2012 Senior Bowl: Tuesday North Practice Notes

Kirk CousinsIt was the first day of full pads here at the Senior Bowl, and as expected, it was a GREAT day for scouting the north squad that has some outstanding talent across the board, per usual at the Senior Bowl.

I really focused on the quarterback, receiver, defensive backs today, but I did also get some great battles on the offensive/defensive line plus some intrigue in the linebacker drills.

The Biggest Winners today were: Kirk Cousins, Marvin McNutt, George Iloka, and Bobby Wagner.

Quarterbacks
-I’ll start off by partially starting to admit defeat on Kellen Moore of Boise State. I was hopeful that his arm would be a bit more impressive overall, but he seems destined for a subpar week. He, like Nick Foles, relied a lot on their rhythm and receiver-connection in college, Moore mostly because he needed that timing to hide his lack of arm strength. He seems to be throwing off his backfoot at times to get the ball out quickly on quick-outside routes, and when he tries to deliver a strike in the mid-field, he really needs to rock back and get his whole body into it. His pass seemed to float far too much, he was short and off-timed (from his lack of arm) all day. Hopefully he’ll get better, but he did NOT look like a draft-pick quarterback today.

-Russell Wilson flashed to me a bit today, and what’s most intriguing about him is that his throwing release point is so high for his size. He throws the ball at more of a 6’1-6’2 height, so that may reduce the issue there. He also seemed to “place” the ball very well, accurate putting the ball out in front of the receiver. But, he didn’t really drive the ball down the field well, which should be seen even more in team drills when he tries to throw across the middle.

-The clear cut best passer on the North squad today and likely all week is and will be Kirk Cousins of Michigan State. I had him rated as the 2nd best quarterback here, after Brandon Weeden, and today he really showed why I really like his potential as a possible starter in the NFL. He showed some great velocity on the outside, not short arming passes and just letting the ball fly with some better-than-expected arm strength that cut the wind very well. His release was faster than I thought to, likely had that shored up before this event. He looks to me like probably a 30-50 draft selection range quarterback based off film and now during these practices early on.

Running Backs
-Best part of the running back drills today was the pass blocking drills, which despite all five runing backs showing that skill on film, only Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing was consistently holding his ground and mirroring well against initial quick rushes. Chris Polk consistently ducked his head and lost battles, and Isaiah Pead and Dan Herron were bull rushed conssitently. Doug Martin didn’t do a whole lot either.

-Dan Herron and Doug Martin both did, however, looked explosive through the hole in team drills and really get to their top speed quickly. I do like Dan Herron based off of his film this year, and I think he’s maybe a Top 10 back in this draft. Today, in terms of explosion, he didn’t look far behind Doug Martin, but it’s a long week ahead of us.   

Wide Receivers
-Brian Quick of Appalachian State and Marvin McNutt of Iowa are two of the better “ball grabbers” in this draft, meaning they shoot their hands up quickly and forcefully well and don’t just let the ball come to them, likely because both have the length and played with some suspect-armed quarterbacks in their time. However, Quick had 4 drops (thanks to Joe Everett of www.RookieDraft.com for helping me keep track), which is a concern. McNutt on the other hand didn’t drop a pass I say all day. The hands concerns aren’t huge with me because if the hand size is big enough and he doesn’t short arm receptions, it could just be a bad day or an uncomfortable thing, but it’s for sure something to track all well.

-I had heard Marvin Jones of California looked great yesterday (I was at the other practice on Monday), so I was eager to see what he was made of. But after talking with Optimum Scouting’s Mark Dulgarian a little further and watching him today, he didn’t jump out like I was expecting. He did catch the ball away from his body well and did show some quick twitch stop-start in routes at times today, but he could be more of a one day wonder this week.

-Gerrell Roinson and DeVier Posey both were body catching at times today, and both finished with two drops. But both got vertical pretty well and showed some downfield separation skills today, which both showed on film as well.

Tight Ends
-Didn’t the tight ends do a whole lot today, but I thought Michael Egnew held his own against speed rushers in blocking drills today, but needs to fire his hands up with much more aggression and power if he hopes to be any sort of blocker. Also, UMass’s Emil Igwenagu, who I already saw a whole week off last week, doesn’t seem to be getting to his flat routes as a fullback, but again, not a lot to glean from tight ends today.

Offensive Linemen
-Coming into this week, I wasn’t all that high on Mike Adams, and so far he’s struggled with exactly what I saw on film. He does use his hands very well and once he locks on and engages, he’s rarely beaten to the edge or bull rushed. But when he doesn’t lock on early, he’s very suceptible to counter inside rushes and overall quicker rushes. I think he’ll struggle mightily against quicker 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL as a left tackle. And overall, he doesn’t seem to be explosion, aggressive or willing to drive block down field. As an offensive tackle, I NEED to see that. That’s why I’m unsure if he play the right side in the NFL.

-Mike Brewster, also of Ohio State had some fierce battles with Mike Martin. When he did win those battles, he showed some very good inside hand placement and repositioned his hands well against the powerful Martin. He does struggle to stay low and not let rushers get undeath, however. He told me that he’ll only be playing center this week due to Senior Bowl injuries.

-Kelechi Osemele is looking much better than expected at right tackle. He’s a massive human being, but he’s been able to hold his ground very well and overpower pass rushers consistently. He’s not a left tackle-pass blocker and I’ll be curious to see how he’ll consistently hold up against the 3-4 speed rushers on the North sqaud. So far, so good for Osemele.

Defensive Linemen
-Kendall Reyes was the most surpring defensive tackle that played well to me. On film he didn’t really show a lot of versatility in his rushes and really was a power only guy. So far in today’s practice, he’s been using that power rush ability to punch, push, then dip under or swim over guys much better than expected. We’ll see how he looks tomorrow and more in deep drills, but it was a surprisingly good day for Reyes.

-Vinny Curry flashed a bit today, but maybe his most notable rush to me is when he lost his balance on an outside edge low rush, further having my concerns about his actual balance and flexibility. He’ll REALLY need to show that ability to be a do-it-all type rusher and some natural 3-4 outside linebacker ability. He did tell me though that teams are primairly looking at him as a 4-3 defensive end, however.

-Jack Crawford of Penn State showed some powerful punch and rip moves today, showing off some powerful hands and entire upper half. He has flashed on film the last three years but wasn’t able to string together a few good games in a row to be a Top 3 round prospect. If he can flash all four major practices and in the game this week, however, he could really start to live up to some team’s loft expectations from his earlier career.   

Linebackers
-The clearcut most athletic linebacker here was Bobby Wagner of Utah State. He was very quick, smooth, and by far the most balanced in quick linebacker drills, and showed some great initial burst and quick rush moves in pass rushing drills. He didn’t always show great explosion or power on film, so I’m curious to see if he can drive through traffic this week. But he sure looked the part based on drills and vs. the running backs today.

-James Michael Johnson was a bit stiff and high today in his quick linebacker drills (the same ones Bobby Wagner wowed in), and doesn’t look like he transitions well in his breaks cleanly, a concern I had from film. He did show great power and some natural rush moves in pass rushing drills today however. He has the power and size of a great inside linebacker, no question, but he’ll need to show a complete game to be a top three rounder.    ‘

-Audie Cole of NC State was far more fluid and smooth as an athlete than I thought he would be. He wasn’t anything outstanding or rare, but if he can move like that in drills, it shows he’s more than just a very tall, lanky, somewhat position-less linebacker and could really develop into something. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David was so forceful today in drills, vs. running backs, and in team play today. It’s hard not to really like him on film because he’s got great reactions, explosions well, and continously is around the ball.     
   

Defensive Backs    
-Let me start by saying that I have never been a big fan of Alfonso Dennard because he’s only a physical, short area guy. He was beat deep a lot again today on some longer, smooth deep receivers today. He’s going to struggle all week long because he needs to be able to get his hands on guys early and often to be successful. He struggled with that today once again.

-Asa Jackson of Cal Poly had a rough day today, as he struggled to stay tight in man coverage and didn’t stay low and fluid in his transitions. I think it was more of a sloppy day technique-wise for him, but based on talking with him about his passion for the game and to get better, I think he’ll only get better this week.

-Leonard Jackson showed some really good stuff today in staying tight with the receiver, getting physical at the line of scrimmage, and closing on quick comeback or out routes well. But he was beat deep a handful of times today and it really looks like his lackluster heigh-speed combination is really going to hurt him this week.

-George Iloka utilized his length well today, as he covered the middle seam tight end route well and actually closed downhill and came up with an interception today on a 7 yard out route by the tight end. This could be the start of a fantastic week for Iloka.       

        

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