Senior Bowl South Practice:
Nick Foles (Arizona) did not have a very good day at all; missing a lot of intermediate throws vs air. He also held onto the football way too long during seven on sevens, waiting on routes to develop. Foles often threw the ball late and with very little anticipation. While I understand he doesn’t have chemistry with these WRs he held onto the football longer than any QB on the North and South squad respectively.
Ryan Lindley (San Diego State) displayed NFL caliber arm talent, however his accuracy was quite erratic due to inconsistent footwork and mechanics. Lindley also shocked me as he is much more mobile than I originally anticipated.
Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) had the best day of all QBs on either side. Weeden exhibited outstanding velocity, spinning the football quite well throughout the practice. He had a compact release and threw the ball with great anticipation particularly on out and curl routes.
Vick Ballard (Mississippi State) demonstrated his ability as a downhill runner with outstanding power, however he did have difficulty catching the football today as he struggled judging the ball in flight. Once Ballard turned up field, he did not display much burst at all during todays practice.
Terrance Ganaway (Baylor) was one of the winners in today’s practice. Ganaway looked every bit the part of a power runner he appeared to be at Baylor. While he’s more of a one-speed back, he maintains enough speed to take it the distance on occasion. Ganaway looked very natural catching the football out of the backfield, but struggled in pass protection from a technique standpoint. I have no doubt his ability as a blocker will certainly improve with coaching.
Chris Rainey (Florida) impressed me today as a RB as well as a WR. Rainey showcased his tremendous burst, getting out on the edge at will as a RB. He also managed to beat Janoris Jenkins twice during one on ones lining up at WR. While he was getting reps at WR, Rainey displayed strong hands at the point of the catch maintaining possession of the ball through contact. The way he stems off on routes out of the backfield is reminiscent of Reggie Bush. No Linebacker is going to prevent him from stemming his route off to the inside.
Chad Diehl (Clemson) suffered a concussion today. I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I was sitting with scouts and tweeted that he looked like he had a concussion and would likely be out the rest of the week about one minute after it happened. He didn’t look like he knew where he was and the trainers did the right thing taking his helmet away. He has been replaced by Alfred Morris, a power RB from Florida Atlantic. He was at the East-West Shrine Game and I don’t think I saw him take any reps at fullback, so this will be interesting to see.
Joe Adams (Arkansas) had a very productive practice as he beat Jenkins on a fly route during one on ones, seemingly creating separation with ease. Adams plays with great passion and intensity that I love seeing, especially in a smaller WR. Adams has a very smooth release but takes a lot of false steps as a route runner particularly on curl routes. Adams will need to refine his technique as a route runner as he does had a tendency to round off his routes, however today was a very good day for Adams.
Juron Criner (Arizona) had a pair of spectacular grabs during todays practice, however he is a 4.6+ WR who will not create separation at the next level. Criner also at times looked disinterested in practice as he was told multiple times by the coaching staff to “wake up”.
Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M) was quite impressive today as he’s finally healthy and ready to showcase his abilities. Though he’s one of the larger WRs in this years draft class, Fuller was able to create separation and was surprisingly crisp in and out of his breaks. I believe Fuller did a lot to help himself today. I’m happy to see that the hamstring is healed and he’s ready to prove he is the WR we all saw in the Cotton Bowl vs LSU.
Dwight Jones (North Carolina) is a big bodied receiver who isn’t quite as slow as Criner, however he’s far from sudden. Jones has a slow release off the ball and allows smaller DBs to get into his pads when pressed. Jones is also a very undisciplined route runner at this point in his career and is rather slow in and out of breaks.
Marquis Maze (Alabama) did not participate in today’s practice, however he turned many scouts away with his lack of mental toughness. While we realize that he is injured and is unable to participate in practice, he kept his distance from the WRs and WR coaches. He also continues to gripe about his measurements during weigh-ins; “I don’t like the way they tried to play me man. I’ve never been measured at 5’7”.” For affirmation sake, yes he’s 5’7”.
Ladarius Green (Louisiana Lafayette) is my favorite tight end on this roster. He’s my #2 TE in Mobile behind only Michael Egnew, but Green may have just as much upside as any tight end in the draft. His combination of pure size and athleticism is extremely intriguing and like Egnew he has good hands. He needs work as a blocker, but if the effort and work ethic is there that can be coached. But he will be a helluva match-up problem as a receiver who can be split out in the NFL, and those joker tight ends are all the rage right now. He looks like a 2nd or 3rd round prospect to me. Deangelo Peterson (LSU) is another player I’ve liked all year. He’s a sleeper because he never got much of a chance to show what he can do as a receiver at LSU, so he could surprise people once he gets to the next level. He’s got pretty good hands, size and athleticism and should end up in the 4th round or maybe a little higher on draft day. Brad Smelley (Alabama) has had a solid couple of days. He’s not an early-round guy by any means, but he’s draftable and has the work ethic to be a contributor on special teams and work his way up the tight end depth chart despite his lack of great size and athleticism.
Zebrie Sanders (Florida State) impressed me today to a point. He’s an impressive athlete with a good first step, he can get out of his stance quickly and block down on defensive tackles which I liked. He really needs to get stronger in the lower body though and his hand placement was an issue today. He was letting his hands get too far outside which will draw holding calls and limit his ability to control the defender after he’s engaged him. He’s struggled to “finish” blocks as well. Multiple times in 1 on 1’s he had won the battle right up until the end when Coples or Ingram would finish and he didn’t. Sustaining that block and playing to the whistle isn’t always something you can coach. He’s got the athleticism and the length to play left tackle though, he just needs some coaching and weight training. I still have a late 1st round grade on him, but he’s obviously not perfect. Jeff Allen (Illinois) continues to impress. I’ll credit Wes Bunting (@WesBunting follow him) for showing me the light on him so to speak, but whenever I watched him I thought he looked like a solid tackle. He’s one of those players that the more I’ve watched him the more I like him. He’s definitely a sleeper at left tackle right now and while he struggled with Coples a couple times today, so did everyone. Allen held his own all day though and impressed scouts without a doubt. He’s got left tackle ability and will definitely go higher than people think. He could go in the 2nd round when all is said and done.
Ben Jones (Georgia) did not impress me today. He was consistently beat off the snap by quicker players like Brandon Thompson and struggled to anchor against stronger players. He’s an average athlete that is a mid-late round player in my opinion, definitely not a 2nd or 3rd round Center. His stock is on its way down in my opinion. William Vlachos (Alabama) also looked bad today. His arms just look remarkably short (he measured in with 30 inch arms, which is not good for an offensive lineman) and he struggled to anchor today as well. He could be a solid center thanks to his football IQ and his technique, but his upside is limited. Matt McCants (UAB) had a bad day as well outside at tackle. He was victimized multiple times by Coples and Ingram as well as Courtney Upshaw. He has little strength in his lower body and it showed today. But he doesn’t look like an impressive athlete and just flat got beat off the edge a couple of times today. He’s not earning a high grade from me either, though I still need to study him. Will Blackwell (LSU) didn’t look very good to me today either, though he was solid. He’s an average player in my eyes, not sure how much starting potential he has. He’s got a draftable grade from me, but didn’t impress me too much today.
Philip Blake (Baylor) impressed me today though. He showed a strong anchor and looked pretty good at guard and at center today. I will definitely be keeping an eye on him the rest of the week. Cordy Glenn (Georgia) was a very pleasant surprise as I didn’t expect a great week from him. He didn’t show much bend in his waist and had an impressive ability to anchor and sustain. He’s an impressive player that might be able to stick outside at tackle or succeed inside at guard. He’s definitely above Kelechi Osemele on my board right now. James Brown (Troy) didn’t impress me much today though. He didn’t look very good at tackle, and I think he might have to shift inside at the next level. He’s a solid player, but I’m not sold on him at tackle.
Quinton Coples (North Carolina) was the biggest winner out of anyone I watched today. The guy absolutely has top 5 talent, it’s just a question of how much he wants it. He will be as good as he wants to be, so it’s a question of desire and work ethic for judging him. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a sense of that throughout the week. He is just so athletic for his size that he had me drooling at his potential as a strong side end in a 4-3. He’s not an ideal right end in my opinion but as a left end he could be one of the best in the league if he wants it bad enough. I just hope he lands somewhere with a great defensive line coach that can light a fire under him. He’s got some red flags around him, but his upside is as intriguing as any defensive player in this entire draft in my opinion. Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) and Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) continued to impress me today. Ingram looked very fluid in pass rush drills, showed an impressive variety of pass rush moves and consistently won 1 on 1 battles in the pit. I think he is fluid enough to be a 3-4 OLB and I think he has enough strength and power to play 4-3 DE. He’s a versatile player that will likely earn a 1st round grade from me once I’m able to watch him more on tape. Upshaw is such a physically impressive player. He’s not a freak from a measurables standpoint but you can tell he’s going to be a quality player in the NFL from watching him. He’s so strong and physical that I would never bet against him. His lack of length might limit his upside a bit, but there’s no question he can be a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 or maybe even a 4-3 left end. I just haven’t watched him enough yet, but I like his game.
My two favorite defensive tackles on this roster were Brandon Thompson (Clemson) and Jaye Howard (Florida). Thompson has solid measurables and packed 311 pounds onto his 6’2” frame but his burst and quickness is my favorite part about his game. He gets off the ball very quickly and overwhelmed some of the interior linemen on the South today. He was consistently disruptive all practice and looks like a quality 3-tech in the NFL, perhaps a similar player to Jonathan Babineaux on the Atlanta Falcons. Howard is a guy I’ve liked since I watched him play over the course of his junior season and I was happy to get to see him live today. He’s lighter than I would have liked right now, but he beat Cordy Glenn a couple times in 1 on 1 drills. He’s got some burst and athleticism, but I’d like to see him get stronger and get up above 300 pounds for sure.
Kheeston Randall (Texas) continued to disappoint today. He got pancaked by Ben Jones, a player I am not high on, and struggled consistently against everyone he went up against. He won a couple of battles, but his stock has been slipping all season and nothing I saw today will change that. He looks like a guy who will go in the 4th round range to me. He’s got the size you’d love in a defensive tackle but he has limited length and he weighed in at under 300 pounds. He’s got potential, but he hasn’t lived up to it at all. Tydreke Powell (North Carolina) and Tony Jerod-Eddie (Texas A&M) both showed some ability as bull-rushers in 1 on 1 drills when they were able to push their man off the ball, but neither showed the ability to shed and they look like 2-down guys in the NFL. Powell plays too high at times and negates his strength, and on film I’ve seen him try to penetrate upfield and make plays in the backfield despite his lack of great burst or quickness. He’s a mid-round guy in my opinion, and I’m not sure he has much upside. Jerod-Eddie is similar but when I’ve seen him he seems like he has a bit better gap responsibility, but I haven’t done enough study on him yet. He seems like he could possibly be a 3-4 defensive end, but if he plays defensive tackle in a 4-3 he would strictly be a run stopper.
I think my favorite linebacker in all of Mobile is Keenan Robinson (Texas). He’s got experience playing all three linebacker positions but I think his best position is probably the weak-side. He’s a helluva hitter, a very good tackler and he has ability in coverage. He’s a complete linebacker and he’s going to be a riser after this week. Keep an eye on him at practice, he will impress you. One player who surprised me a bit was Zach Brown (North Carolina). I shouldn’t be so surprised he looked good in practice because that is when he should theoretically look best since there is no tackling allowed and that is something he struggles to do. But he took better angles than I saw on tape and clearly has all the athleticism you could want in coverage. Sean Spence (Miami) was disruptive today and when you watch him you can’t help but imagine how good he would be if he was bigger. His weigh-in likely hurt his stock, but in the right system (perhaps a Cover-2 or heavy zone system) he could be an impact linebacker. Nigel Bradham (Florida State) is another player I like. He’s just a solid, fundamentally sound guy that I think has a NFL future as a starter. I’ve liked him since his junior year, so I am excited to take a closer look at him the rest of the week when I have the chance.
Brandon Boykin (Georgia) impressed many with his physical play and footwork. Boykin has proven his name belongs with the likes of Casey Hayward, Janoris Jenkins and Leonard Johnson. Boykin’s ability to contribute as a return man will present tremendous value to any team that may consider him.
Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt) drew a lot of praise from Raheem Morris during the South practice. He was very physical against the larger WRs in Criner and Jones. Hayward also had success throughout the day against the faster WRs in Adams and Rainey. Hayward’s name is certainly on the rise.
Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) looked to be every bit as good in man coverage as anticipated. He was beaten by the likes of Adams and Rainey, however he was around the football all day long. Jenkins displayed very good long speed and hip fluidity this evening.
Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State) is getting a lot of work at FS, however I believe his physical nature would lend itself more favorably to him playing SS. Martin flew around the football field all day today, demonstrating the ability to get redline to redline. Watching Martin for the past 2 years, he’s done nothing today but confirm what we’ve seen from him during his time at OSU. He’s a physical Safety with very good range. Martin will be a starter at the next level for years to come.