MOBILE, Ala. -- After two practices it appears UCLA's Johnathan Franklin has a leg-up on Oregon's Kenjon Barner and Fresno State's Robbie Rouse for the top rusher on the North team. That was helped in big part by a solid showing in pass protection drills Tuesday.
Aside from Harvard fullback Kyle Justzczyk, who blew up defenders, Franklin showed consistent blocking abilities, which will go a long way in helping him get noticed by NFL clubs. He already has a good reputation as a rusher.
"He does a really nice job of using his hands and his feet to block," a team scout told CBSSports.com. "He's got good speed and is just big enough to handle pass protection. We've had our eyes on him for some time."
Barner has been known for his speed, which was on display again at practice, but he remains iffy as a blocker. He didn't have to do much of that at Oregon. On Tuesday he would struggle with protection but get back up and try again. You can tell he's still learning.
Rouse struggled in protection and has really proven to be a pure speed back. Comparisons to Darren Sproles are fair not only because of his size but because of his strengths as a home-run rusher and receiver.
That leaves Franklin as the consensus top back on the North squad, followed by Barner and Rouse.
But it doesn't mean any of them weren't in demand. Following practice Tuesday Rouse was sandwiched between Vikings and Saints personnel people. Franklin had a quick meeting with someone from the Chargers and Barner disclosed he had extensive talks with the Cardinals and Lions. This is in addition to all of the other meetings they're sure to have between now and the draft.