The last day of full practices had a lovely weather start in the morning for the East squad.
Temps were in the low 50’s with a bright warm sun shining down. Wednesday is the last day of full contact practice for this game, so the intensity level is high given that it’s the last chance for some guys to show what they are all about.
This is also the day that I watch theQB group with scrutiny since they have had a couple of days with their receivers and study time with the coaching staffs. So let me give you my QB rankings and reasons for them. Please remember these ranks are based on what they have done this week, but also taking into account how it may translate to pro team.
1) J.T. BARRETT #16 6’1/220 10″ Hands 32 1/8″ arms Ohio State
BARRETT has shown his athleticism, FBI and basically sound throwing mechanics each day. His FBI translates into solid control of the huddle and confidence from his teammates. Even though a lot of folks have their eyes glued to what he’s doing J.T. seems cool, calm and collected, no doubt due in large part to an extensive collegiate resume’. His throwing accuracy is good, but there are lapses where I saw those dangerous high throws that have plagued him at times. Since no one is perfect, ever Mr. Brady, I think it is safe to say that his running ability with the ball more than offsets his sometime miss-throws. As indicated by his college stats he has cut down on his Picks tremendously over the past 4 years. A big boost to his Draft stock here was hands measuring 10″ spread. I did not see a lot of picks on him this week in competitive drill setups. He’s my top guy here, by a hair, but I did not see enough to convince me he’ll be taken before Day 3.
2) RILEY FERGUSON #1 MEMPHIS 6’2 3/4″/196 9 3/4″ hands/30 5/8″ arms
FERGUSON comes in just a bit behind BARRETT. The tale of the tape was a bit telling when he came up below his listed 6’4 height, and was a relatively slight 196 lbs. He can move a bit in the pocket, but is not anywhere near as mobile as BARRETT. His hand size is not an issue of concern. He has a slightly stronger arm than BARRETT, and loves to throw the deep ball. He also appears to be a perfectionist, who relies on having a tight relationship with his receivers, ala PEYTON. Even in early practice throwing work he was motioning receivers to split wider in their pre-snap positioning, or to make their cut a couple of yards sooner, or later. Coaches indicated that he was a detail guy in the meeting rooms. FERGUSON, who claims BRETT FAVRE is his idol, also looks to me to be a Day 3 guy, whose is likely to develop into a career back-up option as a pro.
3) QUINTON FLOWERS #9 USF 5’10 1/4″, 210 LBS, 9 3/8″ hands
FLOWERS pretty much confirmed to me, at least, that he has no future in theNFL as a QB. He is even more mobile than BARRETT, and can wind up and throw the ball deep, but starting with his height it goes down hill fast. His throws were all over the place and I doubt he sees his receiving targets very well, because of his lack of height, unless he moves the pocket. He has been avoiding the questions about converting to another position, but I would bet that is a constant topic in conversations with NFL people. If the CFL shows interest in him, I would advise him to jump at the chance. Unless an NFL team identifies another specific position or two, and he shows willingness to abandon his QB aspirations I would not expect him to be drafted in April. I’d like to see him used as a Kick-returner in the game Saturday.
Injuries continue to look like the grim reaper around the East roster. The best news was OT JAMAR McGLOSTER being back on the field this morning with a heavily taped and bandages on his right hand/wrist. He described his injury from Tuesday as a dislocated finger.
But the rest of the news was bad. OL CORY HELMS and KYLE BOSCH watched practice in shorts on the sideline. LB JACOB PUGH/FSU was also out. RB CHASE EDMONDS was on a sideline bench with a bag of ice on his ankle. To put it bluntly this roster is likely to go into Saturday’s game with some depth issues.
I have been impressed with the progress of small school standout TE/DAMON GIBSON who has improved every day in his pattern running and pass catching. This could be key to having the TE slot be a viable weapon on the East Offense in the absence of CAM SERIGNE, who I have not even seen on the field since his ankle injury Monday. Even though I am still not convinced that fellow TE ETHAN WOLF/Kentucky #82 is much of a pro prospect he has done some nice work as well in CAM’s absence. He has small hands and fairly short arms (8 1/2″/32 3/8″) by NFL standards, but he runs well and catches most of what comes his way. He seems to take instruction well and the coaches have been working with him.
After a day of the dropsies on Tuesday DaeShon HAMILTON bounced back strong on Wednesday catching everything thrown his way. He is sneaky fast and runs very good routes, getting separation from defenders. Overall, I’d rank him second on the East receiving squad behind DAURICE FOUNTAIN. JUSTIN WATSON and JESTER WEAH have also done well this week.
Although I don’t see him rising above a Day 3 prospect there are some things to really like about Penn State DE CURTIS COTHRAN #92. He looks to me like a very solid 3-4 scheme DE. He doesn’t generate much edge pass-rush but he has nice size at 6’4 3/4″, 291 lbs. He’s a hard worker who takes instruction and does not appear to be a high maintenance guy. A late round draft selection for him would not surprise me.
Even though his star seemed to dim a bit late in his Va Tech career there is a lot to like about CB/ BRANDON FACYSON #31. He’s a long Corner (6’1 1/2″/195) who shows excellent hands during drill work as well as scrimmage situations. He plucks the ball out of the air with his 9 3/4″ hands, and 79″ wingspan. He looks fast, and has no fear that he can make up yardage on receivers even if they get some separation. He also seems to track the ball very well. He has shown all of the attributes this week of a Day 2 draftee, IMO. My best one word description of him would be “smooth”.
PM Practice WEST
As practice began at 2:40 the Cold Front was moving in from the northwest. The air was cold and being driven by a steady wind of about 10-20 mph. Not Florida weather, and the sparse crowd around the field and in the stands proved folks were paying attention to their weather apps. Most NFL Personnel people were leaving Thursday, but some either rescheduled for an earlier flight or were in their rooms doing paper work. It was damn cold to be standing out on an open football field. Enough weather talk, because you folks up north have had way too much of the really cold stuff this Winter.
Let’s talk QB again. Sorry to say I don’t have much luv at all for the West group.
1) NICK STEVENS #7 6’2 /4″, 203 LBS, 9 5/8″hands, 31 3/4″arms. To my eyes STEVENS has the most to offer in this QB group as a pro prospect. His arm is not elite, but he is the most consistent player of the group. He throws a nice catchable ball and seems to know when to get rid of of it when the blocking breaks down. He’s not terribly mobile, but can extend the play by moving the pocket a bit. Nothing special in his work, but I think he could get drafted late. Could have a high enough FBI to earn a 3rd string job for a while in the NFL.
2) NIC SHIMONEK #16 6’2 3/4″, 218, 9″hands, 31 1/4″ arms. I was a bit disappointed in his play, after having a pretty nice Bowl Game for Tech. His hands are smallish and his arm is far from strong. He tries to move around and extend plays, but is just too slow to escape heavy pressure. I cannot see him being drafted, but a training Camp roster spot is likely.
3) JEREMIAH BRISCOE #6 SAM HOUSTON STATE 6’3, 220, 9 1/8″hands, 31″ arms. Perhaps I came into this situation with my hopes too high that a small school QB with some pretty big numbers would steal the show. Not the case. I think what turned me off was the inconsistency of his throwing. At times his arm looks strong, but I’m just not sure he sees the field really well and can work through his progressions. He also lacks the mobility I thought he had. He shows flashes, but at other times I have to look away. He needs to really spin it on game day to have a chance to see an NFL roster for training Camp.
So here are my overall rankings fro both teams combined. The dividing line is to indicate who is draftable and who is not.
6) FLOWERS (but may have other position potential)
The WEST secondary has had a lot of promising players in town for the week. I guy who has impressed from Day 1 is DANE CRUIKSHANK #9 ARIZONA 6’1/204, 8 1/4″ hands, 30 7/8″arms. Very nice size for a CB, and really plays the ball well. He had 2 INT and several PBU in 3 days of work. He seems to have enough quickness and speed to play pro Corner. His 40-time and cone drills at the Combine may define his Draft position. I just have a gut feeling that he may end up as a steal in Day 3, and could start soon as a pro. I would not have said that last week, but watching him live has impressed me. Also listening to him verbalize football talk I think his FBI is also outstanding. Very enthusiastic sideline cheerleader fro his teammates.
TE ANDREW VOLLERT #87 has made an impression on mw with improved play each practice. Today he beat the S quite handily on a pattern straight down the middle of the field. The pass was a bit off target and he could not make the catch. But it showed me that the Weber State player had the speed to get downfield at 6’5 1/2″/239 lbs. Watch for him to make a play or two on game day.
I am still a bit concerned about the size numbers on DE JUSTIN LAWLER #99, but the SMU guy shows up out on the field and makes plays, whether against the run or the pass.He measured 6’3 7/8″ and weighed 264 lbs. His hands are 9 3/8″ and his arms are only 31 3/4″ long. Nothing in those numbers stands out, but I must admit he flashes at times. My gut just tells me he will have problems making an impact against the longer/stronger NFL DL. I am curious to see if he shows us some impact with his play on Saturday. There is something about him that does catch my eye just about every practice session.
That’s about it folks. I admit to leaving practice about 20 minutes early. Must be getting old. But in my own defense I will tell you an awful lot of other guys from previous days did not show at all.
Watch this space Friday for my All-Pracitce Team.