It was a downpour for most the West practice day on Day Three, not a great chance to watch the position players, the quarterbacks, or really anything in terms of big plays. Still, some guys had chances to flash as well as disappoint.
Some condensed notes because I without a notepad as well as having a shorted/uneventful practice, but I thought Justin Francis, Dominique Hamilton, Kevin Koger, Marc Tyler and Shaun Prater were winners in today’s ugly looking practice.
-Due to the wet conditions, it’s tough to really see how these guys perform in ideal conditions. However, none of the quarterbacks, especially Dan Persa of Northwestern and Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois, were not getting passes out cleanly or spinning it well. Not saying a whole lot in terms of their NFL futures, but these quarterbacks will need to perform in non-ideal weather in the NFL. However, most of the passes today in team drills (before practice was cancelled) were screen passes and not a real test of their deep ball skills.
-I’m really growing to like Dale Moss of South Dakota State. Saw him improving again and taking to coaching today. And what’s most intriguing is that he’s grabbing the ball away from his body well and not afraid to make plays in traffic. He was a 4-year basketball player in college and just played football his senior year of college, so he’s very raw. And while his routes are unpolished and isn’t exploding in his cuts overly well, but still, he’s far more NFL ready than many others would be in his situation.
-Devon Wylie of Fresno State still looked the best on the West Roster at the receiver position, cutting and exploding well in drills, still working hard despite it being more of a softer practice due to the weather. Also, I liked what Junior Hemingway was bringing to the practices, exploding and positioning his body well (even though defenders weren’t around in drills). Looks like he really takes pride in making sure he’s in as good of position as possible.
Running Backs/Tight Ends/Linebackers
-Didn’t get much on the running backs, but Marc Tyler of USC seemed to have the best control in the weather, caught the ball fairly well on screen plays today, and looks like he can fill that power/utility back in the NFL. The lower pad-less West practice aren’t really great for judging these running backs, especially for guys like Bobby Rainey of Western Kentucky who need to show they can break tackles. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get more full contact.
-Kevin Koger of Michigan still looks like maybe the most complete tight end at the event on both rosters. He doesn’t really wow as a pass catcher, but has the athleticism to develop there. But it’s his developed blocking technique, willing to engage and drive, and his athletic ability as both a pass catcher and down-field blocker really intrigue. He doesn’t have an overly high ceiling as a top tight end, but he could be that safe, complete tight end on NFL teams so they can add a match-up-type tight end as their feature pass catcher.
-Cory Harkey of UCLA and George Bryan of NC State both seem a bit out of place at times in drills. Bryan is an adequate pass catcher, making plays outside of his body, and Harkey looks like a decent enough athlete, but neither look like they’ll be able to get any separation at the NFL level. I’d be interested to see if either one is considered as a potential OL convert in the NFL.
-I didn’t really watch most of the offensive line today, but did watch Matt Reynolds of BYU and Tom Compton of South Dakota for the team drills today. Compton looked a bit stiff and slow in his kick slide in pass protection, getting too high and not moving laterally quick enough. While part of that was the lack of great condition, he hasn’t show great athleticism all week so far, thinking he is destined to the right side and maybe a bit of project before he can play early.
-Matt Reynolds of BYU was actually helped by the poor conditions. Because most of the defensive linemen couldn’t hold their ground well and use their speed, he wasn’t hurt by his lack of lateral quickness/stiffness and showed off his outstanding technique and hand placement, neutralizing many pass rushers on the outside.
-On the defensive line, I thought Justin Francis of Rutgers showed his quickness and explosiveness in drills, flashing his hands, keeping his moves powerful and tight, and showed some balance/flexibility in his rushes. Also, DaJohn Harris of USC seemed pretty fluid in his multiple rush drills, keeping his hands up without loosing speed, showing off his quick hands and overall quick rushes to his game. Finally Dominique Hamilton of Missouri looked decent today. He hasn’t flashed as much as I would’ve liked this week, but he’s done everything well, showing he has enough pass rush ability and stays low to warrant double teams. Not great, but still looks like probably the to\p nose tackle prospect on both rosters for now.
-Tried to focus on the few guys I hadn’t seen a lot of, and saw some intriguing things with Virginia’s Rodney McLeod. He’s slow and upright in his back pedal and doesn’t mirror well to the inside on his receiver. But he has some closing speed, explodes fairly well to the ball. He could be a worthwhile target for a Cover 2 team looking for an inside three/four wide cover guy.
-Shaun Prater of Iowa impressed despite the conditions today. A little high in his back pedal, but he looked smooth in his transitions and is a great form tackler. Like McLeod, he looks like a Cover 2 defense fit, better than McLeod for sure, and if he can well at the Combine, he could intrigue even more teams.