It was a crisp and windy morning in St. Pete Tuesday with temps in the low 40’s as the East practice began. Being almost on the bay meant the wind was coming in crisply across the cold Winter water of Tampa Bay. I ran into PACKERS GM TED THOMPSON entering the field area. When I asked him how he was doing, he said he wasn’t sure because he was thrown off by the surprising Florida cold. He wasn’t alone as most folks there looked cold and uncomfortable. I almost went back to my car to get gloves out of the trunk.
BRANDON SHELL/OT/S. CAROLINA/#71 is looking as large as advertised and maybe more athletic than many supposed. He’s fairly quick off the snap and has used his size to great advantage in most one-on-one drills. If genes run deep then the great nephew of the late ART SHELL could have a bright pro future in the NFL.
The East has a very talented WR group and the best by far is probably RASHAWN SCOTT/MIAMI/#11. In two practices he looks to have everything scouts look for in a WR. He has nice size at about 6’2 and 200 lbs. He has shown excellent hands and runs precise patterns. He is beating the DB trying to cover him, and even when covered he snatches the ball away from the DB. His hands look very large compared to his WR teammates. He even looks good stretching and warming up to me.
A small school star is looking big time after two days of work. He’s #97/JAVON HARGRAVE/DT/S.C. State. HARGROVE is showing a nice combination of strength and speed. He’s winning a lot of battles in one-on-one drills, as well as showing solid work in scrimmage action. Besides his athleticism I am also impressed with his ability to diagnose plays and make his way to the ball quickly, and behind the line-of-scrimmage. He uses his hands well to move aside blockers.
On the negative side of things DT/CONNOR WUJCIAK/#99 walked off the practice field with 3 of the Shrine Training Staff early on, not to be seen the remainder of the practice.
ROBERT KUGLER/OC/Purdue did very little but watch for most of practice despite having his helmet own. Watching him have difficulty even stretching it sure looked to me like a guy with some serous lower back pain. We should know more about both players on Wednesday.
I doubt he’s going to blow anyone away with his Combine/Pro Day numbers but I just luv to watch BRIAN POOLE/CB/#24 the former Gator, work in the secondary. He is very quick to the ball and hits with full force. He’s not afraid to play his coverage up close and personal. I will be surprised if a solid number of scouts don’t move him up their prospect lists by the end of this week. He shows very fundamentals in his coverage.
Here are my top players of the day for the EAST:
#6 JOSH FERGUSON/RB
#11 RASHAWN SCOTT/WR
#71 BRANDON SHELL/OT
#76 DONOVAN CLARK/OG
#89 DARION GRISWOLD
#24 BRIAN POOLE/CB
#41 WILL MONDAY/P
#43 JAMES BURGESS/LB
391 VICTOR OCHI/DE
#97 JAVON HARGRAVE/DT
One of the impressive performers from Day 2 for the West was RB/DANIEL LASCO/CAL/#23 who showed great explosion and vision to run to daylight. He also showed nice hands catching some screen throws and turning them upfield for considerable yardage. He shows very good balance.
I’ve been very impressed with the athleticism and field vision on #46/De’VONDRE CAMPBELL/LB/Minnesota. But the guy is a stick figure come to life at over 6’5″ and weighing well under 250 lbs. He’s quick to pursue the ball, but clearly gets his legs tangled up when trying to backpedal in drill work.
Canadian DE/EBUKA ONYEMATA/#97 has shown very good quickness and burst in his pass rush. But by the same token he has been overpowered by the better OT, like ALEX LEWIS, once they get their hands on him. So far he’s looked like a very solid prospect, but far from a finished product ready for pro football.
Two seasons ago TE/KIVN CARTWRIGHT was considered a top TE prospect, with good receiving skills and decent blocking ability. He missed the 2014 season to injury and returned to a new offense that emphasized the run in 2015. He has looked solid the past two days. He also been getting lots of advice and helpful tips from his coaches this week. He made a couple of nice grabs and turned them into longer gains. If he continues looking good I’d expect him to be highly scrutinized over the next few months, given a weak overall TE prospect group.
#31/CORY JAMES/LB/Colorado State though a bit short (6-0), shows plenty of energy and athleticism in LB drill work as well as in live action. He actually showed some blitz ability for the Rams during his college career, but that will be hard to bring into play this week when blitzing is pretty much prohibited by rule. I expect JAMES will also get some time on Special Teams given his athleticism and tackling ability.
A 49’ers scout spent a considerable amount of time talking with TLYER MARZ/OT/Wisconsin #64 after practice this afternoon. MARZ showed well at the RT slot during 1-on-1 drills during practice. On several occasions he stoned the pass rushing DE, while on others he controlled them by pushing the rusher way beyond the pocket. That is a big plus for MARZ, whose main strength is considered to be his run blocking ability.
Overall, the West WR corps has not been as impressive overall as the East group, but GERONIMO ALLISON/Illinois #8 used his length to great advantage several times today, especially on some nice catches of high throws near the sidelines. He and CARTWRIGHT were the most impressive receiving targets overall today at this session.
DEREK WATT/FB/WISCONSIN #34 continues to impress with his versatility and athleticism as a RB/FB. He has been especially impressive making some nice catches and turning upfield for extra yards. He is also looking good as a blocker of course. In case you live in a cave with no College/Pro Football channels to watch he is indeed the younger brother of JJ WATT. DEREK somewhat reminds me a bit of BRIAN LEONARD of Rutgers who was a kind of hybrid RB/FB who showed versatility at the Senior Bowl some years ago. He hung around the NFL for 5-6 seasons but couldn’t quite make a significant role for himself.
Here’s my Top 10 list from the West practice:
#8 GERONIMO ALLISON/WR
#23 DANIEL LASCO/RB
#34 DEREK WATT/FB
#64 TYLER MARZ/OT
#71 ALEX LEWIS/OT
#89 DEVIN CAJUSTE/WR
#29 BRIEAN BODDY-CALHOUN/CB
#31 CORY JAMES/LB
#67 CORY JOHNSON/DT
#95 AZIZ SHITU/DE
Not to be a tease, but Wednesday I will take a serious look at the QB groups at both practices. By day 3 of practice they should be settled in and ready to show their stuff.
Good night from Florida football fans.