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Tag:Senior Bowl
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:48 pm
 

Graham, Odrick star; Carrington, Lane moving up

In the offensive line writeup I posted earlier, I tried to focus on the smaller school prospects. Iupati and DuCasse have not only proven to be the most intriguing athletically, they're players most aren't familiar with.

No discussion of the North defensive line could begin without first mentioning the dominant play today from Penn State's Jared Odrick and Michigan's Brandon Graham. Odrick simply abused whoever was placed in front of him today, blowing past Zane Beadles and Shawn Lauvao. Graham's speed and strong hands had former Notre Dame tackle Sam Young (6-8, 305) spinning in pass drills and struggling to handle the 6-1, 263 pound Graham.

Big Ten fans wouldn't have been surprised -- and neither were scouts -- who view the conference's best defensive linemen as sure top 50 selections.

Two defensive ends moving up the charts this week are less known throughout the country -- Arkansas State's Alex Carrington and Murray State's Austen Lane.

Each pass the eyeball test at 6-5, 284 pounds and 6-6, 267 pounds, respectively.

Carrington is the stronger, stouter player against the run. He has enough burst upfield to challenge the offensive tackle and has strong hands to stack and separate. He lacks the burst to close to ever be more than a complimentart pass rusher, but is one of the more impressive all-around defensive ends of this class. Scouts love that he can play end in the 3-4 as well as the 4-3. He even lined up at defensive tackle and nose guard, at times, today.

Lane doesn't yet have Carrington's strength, but is a more fluid pass rusher. He has a surprising burst off the snap for a man his size and shows an intriguing array of pass rush technique for a small school player. He was particularly impressive against fellow small-schooler Vladimir DuCasse. On one of his more impressive plays, Lane burst off the snap to pressure DuCasse's outside shoulder, then re-directed back inside, ripping through DuCasse's hands to gain get the tackle's hands off of him. DuCasse, to his credit, remained balance and squarely in front of Lane, but a quick spin back outside showed an extra gear that the UMass lineman wasn't expecting.

Lane has to improve his strength and recognition (he repeatedly bit on the play-action and crashed downfield, losing contain), but a year in an NFL weight-room could see this kid develop into a legitimate NFL starter.

Don't be surprised if Carrington and Lane join Odrick and Graham as top 50 selections...
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Impressions of the North OL

In my second day of scouting the North squad, I elected to focus on the big men in the trenches, paying special attention to the so-called "small-school" offensive linemen.

Idaho's Mike Iupati is beginning to prove to the rest of the country what NFLDraftScout.com has been saying all year long -- he's the best guard in the 2010 draft and a potential first round pick.

Iupati has surprisingly quick feet and balance for a man of his size. The leverage issues that had occasionally come up on film are being corrected by the Detroit Lions staff. His great strength and quick hands allow him to control his opponent easily. He showed good recognition when the North defensive line began running twists, sliding quickly to switch off from the defensive tackle to the hard-changing defensive end.

Massachusetts' Vladimir DuCasse has great potential, but he is still far from a finished product. He's quick into his pass set, but too quickly stops moving his feet and, as such, is susceptiple to speed rushers and spins back inside. The Detroit Lions staff kept the game's best pass rusher, Michigan's Brandon Graham,  operating on the other side, as DuCasse had more than enough to handle operating against Murray State's Austen Lane. His long arms, good bend and strong anchor mean he should be able to help immediately at guard with longterm potential to move back outside to tackle.

Considering the bowl success, Utah is far from a small school, but Zen Beadles struggled badly today at right guard. The former left tackle hasn't shown quick enough feet or strong enough hands to handle a strong rotation at defensive tackle that included Penn State's Jared Odrick and Louisiana Tech's D'Anthony Smith. Odrick, in particular, owned Beadles on this day.


Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:20 am
 

Chad Reuter's Review of Tuesday's South Practice

Fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter got his first look at the South squad today. We agreed that I'd focus on the offensive and defensive linemen and that he'd spend his time reviewing the skilled position players on both sides of the ball.



Although it may result in repetitive articles, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will be the main story of the South team every day this week. Fans, coaches, scouts and media all have their eyes on number 15 every time he strolls behind the center.

The three-time Heisman finalist did not have a great day of practice yesterday, but an NFL talent evaluator told me before practice that "people made too much of (the practice). We all know he needs work...but his intangibles are just off the charts, and he'll only get better."

Today he did not have issues receiving snaps and set up well in his drop. When he rolled out to his left or right, he set himself before throwing and was typically on target. However, it took him too long to set and throw on the move. It was obvious he worked on shortening his delivery, but he fell back into old habits as the practice went on, winding up and allowing cornerbacks to jump out routes.

Tebow displayed nice touch on deep balls and the zip down the seam that he's always had. When he held onto the ball too long or faced pressure, however, Tebow made bad decisions, throwing two near-interceptions that bounced off the chest of South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood and the hands of Miami middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton.

Fellow Gator Riley Cooper, his favorite receiver and roommate, both helped and hurt Tebow today. Cooper extended only one hand out for a out route early in pattern instead of running through the play, but later tracked a ball over his right shoulder, bringing it in with one hand down the sideline. Cooper had another ball bounce off his chest bounce off his chest after making a nice deep square-in to free himself of coverage. His inconsistency will cost him draft position despite his obvious athletic ability.

A receiver on the rise is The Citadel's Andre Roberts. Measuring in at 5-11, 192 pounds was a bit of a surprise, as scouts expected him to be closer to 5-10, 180. His quickness has not been hurt by the added weight, and his routes were outstanding. Roberts has the feet to run effective comeback routes, the suddenness to free himself on slants, and the vertical to leap up and grab a high pass on the sideline. Typically one FCS receiver is selected in the top 100, and it looks like Roberts fits that ball in the 2010 draft.

The top playmaker on the South offense, however, is Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster. He snatched just about every throw away from his frame, showed exceptional quickness in the open field, and a knack of finding the smallest of creases and exploiting it as a runner. In other words, everything he displayed in the Grove this season. The problem, of course, is that he is only 165 pounds and is a liability as a blocker. But any team looking for a dynamic player in the late second or early third round will look seriously at McCluster.

The team's other wideouts, Shay Hodge (Ole Miss), Jeremy Williams (Tulane), and Joe Webb (UAB) all had their moments. Hodge and Williams aren't explosive off the line, but caught everything thrown their way. Webb takes time to get going, as well, but started to revert to his 2007 form at the position, using his body to shield defenders. None of the three can separate downfield or burst to the ball, but will be solid number two or three receivers who will move the chains for their team.

The success of the receivers today came at the expense of the cornerbacks, which scouts already considered a weak group. Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox, Florida State's Patrick Robinson, South Florida's Jerome Murphy, Kentucky's Trevard Lindley all had similar issues staying with their receiver and closing on the ball or making a play on it if in position to do so. Javier Arenas was the shortest of the bunch at under 5-9, but weighs the most (195) and played the strongest today, keeping in contact with his man and ripping the ball away from Webb during a catch on a short route.

The South safeties didn't have much luck locking on receivers, either, especially in one-on-one drills. USC's Taylor Mays really struggled to plant and drive coming out of his backpedal, looking like Fred Flintstone churning his feet without any resulting forward movement. Harry Coleman also looked like he had played linebacker this season at LSU, pedaling high and slow and struggling to change directions in space. USF's Nate Allen is much more fluid in coverage than Coleman or Mays, and scouts know all about his speed and range in the deep half.

With all of the talk about Tebow, some people may not have noticed that the ball flat-out jumps off the hand of West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown. His accuracy was not deadly, but he gave tight ends running down the seams and receivers on the sideline every opportunity to make a play. Brown's still working on getting the ball from under center and is stiff in his drop. His solid arm and ability as a runner, however, bodes well for his future as a playmaker at the next level.

Miami tight end Jimmy Graham had a phenomenal practice today, looking extremely fluid as a runner and catching everything in sight. The former 'Canes basketball player left safeties and linebackers without a clue on where or when his cut would come; the out routes and square-ins were equally crisp and strong. That sort of route-running ability for a one-year contributor, and at 6-7, 258 pounds, is rare. Watch for his name to climb up boards all the way to the draft.

The other South tight ends, Anthony McCoy (USC) and Colin Peek (Alabama) also impressed as able blockers and showed very good hands as receivers. Peek worked over Texas' Sergio Kindle in the BCS Championship Game and did the same today, while McCoy sealed the edge on run plays as he had done many times before for the Trojans. McCoy also used his long stride to get behind linebackers, making a nice diving grab down the seam.

The North squad will have an equally tough time stopping those receivers and tight ends on Saturday, if today's practice is any indication of how the game will unfold.

Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:13 am
 

Tuesday South Practice Report

Here were my thoughts on the South team's big men following Tuesday's practice.

The hype might center around Tim Tebow and other skill position players, but NFL scouts will tell you the real talent in this year's Senior Bowl lies on the offensive and defensive lines.

Some, in fact, have suggested that as many as ten linemen from the Senior Bowl rosters could be drafted within the top 50 this April -- and that is with highly touted prospects Ndamukong Suh, Russell Okung, Trent Williams, and Charles Brown having backed out after initially agreeing to play in the all-star game. 

Said one longtime NFL executive who preferred not to go on record, "For the big guys, the Senior Bowl is bigger than the Combine. If a guy comes out of nowhere with a great workout in Indy, he'll earn himself a look. If he impresses here, some teams get excited and convince themselves he's turned the corner. Hell, look at the kid, [Robert] Ayers last year or the North Carolina defensive tackle [Kentwan Balmer] a few years ago. Play well here and the head coach falls in love with a guy and the next thing you know, he jumps into the first round."

Most linemen, like prospects at the other positions, only confirm throughout this week the skills and weaknesses they'd shown on film. Considering his nation-leading 53 starts at left tackle for the Tigers, for example, scouts know what LSU's Ciron Black. The competitive fire he's shown in participating this week is appreciated by scouts, but this week is about showing NFL teams something different. 

Through the first two days of practice, the South lineman making himself the most money is Mississippi's John Jerry. Jerry impressed scouts on Monday with his weight, measuring in 18 pounds lighter than his listed 350 pounds and actually coming in nearly an inch taller than his listed 6-5". The second-team all-SEC selection showed surprisingly quick feet and great strength while at right tackle Tuesday, easily handling the bull rush. The versatile lineman saw action at right guard Monday, but remained outside almost exclusively today. Considering his size and athletic bloodlines (brother Peria was the Falcons' first round pick last  year and is cousins to former NFL linebackers Eddie Strong and Dwayne Rudd), some scouts see Jerry as a more polished prospect than the North's more hyped Vladimir DuCasse and Mike Iupati, and yet still possessing significant upside.

On the opposite side of the spectrum was West Virginia offensive tackle Selvish Capers, who struggled against speed and power while playing left tackle, Tuesday. To be fair, Capers is a former tight end whose experience along the West Virginia offensive line was exclusively at right tackle. Capers has good quickness out of his stance for pass protection, but doesn't keep his feet moving. As a result, defensive ends C.J. Wilson (East Carolina) and Brandon Lang (Troy) were able to cross his face, catch Capers leaning and burst back inside for easy penetrations. He also plays too high, negating his strength and making himself susceptible to bull-rushes. Against these concerns, however, Capers' offer intriguing upside. He has an athletic v-shaped frame for an offensive lineman and has rare straight-line speed. He might be the quickest tackle in the country in getting to the second level. His struggles with the added physicality here, however, prove that he may not be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL. 

Baylor center J.D. Walton distanced himself a bit today from his counterparts Ted Larsen (North Carolina State) and Jeff Byers (USC). Despite his time in a predominately zone-blocking system while with the Bears, he's held up well in the physical battles inside. The same could not be said for former defensive tackle, Larsen, who has strong hands to grab hold of the defender, but still has some work to do in maintaining leverage. When against stouter defenders, such as Alabama's Terrance Cody and Tennessee's Dan Williams, for example, Larsen struggled to get the snap off and get his hands on the defender to control in time. Many of his snaps in drills were bounced back to the coaches in drills and he was consistently pushed back into the pocket. Byers was moved between guard and center and while athletic and tough, struggled with bigger, stronger defenders, as well.

Depending on the snap scouts watched, Arkansas guard Mitch Petrus can be the most or least impressive lineman on the field. Scouts knew the former fullback was very athletic and can get to the second level. He is also surprisingly strong and seems to enjoy the battles inside. Petrus proved to be too much of a waist-bender in drills, however, and this carried through during the team drills, as he was often pushed backward when losing the battle for leverage.

Like John Jerry on the offensive line, two SEC defensive linemen are helping their stock tremendously this week. Though they play essentially the same position, the two players couldn't be any different in their body shape or style of play.

Tennessee's Dan Williams has the wide, lower body that defensive line coaches are looking for in a potential nose guard. His great strength and 6-2, 329 pound frame may not have earned the hype of Alabama's Mount Cody, but he's the more consistent player. Scouts would like see more burst and better use of hands to slip blocks and pressure the passer, but Williams will make his money the same way Cody will - by eating up blockers and shutting down running lanes inside.

A virtual opposite of Williams (and Cody) is Georgia's Geno Atkins. Possessing the best burst off the snap of any defensive lineman in this game - including pass rush specialists George Selvie and Antonio Coleman - Atkins has been able to consistently slice through gaps and wreak havoc in the backfield. This week's practices have presented the inconsistent Atkins at his very best. Georgia coaches wish they could have gotten this type of effort from Atkins consistently throughout his career, but in being asked to only play for a few snaps before getting substituted, Atkins has responded to the proverbial carrot of playing time in front of him with a strong performance.

Terrance Cody's sloppy build may draw sneers, but the big man is helping himself this week with his stout play inside. Teams knew he could hold the point against double-teams, but seeing him stuff the action on television is much different than watching him blow up plays before they even get a chance to begin in person. Cody clearly isn't the same dominant player at the end of practice that he is in the beginning, but if substituted often, he could quickly emerge as one of the league's better nose guards. As a specialist, it might be too much to think he'll earn a first round pick, but there is no way he'll get out of the second round if he comes in healthy at the Combine.

One highly touted defensive tackle struggling to make his customary impact has been Texas' LaMarr Houston. His combination of quick feet and strong hands helps him gain penetration, but he's been relegated to making plays in lateral pursuit so far, rather than collapsing the pocket. Despite his impressive 6-3, 300 pound frame, Houston has struggled against the South's bigger blockers.

Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:10 am
 

Chad Reuter's North practice report

With pending deadlines for various NFL draft projects looming, our editors are struggling to review our rambling, half-coherent notes from today's Senior Bowl practices onto the website quickly enough to satisfy some readers.

Rather than wait longer for them to catch up, here are Chad's unedited notes from this morning's North practice. This was his second look at the North squad.

Tuesday Senior Bowl North practice

The sun was shining and a nice breeze was blowing at the North practice in Mobile, but the guys in the trenches didn't pay much attention to that. The highly-rated offensive and defensive linemen were too busy going to work against each other to worry about getting some rays.

The stars of yesterday's practice on the offensive line, UMass's Vladimir Ducasse and Idaho's Mike Iupati, once again looked strong but also displayed some holes in their games. Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham showed Ducasse the sort of strong, relentless pass rush he'll face at the next level during one-on-one pass rush drills, beating him on inside moves using violent hands and getting the corner. Ducasse held his own in team play, however, looking more comfortable as the day went on.

Iupati was a bull in one-on-one drills and team play, anchoring against the formidable strength of North Carolina's Cam Thomas and Purdue's Mike Neal. When taking on Graham outside, however, Iupati showed his inexperience working in space, failing to extend his arms and move his feet to hold the 6-1 Wolverine at bay. The All-American is also not used to coming out of a three-point stance, and the lack of work showed when coming hard off the snap and blocking down on the tackle, but then losing his balance trying to hit a linebacker at the second level.

Needless to say, Graham's strength and phenomenal hustle were pretty obvious in today's practice. Only his 6-1 height may hold him back from getting that first round slot. Another end generating buzz in Mobile is Arkansas State's Alex Carrington, who has displayed the strength and ability to pressure the outside shoulder of right tackles in practice - which is nothing new to regional scouts watching him the past couple of seasons.

Zane Beadles from Utah was one of the offensive linemen getting worked over by Carrington. Beadles has the ability to run-block from the right tackle spot, but he appears to work best inside, playing both left and right guard today and performing much better in tight quarters than out on an island.

Two centers, Mike Tennant (Boston College) and Eric Olsen (Notre Dame) both stood strong today in one-on-one drills and team play. Despite measuring 6-4, 290 pounds, Tennant anchors very well against guys like Thomas outweighing him by 40 pounds. Olsen does not lose the leverage battle often, either. Both guys gave up quick rushes in one-on-one drills to Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith, but those smaller tackles won't have that with which to work in the NFL, limiting their effectiveness.

Fullbacks and tight ends, the extension of the offensive line, also made some nice plays today. Ed Dickson from Oregon looked like former Texas Longhorn and current Green Bay Packer Jermichael Finley as a route runner today, showing good concentration to bring in high and wide throws in traffic and running fluidly enough to make it tough for linebackers to stay with him across the middle or on corner routes.

Wisconsin's H-back prospect, Garrett Graham, had troubles getting off coverage at times because of his marginal suddenness, but when linebackers did not check him at the line he found holes to the outside and easily secured passes to move the chains.

Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount also impressed today, looking like a clone of Jacksonville fullback Greg Jones as a tough runner and willing blocker. A bit raw in pass protection technique and as a route runner and receiver (QB Dan LeFevour had a talk with him after they failed to connect on a throw to the flat), Blount has a ways to go to improve his overall game. However, he ran strong and finished every play today, even spinning off tackles inside. And it is obvious Blount does not back down from mixing it up on the field as a block. Don't be surprised if he has a huge Senior Bowl.

Rashawn Jackson has been the top true fullback in NFLDraftScout.com's rankings for quite some time, and his receiving and blocking skills did nothing to change that rating. Though he works to work on his punch and hand placement when facing oncoming blitzers, Jackson is athletic enough to be effective in pass protection and be a good positional blocker for the run. His hips are flexible enough to adjust to passes to the flat, elude a defender outside, and get more than a first down after the catch.

It's easy to see how anxious the North linebackers were to show scouts they like to hit, as frequent repetitions against the run led to play action plays that usually saw all three guys on the field taking two false steps towards the line of scrimmage. However, just about every second-level flashed talent today.

Washington's Donald Butler stood out as a run-stuffing middle linebacker teams are looking for late in the draft. He attacked run plays from inside-out, finding his way through trash to get to the ballcarrier. Even though Butler and his teammates couldn't drag down backs during practice, anyone watching the Huskies this year knows he can play. And although he's not the most athletic or fluid player, his ability to sniff out screens and get to the edge was surprising.

Daryl Washington played inside in TCU's 4-2-5 defense this year, but his move to the strong side seems likely after watching the past two practices. His ability to knife through traffic to reign in running backs and stay with Oregon TE Ed Dickson down the field (and knock the ball away on one corner route in particular) was impressive. Though a bit high-cut, his speed and aggression makes up for it in space.

Another Mountain West product, Utah's Koa Misi, again looks to be a legitimate outside linebacker prospect. He has the speed to handle tight ends and running backs in pass coverage, as well as the strength to take on fullback blocks in the hole. He had already proved his ability to rush the passer, so the all-around package could see him leap into the top 10 overall selections.

There's nothing flashy about Iowa outside linebacker A.J. Edds, but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Whether blowing up fullbacks or covering up receivers in the flat, he flashed the skills to be a Ben Leber-type coverage linebacker who will play for ten years in the NFL.

Another player making a change in position this week is Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. There's no questioning his production, and he could have the size to play inside at 6-1, 241, if he can stay at that weight during the season. He slid through trash to make plays in the run game today, and made life tough on running backs running routes in his area by pounding them within the five yard window. And nobody talks as much or as loudly as Weatherspoon, whether talking trash to opponents after blowing them up in drills or trying to give kudos to or pump up his own guys.



Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:00 am
 

Review from Tuesday's North practice

With pending deadlines for various NFL draft projects looming, my editors are struggling to review my rambling, half-coherent notes from today's Senior Bowl practices onto the website quickly enough to satisfy some readers.

Rather than wait longer for them to catch up, here are my unedited notes from today's North practice. This was my first look at the North squad after spending yesterday scouting the South team. As such, I focused my attention on the North's quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs.

With any further adieu...

NFL scouts came to Mobile hoping to see one of the quarterbacks emerge from the pack.

After two days of practice, they're still hoping.

Cincinnati's Tony Pike is the most gifted thrower of the class, demonstrating the arm-strength, accuracy to all levels of the field and mobility rare for a player of his 6-5 frame. The North's starter in each passing drill, Pike zipped passes through tight windows, consistently placed his deep outs low and wide so that only his man could get them and seemed increasingly comfortable dropping back from center.  Unfortunately, for each series of impressive throws, Pike would leave scouts scratching their heads with inaccurate passes, especially in the intermediate zones. Some of this is due to his not yet developing a rapport with his new teammates, as well as gusty conditions Tuesday. Some, however, is due to inconsistent footwork. Pike also has a tendency to rely upon his fastball, not showing enough touch on this day to fit the ball between the linebacker and safety.

Touch, however, is the one thing that Oregon State's Sean Canfield has been able to show. It is arm-strength, or rather lack thereof, that have scouts concerned. Canfield rode a breakout senior campaign into an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but has done little here to prove he has the arm necessary to be successful in the NFL. Canfield has to fully windup to get the ball to the sideline. Though the throws do get there, they arc and are slow in arriving, which will result in interceptions in the NFL. While the zip isn't there for the intermediate routes, Canfield was the North's most accurate deep ball passer due to impressive touch and good trajectory.

Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour lacks Pike's big arm, but was able to drive the ball with more authority than Canfield. He was the most erratic thrower on the day, however, struggling to hit his receivers in full stride. He's been limited thus far in practice, as he's been asked to remain strictly in the pocket. Without the threat of scrambling, LeFevour's less than ideal accuracy is being exposed a bit against the North's quality defensive backs.

Some of the North's quarterback issues are a result of inconsistent play from its receivers.

Small school wideout Andre Roberts (The Citadel) was the surprise standout among the South receiving corps Monday and Ohio's Taylor Price may be continuing the theme. The 6-0, 200 pound Price is quick off the snap and catches the ball cleanly.

The same could not be said for the North's two most highly touted receivers entering this week's practice; Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard and Missouri's Danario Alexander. Gilyard dropped numerous passes today. These sudden struggles have only added to the questions about how his spindly frame and lack of upper body strength will hold up when pressed. The 6-5, 221 pound Alexander, on the other hand, has plenty of size. He'll need a system in the NFL that allows him to catch passes while on the move as he did when starring for the Tigers, as he has the straight-line speed to run away from cornerbacks, but is a long-strider than struggles to change directions and gain separation. Perhaps most disappointing is how often he's allowed passes into his chest-plate, resulting in some ugly drops. According to scouts in attendance at yesterday's North practice, Gilyard and Alexander were just as disappointing Monday. They'll need strong bounce-back Wednesday practices if they are to save their falling stock before most scouts leave.

Clemson's Jacoby Ford is proving among the more secure handed receivers at the Senior Bowl this week - a bit of a surprise to some who had labeled as only a big play threat. Though short, the 5-09, 181 pound Ford has good strength to gain his release off press and has the speed to eat up the cushion. He has impressed scouts so far this week with his ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes and haul in tough catches.
Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson was listed by the Senior Bowl at tight end, but played exclusively at wide receiver on Tuesday. He lacks the speed to challenge corners deep and, as such struggled generating consistent separation.

Inconsistent passing and catching has helped a strong roster of cornerbacks gain even more confidence.

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter characterized Boise State's Kyle Wilson as being the star at the position yesterday and the former Bronco only helped himself further with another strong performance. Blessed with great foot quickness, balance and the acceleration to catch up when beaten on a double-move, Wilson is gaining momentum here to be considered the best cover corner of this senior class and a potential first round pick. If he is to achieve this lofty grade, however, he'll need to prove more willing to come up in run support than he has been throughout much of his career in the WAC.

Rutgers' Devin McCourty and California's Syd'Quan Thompson have also helped their cause this week. McCourty has the agility and straight-line speed for man coverage. He breaks on the ball quickly and has the active hands to rip away passes at the last moment. Thomson (5-09, 182) lacks the size and straight-line speed teams want as a press corner, but his instincts and physicality make him arguably the draft's top zone coverage cornerback. Unlike Kyle Wilson, McCourty and Thompson are standout run defenders, who haven't been able to show off their physicality and aggression in practice due to the no-tackle rules being enforced.

A pair of lanky ACC corners, Virginia's Chris Cook and Wake Forest's Brandon Ghee, have struggled locating the ball and making the plays necessary to earn a high round pick. At 6-1 and 6-0, respectively, each has the height scouts like and have shown enough agility in their backpedal, but have been far too complacent in coverage, allowing easy receptions.

Posted on: January 25, 2010 11:54 pm
 

Circus-like atmosphere for Tebow

In scouting the Senior Bowl since 2000, I've seen anything quite like today's South practice.

There were more fans, media, security at this one practice than I may have seen in any two combined practices in the past.

Let me attempt to describe the scene for you.

With the exception of the walk-through Friday practices, Mondays typically offer the least amount of excitement. Players are still jumpy, they've developed very little to any rapport with oneanother, they're more often than not limited to only shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) and the coaches are often more focused on teaching certain basics, rather than allowing the players to really hit.

Furthermore, with the player weigh-in Monday morning, there is only enough light in the day for one practice session. Therefore, the North team practiced at Ladd Peebles Stadium, the site of Saturday's game, and the South team traveled to Fairhope Municipal Stadium, a 30 minute drive away. Each practiced began at 2:30 pm local (central) time.

Despite the fact that scouts were split up, it was obvious which team held the most interest for them. Based on the number of Florida fans in the stands, it was just as obvious why so many chose to go watch the South -- Tim Tebow was practicing there, after all.

Years ago, the Senior Bowl wasn't the spectacle it is now. As such, NFL personnel and media were allowed onto the field, itself, to scout from the sidelines during practice. We were only asked to remain on the sidelines until practice ended. Once it ended, upon flashing our credentials, we could enter the field to speak to the players. In the post 9/11 world, however, security tightened and league personnel and media were asked to remain in the stands during practice. A uniformed police officer remained at the gate and allowed us to enter at the conclusion of practice to speak to players.

There were several police officers on and off the field Monday, as well as some yellow-coated crowd control officers. There was an impromptu gate set up just to enter the stadium with one of the yellow-coated officers brandishing a metal detecting wand and patting down visitors.

If the event was the circus, then Tebow was clearly the main attraction on center stage. There were more Florida #15 jerseys in the stands and on the sidelines than Alabama and Auburn jerseys combined. When Tebow left the field, he was serenaded with chants of his last name and the screams of girls more suited to a Jonas Brothers concert than a typical Senior Bowl practice.

And to think, tomorrow, when there will be even more NFL scouts on hand, the circus could be even bigger...
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 9, 2010 2:43 pm
 

Senior Bowl Coaching Staffs -- Mia vs. Det.

In prepping for what will be my tenth Senior Bowl, I was pleased to read that the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins will be the coaching staffs in place for the Mobile all-star game classic.

For one, Jim Schwartz and Tony Sparano are innovative, high-energy coaches that will push the players throughout the week of practice. If everything I've heard about these teams' practice habits are correct, the drills and scrimmages will be run efficiently. Teaching and coaching will be a focus, but the players won't be over-worked on scheme or re-working their technique. They'll be allowed to play and, more importantly, audition for the hundreds of scouts in attendance.

Secondly, with their varied offensive and defensive schemes, we'll get an opportunity to see these prospects preparing to play in or prepare for the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, as well as pro-style and Wildcat offenses. The variety of scheme is particularly important for judging whether 'tweener players could effectively transition to an NFL system -- as in the case of undersized pass rushers potentially making the jump to the rush OLB position in the 3-4 or "Slash" quarterback types.

Considering the coaching choices, I'll not be at at all surprised when some of the more hotly debated senior prospects that fit in these two categories -- Tim Tebow, Dan LeFevour, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Wille Young, etc. are ultimately invited to this game.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com