Another sunny and warmer than normal January day in Central Florida and just before the East morning practice began the field was invaded by a complete crew of area referees to oversee practices and give players tips on what penalties might have been called and why. Good idea says Pigskin Paul.
The more I see of Kansas S/Fish Smithson the more I like the guy. He’s a bit undersized by today’s S profile in today’s NFL but not a smurf by any means. He clearly ma be an example of really good football player who ended up a bad program at Kansas. He shows good quickness and a willingness to deliver a blow normally found in a bigger guy. I will be watching to get a feel for his cover skills in the coming days.
Caught up with RALEIGH McKENZIE, twin brother of the RAIDERS GM REGGIE McKENZIE. I always refer to him as the better looking McKenzie brother, which always makes him smile. The whole organization is looking forward to a fruitful off-season and building upon their fine 2016 season’s work, which was derailed when they lost their top two QB to injury heading into the Play-Offs. I asked him if a Vegas move appealed to him, and his comment was he just wished the talk and speculation would end and the team would set their coarse forward without chatter of a move on the regular basis. He’s a gracious and friendly guy who always has a few moments to chat with members of the media. Trust me folks the RAIDERS are in good hands under the regime of the McKenzie Brothers.
I find one of the real mystery prospects here this week to be WR/QUINCY ADEBOYEJO/ Ole Miss #18. He’s a fluid running, great looking athletic receiver who seems to glide downfield. But the results of his receiving efforts can be very inconsistent. Today’s practice was a good example. He got open and made a couple of very nice catches. Then he made a nice diving catch of a ball only to lose control of it rolling over. A couple plays later a coach was yelling at him for quitting on a route and failing to get off of a defender to complete his route. This mystery man is likely to continue to perplex scouts as the Draft process continues for the next few months.
I cannot tell you that I have been terribly impressed with OT/DIEUGOT JOSEPH of Florida International, but I will tell you that he was a very popular guy after practice as multiple team scouts cornered him for a some Q&A. First among them was a scout from the GIANTS. Joseph is a nice looking, well built prospect and my guess is he will be very popular when Round 4 rolls around in April.
Teams were called to midfield at mid-practice and some one-on-one pass rush work with Offense and Defense teammates cheering on their player trying to protect or sack the QB. It appeared as though the DL won 3-2, but several of the OL disputed the result. Amongst them was WILL HOLDEN when I asked about having to carry a DL’s pads to the bus after the practice. He strongly disputed the final result. Because of the competitive nature of these athletes this kind of exercise has become a popular tool by coaches to boost the energy levels. JASON GARRETT, Dallas HC used these drills at each practice last year at the Senior Bowl.
ADAM PANKEY/OG/WVU #57, is far from elite and a bit stiff, but when he’s inside at OG his lack of foot agility is masked and his strength and size stand out. He absolutely stoned the defender in the first of the above mentioned competitions. For a power running NFL team PANKEY could be a solid player at the next level.
A guy who really looks out of place and a bit overwhelmed at this level of competition, at least so far, has been DT/JASON CARR/WEST GEORGIA. He has very nice size and some athleticism, but seems to be out of place a lot and as a result gets easily pushed out of the action. I’m sincerely hoping that he catches up with his competition and shows more in the remainder of the week.
The day continued to warm up cracking the 80 degree mark by the time the WEST afternoon session got under way. RALPH GREEN/DT/INDIANA was once again very talkative and trying to lighten up the mood as warmups got underway. I recalled another player being similar with his cheer-leading approach from a few ears ago. BO MARCHIONTE and I were shooting blanks remember who that player was. MIKE MAYOCK came by and dragged him into our name search. He pulled us through remembering RB/JOHN CROCKETT who was on IR with PACKERS this season. GREEN is also rising for his play this week. He got my attention in IU’s Bowl Game and has looked good again so far in St. Pete.
Despite the announcement Monday that Toledo TE/MICHAEL ROBERTS had been added to the Senior Bowl roster, he WAS indeed at practice this afternoon. Guess I’d better ask him for clarification Wednesday as to whether he plans to play in both games or not.
I am enthralled with two of the West CB, in part because of their size and apparent athleticism. FABIAN MOREAU/UCLA was highly regarded two years ago but suffered a serious knee injury that cost him most of he 2015 season. I noticed that he looked like he had regained his speed watching UCLA last Fall. He looks really fast and fluid down here so far. Also in that secondary group is TRESTON DECOUD/Oregon State. I am not sure on his speed yet, but he’s even bigger and looks very athletic in drill work.
In today’s scrimmage action, all 3 of the RB group prospects showed very good receiving skills and the ability to get serious yards after catch. They are all pretty explosive once the ball is in their hands, and they know how to turn it upfield and find spaces in the secondary.
Speaking of the secondary, a serious pad popping open field tackle by S/LEON McQUAY got some serious attention from those of us near enough to the heat to feel the air go out of the receiver. Since no one was hurt will chick it up to being another case of good old-fashioned, hard hitting football.
JOSH AUGUSTA/DT/Missouri reminds me a lot of TERRANCE MT. CODY from ‘Bama a few years back. AUGUSTA is just huge and I hereby anoint him as MT. AUGUSTA. He can move a bit in a small area, but he also seems to specialize in just plowing into the backfield and hoping someone who he runs over just happens to have the ball in his hands.
The two most attention getting receivers for the West appear to be JALEN ROBINETTE/Air Force and AUSTIN CARR/Northwestern. ROBINETTE is the bigger, flashier player, while CARR is a sure handed, route running former walk-on for the Wildcats. Their contrasting styles of play make them a very intriguing duo for the West QB to target.
The grace period is over and I promise to spend serious time gauging the QB work on the practice fields Wednesday. They have had enough time, in All-Star Game domain, to absorb coaching, playbook & receiving styles of their new teammates.
Good night all.