Another wonderful Florida Winter day with morning practice temps of about 55-60.
But not such a great day for the East OL unit, or their coaches. I never even saw KYLE BOSCH on the field this morning. And by the end of practice both JAMAR McGLOSTER/Syracuse and CORY HELMS/South Carolina had left for medical attention. The McGloster injury looked the most serious as he was treated by EMT personnel in their ambulance. Looked to be an upper body, perhaps shoulder injury. So by the middle of the practice the team was down to 8 OL on the field. Seems to me that we may see a roster transfer from the West soon, given they still have 11 practicing linemen. Let you know if we hear anything about those injuries Wednesday. Sad to say the Shrine folks are not as forthcoming with injury info as the Senior Bowl has become.
I think I may have found my man-crush for the East team. This is two days in a row that #10 DAURICE FOUNTAIN/WR/Northern Iowa has run good routes, shown speed and quickness, and excellent soft hands. He catches everything that comes his way, including some that he has made great leaping or diving catches on. How could this guy have not been with the Hawkeyes, given their paucity of elite receivers?! Just thinking out loud Coach Ferentz. He’s a solid 6’2 (almost) and 210 lbs. I have a sheet that says his arms are 34 1/2″ long. Nice numbers for a smooth striding athlete who gets separation and catches everything! Hello Combine invitation after this week’s work.
Another pleasant surprise in the receiver group for the East has been Ivy Leaguer JUSTIN WATSON #25. He too is running his routes faster than I would have expected and made some outstanding catches today on balls thrown beyond what we might expect his catch-radius should be. At over 6’2 and weighing a solid 215 lbs. His 40-time at the Combine or a Pro Day will be well worth watching when measured.
As if those guys weren’t enough to mount an effective passing attack I have been scratching my head these first two days watching JESTER WEAH/Pitt run smooth routes and make catch after catch. How in the world could he have been hardly targeted at all in several PITT games I watched last Fall?
The work in the middle of the DL by DEADRIN SENAT/DT/USF was impressive again today. He is low, and plays so low, and with such power and explosion that he can control the middle of the line-of-scrimmage. He looks incredibly fast and powerful in DL drill work, which I might not have expected given his bulk.
A group mate of his, MARCUS MARTIN/DE/Slippery Rock, is also showing well with his quickness and high rev motor once the ball is snapped. He moves so fast that I have not seen an OT yet who can keep him out of the pocket. He is forcing the QB group off their mark constantly. I am not sure what he will be able to do to offset some pretty short (31 1/2″) arms, against the elite OT around the NFL, but I’m not writing him off.
I was very disappointed by the attitude of CB/DEATRICK NICHOLS/USF, who looked like he was more interested in being the toughest/baddest dude in town today, as opposed to actually trying to cover some WR. When he wasn’t manhandling the wideouts, which would have drawn constant holding penalties, he was pushing them late and trying to toss them to the ground. I’d have sent him to the principal’s office had I been one of his position coaches.
The East was also undermanned today in the TE group, with only two on the practice field. CAM SERIGNE/Wake, who I mentioned with an ankle injury in Monday’s practice, was not on the field today. Once again, I might project that the West will come to the rescue with a roster transfer since they have 4 TE on their squad.
In CAM’s absence interest has really focussed on DAMON GIBSON/Moorhead State (MN). GIBSON was originally listed at 6’4/246 lbs., but I thought he looked beefier than that. Weigh-in numbers indicate that he’s almost 6’4 and weighs 249. He might just still be a growing boy. I would not say he has looked smooth out there, but he’s getting some catches and hitting some folks. He may step up if CAM is done for the week.
Wednesday , the gloves will be off and I will take a long look at the QB group.
Afternoon WEST Practice
Whether it’s coaching or talent, or both, the WEST DB group seems a bit more pro ready in their attitude and play. As a group they appear to be more athletic than the East group. They also seem tighter knit. I had the pleasure of standing on the practice sideline right behind this group the past first two days during 11-on-11 work. They were shouting out encouragement and directions to their mates while they waited their turn to get back into the action.
For the second consecutive day DANE CRUIKSHANK/CB/ARIZONA had an interception in scrimmage action. He’s a very nice sized CB at 6’1/204, but I find the Picks interesting given his hands measured only 8 1/4″ on Monday.
Another DB who seems to be a coach’s favorite is NATRELL JAMERSON/S/Wisconsin. JAMERSON is seeing plenty of reps on the field, and is being asked to handle multiple responsibilities in their various sub-packages. He also seems to be a group leader on the field. JAMERSON looks like he would make a very good zone blitzer, but that is not allowed in the Star games.
Would you believe me if I told you the DB coach referred to one of their sub-packages as the “goofy Nickel”? I sear that’s what he said and I was about 5 feet from him.
DT/POONA FOORD/Texas continued to stand out today. He showed excellent balance and quickness in some bag work. And it also sounded like he had the heaviest hand-punch on those bags. I can see why his Texas coaches called the 5’11/DT their impact defensive player.
On the other side of the line-of-scrimmage I have been favorably impressed by the work ethic and athleticism of ARMY/OT/BRETT TOTH. He’s a long guy at just under 6’6, and a lean-mean fighting machine at 304 lbs. His arms measured just under 34″, and they appear even longer. He’s a quick learner and is asking his OL Coach lots of questions. Remember ARMY throws single digit passes per game, so TOTH has a lot to learn about pass-pro. But he looks to have the tools and desire to learn and execute.
Getting back to my buddy “ANDRE the Giant” McCONNELL, he came in at 6’8 1/2″ tall and weighing 365 lbs. His arms were 35 5/8″ long with 10″ hand spread. I have to go back to see the measurements on D.J. FLUKER/Alabama a few years ago at the Senior Bowl to see who was bigger. This comparison could be very close folks.
I have been watching JUSTIN LAWLER/DE/SMU for both practices so far, but still cannot make up my mind on how I rate him as a prospect. His size numbers don’t seem to match up with what I see when he lines up with his teammates. The Shrine info says he stands just under 6’4 and weighs only 264 lbs. That doesn’t seem to me to correlate with a full-time DL, but I also don’t see his pass-rush as so good that he can make a team as just an edge-rusher. I’d draft him by Round 5 for my team, if we ran a 4-3 base set, but I can’t quite peg his role yet. When I watch the DL drill work he looks solid overall, but…
JUSTIN JACKSON/RB/Northwestern sure looks to be the best RB prospect for either team so far. He has some burst and can catch the ball with ease. He is also elusive after the catch. He’s also a willing/effective blocker. He’s 5’11 3/8″ tall and 199 lbs., which confirms to me that he’s not a work-horse NFL RB, but he’s versatile enough to be a change of pace option as a pro. I’m guessing his Combine 40-time will dictate what Round he goes in. But he’s a nice all-around option.
The QB microscope will be on this team as well Wednesday.
Cheers from Florida