Hopefully you have made connections and read thru the Weigh-In information from Mobile, which Colin put up a link for earlier today. Now I’d like to pass on my observations from Tuesday’s Practice Sessions, which took place late Tuesday afternoon.
The South squad took the field first for their initial practice of the week, which is one of the points of interest for many of us covering the event, and the subsequent April Draft.
As I have mentioned in prior reports, one of the primary features of interest at Star Games is when small school players have been invited. And for many of us, it is out first chance to scout them as prospects, especially given this level of competition they will be facing. It’s a large opportunity for them to demonstrate that their skills translate to NFL level competition.
One of the highly respected small school prospects is BEN BARTCH/OT/St. John’s, #75. This venue represents a chance for BARTCH to meet more physical and athletically gifted defenders than those he faced most of the time at a lower level of competition. BARTCH certainly fit the bill as a solid prospect with weigh-in numbers like 6’056″ tall, and 306 lbs. His 33″ long arms, as well as 80 1/8″ wingspan, also fit the profile scouts desire. At worst, his 33″ long arms are a tad short of ideal, making many folks feel that OG may be a more natural position for BARTCH in the long haul. But today, he more than handled everything defenders threw at him out at LT. It’s a long week, but he showed decent foot movement and powerful hand/arm work in holding off defenders in pass-pro drills in this, the first practice.
Another of the more high profile players in the game this year is JUSTIN HERBERT/QB/Oregon, #10. HERBERT is considered by many to be the next best overall QB prospect after JOE BURROW. However, he also has doubters that point to inconsistent fundamentals as being a major concern. That issue was confirmed today as his footwork varied from play to play, compared to tap-dancer JALEN HURTS. But when it came to reading the field and throwing the ball, HERBERT had an exceptional day. His throws were more accurate than HURTS overall, and he showed off his arm strength on several occasions. His arm motion is almost effortless, and his deep ball is accurate and highly catchable. I doubt there is anything he can do to challenge BURROW for the top QB rank, but today was a heck of a start to establish himself as a solid first rounder. He may not be the most pro ready QB in this upcoming Draft, but he may indeed have as much potential as anyone else, as indicated by JIM NAGY at the opening presser.
Alabama’s TERRELL LEWIS/DE/LB/ER, #24, looks like an elite prospect overall. Injuries disrupted some of his career at ‘Bama, but long term, LEWIS may reward some NFL team for taking him during the first two days in this upcoming draft. He’s a long, fluid looking athlete, whose numbers at the weigh-in were overwhelming: 6’5″, 258 lbs., 34 1/8″ arms, and 83 1/2″ wingspan. Even at that size, he looked excellent working in drills with the LB group for part of the practice. He lined up primarily as a DE in 11/11 work.
BRIAN COLE/S/Mississippi State, #32, was not someone I was really expecting anything special from, but he was active and quick to the ball in drill work. At 6’017, 205, 10″ hands, and 32″ arms, he’s a great looking athlete out on the practice field. Looking forward to watching him more in the coming days.
ENO BENJAMIN/RB/ARIZONA STATE, #25, has been a great weapon for Arizona State the past 3 years. He’s a quick, explosive runner and showed today what a natural receiver he can be.
DARNAY HOLMES/CB/UCLA, #17, showed plenty today as a feisty, in-your-face little guy with good speed and a toughness streak. Showed some nice form hitting and separating receivers from the ball.
TERENCE STEELE/OT/Texas Tech, #65, did some very nice work today in pass-pro drills, as well as 11/11 scrimmaging. He did a nice job keeping LEWIS out of the backfield.
The most recent addition to the South roster was AZUR KAMARA/ER/OB/Kansas, #5. He was out on the field for this practice and made several nice plays along the line-of-scrimmage. He’s about 6’4/235 with an athletic looking frame. Someone not on my radar at all until today. Now I want to see more in future practices.
The North practice seemed to lack some of the zip and intensity of the South session. I wonder if, in part, the fact that Lions HC MATT PATRICIA let go about a third of his coaching staff only weeks ago had an impact on their coaching synergy. To be honest, I am surprised the NFL let the Lions get this assignment with an undermanned staff.
JORDAN LOVE/Utah State, #5, is clearly the most draftable of the 3 North QB’s. He passes the eye test in every way, and has the largest hands of the 6 QB’s in this game @ 10 5’8″. His passing performance was a mixed bag, with some positive throws and some real errant ones.
I am a bit puzzled by the “shrinking man” syndrome that seems to have attached itself to JASON STROWBRIDGE/ ER/DE/UNC, #55. He was listed as being 6’5/285, but this morning at the weigh-in, he measured 6’4/267.
CHASE CLAYPOOL/WR/Notre Dame, #83, had an excellent first practice. He showed off his great size numbers (6’043’, 229, 10″ hands, 33 1/8″arms, and an 80″ wingspan) with multiple catches and after the catch running ability. His history of Special Teams play for the Irish can only add to his draft value. He may not be a speedster, but he gets open and runs well after the catch.
MICHAEL PITTMAN/WR/USC, #6, was not a player that I was looking to highlight today, but it seemed like every time I looked up, it was PITTMAN making another catch. He seemed to easily run away from defenders after the catch. The Trojans Capt. is another in a large group of large sized wideouts that we’ve seen in recent years, after a strong run of little slot guys.
MICHAEL OJEMUDIA/DB/Iowa, #7, has been on my radar since the middle of the 2019 season. What I saw today from him did nothing but confirm my feeling that he would be best suited for conversion from Corner to S. He lacks deep speed, and does not fare well when trying to press receivers. Again today, he lost contact on receivers after trying to contact them at he line-of-scrimmage. He reminds me quite a bit of MICAH HYDE, who struggled on the Corner with the Packers, and has emerged as a S with the Bills.
CHARLIE HECK /OT/UNC, #67, was “promoted” from the Shrine Bowl to the Senior Bowl late last week after showing well in practices in St. Pete. He’s picking up here, where he left off at the Shrine. I caught him several times using his length to handle defenders in pass-pro drills. HECK stands 6’077″/309 lbs, with 34 1/8″ arms.
Good night from Mobile.