January 25, 2017

The week is off to a roaring start with multiple events to cover including the annual Weigh-in as conducted by National Scouting.

As usual Director Phil Savage gave the NFL and Media folks a rundown on why certain players were not in Mobile for the week.
Players who declined invites to the Senior Bowl.

Another 13 Draft eligible players declined to attend because of existing injuries or rehab work on previous ones:

That’s a lot of talent not being here. But onward we press.
4 injured players will be in town for part of the week for interviews.

The biggest guy overall at the weigh-in was ZACH BANNER/OT/SOUTHERN CAL: 6’083″ tall, 361 lbs., 10 3/4″ hands, 33 5/8″ arms & 82 3/4″ wing span.
Not far behind him was TANOH KPASSAGNON/DE/VILLANOVA at: 6’067″ tall, 280 lbs., 10 7/8″ hands, 34 7/8″ arms, 84 1/2″ wing span.

ON the smallish side (to say the least) was DONNEL PUMPHREY/RB/SAN DIEGO STATE, who assed RON DAYNE as the NCAA’s all time D1 leading rusher last season. PUMPHREY was 5’087″, 169#, 8 1/8″ hands, 28 1/8″ arms.
Mighty small numbers overall. Even CUPPIE was 6’010″ & 161 lbs.

A good sign to me, that the infatuation with bigger is always better is a fading concept for most in the NFL is the fact that out of 111 players measured and weighed, only 25 of them were at 300 Lbs. or more.
Length, and of course mobility, seem to be the buzz these days. There were 28 players with a wingspan of over 80″ on the two rosters.

A couple red flags went off in my head about a player I had ascending at the end of the college season, ANTONIO GARCIA/OT/TROY. At 6’063″ tall, GARCIA weighed in at only 293 lbs. Even more startling to me was that at his height he had only 32 7/8″ long arms. Not to get ahead of the game here, but he struggled mightily on day one in the 1-on-1 pass pro drills.

QB hand size is always of interest to most Draftniks. Here are those numbers on the 8 QB here.

After a lunch break we reconvened at LADD-PEEBLES Stadium for practices, starting with the South, who are coached by the BROWNS staff this year.

Even in early warmups it was hard to miss the massive body/frame of FORREST LAMP/OL/WKU. His legs and arms look like tree stumps, or forged steel. The expectation of must of us is he will most likely be projected at the NFL level. He’s a shade under 6’4″ tall and has arm length of 31 1/8″. That just isn’t the kind of overall length League scouts are looking for to contain long edge-rushing DE. He’s strong as a bull, and moves pretty well for his size. You might have seen him catch a TD pass in the WKU Bowl game.

It looked to me right from the start that the most comfortable, and in-command of the QB was JOSHUA DOBBS. He looked to be adjusting some of skill position guys right from the get-go. His ball handling was crisp. He was getting multiple high fives from his coaches.

A quick positive impression was made by late roster addition CHAD WILLIAMS/WR/GRAMBLING who has nice size at 6’1/204 and showed very nice hands and smooth transition into a runner, after the catch. He looked like a natural hands catcher to me.

Probably the clear winner on Day One as the best overall athlete/player on the field was O.J. HOWARD/TE/ALABAMA. He dropped a couple of balls, but overall showed all you want to see from an NFL inline TE. He’s a solid blocker and I dare say is a long ball threat with his ability to get by most S and LB. He did not disappoint the fans in southern Alabama during this first practice.
Hs two fellow TE also showed some flashes Tuesday with multiple good catches and some decent run-after-catch ability. EVAN ENGRAM looks like another potential JORDAN REED/REDSKINS, though he’s not going to be much help as an inline blocker like HOWARD. GERALD EVERETT/South Alabama with their campus in West Mobile, made a very nice diving catch near the sideline early on. But his role in the NFL is clouded a bit by his weigh in numbers of 6’026″/227 lbs. The slot and a few other roles may lie in his future. He’d better run fast at the Combine.

As always the 1-on-1 pass pro drill was very popular to man fans and personnel people alike. I have always felt that the drill highly favors the DL because it is so wide open, and forces the OL to be very reactive. Sure enough most of the OL guys were eaten alive. I do expect the OL work in this drill to improve a bit each day however.

The start for the DL, IMO, was TANOH KPASSAGNON. With his long frame and long arms he was able to steer the OL away from him and unable to get their hands inside his pads. Lots of blockers laying on the ground. I was also impressed that at his length he was able to get fairly low in his dip around the blockers. He’s a big target t grab at and looked like holding might have been called on almost all of his reps no matter who was trying to block him.

As has been the case in watching him the past 3 seasons at AUBURN, #1/MONTRAVIUS ADAMS was monster on one rep and then a non factor on the next. When he really works he can’t be blocked because of his bulk, quickness and strength. He has 1st Round talent and 4th Round effort to my eyes.

Perhaps the best overall blocker in the OL group for this drill was the aforementioned LAMP. I think his overall bulk, strength and surprising athleticism surprises the pass rushers. Once he clamps onto the rusher’s jersey inside the pads, he’s got them locked down. He blocked at both OG and OT spots, looking best to me inside. LAMP seemed to draw CARLOS WATKINS as his match-up on multiple occasions and pretty much owned him.

I can see why DT/TANZEL SMART/TULANE #97 was such a TFL guy in college. He’s built like a fire hydrant at 6/005″ and 296 lbs. He showed some nice spin moves, with surprising quickness for his bulk, He’s naturally low to the ground which really makes those taller OG/C opponents work hard to bend their knees and stay low. Then he shows a quick spin and they cannot get their feet moving fast enough to keep up with him.

JUSTIN VOGEL showed a strong leg punting today. I put the old stopwatch on him and came up with consecutive hang times of 4.44/4.62/4.31/5.07/4.80. His distance was solid at about 45 yards gross. A couple carried well over 50-yards. Unusual for Mobile was low wind today.

After a brief break the NORTH squad took the field and the BEARS caching staff seemed to drive them pretty hard, with little wasted time. THat’s how it should be with a pro staff involved.

I was taken b the athleticism and body flexibility of #70/JULIEN DAVENPORT/OT/BUCKNELL. The big guy, 6’7/310 looked like he would ace a tryout for the Rockettes in the Big Apple. He seems a bit raw in his technique at times, but his potential looks to be high. I could see him as an eventual starter in the NFL, in time.

Loved what I saw from CARROLL PHILLIPS/#56/Illinois as he spent a good deal of practice time standing up as an OLB. He was primarily an edge-rusher in college, but he showed me good running ability to stay with TE/RB up 15-yards downfield. His locating of the ball in the air needs some serious work however. I counted at least twice when he was right with the receiver, but never made a stab at the ball as it passed him. Luckily, he distracted the receivers enough that neither throw was caught.

It looks as though HASSON REDDICK/LB/RUTGERS may spend a lot of his time playing inside LB, despite being better suited, given his size (6’1/230) and pass rush ability, to play on the Outside. But he was all over the field attacking running plays or dropping into coverage. I thought it was impressive for a guy who less than two years ago spent most f his time with his hand on he ground to edge rush. Let’s see what some NFL coaching can do to improve his technique this week.

Loved the hard work this aft from UW/RB/COREY CLEMENT #6. He ran hard and fast, with very good balance most of the practice. I also thought he looked very natural catching the ball out of the backfield, turning upfield and getting extra yardage. It looks like a very solid RB group for the North, even tho running isn’t usually a big factor in All-Star game offenses.

Best looking OL to me was clearly DAN FEENEY/OG/IU #67. He has a bigger body than I though coming into Mobile. At 6’4/304 his arms measured 33 1/8″. THat is very nice for an Interior OL. He also moves that frame around pretty nicely. He looked like the most effective blocker in the 1-0n-1 match-ups today. He’s a natural knee bender and a bit of a brawler.

I was very impressed with the pass rush work from LARRY OGUNJOBI inside on multiple blockers. #95 owned guys like ORLOSKY/C, FULLER & DAWKINS. #95 is a player you should be watching this week. If you to “scout” for your favorite NFL team he’s not someone you have seen much, if at all, as a collegian @ CHARLOTTE.

If your team needs a big guy to just anchor the middle of the line of scrimmage then you should be looking @ #98 from Southern Cal STEVIE TU’IKOLOVATU, who at 6’1/350 lbs. is pretty much unmovable. He also shows the power to push into the backfired and collapse the pocket, thus moving opposing QB off their spot. You have to have a line rotation for him to stay effective, but he showed again yesterday he can just dominate blockers. ORLOVSkY/WVU just threw his hands up in the air after being thrown aside by STEVIE.

COOPER KUPP is going to be an interesting watch this week. #10 has been an All-American at E. Washington for multiple years and combines good size (6’014″ & 198#) and almost 10″ hands. He was fielding Punts as an extra chore Tuesday. He displayed super quick feet and after one catch used a double stutter-step that totally froze the CB and allowed him to scoot off untouched to the middle of the field.

He doesn’t have the overall resume’ of Mr. Howard but I continue to be impressed with the play and athleticism of MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE/TOLEDO who is here playing after a full week at the Shrine venue last week. He is a natural runner with dependable hands. His upside is huge IMO.

Let’s backtrack a bit as I use Wednesday night with no events scheduled for the media to catch up a bit. I did go to Media Night Tuesday and a few interesting conversations with multiple players. I do not do anything resembling a formal interview. I prefer to spot players who are not engaged with other media folks and sit at their table to talk with them. Tuesday night my discussion mates were CHAD KELLY, JON TOTH, MICHAEL ROBERTS, KYLE KALIS, JORDAN HARDEMAN, C.J. BEATHARD, TOBY BAKER, ZANE GONZALEZ and COLIN HOLBA.

KELLY/QB/OLE MISS, who is the nephew of former BILLS QB JIM KELLY and is rehabbing a knee injury is one of the more colorful and interesting prospects for the 2017 Draft. He was quietly sitting alone after dinner, when I came along and he said hello first. He seemed in the mood to talk so we started with a discussion of play calling nomenclature. We then moved on to his off-field issues (in general terms) and his uncle’s health. My overall take was that he is still trying to get his life in order and temper under control and realizes it’s now or never relative to a football career. He seemed sincere and only time will tell if he carves out a pro football career. Thanks for your time Chad and good luck.

KYLRE KALIS of the North, and a practice participant last week at the Shrine venue, was the chatterbox of the group as he pinched some tobacco between his teeth and gums. We talked about the Harbaugh regime in Ann Arbor and he too is curious to see how they do next season with the vast majority of BRADY HOKE’s recruits brought into the program pre-Harbaugh. Our consensus was that there might be a mediocre year or two before the fruits of his recruiting efforts kick into high gear. But he will be successful. Then with D2 star JORDAN HERDMAN of Simon Fraser chiming in we compared the benefits bestowed upon the athletes from D1 to D2. If you folks think D1 players are exploited, the kids below them are basically ignored because their level of games does not generate the $ of the BCS.

Had a grand reunion with my buddy Cuppie at the Media function. We’ll try to get that picture up on the site sometime soon.

Gotta scoot folks. Wednesday practice is not far off.