sloppy at times, but not enough to
detract from his overall effectiveness. He keeps his feet well and
moves smoothly. Best of all SCHOFIELD seems to understand the
importance of getting his hands into his opponents’ chest to control
his direction. He’s playing some inside and doing OK despite his
length. Even when defenders get past him they are usually well into the
backfield and past the QB. He’s gained points from me with his practice
performance this week.
Solid, Solid, solid! That’s the best way for me to describe my opinion
of the work of OT/ZACK MARTIN/Notre Dame this week. He may not be
perfect in his movement, but he never seems to get really beaten by a
defender. He is tenacious and fights to and thru the whistle. He’s
effective against bigger guys, and he’s effective against faster guys.
There is concern about his lack of ideal height, at 6’4, as well as his
weight at 305. He also has just average arm length, but 32 ½”
arm length does not scare me. I see no reason he cannot be an effective
OT in the NFL. But I also think he could easily slide inside and be a
starter at OG as well. He displays economy of motion, and I do not see
a glaring flaw in any of his work this week. Solid!
I still am not enamored with the QB group for the North, but I will say
that in my mind TAJH BOYD has moved to the top of the group on the
practice field. Only the FALCONS coaching staff can tell you if he’s
mastered the work in the meeting room. He’d be my choice as starter if
the game were tomorrow. Not that it means a lot, but everyone will be
asking that question over the next two days.
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOOON: SOUTH PRACTICE
The South continues to lose players left and right. The latest
South player to go down is Virginia DE/DT BRENT URBAN, the big Canadian
who has create a little buzz for himself as a potential 3-4 DE,
is out with an ankle injury. Replacements have been airlifted in to the
MASH disaster area as we speak. The team has now lost 5 players since
Monday to injury.
The JAGUARS coaching staff continues their self-professed mission to
mold a team in 6 days. This group’s enthusiasm and energy is
contagious, which is probably a very good thing given the potential for
mental fatigue as teammates head for the hospital daily.
Although South/JAX HC GUS BRADLEY refuses to divulge a name the
consensus amongst the media is that DEREK CARR has seized the lead as
the top QB on he roster. Mark him down as your starter, and put a big
shock face beside it if he’s not starting Saturday.
No offense to anyone else, but the arrival of CROCKETT GILMORE as a TE
replacement has upgraded that position on the South roster. GILMORE had
a solid week in St Pete last week and should be counted as the best
all-around TE in this game. The 6’5 ½’, 253 pounder can block
inline and catch and ramble for YAC. He had several nice catches in
I find MORGAN MOSES/OT/Virginia to be an intriguing prospect. The CAVS
were a poor football team in 2013 so he disappeared from view for many
folks. But he is a massive man, who is a good athlete. He needs some
technique Improvement, but you can’t coach being 6’6, 325 lbs., with 34
¾” arms and a wingspan of over 83”. He relies a bit too much on
those arms to push people when they start to get past him. To some
degree it has been an effective move, but some of those pushes will
draw penalty flags in the NFL. He needs to work on moving his feet more
quickly in his back pedal. He was a strong run blocker at UVA, but he
running game is almost an after thought at All-Star Games. Just as a
side note his shaved head and big beard remind me greatly of Isaac
Hayes, the soul singer and actor. Also referred to as the Black Moses.
For you younger folks, that would be CHEF on South Park.
Florida State LB CHRISTIAN JONES is having a solid week at MLB. But I
still feel his athleticism will play best in then NFL at OLB in a 4-3
scheme. He played both inside and out while in college with solid
results either way. He is thought to have a chance to sneak into Round
One of the DRAFT. He’s solid against the run and is dropping into
KEVIN NORWOOD/WR/Alabama is a smooth athlete and is also showing well
this week. He’s not great at any one thing, but can be counted on to do
his job and make plays. He was the same kind of player at ‘Bama. On an
aborted throwback/WR pass, early in practice, he sailed a nice tight
spiral 25 yards down the field. He has nice size at 6’2, 197, and his
hands measure just over 10”. Watch for him to make a play or two
Saturday in the game.
JAYLEN WATKINS/DB/Florida kept rotating between S and CB for the Gators
over his college career, depending on where they needed help or had the
best depth. He looks to be fast and flexible enough to play CB in the
NFL. He is a “smooth” athlete if you watch him work around the practice
field. His flexibility to play S as needed can only help him, and the
JAX coaching staff are letting him split time here between the
I like the overall athleticism and look of small school CB/WALT AKENS
from Liberty. He has nice size and appears fast. But he did look a bit
slower than the big school CB in his back pedal during agility drills
for the corners this morning.
I also made a quick note while watching he OL blocking drills that
BRYAN MATT STORK.OC/Florida State comports himself like one tough
hombre. He does not give an inch to bigger and/or stronger DL he is
asked to block. He is also an experienced college OL.
I also like the SEC safety combo of CRAIG LOSTON/LSU and KENNY
LADLER/Vanderbilt, who appear to be the potential starters in the game
Saturday. Both have decent size, at over 6’ tall and 200+ lbs. They
both have good range to cover deep and are willing and able to come up
in run support. LOSTON played in 45 career games, and had 7 career INT.
I don’t think LOSTON is very far behind ERIC REID, who patrolled the
LSU secondary last year, in overall talent. LADLER has more starting
experience at Vandy with 50 career starts and a career high 5 INT in
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: SOUTH PRACTICE
The practice started with a MASH report of injured South team
players who are all out for the duration:
Tennessee OT JA’WUAN JONES - knee sprain
Fresno State TE MARCEL JENSEN - abdominal strain
Alabama DE ED STINSON - groin pull
Then half way through the practice Oklahoma CB AARON COLVIN, who had
been having a solid week, went down with what has since been reported
as a torn ACL.
Two new players will be arriving tomorrow for TE and OL help. Colorado
State TE CROCKETT GILMORE, who played in last week‘s Shrine Game, will
replace Jensen, while former Florida OT Matt Patchan, who provided
escort services for 2,000 yard rusher Andre Williams at Boston College
this past season, wll replace Jones at OT.
Meanwhile on the field, the SOUTH QB group continued
to be headed by Fresno State’s DEREK CARR. CARR was praised by
Jaguars’ GUS BRADLEY for his meeting room habits as well as his
on-field throwing. Meanwhile, San Jose State’s DAVID FALES JIMMY
GARAPPOLO of Eastern Illinois, trail behind, but both would likely be
an improvement if moved to the North squad.
I don’t want to keep highlighting the same players every day, but some
of these guys are just tearing it up. Auburn DE/OLB DEE FORD, for
example, is just so fast in his moves and rushes that he’s been
literally unblockable most of the time. He also appears to have
strong/heavy hands, which he uses to stun blockers.
I also continue to be impressed with the work of his teammate CB CHRIS
DAVIS, a solid 5-10, 201-pounder who is very quick and instinctive in
coverage. He did get turned around once by Texas WR MIKE DAVIS (no
relation) and get burned deep, but that was the exception to the rule.
Davis is also an aggressive, feisty guy who uses his body and hands to
crowd receivers much like the Seattle secondary. He really came on as a
senior under GUS MULZAHN’s staff and continues to look the part here
and of course all college football fans are aware of what a dangerous
return man he is.
North Dakota State G/T BILLY TURNER, who really got national pub this
past season, especially after his team’s upset of Kansas State, is
learning about life against a higher level of competition this week.
There were times today in pass blocking drills where he was absolutely
taken to the woodshed by some of his teammates. Some of that came when
they tried him inside at OG for a while, but even back out at OT he was
humbled mightily. But if he accepts the coaching he’s getting and works
even harder he’ll survive this test and be a better player for it. He’s
still a solid prospect, but we now know he’s also going to be a project
for some NFL OL coach next summer.
I still like most of what I see from big Mississippi State OG GABE
JACKSON who is going to need to go to an NFL team that still employs a
power running game, but as I watch this giant work I still think of
CHANCE WARMACK last year. WARMACK showed some warts as we watched more
film of him leading up to the draft. I see the same kind of player in
JACKSON, but even bigger. I also think if JACKSON had played on an OL
with guys like FLUKER & the KUOANDJIO brothers it might have hidden
some of flaws better as well.
The South spend a good deal of time today working on it’s running game,
which is usually an afterthought in an All-Star Game. Their overall
personnel may be better suited to being able to run the ball more than
usual here, but it also might be partly because they have perhaps the
two most explosive runners in the game.
JERICK McKINNON of Georgia State was simply electrifying today. His
quickness, cutting ability, strength and speed were a deadly combo
against what I think is a pretty solid South defense. The powerful
little guy (5’9/209) ran through and around people all afternoon.
Western Kentucky ANTONIO ANDREWS was slightly less dynamic than
McKINNON but is the total package who has quick cut moves, good
acceleration and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
He too was a headache for the South defenders to corral this afternoon.
ANDREWS, along with unheralded Lorenzo Taliaferro of unheralded Coastal
Carolina also had outstanding performances in the pass pro drills, as
the continually stoned blitzing LBs.
Of the other small-school guys in Mobile, Liberty CB WALT AIKENS has
been impressive. He’s another corner with excellent size at 6-1, 205;
plus he’s also a great looking athlete when he runs. His feet are very
quick and he has the agility to turn and cut smoothly. He still commits
some errors in judgment in coverage, but he recovers nicely. He also
looks to be accepting coaching readily.
In one more side note from Monday, SENIOR BOWL Executive Director PHIL
SAVAGE shared with everyone in attendance at the proceedings the list
of healthy players who chose to bypass participating in he Senior Bowl
this year. Here is the list:
DARQUEZE DENNARD/CB/MICHIGAN STATE
JUSTIN GILBERT/CB/OKLAHOMA STATE
CARLOS HYDE/RB/OHIO STATE
LAMARCUS JOYNER/DB/FLORIDA STATE
JAKE MATTHEWS/OT/TEXAS A&M
That’s a lot of talent, a number of who could have helped their draft
grade by coming to Mobile and competing, although the injury to Colvin
is a huge reminder of what the risks of playing in a game like the
Senior Bowl can be.
TUESDAY MORNING: NORTH PRACTICE
The practice begins with some local fan participation this
morning. A local school group has arrived to populate the stands at
Ladd-Peebles Stadium. AS the North team stretches they chant: JIM –MIE
ROCKS, JIM-MIE ROCKS clearly in homage to hometown Mobile native JIMMIE
WARD of Northern Illinois. You can’t miss this PDA.
The pecking order on the North Squad seems obvious when it comes to the
QB position: CARR/FALES/MORRIS in that order. In fact, Miami’s Stephon
MORRIS has been so erratic with so many of his throws it is almost
painful to watch. At the same time, word around Mobile is that Fresno
State’s Derek CARR is also a big hit in the meeting room as well as the
field with the coaching staff, in addition to being the clear top
passer this week.
Wyoming WR ROBERT HERRON may be the fastest player on the field in a
straight line, but he is really struggling catching the ball. At times
he looks like he’s just not ready for the throw and the ball gets on
top of him too quickly. He also looks like he struggles to position his
body and hands to make he catch at times.
Wisconsin TE JACOB PEDERSON is actually seeing duty as both a TE and an
H-B. He’s showing good route running ability and dependable hands. He’s
reminding me a lot of GARRETT GRAHAM, another ex-Badger who now resides
on the roster of the TEXANS. Petersen’s size and skill set may be well
better suited for the H-B role, but he’s going to have to ramp up his
blocking a couple of notches.
One of my favorite drills has the LBs versus the TE/RB group in
individual pass protection. The LB has a decided advantage in this
drill, but the speed and violence of the drill does simulate the real
thing rather well. The LBs win most of the time, which is always the
case. CHRIS BORLAND and ex-teammate JAMES WHITE get matched up on
several occasions. BORLAND just blows past WHITE the first time, but
WHITE makes him look way around the QB on the second encounter. He may
not be terribly effective at the drill, but RB/CHARLES SIMS is pretty
chippy against the LB. Looks like he’s taking the drill
personally. If you can’t be really good at something at least
work hard at it. Best pass block of the day by a back, though, came
when Stanford FB Ryan Hewitt buried Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland who was
coming up the gut in a 7-on-7 passing drill. However, it was the only
time Borland was negated on the day as he again showed great instincts
and range in getting to the ball.
Despite what some folks saw yesterday, Wake Forest WR MIKE CAMPANARO
looked like an absolute natural catching the football today. Everything
thrown his way was a natural, hands extended catch. After a quick tuck
he was headed up field. He also displayed excellent footwork in tapping
down 2 feet for sideline receptions.
Minnesota DT RA’SHEDE HAGEMAN continues to flash the most impressive
skills along the defensive line as he has an impressive combination of
strength and athleticism. He shows a quick first step, which then
enables him to blow past his blocker, and/or just bury him. At his best
he looks like a potential Pro Bowler. However, Hageman will also
disappear for a few reps and you wonder if he’ll ever be more than a
dangerous rotational guy.
Almost the opposite extreme in the DL group is Pittsburgh dynamo AARON
DONALD who exemplifies the phrase: less is more. Donald measured in at
just 6-0, 288 in Monday’s weigh-in, but on the field has been a
scrapper who is a constant blur of motion. He is also strong for his
size and is not easily handled by defenders. He has excellent balance
and stays incredibly low in his rush. He reminds me a bit of an inside
version of ELVIS DUMERVIL. Most big offensive linemen just can’t bend
that low and maintain their balance. I believe that if this guy can
play in a 4-3 scheme with a big 3-technique beside him he can have
Stanford DE TRENT MURPHY is playing down at DE in spite of weighing in
at about 253 lbs. He disclosed at today’s presser that he wants to get
to the COMBINE at 255 lbs., so he can do some work at OLB as well as
DE. He noted that back in 2012 he spent almost 50% of his snaps
standing up. He admitted that the task of pass rushing this week is
daunting for him because so many of the OT are absolutely huge, not
just big. In fact, Murphy doesn’t look like he is ever going to make
much of an impact off a bull rush at the next level, but did flash an
impressive first step off the snap. Indeed, he ended up blowing up a
couple of plays after taking advantage of a misstep by Miami OT
Seantrel Henderson, who has really struggled keeping his pads down this
It seems as though the North secondary coaches have discovered, just as
Wisconsin did, that DEZMEN SOUTHWARD is very athletic and is not purely
a safety. Just as he did with the Badgers this past season SOUTHWARD is
taking some snaps as a CB. He’s also a bright kid, who articulated to
me that his desire is to compete athletically at the highest level and
always challenge himself to do more. Watch this guy in the coming
months. He‘s a SEA HAWKS style of DB.
Rice PK CHRIS BOSWELL came into this game rated as one of, if not the
highest rated PK in the country. His rep says he is accurate and
possesses a strong leg. However, BOSWELL had a tough time today trying
to kick into a NW wind. He missed as many as he made and his kicks
beyond 35 yards seemed to have no power and just died in the wind.
I’m just about ready to proclaim that Utah State C TYLER LARSEN has
already validated his reputation as one of the best at the position in
the country. He’s a big guy who’s plenty strong as well as being
athletic in a short area. He’s also known as a smart player who will
make line calls right away in the NFL. He’s not dominating people, but
he is moving folks around and holding his own with everyone he faces.
Unheralded Colorado State C Weston Richburg also quietly had a strong
day. Richburg struggled at times to anchor when bull-rushed, but did a
nice job moving his feet and staying between his man and the ball.
NFL personnel people were looking for better things from Baylor G/T
Cyril Richardson, one of the top-rated prospects in Mobile this week,
on Tuesday after he struggled on Monday. And while Richardson was
better today, he still ha been a major disappointment to date.
Richardson showed better jump coming off the snap today and was able to
stand several DTs, including Hageman, up after making initial contact,
but too often he allowed his man to slip off and get back into the play
as he just didn’t keep his feet moving and demonstrated little lateral
Interesting day for Notre Dame G/T Zach Martin, who came into Mobile as
one of the fastest risers on the board despite being somewhat
undersized with real short arms for an OT. What Martin has been able to
do this week though is show that he is a fine technician who moves his
feet well and can lock when he makes good initial contact. However,
there were several pass block situations today where Martin wasn’t able
to close down the edge off the snap and appeared to lack the length to
regain the advantage.
Monday weigh-in and Tidbits from both the South and North
Day one is in the books for those of us in the media. The
players were interviewing with NFL teams until 11PM or so last night
Player info from this morning’s weigh-in process have been posted by
most sights since noon so I will spare you the massive repeat of info.
But I would like to highlight some of the numbers. Keep in mind that we
have a total of 110 players in town, with 56 on the South roster, and
54 on the North.
27 of these guys weigh 300 pounds or more.
21 players weight less than 200.
Only 9 players have arms shorter than 30”.
21 players have arms longer then 33”.
6 receivers have hand spreads of over 10”.
2 receivers have hand spreads of under 9”.
The heaviest player in Mobile is Tennessee DT DANIEL McCULLERS at 348.
The lightweight of the bunch is Oklahoma WR JALEN SAUNDERS at 164.
Tallest players are McCULLERS and Miami OT SEANTREL HENDERSON at 6-6
Shortest player here is Florida WR SOLOMAN PATTON at 5’ 8 1/2”.
McCULLERS also has the longest arms @ 35 5/8” and largest wingspan at
Do you think it is safe to say than DANIEL McCULLERS is a giant of a
The hand size of potential QBs is thought by many to be a key number to
consider, particularly for teams in cold weather climes. The SEAHAWKS
have publicly acknowledged on multiple occasions that the fact that
5’10” tall RUSSELL WILSON has hand spread of over 10” was a big factor
in their belief that he could play in the NFL. So based on that, let me
give you QB hand sizes for these seven guys in Mobile.
JIMMY GARAPPOLO 9/0”
AARON MURRAY 9/1”
STEPHEN MORRIS 10/1”
What do all these numbers mean. Based on the current
composition of NFL rosters probably not much. But they do begin to give
you the shape of things as they stand heading into the week.
Afternoon practices were split between the SOUTH @ Fairhope and the
NORTH in Mobile. They ran back to back with no break. So my brief notes
re based upon 2/3 of the South practice and 2/3 of the North session.
While former Vols DT McCULLERS is the giant of the group this year, but
he’s running around with big old knee brace on his left knee. And he
looks stiff and upright a little hesitant to bend and turn on that
knee. He just does not look 100% healthy to me. Give him credit for
toughing this out.
BYU OLB KYLE VAN NOY looks to be the best all-around LB in this game to
me. He has excellent size at 6’3/244. He is also agile and hostile. He
can stop the run, rush the passer and drop into pass coverage without
skipping a beat. He made multiple plays in drills this afternoon.
Expect more of the same all week long.
CHRIS SMITH comes out of Arkansas as a highly decorated, pass-rushing
DE. But he checked in this morning at 6’1”, 266 lbs. You just don’t
find very many DE in the NFL these days that short and lightweight. But
as SMITH showed in drills at practice today he is super quick, has
great balance and pure athleticism to pursue the ball and/or the QB.
Look for the coaches to run him a bit with the LB group this week to
see how he plays standing up.
Auburn DE DEE FORD is a bit like SMITH at 6’2/243. He looks an awful
lot like COREY LEMONIER a 2013 Rookie with the 49’ers. He, I a close
battle with SMITH, was the quickest and most athletic player in DL
drills. But we’ll need to see how he compares with the LB group in my
I was surprised and impressed with Arizona State DT WILL SUTTON once
the contact type drills got going. He is the guy who was a cat quick DT
two years ago at Arizona State, who then added about 20 pounds. to his
frame. He looked out of shape and slower when I saw him in action last
fall. But today he was beating blockers on a regular basis, primarily
with quickness. I’m still think he’d be better losing about 10 lbs. off
his new 315 lb. frame. But I must admit he did not look like a fat guy
to me today.
None of the QB group really stood out to me for the South today. In
fact I was a bit disappointed in the inconsistency of Eastern Illinois
QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO, who was at the Shrine Game last week and should
have looked sharper than his counterparts who haven’t played in a
while. I always say let’s give these guys until Wednesday to learn some
plays and get into the swing of things. So far now…
I felt the pain of Oklahoma G/C GABE IKARD on Monday. He comes off a
full week of practice and game at the Shrine venue as a late addition
to the South squad. His reward was a move to OG today in pass pro
drills. It was a tough go, but giving it the old college try at a new
slot can’t hurt and has a couple more days to show improvement. Good
Fresno State TE MARCEL JENSEN State is an incredible physical specimen
at 6’5, 264 lbs. He’s also the owner of 10 1/8” hands and 34 ¼”
long arms. But on day one the results of his play were mixed. He ran
well and got some separation, but he had trouble on multiple occasions
holding on to throws.
Jumping in the car, my companions and I hustled across the Bay to
Ladd-Peebles Stadium to catch the second half of the NORTH practice.
Wisconsin MLB CHRIS BORLAND only measured in at barely 5-11, but was
impressive in every drill I watched. He found the ball on a regular
basis, and had an interception and a fumble recovery. And the fact that
he only measured in at 5’11 may not hurt him all that much as many
scouts actually expected him to be closer to 5’10. He’s still a tad
shorter than the NFL norm, but with his instincts and hard work he
could find the success as a pro of guys like ZACH THOMAS and/or LONDON
I was disappointed in the poor throwing mechanics and lack of accuracy
from Clemson QB TAJH BOYD on Monday. He has a tendency to drop down and
just sling the ball at times. And as a result he missed several
relatively open receivers. He’s a team leader and has a strong arm when
he throws with proper mechanics, but he looks to me like a guy who is
going to need patience and a guru QB coach to succeed at the next level.
Same story for Virginia Tech QB LOGAN THOMAS who was his frustratingly
erratic self this afternoon. He’ll make a couple of really nice throws,
followed by a play where you wonder if he sees the field very well at
all. He’s still a big, talented TE trying to learn to play QB in my
opinion. He’s not made much progress overall as a QB the past two
seasons. The question may become whether, and when, some NFL team
decides they have the ability to harness the stallion and teach him the
nuances of being a top level QB. We’ll see how he progresses this week.
Minnesota DT RA’SHEDE HAGEMAN really showed some dominance in
one-on-one pass-blocking drills today. He overpowered and/or blew by
several linemen. He didn’t totally defeat everyone every snap, but the
flashes were many and eye catching.
Toledo RB DAVID FLUELLEN spent a good deal of the 2013 season banged
up, missing all or parts of games. But he looked pretty healthy today
and showed what an all-around RB he can be. He’s not a blazer, not is
he a power back. But he glides quickly to the hole and then burst
through it for good yardage. He is also very smooth slipping out into
short space and catching the ball.
After watching him pull in several deep throws I would have to say than
Northwestern WRKAIN COULTER is a pretty smooth athlete for a guy who
played mostly QB at Northwestern. He seemed to run some nice patterns
and his hands look dependable. He could make his mark here and set
himself up for a big COMBINE if he times well in he 40 there.
The best pass catching TE of Day 1 was JACOB PEDERSEN of
6’3, 242 lb. TE/H-B candidate made some very nice extension catches. He
looks to be pretty much in the mold of TEXANS TEs OWEN DANIELS and
GARRETT GRAHAM. Blocking is not his forte, but opening up the middle of
the field with crossing routes is.
The coaches put in considerable Special Teams work on their
punt units this afternoon. So it gave me a chance to pull out the
Pigskin Paul stop watch and check out hang times and distance for KIRBY
VAN DER KAMP. There is no way to put it other than to say he was
incredibly inconsistent on his first day of punting here in Mobile.
When he drops the ball correctly and gets full keg extension he hits
them far and high. I have a bunch of 40-45 yard punts, with hang times
of 4.5 to 272 seconds. But he also had several efforts of less than 4
seconds and 40 yards. Erratic would be he best word to describe his
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