by Tommy Lawlor
Day 1 can be tough on players. Many have been away from football for several weeks and that has them rusty. They’re learning new systems and dealing with new teammates. This all leads to some sloppy play.
Some players look much better on Day 2. They have their feet under them, so to speak, and look more comfortable and more natural. This seemed to be the case for QB Bryce Petty, who struggled on Tuesday, but threw the ball much better on Wednesday.
Petty threw well on the short stuff, but suddenly was much better on intermediate passes. He hit a TE down the seam. He hit a WR on a deep out, about 18 yards down the field. Petty hit a WR on a crossing route in the 7-on-7 drill. He’ll never be mistaken for John Elway, but this was a huge improvement for Petty.
On Tuesday, intermediate passes were hitting the ground or thrown behind targets. They didn’t have good velocity at all. Petty still mostly made short, quick throws. That’s his comfort zone. He did take a big step forward with his intermediate passing.
* The guys playing LT for the North are Donovan Smith of Penn State and Trent Brown from Florida. Smith has had some good moments. He has a solid combination of size and athleticism. He can really lock on and get the best of the rusher.
Brown is huge at 6-8 1/2 and 376 pounds. Heck, he’s the LG and the LT all at once. The old joke in scouting is that he’s so big it takes a $20 cab ride to get around him. Brown isn’t your typical athletic LT, but he moves well enough for a guy his size. And Brown can dominate rushers when he gets his hands on them. I need to do a lot of tape study on him. Brown is very intriguing.
* Coaches love to try guys at different positions to see who can do what. I remember watching Trent Cole play some OLB in January of 2005 in Mobile and he looked completely lost. Cole played DE for the first 8 yeas of his career, but has successfully moved to OLB the last 2 seasons.
Several pass rushers struggled in LB drills today. Deion Barnes, Hau’oli Kikaha, and Za’Darius Smith all looked awkward at LB. They are natural DEs. In time, they may move to LB successfully, but based on what they’ve shown in Mobile the change won’t happen quickly or smoothly.
* WR Ty Montgomery had a bad drop today. He measured in just under 6-feet yesterday and hasn’t done much on the field. This has not been a good week for him.
* Quentin Rollins has been pretty good in coverage. His highlight moment came on a double move by Devin Smith. Rollins had the initial move covered, but then stuck with Smith when he turned upfield. Rollins maintained inside position and looked back for the ball at the last minute. He never panicked. He was smart and kept the pass from being completed.
* WR Jamison Crowder continues to play very well. He has slot guy size (5-8, 174) , but looks just as good outside. He made a spectacular one-hand grab today. Crowder had to fully extend just to come close to the ball. He has great body control and is an explosive athlete.
* OLB/DE Nate Orchard is the most impressive pass rusher on the North team. He constantly seems to be getting the best of his man. He’s not just flying off the ball either. There was one play in the 11-on-11 drills where Orchard played a roll-out perfectly and was right there to blow up the play. Orchard has helped himself tremendously with his showing in Mobile.
* I had high expectations for OT T.J. Clemmings. He had a great Senior season and was a dominant RT for Pitt. Unfortunately Clemmings has had to block Orchard more than a few times and that hasn’t gone well. Clemmings has played RT and LT in Mobile and hasn’t impressed me. Even his run blocking hasn’t been what I expected. There was one play today where Za’Darius Smith came off the ball and moved Clemmings back half a yard. That really got my attention.
* Robert Myers has looked good when I’ve been able to check him out. He’s playing OG this week and looks natural in there despite the fact he’s mostly played OT in his career. Myers is able to block right at the LOS or get up to the second level.
* Duke OG Laken Tomlinson is very good when he’s able to engage the defender cleanly. Tomlinson stays low and anchors very well. He is really tough to move off his spot.
* One guy who did beat Tomlinson is DT Danny Shelton. He’s been very impressive at times. Shelton is powerful and able to get the best of blockers. He’s also got a great motor. There was a screen play today where Shelton chased down the ball over by the sideline. You just don’t see 340-pound DL hustle like that on a regular basis.
* QBs Sean Mannion and Shane Carden weren’t impressive. Mannion made some good throws, but didn’t stand out in any way. Carden was better than Tuesday, but still not good. He puts good touch on some of his downfield passes, but the problem is that they’re in the air too long and that won’t work vs NFL DBs.