No rain, sunshine, cool but not frigid…. Yeah, let’s play some football. More than likely the media and NFL scouts were very happy to see decent conditions to watch the final two practices of the week.
I am still struggling to find new grounds to establish QB separation down here. It feels like every time I see something I like from one of these it’s only a matter of minutes before that same guy does something that just makes me groan in frustration. RYAN FINLEY rolls out to his left and makes a nice, on-target throw for 15 yards. A few minutes later he throws a ‘shoulda been’ intercepted ball in the end zone. I am concerned about DREW LOCK’s small hands (9″) and his accuracy on the move, then he rips one downfield and threads it between defenders to his TE. And so it goes, with my current conclusion being that this group is not the the equivalent of the guys we saw here last year, but they are the cream of the 2019 QB group, sans MURRAY/HASKINS.
A very pleasant surprise, at least for me, this week has been Ohio State WR TERRY McLAURIN. He is a smooth operator, and can stretch the field. His 6’0/205 frame looks well toned and he runs very well. He looks faster to me than I thought he was. And he is also looking precise on his routes. He has nice soft hands and gets separation much of the time. I should have realized how deep the talent load was at Ohio State, but I now think I undersold McLAURIN in particular in their talented WR group in Columbus.
I continue to be impressed with the work of ANDY ISABELLA. This little guy has an incredible mix of speed and quickness and is giving DBs fits. He explodes out of his routes and doesn’t drop very many despite relatively small 8 1/2″ hands.
A player I have not previously mentioned to you is quite similar in size and skill set: PENNY HART WR Georgia State. HART measured 5’8/180, with hands just under 8″ in spread. But despite a few more drops than I would like to see, he catches more than he drops and explodes away from tacklers in the open field. I would expect him to make a solid NFL slot receiver based on his sharp cuts and blazing quickness. For a guy I did not have on any of my prospect lists, I now think he could get a Day 3 Draft call.
Another player who has shown explosiveness with the ball in his hands is TONY POLLARD #1. Pollard is listed as a RB, but I am not totally convinced that he shows great tendencies for cutting off of a dead start, nor likes to take on tacklers face to face. I see him as a threat out in the open, catching the ball in space. Haven’t seen it yet down here, but two years ago he led the NCCA FCS Division averaging over 40-yards per kick return. He’s broken into the open a few times this week, including today, and once past the line of scrimmage is hard for defenders to catch up with.
I was very disappointed this week watching TOMMY SWEENEY/TE/BC struggle with dropped balls. He gets some separation at times and presents a very nice big target with his almost 6’5 height and 33 1/8″ arms, but unless the ball is almost perfectly placed he seems to have problems extending, or reaching back and completing the catch. He gets his hands on everything but isn’t in position to bring the ball into his body. Reflecting on games I watched of BC last season I seem to remember similar issues with SWEENEY.
It was good to see DALTON RISNER #71 of KANSAS STATE having a better day blocking today, but he still had issues with his footwork and lost as many one-on-ones as he won. It is clear in my mind that RISNER has some solid pro attributes, but he will be moved inside to OC, perhaps OG, or both just like happened with CODY WHITEHAIR of K-State not that long ago. WHITEHAIR now starts at OC for DA BEARS. So do NOT translate my critique to say I don’t see the NFL in Risner’s future.
Given the limited contact the coaches want in their 11-on-11 sessions it becomes hard to project how good the RB group is. But I will say right now, after eyeballing DEXTER WILLIAMS RB NOTRE DAME, that he looks like the most explosive and well balanced RB on the North squad. He also shows very good speed after exploding through blocking lanes. Watch for him to be one of the top RB taken in this coming Draft, pending the vetting of reasons for his suspension at the beginning of Notre Dame’s 2018 campaign.
I have also been impressed with ALEC INGOLD, FB, Wisconsin. Met with INGOLD after practice today and commiserated with him about being called a RB at the weigh-in. He’s a multi-dimensional FB who can of course block, and run on short yardage but is also a natural as a receiver. He’s proud to be a FB and looks forward to playing for an NFL team that still understands the potential value of a FB, especially in the Red Zone. Clearly a 3rd Day Draft value in my eyes.
NASIR ADDERLEY/S/Delaware is a player I had been asked about multiple times leading up to this week. I am happy to report that he looks like the real deal to me as a FS prospect. He’s very active, and in general has a good sense of what is going on around him. I have not noticed him being caught out of position very often in practice. Ball skills should be his forte and he has shown some ball hawking ability in practices. He is light on his feet, and can change direction to pursue in the secondary. Next step for him after Saturday’s game is posting some good numbers at the Combine. It feels right now that I have seen him pop into my field of vision multiple times in his pursuit of the football. That is indeed a good thing for a Safety.
One more mention, this time for a guy that I had expressed dismay about even being invited to this venue. I felt that CHUMA ODOGA/OT had been a pretty mediocre player, on a poor USC team, and was way too undersized for NFL play. I had a notion that I might be mistaken, at least in part, about him at the weigh-in Tuesday. He stood 6’036″, weighed 303, and his arms measured 34 7/8″. He has played with good effort and athleticism this week, absolutely stoning members of a strong DL group along the way. I am also going along with talk I have heard leaning on the fences that he may be good enough to play OT in the NFL, and not have to move inside.
I’d like to see him have a solid game to wrap up the pleasant surprises in his practice week.
That’s it for the North squad folks. I’ll wrap up some notes later tonight, then post my South report Friday morning.Too much sun and wind today. I need to eat and get to bed shortly.
Good night from Mobile, and cheers.