Monday’s Senior Bowl practices are split so you see one team or the other, but not both. I went to see the South team in action.
* The South team has some very good OL. I was most impressed with Lane Johnson. He played LT at Oklahoma and is a natural athlete. The former TE showed that athleticism in pass blocking drills. He was able to mirror rushers smoothly. When he does miss, he’s able to recover. Johnson isn’t just a finesse player, though. He can anchor in pass pro. He can re-set when initially driven back. He has good feet and looked natural at both LT and RT.
* Xavier Nixon did some good things. He’s not a great pass blocker, but moved better than I expected. He looked good in the mirror drill. In the 1-on-1 drill he was too passive and allowed DL to get into his body. That’s a huge no-no in the NFL.
* Oday Aboushi played LT at Virginia and many people think he could go in the 1st round. He has an athletic build and is smooth at times, but I must admit to being disappointed in his pass protection skills at LT. He did play RT in some drills and looked very natural there. I wonder if that might not be a better position for him in the NFL.
* Garrett Gilkey from Chadron State has some definite limitations athletically, but he’s tough. Some players get beat and then get down on themselves. Gilkey would go just as hard on the next rep. He should get better as the week goes on and he adjusts. Gilkey mostly played OG. He did struggle in the pass pro drills.
* Dallas Thomas saw time at LT. He wasn’t as good as I expected. Thomas played LG at Tennessee as a Senior, but spent previous years at LT. Thomas was solid today, but I was hoping to be very impressed.
* Larry Warford is a massive OG. Besides owning the best man boobs at the Senior Bowl, Warford is a dominant player at times. If he gets his hands on you, it is over. Problem is that he doesn’t always do that. He can get off balance when having to reach and then become an ineffective blocker. He doesn’t recover well when beaten to to the outside.
* John Jenkins is a massive NT prospect. He didn’t wow anyone with athleticism, but moved well enough for a guy his size. He went hard on every snap. There was no loafing. There were a couple of plays in the 1-on-1 drills when he just destroyed blockers. On one play, Jenkins actually used a quick move and caught the blocker off guard. If you want a 3-4 NT, Jenkins could be your guy.
* Ziggy Ansah is the big name on the South DL. He is still new to football (track background) and that showed today. His athletic gifts were obvious in the drills, but things did not come easily to him. Other prospects have done these drills since junior high football. Ansah looked like a track guy trying to do football stuff. He was better when the contact part of the day began, as funny as that might sound. Ansah didn’t show explosion off the ball, but had good power. His bull rush was very effective. In the team session, he threw Rice TE Vance McDonald (6-4, 262) to the ground. That was a wow moment. The next play Bama TE Michael Williams came to that side. He is a great blocker, but Ansah stood him up and didn’t give an inch. Excellent strength by Ansah.
* Fla State DT Everett Dawkins had a rough day. He struggled in the movement drills. He was stiff at times. He was hesitant. He hit the pads with his feet while trying to go over them. That’s a no-no that the coach made clear to him and anyone else in the zip code. Dawkins did get better as the day wore on, but he needs to pick up the pace in a big way on Tuesday.
* Malliciah Goodman, the Clemson DE, had an odd day. He has very good feet. Unfortunately, his upper body is stiff. He looked good in some drills, stiff in others. He didn’t have the kind of pop you’d expect from a bigger DE (6-4, 272).
* Lavar Edwards failed to impress athletically, but did really knock the crap out of the pads in some drills. He can fire off the ball and has some punch.
* Corey Grissom from USF isn’t a gifted athlete. He’s not huge. There’s nothing compelling about him, but I liked watching him practice. He went full speed on every rep. He knocked the crap out of the bags. There is nothing pretty or finesse about this guy. Solid DT. Grinder.
* As for the skill players…the QBs were less than awesome. Tyler Wilson threw more ducks than I expected. EJ Manuel was EJ Manuel. There are some plays when his physical gifts show. Other times, he looks nothing like a stud QB. Landry Jones was up and down as well. He’s just not physically gifted.
* I didn’t get a chance to focus on the WRs and DBs. That’s for the next couple of days.
* Mike Gillislee had one beautiful cutback run in the team session.