Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- With Penn State's Devon Still -- NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior defensive tackle -- out of the Senior Bowl due to a sprained toe scouts were curious to see which of the remaining interior defensive linemen would be able to step up their play.
Based on Tuesday's North practice, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Michigan's Mike Martin are taking full advantage of the opportunity.
Physically speaking, the two couldn't be much different. Reyes, who measured in just a shade under 6-4 and 300 pounds lined up at the three-technnique and even was split out as a five-technique defensive end. His burst off the snap and quick hands made him a tough draw for even the most athletic and experienced of the North offensive linemen. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, arguably the nation's top pure guard among seniors, struggled handling Reyes one on one during drills and during the scrimmages throughout practice, as well.
Martin, on the other hand, is a virtual bowling ball of muscle at a rocked 6-1, 307 pounds. He was able to consistently knock centers back onto their heels with his leg drive and surprisingly long arms. Though he nearly three inches shorter than Reyes, Martin's arms (31 3/4) are less than an inch shorter than Reyes' (32 5/8), who has the longest arms of any of the North's defensive tackles. Martin's long arms allow him to keep his opponents from grasping a firm hold of him. With good lateral agility, power and a relentless motor, Martin got the better of Ohio State's Michael Brewster, a possible top 100 pick, on numerous occasions. Not surprisingly, Martin was even more effective when locking horns with Zeitler (who saw some time at center) and Wake Forest's Joe Looney, who was an injury replacement Tuesday for Arizona State's Garth Gerhart.
The duo stood in strong contrast to Washington's Alameda Ta'amu and Boise State's Billy Winn, each of whom have been disappointments, thus far. Ta'amu is a powerful run plugger sure to intrigue 3-4 teams looking for a nose guard. His power and mass (6-2, 341) makes him a classic block-eater but his lack of any type of pass rush ability is painfully apparent during drills. If his opponent has the anchor and core flexibility to handle Ta'amu's bull rush, the big Husky can offer little else. Winn, who was used inside and out while with the Broncos, may be proving himself to be a 'tweener with a lackluster performance, thus far. He hasn't shown the agility to slip blocks nor the power to push the pocket.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:21 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- Making a strong first impression at the Senior Bowl can send a player's stock skyrocketing and boost his rookie contract by millions of dollars.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and California wide receiver Marvin Jones can't start writing checks just yet but if they continue the sparkling efforts turned in Monday during the North Team practices they could prove to be two of the big winners from this year's Senior Bowl.
Cousins out-shined Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Boise State's Kellen Moore by attacking all levels of a talented North defense. His experience in a pro-style offense was obvious as he made quick decisions, showed accuracy short, middle and deep and thread the needle through tight spaces. Whereas his teammates struggled to find a rhythm with their new receiving corps, Cousins was hitting on all cylinders, spreading the ball all over the field and hitting his backs, tight ends and receivers on a variety of routes.
Like Cousins, Jones entered the Senior Bowl with significantly less hype that others at his position. Jones, who measured in at a shade under 6-2 and 200 pounds during the morning weigh-ins, was quick off the snap, showed burst out of his breaks to gain separation and the speed to slip past cornerbacks for big plays. He caught everything thrown his way, showing the hand strength to gather in passes thrown slightly off-target as well as the vision to track deep balls over his shoulder.
Jones wasn't the only wideout to make eye-popping plays on the day, though he was the most consistent.
A few uncharacteristic drops from Appalachian State's Brian Quick late in Monday's practice dampened an otherwise strong initial showing from the FCS All-American. Quick, who measured in at a chiseled 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 222 pounds Monday morning was the early star among receivers. Though not sudden off the line of scrimmage, his long-strides help him to quickly eat up the cushion and he showed terrific hand-eye coordination making several impressive catches out of some poor throws. Quick, in fact, arguably made the catch of the day when he snatched a quick out thrown high and wide by Moore. Quick used every bit of his height and long arms to pull the ball down while dragging both feet in bounds to secure the catch.
It took some strong catches from Jones, Quick and a few other North receivers to get Moore on track. The Boise State All-American appeared every bit as un-athletic as scouts feared when he measured in at a touch under 6-0 (5'11 and 3/4) and 191 pounds during the weigh-in. Worse, concerns about his arm strength appeared to be legitimate when he struggled connecting with his receivers on simple quick outs to open practice. As practice went on, however, Moore seemed to settle in and the accuracy and touch he demonstrated in throwing a staggering 142 touchdowns against just 28 interceptions during his record-breaking career with the Broncos were again on display. Moore is especially effective throwing down the seam, showing excellent touch to settle passes in over the linebacker and in front of the safety to slot receivers and tight ends.
Russell Wilson clearly has the arm strength to make NFL throws but was surprisingly tentative in his first Senior Bowl practice. Too often he stood flat-footed in the pocket and surveyed the field looking for easy completions. He attacked holes when he saw them, rifling in passes through tight coverage but also stared down his receivers on occasion and was nearly picked off a few times.
Of the North's receivers, Ohio State's Devier Posey provided the biggest challenge to a talented defensive backfield that included Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, graded by some scouts entering the year among the nation's elite senior prospects at any position. Posey's speed allowed him to slip past Dennard as well as Iowa State's Leonard Johnson and Boston College's Donnie Fletcher but too often Posey simply dropped the ball when his quarterbacks didn't place it perfectly. Posey struggled adjusting to passes slightly behind and had a couple of big play opportunities simply bounce to the ground because he allowed passes to get into his pads rather than catching the ball with his hands.
The concern was the exact opposite for his Big Ten rival Marvin McNutt from the Iowa Hawkeyes. McNutt has excellent size (6'2 1/2, 212 pounds), strength, hands and route-running to be a possession receiver in the NFL but didn't show much in terms of elusiveness or the speed to turn short and intermediate passes into big plays. He is a savvy route-runner, however, who was consistently open despite aggressive coverage from defensive backs.
It wasn't a standout practice for any of the North's defensive backs. Dennard showed his characteristic physicality in challenging big and small receivers, alike, but also proved vulnerable to double-moves, getting beaten over the top by Jones and McNutt, alike.
Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming and Cal Poly's Asa Jackson had their moments, each demonstrating a quick, low backpedal and good burst back to the ball.
Scouts will want to see improvement from Fletcher and Penn State's D'Anton Lynn. Each struggled to keep up with the North's receivers, showing average change of direction and speed. Fletcher was turned around on several occasions early in practice before the North's quarterbacks and receivers turned their attention to Lynn. The former Nittany Lion was victimized by Cousins and Wilson often as practice wore, perhaps an indication of their comfort with his limited playing speed and awareness after having played against him in the Big Ten.
Extra Notes: The Monday morning weigh-in put the spotlight on a couple of under-the-radar prospects scouts will no doubt be keeping an eye on this week. Quick looked every bit the part of a standout NFL receiver with his impressive measurables, as did Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6'0, 241), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5'09, 219) and Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin (6'1, 307). Though the Martins are not related, one wouldn't know it by their compact, heavily muscled builds... Clemson defensive end Andre Branch was among those who may have been caught in the bad weather that kept several from getting into Mobile as planned. NFL officials informed scouts that Branch would be participating this week but that he was not in Mobile for Monday morning's weigh-in... Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead got an opportunity to field punts late in Monday's practice, showing the concentration to catch the ball in traffic as well as the burst, elusiveness and vision you'd expect from the all-conference running back. Pead was rarely used in this capacity while with the Bearcats but turned some heads with his few opportunities Monday... Boise State's Shea McClellin (6-3, 248) lined up at defensive end for the Broncos but practiced at outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings' staff Monday. He showed good footwork in the bag drills early...
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:59 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- It might seem silly to think that lasting impressions can be made on scouts when athletes strut on stage for the weigh-ins prior to various all-star games but talent evaluators can take a lot from the height, weight, hand size, arm length, and general build of the athletes.
Each football position carries with it certain ideal measurements. This, of course, does not mean that players can't be successful in the NFL despite being shorter, heavier or physically less impressive than expected. It does, however, give scouts an idea as to where a prospect might project in the pros, as well as his dedication to the weight-room, etc.
At no all-star game is this more important, of course, than the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious and talent-filled all-star game in college football.
The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning and there were some surprises.
First, there were a few players unable to attend the game. Of the notables is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Wright suffered an ankle injury and was unable to attend. Still is nursing a sprained big toe.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to play in the game but was not yet in Mobile this morning to be measured. There was only one addition to the roster so far, Arkansas State outside linebacker Demario Davis was not yet in Mobile but was announced as a player coming in to participate. Davis is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated outside linebacker for the 2012 draft.
Perhaps the most significant element of the weigh-in proceedings is simply comparing the so-called "small school" prospects to the BCS players. Fortunately for Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed, Massachusetts H-back/fullback Emil Igwenagu and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson, their impressive physiques certainly passed the eye-ball test as legitimate pro prospects.
Quick, in fact, was one of the more physically impressive players on either roster. He measured in at 6-3 (1/2) and a rock-solid 222 pounds. His 33 1/2 inch arms were only slighter shorter than North Carolina's Dwight Jones (33 5/8) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (34 1/8) -- two receivers who have generated a great deal more national attention than Quick.
The most impressive builds of the day were sported by Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6-0 and a 1/4, 241 pounds), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5-09, 219), Michigan defensive tacke Mike Martin (6-1 and a 1/2, 307 pounds) and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham (6-1 and 5/8, 237 pounds).
Of the offensive linemen, hand size and arm length are of extreme importance. Due to this fact, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele (10 3/8" inch hands, 35 1/4" arms), Georgia's Cordy Glenn (10, 35 1/8), Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (11, 34 5/8), Ohio State's Mike Adams (11, 33 3/4) showed the big hands and long arms to help convince scouts that they should remain outside at offensive tackle rather than move inside to guard.
With some prospects impressing with their athletic frames, there will naturally be some disappointments. It is worth repeating that the NFL is full of prospects who appeared too small, too heavy or too thin in shorts only to prove Pro-Bowlers on the field. Still, the relatively soft builds for Washington running back Chris Polk, Alabama center William Vlachos, Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry were a bit surprising. So too was the fact that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated prospect in Mobile for this game, measured in lighter than expected at 281 pounds. Coples measured in at just under 6-6 (6-5, 3/4") and had been listed by the Tar Heels at 285 pounds and some expected him to measure closer to 295. Clearly, Coples is attempting to prove he's lean and athletic enough to remain at defensive end rather than move back inside to defensive tackle.
Following the player weigh-ins is the first practice of the week. On every day of the week the North and South teams will alternate practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile per day. Today, however, the North team will practice at Ladd-Peebles whereas the South team will be practicing simultaneously in nearby Fairhope.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Alabama, Andre Branch, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Asa Jackson, Baylor, Billy Winn, Boise State, Brian Quick, Cal Poly, Chris Polk, Clemson, Cordy Glenn, Demario Davis, Devon Still, Devon Still, Doug Martin, Dwight Jones, Emil Igwenagu, Florida State, Furman, Furman, Georgia, Iowa State, Jeff Fuller, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Massachusetts, Mike Adams, Mike Martin, NFLDraftScout.com, Nigel Bradham, North Carolina, Ohio State, Quinton Coples, Ryan Steed, Senior Bowl, Texas A&M, Utah State, Vinny Curry, Washington, William Vlachos, Zebrie Sanders