2012 Senior Bowl: Tuesday South Practice Notes

Juron CrinerIt was day two for the South Practice today, including the second time I got a chance to watch these guys perform. I got a great look at the talented defensive linemen and linebackers on this roster, while a few positional players wowed as well.

The biggest winners today were Chris Rainey, Juron Criner, Matt McCants, Casey Hayward, and Markelle Martin.

Quarterbacks
-Maybe most unsuprisingly of note today, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden was the clear cut best quarterback once again today. It seems like tommorrow and Thursday will be more about HOW good he’s going to be in the NFL. He’s looked impressive today (though not as much as he did on Monday), and another big day today could really make teams consider in that high 2nd round, maybe even late first round area.

-Both Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley didn’t really change in their evaluation from yesterday, as Foles still didn’t feel comfortable making reads that he’s not used to and Ryan Lindley was still throwing passes in the dirt and was wildly inconsistent.    

Running Backs
-Really didn’t get a great look at the running backs today, but I did notice that Terrence Gannaway looked sloppy out of the backfield in getting to his routes, and Vick Ballard seemed to pick up his route definicies yesterday, but showed some less consistent hands today.

-Chris Rainey of Florida really impressed today at both running back and receiver, showcasing his big play ability and shiftiness down the field. Look for some of his interview notes later on today.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
-Juron Criner of Arizona was very impressive today, grabbing the ball away from his body and sheilding defenders well. He wowed the crowed with an impressive one-handed grab today, but that only capped off what was the most consistent day of any receivers. He seems to actually be building a great relationship with Brandon Weeden, maybe even moreso than with his former Arizona quarterback Nick Foles.

-Dwight Jones of North Carolina seemed to be catching everything in his vicinity, but Brandon Howard (@DashDilio on twitter) made a great point that he seemed to be dogging plays at times and going for the one-handed catches. He seemed more consistent yesterday and displayed more forceful hands, but he’ll need to continue to show that this week to erase the lackuster hands weakness on his scouting report.

-Jeff Fuller of Texas A&M was angling his body very well yesterday, but today seemed to be a bit exposed in his vertical physicality, not jostling well down the field and too softly knocked off his route. He doesn’t explode down the field as well as you’d like and seems more of a short area positioning guy or a jump ball receiver based on these practices.

-Joe Adams continued to impress today, snatching passes away from his body in traffic and really running some better-than-expected routes in the middle of the field. He did struggle to get off press  at times today, but when he does get any separation, he gets to his top gear very quickly and smoothly.      

-I continued to be intrigued/impressed with Patrick Edwards of Houston. He’s exploding well, like yesterday, in his routes and gathering the ball well in traffic. He still does body catch at times which is a concern, but if his injuries check out, he could be a very solid #4 receiver in the NFL.  

-Ladarius Green didn’t seem to be as outstanding of an athlete I had anticipated, but he still seemed able to get some natural separation down the field and used his hands well to get separation.

Offensive Linemen
-Zebrie Sanders of Florida State was the most notable guy here, and not in a good way. He continued to give up way too much ground in pass protection and staying on his heels too much in his kick slide. He needs to keep his balance and hold his base much better, and needs to have a more sturdy base. He has the quickness to kick slide out and has the left tackle size/length so he’ll still intrigue as a left tackle prospect.

-Matt McCants really flashed to me at times today, keeping a wide base and powering through exchange blocks. He seems like a very coachable guy, picking up things from positional coaches very quickly and showing athletic ability and some flexibility in pass protection drills. Wish he and Mike Adams were on the same team, because I’d be awfully interested to see them progress this week side by side.

-Ben Jones of Georgia showed some raw strength in drills today, which was a bit surprising based on his film. He takes advantage of poor rushes or off balance attacks very well, and can get out in space and attack outside shoulders in downfield blocks well. If he can continue to hold his ground, he could be battling for David Molk as the top senior center in this draft.

-James Brown of Troy wasn’t high on my board coming in here and at tackle he’s probably not going to make the NFL. However, he showed some impressive inside hand placement and repositioned them well after the initial rush. Also, after practice, I believe it was a Raiders scout who quizzed Brown on techniques and defensive schemes. While I didn’t get the full context, Brown seemed to be answering the complex situations well and correctly.        

 Defensive Linemen
-I won’t talk about Quinton Coples of North Carolina today because he was the best rusher out there again today, though not as dominante as day one with his sudden rushes. I was impressed with Melvin Ingram of South Carolina today, as he was very fluid and explosive through his cuts, looking like he has the ability to be an outside power rusher who can make plays in space and transition well.

-Jaye Howard and Brandon Thompson both showed some great quickness initially of fhte snap. However, Howard looked a bit more explosive in his lateral movement and was able to be a more complete speed rusher, while Thompson was a little deliberate at times in his secondary rush moves. He also was knocked off his balance a few times today and his overall positioning in his pursuit needs to be addressed so he keeps a better anchor.

-Courtney Upshaw of Alabama was very sudden and explosive in his rush moves, especially shooting and driving with his hands well off the edge. His ability to generate great force from his upper half as well as having the leg drive to close the pocket makes him such an outstanding value in this draft, and he seems too powerful and sudden for any offensive tackles in this game to contain him consistently (especially Zebrie Sanders)

-To end on a bad note, Tydreke Powell just flat out looked bad today. He looked a bit sloppy and out of shape in early drills, and overall lacked any sort of counter rush, quickness off the snap, or winning consistent leverage battles to be anything more than a late rounder.     

Linebackers
-I’m really intrigued by Nigel Bradham of Florida State in coverage. He was exposed in a bit in drills as lacking quick feet and transitions in his cuts, but he really has a great feel for coverage and getting to his drops, taking good angles in both zone and man scheme. With his length and size he can allow for some lackluster speed a little, but if he can really show that his coverage ability is NFL ready, that could be a huge help for his draft stock.

-Sean Spence had a great practice yesterday, one that I gushed about in my Monday write-up, and today he showed once again his fluidity in space and short covearge ability, tracking the ball well in man and zone coverage, and playing aggressive to the ball and the backfield in team drills. He’s looking the part of a guy who you can overlook his lackluster size.  

Defensive Backs
-After a pretty mediocre day today, Casey Hayward of Vanderbilt played very well today by my accounts, blanketing receivers both quick and long. He stuck with Joe Adams today vertically and shadowed Jeff Fuller very well. His ball skills are very impressive on film, and if he can stick in the hip pocket down the field, he could be in store for a mid to high second round selection.

-Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama had a solid day again today, staying tight enad using his hands well down the field. He still plays a bit overaggressive down the field and could be sucisciple to more polished deep receivers in the NFL, but compared to the majority of the guys he’s facing here, his proving why he’s among the top cornerbacks at the event.

-Dwight Bentley was getting physical today, which I liked, but he didn’t consistently read and react to the ball well and seemed to be a bit stiff in his back pedal to closing transition. Brandon Boykin on the other had also showed physicality but closed very well on the ball, even making a few plays in run support today. If Boykin can shadow and keep tight to his receiver the rest of this week, the first round is not out of the question.    

-Markelle Martin was getting some quick depth in his drops, with a clean drop back and eying the ball very well in deep coveage, finishing plays. He’s an aggressive guy at times in run support, and if he can show that versatility, he could increase his value by draft day.  

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