We had an almost normal day of action here in Mobile. I say almost because practices didn’t begin until Noon. The plan to avoid the rain worked out pretty well but the skies never cleared. The high temperature never quite made 50 and 10-15 mph winds blew in from the Northwest. In other words a pretty normal January day in Mobile. Enough about the weather.
The NORTH squad, under the guidance of the COWBOYS coaching staff had a more animated and physical practice today, with full pads of course. I feel pretty comfortable in sayIng that CARSON WENTZ/QB/N. DAKOTA STATE is the early leader in the QB competition to be the top QB prospect here. The big guy (6’5/233) showed great arm strength and good accuracy with his throwing. He can really spin the ball, yet his throws look pretty catchable to me. He is also reasonably mobile or his size. Let’s just say his starting experience in college is serving him well right now, despite the fact that it wasn’t at the D1 level.
By the middle of today’s practice the squad had lost 3 players to injury. WR/LEONTE CAROO, WR/TAJAE SHARPE & OL/JOE HAEG all left the field with one of the team trainers. It looks as though all three will be out for the duration and not play in the game. The team lost LB/JOSHUA PERRY yesterday. I’d expect at least one WR to be brought in to replenish some depth there.
WR/JORDAN PAYTON/CLA grabbed my attention again today with his tight pattern running and good hands. Clearly he uses his 10″+ hands very well. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in other areas of his game. I will refrain at this stage from calling him purely a possession receiver.
Almost every football fan is aware of the story of BRAXTON MILLER’s conversion from QB to WR at Ohio State. He is now considered a legit Draft prospect at his new position. He has decent size at just over 6’1 & weighing 213 lbs. But his hands are not terribly large, at 9 1/8″, and he missed more than a few balls thrown his way this afternoon. Several went right through his outstretched hands. But he also showed that he can be a speedy, elusive runner after the catch. In essence I’d rank him as a solid prospect, with potential, who will require some patience for the team that drafts him on Day 3.
Though slightly undersized JACK ALLEN/OC/Michigan St is a very skilled technician, and a feisty competitor. During one-on-one drills he seldom allowed his man to cleanly get past him, even if it meant they both went down in a heap. At his size (6’014″/297) he’s best suited to be a brawler in some kind of zone blocking scheme. He’s going to be a tough guy to find the perfect scenario for. But with his approach he’ll play somewhere in the NFL. I seriously doubt that his frame will accommodate any significant additional weight. What you see is what you get with this young man.
I was a bit taken aback Tuesday, when JASON SPRIGGS/OT/Indiana weighed in at only 301 lbs. on a 6’056″ frame I was a bit concerned. But what I saw today makes me more comfortable moving him back into Round 1 as a prospect. He uses his long arms (34 1/8″) to direct and hold off rushers. He was matched against another of my favorite players in JAHID WARD on multiple occasions and kept the QB spot clean. He also moves well off the ball in the running game very effectively as well. SPRIGGS is looking like the real deal so far this week.
CARL NASSIB/DE/Penn State really came on in his senior year in college to lead D1 in sacks. He looked very long at the weigh-in at 6’067″ with 34 1/2″ long arms. But he is also pretty lean at only 273 lbs. Today at practice he looked like a spinning top in one-on-one drills, using spin moves in both directions to totally confuse blockers. I was also surprised at how fast he is out of his stance, keeping low for a man his size. He may be limited in run defense, but he’s going to be a major force against the pass. I will curious to see how he fairs against the run in actual game action.
COWBOYS DL coaches and DC ROD MARINELLI are just loving the high energy motor displayed by low-slung (6’006″) former Domer SHELDON DAY/DT. He weighs a solid 286 lbs. and is showing good strength but even better quickness. He had great success in college with his energy, quickness and low target running. He’s looking solid so far, but cannot really win very many of his one-on-one battles with long armed blockers.
The DB who caught my attention most often today was CB/DEIONDRE’ HALL of small school N.Iowa, which has turned out some solid pro players in he past decade. HALL is quite the physical specimen primarily with his length. He got his hands on a couple of throws today and was able to knock the ball away from the intended receivers. He’s getting fooled at times but his long range potential is undeniable.
The practices were piggy-backed to save time today, although COWBOYS Owner JERRY JONES found time to hold court with reporters as his coaches were departing the field with their players.
The most outstanding player I saw today was OT/LeRAVEN CLARK #62 of the South squad. He shows an incredible combination of size and athleticism even within this impressive group of over 100 athletes collected here. He gets incredibly low in his stance and just explodes at the snap. He has long arms (36 1/4″) which he uses to move defenders around and keep off his body. He shoots to the second level on running plays. He looks to me like a player who could be an instant starter at the pro level next Fall. Just about everything he has done in the first two days here has been impressive.
BRONSON KAUFUSI/DE/BYU #95 looks to be CLARK’s counterpart on the Defense. He’s almost as long as SHAWN OAKMAN and a lot thicker and stronger. During scrimmage work I saw him just blow past OT/THEUS to the outside and push the QB out of the pocket. He’s a physical specimen and is punishing people in drills right now. I was also quite impressed with his personality during a general conversation we had on Media Night. KAUFUSI looks like a solid 4-3 DE with some solid pass-rush ability.
Another defender looking very effective early on is SS/KEVIN BYARD/MTSU #20. He packs a wallop when he tackles someone and high-pointed a slightly under-thrown ball for an INT in action today. He’s been a ballhawk his entire college career and displays the ability to be effective against both the run and the pass.
Kicker ROSS MARTIN put on a solid demonstration of Field Goal kicking in today’s practice session. He does not have a booming leg, but he uses his short stature to good advantage in keeping his form consistent. He was making everything out to the 50 yard range, but i would point out that he had the strong wind at his back. I personally think the coaches did that on purpose to boost his confidence and the team’s morale.
JERRELL ADAMS/TE/South Carolina had a very solid day today. He has decent size at 6’5/244, and has shown some solid blocking technique. He looks to be running some nice routes but has seen many balls coming his way yet.His hands are a bit small (8 3/4″) but his 34″ arms provide a nice catching area target for his QB.
STERLING SHEPARD/WR #3 continues to be the cat quick receiver we all saw at Oklahoma. He is double quick seems to be open every time I look up. He tends to body catch a lot, even though his 9 1/8″ hands might explain that a bit. He looks to be a very strong candidate to play as a slot receiver. I’m hoping we get to see him in punt return duty this week.
I find LB/JOSH FORREST who is seeing duty primarily in the MLB slot a very interesting player. He is a nice combination of size and speed who seems to find the ball well. He looks good in pursuit. I’d also like to see him on the outside a bit. He may end up being a rising prospect over the next few months.
Despite what many around me were murmuring I am still a fan of SPENCER DRANGO/Baylor. He appears to lack the quickness to hold up at the LT slot at the next level. In fact he may just need to convert inside to OG. He’s strong enough to handle infighting with a NT, and after playing on the outside in college, he should have more than enough quickness to pull and get to second level blocks from the inside. I thought he looked stronger in 2015 than he had previously. GIven the OL group here I think he’ll have to play outside all week. We may learn more about him at the Combine at the end of February.
As a bit of a side note during 11-on-11 reps at QB BRANDON ALLEN tucked the ball and ran on three straight plays. It was understandable given the pocket collapsing around him constantly, but not what coaches are looking for overall this week. He needs to learn how to throw away the ball and move on to the next down. It was exciting however and he was quite effective on the run.
Here’s hoping for a bit nicer day on Thursday and the chance to check out a few other players I am interested in, as well as those that catch my attention out of the blue.
Good night from Mobile.