3-4 OLBs

This is shaping up to be an odd class of 3-4 OLBs. Let’s talk about some of them.

* Jadeveon Clowney – Obviously he would be the top of most lists. Clowney has his faults, but all 32 teams would love to have his talent. Can play in any system due to his ability, but probably is best suited for the 4-3.

* Khalil Mack – Probably the #2 guy on most 3-4 OLB lists. It is possible some teams could like him more than Clowney due to character issues. Also possible some could rate him #3 after Mr. Barr. Mack could go as high as #2 overall.

* Anthony Barr – Here is where things start to get interesting. Barr is 6-5, 255. He is a terrific athlete and was a productive pass rusher for UCLA the past 2 years. But not everyone loves him. Some feels he’s not physical enough and don’t like him until the late 1st round or even the 2nd. Some teams love him and see him as a Top 10 talent. I’m with them. The guy can fly off the edge and get to the QB. Those guys aren’t easy to find. While it is possible he could slide, I don’t think it is realistic to expect him outside the Top 15.

After the Big 3, things are wide open.

* Dee Ford – He’ll be next on many lists. I’ve started to wonder if Ford will be a 1st rounder. Yes, he is a good pass rusher. But put on the tape and you see him speed rush from LDE over and over and over. Can he beat good LTs in the NFL? He doesn’t have great size or athletic ability. Ford’s showing at the Senior Bowl was impressive, but I’m not as high on him as I was.

* Jeremiah Attaochu – I like him better than Ford. Attaochu is a hair bigger. He has a better vertical jump, which shows explosion. He has longer arms. Attaochu is also more versatile. He played LB and DE. He lined up all over and can do multiple things. I also think he plays with more of a mean streak, which will help him in the NFL.

* Kony Ealy – Ealy did not test well at the Combine, but was much better at his Pro Day. I have watched several games and I just don’t see him as a 3-4 OLB. Ealy is a good DE prospect, but I don’t see the agility for playing OLB. I don’t think he’s worthy of a 1st round pick at either spot.

* Kareem Martin – During the season I saw Martin as a pure DE. He then shocked me with a terrific workout at the Combine. I went back to re-watch tape and see what I missed. I still think he is a 4-3 DE. I just don’t see a player that is meant to be in space. That said, if Quinton Coples can play LB in the NFL, never say never.

* Demarcus Lawrence – I don’t get the love for Lawrence. Check out this note from Daniel Jeremiah.

The 30′s? I just don’t get that. He is 6-3, 251. That’s okay size, but nothing special. He isn’t a special athlete. He does have long arms and huge hands (11 inches), but I put on the tape and see a lot of hustle plays. Those are good, but not for someone that is highly rated. You want top prospects making plays more off talent than effort. I just don’t see anything special about Lawrence, but I seem to be in the minority here.

* Scott Crichton – Good size at 6-3, 273. Good athlete for that size. Natural pass rusher. Can play either size. Flies off the ball, turns the corner well and knows how to finish plays. 4-3 teams will love him, but I think he can definitely play in the 3-4.

* Marcus Smith – Played LB and DE in college. Comfortable standing up and rushing off the edge. Complete OLB. Able to set the edge vs the run. Surprisingly good in coverage. Can run with a TE down the seam. Good pass rusher. Mostly a speed rusher. Will need to work on being more physical with OTs, but that can be developed. Has a good chance to sneak into the 2nd round.

* James Gayle – Somewhat of an overlooked player. If you combined size, workout results and on-field production, Gayle might rank as the #4 overall guy in this group. Excellent build at 6-4, 259. Mostly played LDE for Va Tech, but they occasionally had him drop back into coverage. That’s not his strength, but he can play in space. Has good speed and quickness. Also strong and physical. Put on the Duke game from 2012 and you’ll see him run over OL. I think he can play in the 4-3 or the 3-4. Might be a 3rd round target.

* Trent Murphy – Love his motor, but I am not a fan of his as an NFL prospect. Just isn’t explosive. Had a good workout at the Combine, but I don’t think you see that consistently on tape. I prefer him as a 4-3 DE.

There are still other names to consider.

* Jackson Jeffcoat

* Will Clarke

* Adrian Hubbard

* Chris Smith

* Trevor Reilly

* Howard Jones

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Understanding Athleticism

LSU held its Pro Day today and things did not go well for WR Jarvis Landry. He was slow, stiff and showed no explosion. While the numbers don’t lie, this doesn’t mesh with what you see on tape, where Landry was a star receiver.

What gives?

We see this every year. Some players play better than they test. Rip a guy for a crappy Pro Day or Combine and you’ll get stories about Terrell Suggs, Joe Haden and Anquan Boldin. They didn’t test well, but have been NFL stars.

Unfortunately there are also plenty of guys who didn’t test well that were exposed as marginal athletes. They did not go on to NFL glory.

Trying to figure out which players are the exception is very tricky, to put it mildly. I believed in Boldin back in 2003. I didn’t care that he ran more than 4.7 at the Combine. I had watched him play for 3 years and Boldin’s game wasn’t built on speed. He was tough, physical and even athletic. But he wasn’t fast.

I was nervous about Haden. CB is a speed position. The fact he wasn’t huge and lacked ideal size kinda bugged me. He’s turned out better than I expected.

I don’t specifically remember my thoughts on Suggs.

Landry had a pretty miserable day.

6-0, 196
4.61
30.5 VJ
4.59 SS
7.59 3-cone

Those last 2 times are awful. They wouldn’t be special for offensive linemen, let alone a medium-sized WR.

Watch Landry in a game and you see some impressive plays, but also his physical limitations.

It gets to be tough to make a case for Landry. He’s not big. He’s not coming off a major injury. He was a good college player, but not a dominant force. I’m afraid his workouts are showing who he is and that means he won’t be a Top 75 pick.

Landry can still find a role in the NFL and he can become a good pro, but he’s far from a lock to start, let alone become a star receiver.

Go back to the previous trio for a minute. Suggs set sack records. Boldin was a dominant player on an elite team. Haden was an elite CB in the best conference in all of college football.

Landry was a good college player, but not on that level. He only started 12 games in 3 years. He was 77-1193-10 in 2013. Those are good numbers, but nothing special. Landry is good on tape, but not special. And now we see a bad workout. This is not a good trend.

Mike Mayock loves Landry. Why? Mayock sees toughness and skills and brains on tape. Landry is the kind of player you want to like. But right now the evidence is piling up and the verdict isn’t good. He’ll be in for a slide during the draft, especially when you consider what a deep draft this is.

Each case has to be studied like this. How did a player’s workouts compare to his game tape? Don’t think about results. Numbers can be deceiving. Watch the tape. See if a player exhibits NFL type athleticism on tape. Not everyone tests well. Was the player dominant in college? How did he fare in big games or against big competition?

The flip side of this can be true as well. OL Wesley Johnson had a strong showing at the Combine. Casual fans might have said “Hey, this guy is an athletic OL.”

Put on the game tape and you see something very different. His feet are terrible. Johnson did training to get ready for the Combine and mastered the drills. He then did very well on them in Indy. The game tape is nothing like that.

We’ve seen this before. Lydon Murtha was an OL for Nebraska. He had a good workout at the Combine. I hadn’t been impressed by his game tape, but thought the workout meant I needed to go back and re-watch him. I still wasn’t impressed. Murtha was a 7th round pick and started 4 games in his short career.

Athletic drills are a tool for quantifying athletic ability, but they can be flawed. The drills must be kept in context. If they don’t match the game tape, you must figure out which of the two is wrong. NFL teams struggle with this each year so don’t expect to be perfect as you decipher the info and come to a conclusion.

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Draft Rumor Mill

Russ Lande covers the NFL draft for Sports on Earth and has been a good draft analyst for quite a while. He shared some of the things he’s been hearing.

Kyle Fuller as the top CB?

Rumor 1: Cornerback surprise. Mock drafts have been projecting either Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert or Jason Verrett to be the first cornerback selected in May. But over the last month, we’ve heard from numerous people that Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is the top cornerback on many draft boards. He doesn’t have exceptional height, but at just a shade under 6-foot, Fuller is more than tall enough and when you add in his 32 7/8tharms he has plenty of reach. Teams believe Fuller can excel in any defensive scheme because he has the size, strength, athleticism and physical playing style to excel in tight man coverage, along with the instincts, closing quickness and ball skills to make big plays from zone alignments. When you add in Fuller’s maturity, smarts and consistency, it shouldn’t shock anybody if he’s a first round pick and is as likely as any other cornerback to be the first one selected.

Marqis Lee an underrated WR?

Rumor 2: Receiver sleeper. As the 2013 college season got underway there was a lot of discussion about USC receiver Marqise Lee being a top ten pick, but an injury-plagued season hurt his stock. During my travels attending the Missouri and Texas A&M pro days over the last few weeks, I was fortunate to speak with more than twenty NFL people and Lee’s name kept coming up. He’s an incredibly hard-working young man, while his film shows outstanding routes, excellent use of hands to defeat the press and ability to easily set-up defenders to get them to turn their hips. No one is going to mistake him for Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin when it comes to size, but NFL people consistently commented that they were shocked at how physical Lee is, whether fighting through the cornerback’s jam to release off the line, staying on his stem while the defender tries to ride him off it or running through potential tackles to make big plays after the catch. Few top tier prospects would have played through the injuries Lee did in 2013 and his gutty performance against UCLA convinced NFL teams of his toughness. More than a few NFL people told me they would not be surprised if Lee ends up being the best NFL receiver from this years’ draft when we look back in five years.

Lee looked like a Top 10 type of prospect in 2012. He didn’t have as good a year in 2013 and some team could get very lucky.

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Big Receivers

The WR class of 2014 is absolutely loaded. There are players of every size, shape and skill set imaginable. Teams have the ability to figure out what exactly they want in a receiver. Teams looking for big receivers will have a couple of very interesting players to go after.

Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State are the big names among big receivers. Both are Redshirt Sophomores. Both players need a lot of work. They dominated in college, but that was mostly due to size. That won’t be enough for the NFL.

I like Evans more. A lot more. He’s not just a giant WR. Evans shows the potential to be a complete player. He had a good workout at the Combine and you can see good athleticism when you watch him play. In the Ole Miss game he jumped over a DB. That’s tough for a huge WR to do.

Evans does need a lot of work. Texas A&M had him line up outside to the right most, if not all, of the time. He ran a limited set of routes. NFL teams will need to work on his route running and will have to see if he’s comfortable moving around the formation.

But Evans does flash big time potential. He has good body control for such a big guy. He made a few spectacular sideline grabs this year. He has good, not great, hands, but occasionally he will make a really impressive catch.

Evans racked up plenty of RAC yards and I think he can do that in the NFL. He wasn’t just overpowering defenders in space. Evans showed good speed and some elusiveness with the ball in his hands.

His size does allow him to be physically dominant at times. Evans will fight through physical coverage and just manhandle some DBs. He is strong enough to put some on the ground. More impressively, Evans is able to play through contact. He can have a DB draped on him and still make a tough catch. Evans doesn’t have to be open to be open. That skill will serve him well at the next level.

One of my concerns with Evans is his emotional make-up. He can be too fiery at times and that can affect his play. He needs to grow out of that. There are going to be some tough games in the NFL. You must be able to get through those, mentally and emotionally.

I think Evans deserves to be a Top 15 pick. I can see him becoming a stud receiver in the NFL.

By the numbers

6-5, 231
arm – 35 1/8
hand – 9 5/8
40 – 4.53
VJ – 37
3C – 7.08
SS – 4.26
82-1105-5 in 2012
65-1322-12 in 2013

* * *

I am not nearly as high on Kelvin Benjamin, the RS Soph from Florida State. Benjamin is even bigger, going 6-5, 240. He does not carry that size nearly as well. Evans looks like a giant WR. Benjamin looks like a LB playing receiver.

Benjamin did post huge numbers this year, but his tape just didn’t impress me. He caught a lot of intermediate crossing passes and then turned them into long plays when defenders weren’t able to tackle him in space. This worked great and FSU scored a lot of points.

But that doesn’t carry over to the NFL. Being a 240-pound receiver is still rare in the NFL, but you aren’t going to overpower defenders the same way. Guys will get you down. Take away those long runs and Benjamin is a very different player.

He’s got a hitch on his release and that happens over and over. That one simple move gives DBs an extra fraction of a second to adjust to him and stay close as he runs his route. Benjamin rarely gets separation on his own. He isn’t a good route runner and lacks the agility or quickness to create space between him and the DB.

Drops were an issue in several of the games I watched. Benjamin did make some impressive catches as well, but the drops were bad ones. The ball hit him in the hands and he simply dropped it.

I think Benjamin could be a good role player in the NFL, but I don’t see him as a starter. I would not take him until the middle rounds.

By the numbers

6-5, 240
arm – 34 7/8
hand – 10 1/4
40 – 4.61
VJ – 32.5
3C – 7.33
SS – 4.39
54-1011-15 in 2013

* * *

To put it simply…Evans is faster, more agile, more explosive and has better hands. That’s the guy I want of the two. I think he can be an NFL star. I think Benjamin is going to be more of a role player. There is value in that, but not 1st round value.

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Sentreal Henderson’s Bad Pro Day

Miami OT Sentreal Henderson is a massive blocker with big time potential. But he also has big time questions. Henderson’s showing at his Pro Day didn’t help matters.

Yikes.

Henderson’s agent is in full spin mode.

Agent David Levine told the Miami Herald that Henderson “did not quit” the workout but rather that dehydration was the reason he could not finish. Levine said that Henderson met with New York Giants GM Jerry Reese after the workout and also met with the offensive line coaches of the Bengals, Seahawks and Jets as well.

Mortensen saying Henderson quit “was quite a mischaracterization,” according to Levine.

Even if that is true…and I’m not sure I buy it…Henderson looks bad for being dehydrated. A prospect’s Pro Day is one of the biggest days of his football career. The prospect needs to be ready to perform and part of that is being properly hydrated.

The Eagles had already pulled Henderson off their draft board, to give you some idea of what teams think of the young man. He could become a top flight RT or could be someone that struggles to understand the “pro” part of pro football. Being a professional means working hard, training properly and being reliable, on and off the field.

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Draft Notes

Mike Mayock had a pre-Combine conference call with the media and addressed a variety of topics. NFL.com wrote a good piece that highlighted his best comments. A couple of interesting takes…

4. Deepest draft in a while

Mayock’s thoughts on the depth of overall talent in the draft were strong. “Deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably 10 years,” he said. “I had a GM tell me the other day that having a top 20 pick this year is like having a top 10 pick last year. There are some positions that are stacked, where you can get a quality player through three or four rounds.”

10. Plenty of OTs to be found

As high as Mayock is on the depth of wide receivers in the draft, he was equally effusive about offensive tackles beyond the first round. “If you’re not going to jump on a tackle in the first round, you can get into the second round, or even later in the second round,” he said. Mayock named Virginia’s Morgan Moses, Clemson’s Brandon Thomas, Nevada’s Joel Bitonio and Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort as a few good examples of players who could be found in the second or third round and are likely to be starters.

You don’t have to agree with Mike, but you have to respect his opinion. Always great to get his thoughts.

* * *

I feel like USC’s Dion Bailey is the one Safety that doesn’t get talked about enough. Here is a new video of him, mainly playing the slot against Colorado. Keep in mind that he lists at 6-2, 218.

He’s not great covering slot receivers, but you see his potential. And he shows great hands on the INT. That’s not a fluke. Bailey plucks the ball very naturally. I like the fact he shows good awareness, on the INT play for sure, but also for most of the game. Bailey is able to focus on his man, but also keep track of the action around him.

* * *

I wrote about Dee Ford as a potential Eagles target.

* * *

Can Kony Ealy play in the 3-4? I think he could for someone like Rex Ryan, who has successfully used Quinton Coples as an OLB. I’m not sure most teams would want Ealy there. He lists at 6-5, 275. And he’s got some thickness to him. He’s not a sleek pass rusher. I think ideally Ealy is a 4-3 DE, but his performance at the Combine will be closely scrutinized by some 3-4 teams that are trying to figure out if they think he can be a good 3-4 OLB.

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Safety Talk

NFL teams are desperate to find good starting Safeties. The 2014 draft has some talented prospects that teams will be highly interested in.

To me, there are 2 prospects that stand out…Calvin Pryor and Lamarcus Joyner.

Pryor lists at 6-2, 210. He might be heavier than that. He has an excellent combination of size, speed and strength. He’s very impressive when he attacks downhill. Pryor can deliver impact hits. He jumps off the screen when you watch the game tape. Really impressive physically.

He’s not a polished player. There are some plays where he takes a bad angle. There are some sloppy tackle attempts. Teams with a strong coaching staff will see a gifted prospect that can be developed into a star Safety. I can imagine that some teams won’t value Pryor as much.

Joyner will be a polarizing player. He is 5-8, 190. That size will cause some teams to really downgrade him. And I think that is reasonable. Do you want someone that size matched up with Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham in space?

Joyner plays much bigger than he is. To me, he jumps out when watching the tape. Joyner is a big-time hitter. He knows how to explode into runners and receivers. He delivers clean hits, which is all the more valuable in today’s NFL. Joyner offers versatility because he can play the slot. He’s got CB experience.

The natural comparison for Joyner is the Honey Badger, who just had an outstanding rookie season. Both guys lack ideal size,  but can be impact players and in unusual ways. Both are very good at playing in the box. Both can rush the passer and play the run. Both have good man cover skills.

Honey Badger had serious character issues. Joyner was a key player on a dominant defense that just won the national title. I’m betting teams will love him as they meet with him and do their background checks.

I see Pryor as a 1st round pick. Joyner could go 2nd or 3rd round.

* * *

Two other guys who get a lot of talk are Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Jimmie Ward. Dix could be a real good deep Safety. He is a good tackler and has good range and ball skills. There really isn’t anything compelling about him, but he could still be a 1st round pick. There will be some teams that like him better than Pryor.

Ward, who played at Northern Illinois, is 5-10, 191. He had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. I’ve seen some people mention him as a high pick and I just don’t get it. I see a solid prospect, but not a special player. He does have excellent cover skills. I could see some teams actually looking at him as a corner.

While Ward is the same weight as Joyner, he’s not nearly as physical of a player. Ward told me down in Mobile that he hoped to bulk up to 200 pounds. That’s a smart goal, but I still don’t see him as a player I would take early as a Safety. Teams wanting someone to play the slot could value him as early as the 2nd round.

* * *

Deone Bucannon gets a lot of talk because of his size (6-1, 216), but he’s more inconsistent than you want. He’ll miss some tackles. He looks stiff when facing athletic guys in space. There is plenty to like with him, but I think Bucannon could slide more than some fans think.

A big Safety from the Pac-12 that I feel is under the radar is Dion Bailey from USC. He is 6-2, 218. Former LB. He has some downhill explosion. Bailey is a good athlete. He’s got terrific hands. He was a stud DB in high school and redshirted in 2010, but practiced as a S. Bailey moved to LB for 2011 and 2012. This year he went back to S and played really well. He had 5 INTs and broke up 6 passes. Bailey had 6.5 TFLs. He tied for the team lead in solo tackles. I think Bailey has a lot of potential.

* * *

One small school guy that has really grown on me is Isaiah Newsome of Louisiana-Monroe. They list him at 5-11, 200. He can hit, cover and tackle.

* * *

One player I’ve been asked a lot about is Allen Darby, the Arizona State star. Darby played well in the Shrine Game, but didn’t impress me all that much when I checked out his game tape.

* * *

There are plenty of other Safeties to talk about. I need to watch more tape and do more research on them before writing about the players.

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Early Senior Bowl Review

I haven’t had a chance to study the tape yet, but here are some initial thoughts on the Senior Bowl.

* Dee Ford was the MVP and he deserved it. Ford was explosive off the ball and disruptive all afternoon. He was clearly the best player in the game. That doesn’t mean he’ll be picked the highest, but he really stood out. Ford also batted down a pass. That play showed discipline and awareness. There are some plays where he’s a bit out of control and will get burned by fakes, but you can work on that.

* Telvin Smith has probably frustrated a few teams with his refusal to even discuss a move to Safety, but he certainly has impressed them with his play. Smith flew around the field on Saturday. He was active and aggressive. That is exactly what you want to see from a 218-pound LB.

* None of the North QBs were good. Logan Thomas, Stephen Morris and Tajh Boyd had a rough week. Boyd was the most disappointing since I actually had high hopes for him. Thomas was 4 for 5…but only for 9 yards. The man lives on short throws. And he was sacked 5 times. Some of that was blocking, but some on him.

* David Fales helped himself by going 6-7-104. He had a TD and INT. Fales didn’t have a great week so it was good to see him bounce back with a good showing in the game. His best pass early on was a throw down the middle to a TE. The ball was up high, but Fales gave his guy a chance to make a play. Later Fales hit WR Jordan Matthews for a good gain with a really good throw. His TD pass came when on the move. The WR was wide open, but it was still impressive to see Fales find the guy and get him the ball.

* The TE that Fales hit was Crockett Gilmore, who had a fantastic game. He was 5-61-1. Gilmore was a late add to the game who came in and made things happen right away. He has good hands and shows a knack for getting open. I’m looking forward to watching some tape on him.

* I wasn’t impressed with Safety Ahmad Dixon. He had a couple of quick screens thrown his way. He didn’t handle either one of them well. It would have been good to see him look better when playing in space.

* Marcus Smith did impress me. The stat sheet shows one tackle, but I thought he did a solid job as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He was aggressive and physical with blockers. Smith showed some cover skills as well. There was one play when he turned and ran with the TE down the seam. That’s impressive for a guy who is 6-4, 258. You know 3-4 teams are interested in Smith as an OLB.

* ILB Chris Borland had a good game. He only had 1 solo tackle, but was credited with 7 assists. He forced a fumble. Borland also had a TFL. He was active and flew around the field.

* A couple of big CBs flashed. Stanley Jean-Baptiste broke up a pass and almost picked it off. He read the play in front of him and got a good break on the ball. Just couldn’t pick it off. I thought he showed good instincts this year. Dontae Johnson also had a PBU. He also got in on a TFL. Both guys will appeal to teams who want tall, long press corners.

* How cool was it to see DT Caraun Reid play so well? The Princeton star came down to Mobile and showed he was for real. He had a pair of sacks in the game, which capped off a strong week. Reid is quick, athletic and strong. Typical Ivy Leaguer that has to rely on brawn instead of brains. 4-3 teams will love him. Some 3-4 teams could see him as a NT. Might fit better with one that runs the 1-gap system.

* Kyle Van Noy showed off his versatility in one sequence. He made a tackle out in coverage on one play and then on the next snap got a sack. Van Noy might not be great in any one area, but the guy is a complete LB.

* S Craig Loston had a pick when a deflected pass came his way and was there for the taking. Nothing fancy, but you do like to see guys show good hands and make those catches. How often do we watch a game and yell at the TV “How did he drop that?”

* S Jimmie Ward looked good. He played some in the slot and showed the good man cover skills we expected. He also had an impressive tackle when he totally upended a bigger player. Ward lacks ideal size, but he’s tough and he will tackle.

* OT Sentreal Henderson struggled all game. He was regularly beaten in pass pro. He also was sloppy in the run game. Not a good day for the big guy.

* CB Chris Davis had an impressive INT. He jumped a route and showed good hands in snatching the ball away. Davis didn’t have one pick this year, despite several PBUs. He isn’t a shutdown corner type so his ball skills must improve if he’s going to make it in the NFL. Davis showed good potential on Sunday. We need to see more of that.

* Michael Sam had a rough week since he played mostly LB and just doesn’t fit there. He got to rush the passer on Saturday and came up with a sack. He’s a limited pro prospect, but has some pass rush ability.

* RB James White used a good stiff-arm and quick burst to get into the end zone on a short TD run. He led both teams with 11 carries for 62 yards.

Senior Bowl box score

Some highlights can be found here

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Senior Bowl – Day 3

SOUTH

QB Jimmy Garoppolo is a player I like. Not everyone is sold on him, though. One of the questions with Garoppolo is his ability to throw the deep ball. He doesn’t have a great arm. He doesn’t have great downfield accuracy. I stood down on the field to watch him throw some today and loved his smooth motion, quick release and tight spirals. The short and intermediate stuff is very impressive. His deep balls do need work. \

I do think that is an area he can work on in the NFL and I don’t think it will make teams rule him out. Garoppolo didn’t wow scouts and coaches this week, but he had a solid showing and helped himself.

* * *

I haven’t said too much about Mike Davis the WR from Texas. He had a good week. Runs well and has pretty good hands. He’s 6-0, 193, which is solid size for a WR with speed. I’m not sure I see him as a starter in the NFL, but the potential is there.

* * *

Georgia Southern has a pair of prospects in the game. CB Lavelle Westbrooks played well the last couple of days and showed good man cover skills. He’s 5-11, 195 with 31 7/8 arms. Teams that want bigger corners should have interest in him.

* * *

RB Jerick McKinnon played well the whole week. He needs work as a pass blocker and receiver, but the guy can run and is a tough, physical player. He should help on Sts right away.

* * *

I hoped to get a good feel for Walt Aikens, another small school CB. He was burned for a long TD on Wednesday. Aikens looked good at times, but I didn’t get to focus on him enough to have a strong opinion. He does have good game tape and that is what he’ll be primarily judged on.

* * *

Dee Ford looked great on Tuesday, but seemed to be a bit more quiet today. There were a couple of plays where he flashed great speed. He jumped offside in one team drill, which got the RT nervous. Stopping Ford is hard, but even worse when he’s jumping early.

* * *

Arkansas DE Chris Smith made some plays the last couple of days. He only measured in at 6-1, 266 and that’s shorter than was expected. But Smith has 34-inch arms and that will help him with the lack of height.

* * *

Morgan Moses sure looks the part of a stud OT. He is 6-6, 325. I have concerns with his pass blocking, but others like him as a prospect. Speed rushers can get the best of him, but he will win if he gets his hands on the rusher. Moses has very long arms and is able to get to some rushers before they can get around him. Could be a good RT.

* * *

Caraun Reid never jumped out at me as great, but sure had some good moments. He was able to control OL when they single-blocked him. I didn’t get a good feel for his ability to deal with double teams. Reid showed quickness off the ball, but he wasn’t getting regular penetration.

NORTH

S Deone Bucannon looks like he should be a great player. He is 6-1, 216 and chiseled. Who wouldn’t want a DB like that? The problem is that he’s a bit stiff in his hips and doesn’t have top speed. Bucannon has shown good hands when the ball gets near him. He does look good in some man-coverage situations. I’m not sure how effective he is when playing the deep zone or the deep middle. In the old days he could just be a box Safety, but teams don’t do a lot of that anymore. Bucannon made a couple of plays today. In listening to him after the practice, Bucannon knows he does have some cover skills that need to be improved.

* * *

Michigan OL Michael Schofield had a good day. He played RG and RT. He’s 6-7, 303, which is an OT build. Some feel his future is at OG, since he doesn’t have great feet. Schofield did well in the blocking drills at both G and T today. I will be interested to see if a team gives him a shot at RT.

* * *

Aaron Donald had a great week. He just dominated the 1-on-1 drills. It wasn’t fair to the guys he went against. Donald exploded off the ball. He also stayed low and used his hands well. 4-3 teams that play a 1-gap system will be in love with this guy.

* * *

Kain Colter made a terrific downfield catch today. He’s still got a lot of learning to do as a WR and he knows that. Colter spoke after practice about how he has to get used to practicing as a receiver and perfecting skills like route-running. Colter has a great attitude. He said he’s willing to play QB, WR, DB or anything else they want. This is a young man who wants to have an NFL career. I think he can be a good slot receiver in time.

* * *

UConn DT Shamar Stephen had another solid showing. He’s big, but also a quick, disruptive player.

* * *

Brandon Thomas got the better of Trent Murphy in a drill. Murphy is an effort guy, but Thomas isn’t a slouch himself. I wonder how many teams are going to consider giving Thomas a shot at LT now.

* * *

The North QBs never looked all that good this week. Logan Thomas did nothing for me, unless you consider setting the world record for checkdown passes.

Tajh Boyd did have some good moments today. He threw a good deep ball for a TD. That pass was accurate and had good touch. There was another play when he didn’t find anyone open early so he slid to his right and then dumped the ball to a skill player who turned and ran upfield for a big gain.

Boyd’s motion could still use some work. And he’s thrown a few horrible INTs. A talented, experienced QB like himself shouldn’t be making some of these mistakes.

* * *

RB James White has looked good at times. He has a good burst. White ran for a short TD today. He bounced the run out wide and had enough speed to get in for the TD.

* * *

Zach Martin is the only OL I saw block Aaron Donald today. Martin played both LG and LT. He and Arnold had a LG vs DT battle, which Martin won. Martin is 6-4, 305. Most teams prefer OTs to be huge, but Martin will appeal to some teas.

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Senior Bowl – Day 2

SOUTH

* Bad news. CB Aaron Colvin tore his ACL. He was having a good week and had a chance to be a Top 50 pick. You hate when a kid gets hurt at this time of the year. He’ll probably miss most or all of his rookie year. No idea what his draft value will be now.

* LB Kyle Van Noy continues to impress. Ideal SAM because he can play the run, cover and rush the passer. Showed good hands today when the ball came his way in drills. I wonder if 3-4 teams will prefer him as a SAM or ILB.

* DE Dee Ford looked great at times. He can absolutely fly off the edge. He’s smart, too. Beat Morgan Moses with speed rushes a couple of straight times in team drills and then beat him badly with an inside move right after that.

Ford does a good job of chasing the ball when it goes away from him. There was one pass play where he flew into the backfield and pressured the passer. He then flew across the field in pursuit and almost got in on the tackle. The offense did use this against him a bit later. They ran a bootleg and he chased the RB, allowing the QB to get wide.

* OL Billy Turner has some good moments. The young man from North Dakota State can really hold his own when it comes to strength and power. Speed rushers get the best of him. He was beaten several times by speed guys in the 1-on-1′s. I still like his potential.

* The South QBs are infinitely better than the North trio. And that might be putting it mildly. Jimmy Garoppolo just seems like the real deal. He throws the ball well and doesn’t seem out of place when dealing with elite competition. He made one beautiful throw into a very tight window today. Beyond that, he has the right presence. This is a young man I would trust with being my starting QB.

* We got to see LB Christian Jones vs TE Arthur Lynch in some blocking drills. Jones ate him up. Wasn’t pretty at all. He used speed, quickness and good moves to win. This is really impressive because Lynch stuffs almost every other guy he goes against. Lynch is usually a very good blocker.

* WR Jordan Matthews is an interesting kid. I love his size. He will make some really tough catches that impress you. But he doesn’t have naturally soft hands. Watch him in warm-ups and you’ll see he’s not the same at catching the ball as someone like Cody Hoffman of BYU. Hoffman can effortlessly pluck the ball. Matthews has drops each day and that problem shows up on tape as well. I think you can work on that with coaching, but he just doesn’t have great hands and there is only so much you can do about that.

As a point of reference, remember that TO didn’t have great hands. He always was among the league leaders in drops. But he also was a big, talented receiver who produced at an elite level. And Matthews will make some spectacular grabs. He had one impressive downfield catch today.

* CB Lavelle Westbrooks, 5-11, 195, did some good things today. He had one terrific play. Westbrooks read a double-move and didn’t bite. He stuck right with the WR down the field and made a leaping PBU. I need to do more studying on him.

* DE Brent Urban continued to impress. He came very close to getting a sack when playing RDE. Moves well for such a big man.

* DT Daniel McCullers wasn’t good yesterday, but got going today. He won some battles and looked much better. He finally played like a big guy. I still wish he was more of a jerk. You want big guys to be mean guys. He doesn’t show a nasty streak.

* Florida CB Jaylen Watkins had an impressive day. He looked very good in man coverage. He showed good speed and was able to run with receivers.

* Vandy OL Wesley Johnson has not impressed me, but he’s the kind of guy who isn’t made to shine in the drills. Limited athlete. Only 290 pounds. He’s not going to win with size, strength or athleticism. Don’t be surprised if Johnson looks much better in the game. He’s the kind of guy that will win on gameday more than in a 1-on-1 setting.

* DT Will Sutton does a good job of driving his blocker backward. He won’t always disengage, but he uses his hands and leverage to collapse the pocket.

NORTH

* Michael Sam is having a rough week. They’re playing him as a 4-3 LB, which isn’t his natural position. You could see how stiff his hips are in the drills today. He’s not meant to play in space. Sam is a pass rusher. Hopefully he’ll get some DE reps in the game on Saturday.

* DB Dez Southward showed really bad hands today. Instead of catching the ball, he was almost fighting it, which of course leads to drops. Southward played Safety at Wisconsin, but is getting a look at CB this week. He shows potential, but would need a lot of work at CB. And he can’t use the position switch as an excuse for the drops. He was a 3-year starter and only had 2 career INTs.

* Logan Thomas looks more and more like a TE to me. His passes lead to a lot of “Ugh” moans from the crowd.

* CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste is an interesting player. Great size at 6-2, 215. As you might guess, he’s not the most fluid athlete. But he seems to have real good instincts. There were a few plays today when receivers go separation because he couldn’t make the quick moves to stick with them, but Jean-Baptiste would get to the receiver because he knew where the guy was going. He didn’t break up the passes, but was right there to make the tackle.

* CB Nevin Lawson is a one-man holding machine. Utterly ridiculous. I assume the Seahawks will use their 1st rounder to draft him.

* I was not impressed by S Ahmad Dixon. He didn’t look good in coverage and then badly held guys on a few other plays.

* WR Shaq Evans is one of the reasons the DBs were getting desperate. Evans looked very good. He is 6-1, 210. Showed good speed, physicality and good route-running. He got open deep a few times. You can’t judge him on catches since the North QBs are so erratic.

* RB Charles Sims stood out to me in the pass blocking drill. Looked very good.

* WR Josh Huff made one impressive grab today.

* S Deone Bucannon had an impressive hit today. A player got upfield and was going down the sideline. Bucannon hit him up high. Wasn’t a full speed hit, but you could still hear the pop. Bucannon is a tough, physical player. His upper body is incredible. I do wonder about his range. I think he might be best used closer to the LOS. The problem with that is that few teams have a dedicated box Safety anymore.

* Marcus Smith is playing 4-3 LB this week, not his natural spot. I did think he might come alive in the pass rush drill. It was LBs vs TEs and RBs. Smith was quiet. Rushing vs those guys is very different from being a DE that goes against OTs, but I was disappointed.

* OT Jack Mewhort can be too upright at times. Rushers get under his pads and just walk him right back.

* DT Ra’Shede Hageman might be 6-6, 318 but don’t think of him as a big ol’ NT that is meant to stuff the run. Hageman can fly off the ball. Very quick. A guy with that build who moves like that…might remind you of a young Albert Haynesworth.

* If they gave out hustle awards, Trent Murphy would be carrying a lot of trophies. The guys flies all over the field. 100 mph all the time. The problem is that he’s a tweener. He is probably best suited to being a 4-3 DE. I just don’t know if he’s got the quickness for that role. I don’t think he is athletic enough to play 3-4 OLB. You could consider bulking him up for 3-4 DE. Murphy is 6-6, 261 right now. He would literally need to add 20 pounds.

Murphy is a fun guy to talk to. He had a terrific career at Stanford and I hope he’s able to carve out a role in the NFL, but I fear he might be a guy who was really good in college but just doesn’t translate well to the NFL.

* Tajh Boyd is the best QB on the North, but he’s highly erratic. I hope he has a strong practice on Wednesday or a good showing in the game. Things haven’t been pretty so far.

* OG Brandon Linder is an impressive blocker. He’s very calm. Some OL look almost panicked as they deal with the rusher. Linder is smooth and efficient. Good strength. Seems technically sound.

* DL Shamar Stephen has impressed me a few times. I need to study him a lot more. Looks quick, which is impressive for a guy that is 6-5, 308. Might be 3-4 DE material.

* OL Brandon Thomas played LT at Clemson. He doesn’t have great feet or size so many projected him to OG in the pros. Thomas has played some OT in Mobile. He is actually 6034, which means 6-3 1/2. And he’s got 34 inch arms. Thomas might move to OG, but he could play OT if needed. He did a solid job in pass pro today.

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