The North had their final practice of the week.
Zach Banner played RT at USC. He played RT for the first couple of days in Mobile. He got a shot at LT on Thursday. It was an up and down showing. Banner is 6-8, 361 and has 33 5/8 inch arms. This is a guy you would love to have as your LT.
The problem is that he doesn’t have good feet and he’s not a gifted pass protector. You could see that on Thursday. Banner won due to his size and length. As the old scout joke goes, it is a $20 cab ride to get around him. When edge rushers really get a good jump, even Banner’s massive frame and long arms aren’t enough. He actually had to tackle a rusher on one rep to protect the QB.
Banner reminds me of Phil Loadholt, the former Oklahoma OT who was a good run blocker, but struggled in pass pro. I’m not a huge fan of big guys with poor feet, but some coaches will covet the size and roll the dice. If you can coach Banner up, he could be a solid RT.
OGs Dan Heeney and Kyle Kalis took some reps snapping to QBs during one set of drills. Kalis was the better snapper. His were right on target and looked to have good velocity. Feeney had some that were low, but catchable. It was good to see both players willing to show they are open to doing anything that can help their NFL careers. Interior OL have more value when they are versatile.
Zay Jones had the best week of any North WR. Jones caught the ball really well. He gets his hands out away from his body and catches the ball cleanly. Jones isn’t an explosive athlete, but he has okay speed and has good body control, a critical factor for WRs.
I wasn’t sure about Jones ability to get open down the field based on what I saw on Tuesday, but he got better as the week went along. He still lacks great speed, but shows a feel for getting open and does track the ball well.
Pitt QB Nate Peterman to East Carolina WR Zay Jones. Thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/aUhNlRx4gy
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) January 26, 2017
You can see Jones is a good route runner who knows how to set up DBs with moves and also uses angles and positioning to make himself open. Really impressive player.
Sticking with WRs…
Cooper Kupp wants to catch every pass that comes near him. He will drop the occasional ball, but you can’t help but be impressed by the way he goes for every ball. QB play can be erratic, to put it mildly. Some passes will be out of bounds. Kupp still fights to get to those balls like his life depends on it.
The thing he does better than any other receiver in Mobile is lock in on the ball and maintain focus despite contact or any other distractions. He catches just about everything that is near him. Kupp has good hands, but it is his competitive desire and his focus/concentration that makes him so good on contested balls.
Jalen Robinette was up and down. A reader compared him to Demaryius Thomas and I think that’s pretty good. Robinetter is big (6-3, 218) and athletic, but he’s raw and needs to be developed.
Robinette looks the part of a starting NFL receiver at times, but there are others when he’s not so good. He had a drop on Thursday and struggled to get open at times.
ILB Conner Harris had an impressive week. He made splash plays every day. On Thursday he had a PBU while in coverage. He later made a clean tackle of Kareem Hunt out in space.
The LB everyone in Mobile is talking about is Hasson Reddick from Temple. He was a pass rusher in college, but at only 6-1 1/2 and 237 pounds Reddick knows he can’t be a DE or OLB in the NFL. He is moving to ILB.
Reddick made plays from ILB. He was solid vs the run and showed enough speed to get outside in pursuit. When they did give him a chance to get after the QB, Reddick had a strip sack today. 3-4 teams have to be excited about a playmaking ILB.
CB Rasul Douglas impressed me all week. He broke up multiple passes every day. Douglas wants to get his hands on every pass thrown in his direction. He has good instincts and good ball skills. He also takes chances. There are times when he will get burned. Teams that like aggressive CBs will want Douglas. He is a playmaker. On Thursday he broke up a short pass as well as a deep ball.
DT Ryan Glasgow made himself known by blowing up a pair of inside runs on Thursday. Glasgow isn’t the biggest or strongest DL but he is tough and physical. He can shed blocks and shows the ability to get to the ball in traffic.