2014 Senior Bowl: Notes from the Film Room

Jimmie WardIn Mobile, the people at XOS film every drill during the week of practice, and combine in an easy-to-use, all-in-one film catalog that NFL personnel can utilize after each day, and eventually take back to team headquarters to review later.

For the past three years in Mobile, Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com and I have gone into the XOS film room to review the practice tapes ourselves, and it’s been a great opportunity to revisit certain players, focus on techniques, and review certain players on how their week’s actually went, away from the media narrative or what we saw live.

Here are my personal takeaways from the Film session.

-I wanted to get my peak at the quarterbacks again, particularly Jimmy Garoppolo. His pre-snap decision making and anticipation is fantastic, and is confident and usually correct when he knows what his checkdowns will look like post-snap. He needs to use his eyes better post-snap to open up underneath routes. His placement on the skinny post was near flawless all week, and he showed plus velocity control to lead receiver with very catchable ball. He also possesses an elite pump fake, a small part of his game but could be his signature in his career. He does need to lean off his back foot on short-mid field routes a little better to help generate velocity, and overall, his footwork needs help.

-During 7 on 7s, I saw Derek Carr pass on multiple mid-field throws in favor for a check down on the outside. The check down was actually the right decision based on the play call, but like on film, Carr doesn’t use his tremendous arm strength to squeeze throws into tight windows. I don’t want him to be Matt Stafford and force everything, but for a quarterback who’s limited in his mobility, threatening defenses in the middle of the field in tight windows is the best way he can force defenses to play back. I’d like to see a bit more “gunslinger” mentality to his game, and I’m not sure that’s a fixable thing.

-David Fales doesn’t use his eyes nearly well enough for a quarterback with his limitations, especially when moving from inside to outside. The defensive backs here were consistently able to anticipate his throws and either knock them away or likely force an incompletion had it been full contact.

-Mike Davis consistently rounded his outside breaking routes during the week. He seems to have mastered the skinny post, but any deep out, comeback, or corner route lacks the precision required.

-Wake Forest’s slot receiver Michael Campanaro utilized his balance and core strength as a route runner, consistently using physicality to get separation, including against some of the better press cornerbacks.

-Before he was injury during the week, Kain Colter of Northwestern was having a solid week. He showed the plant and burst at the top of his route, and was able to get separation despite being a former QB. He was more impressive as a pure receiver than Denard Robinson was last year. By a lot.

-An argument can be made that Florida OG Jon Halapio had the best week of any offensive lineman (battling with Zach Martin). I was impressed by his upper body strength initially, and even more impressed by his ability to reset his feet with tremendous balance and force, redirecting his rusher initially and then as they tried their secondary rush too.

-When Tyler Larsen snaps the ball, gets his hands up quickly, and makes first contact, he was very impressive, including providing the only stop to Aaron Donald all week. When he doesn’t get that first contact in position, it’s over and he loses.

-Gabe Ikard followed a poor week at the Shrine Game with another poor week in Mobile. He lacks power and a sturdy enough base against any nose tackles. He’s a Day Three pick who will struggle to be a starter in the NFL early.

-Billy Turner of North Dakota State struggled in pass protection , but don’t rush to move him at guard. As Josh and I reviewed his film, he showed that he needs to sit better in his kick slide first and foremost. To me, it seems he completely lacks the technique in his first two kick slide steps. But that’s VERY coachable. I’d still draft him Top 100 as a right tackle prospect.

-Cyril Richardson simply refuses or is unable to move laterally after first contact. He extends his hands, but doesn’t move his feet in pass protection. That won’t fly in the NFL. He’s a battling for a Day Two pick now.

-Jack Mewhort wasn’t flashy during the week, but he quietly had a very strong performance, including plus contact on the edge. He also was very impressive at left guard when he got reps there.

-The hype around Aaron Donald the week was legit, especially on the re-watch. He posseses elite quickness and near impossible to match low pad level on his initial step. A handful of times, he stepped laterally at first. Confusing why he would miss the opportunity to attack upfield at first, but he used that lateral step to force OL to raise a bit out of their stance, which forced the OL to almost “panic” as Donald attacked with his second step. It worked all week long.

-Justin Ellis was strong the past two weeks, but he didn’t dominate in one-on-ones the way I expected. He kept trying a rip move underneath instead of just driving ahead and getting extension. He didn’t win once with a rip move, and he’ll need to throw that move out of his arsenal.

-Speaking of rip moves, that’s the only move Michael Sam has. It didn’t bring him success this week, and it likely won’t in the NFL. He’s a Day Three, rotational DE.

-Jeremiah Attaochu came into the week with high expectations from me, and didn’t get the chance to reach them. He was used as a true 4-3 LB all week, which didn’t give him a chance to shine. He did get four edge rush opportunities….and was 0-4 in them. Still, don’t kill him for this week. Instead, watch him as a sophomore.

-Stanley Jean-Baptiste was reported to have had a solid week, and I know one NFL team that agreed, but on the re-watch, that certainly wasn’t the case. His poor hand usage atop the receiver’s route, and his lackluster footwork on the receiver’s break were two very concerning parts of his week.

-Pierre Desir of Lindenwood has finally emerged on the national stage, but keep in mind he’s not a finished product. He takes too many gather steps on comebacks and vertically he struggles to adjust without losing speed. However, keep in mind that he received the bare minimum of coaching in college, and all of his issues are coachable. He’s highly viewed by NFL teams.

-The best safety of the week? Easy, Jimmie Ward. The best cornerback of the week? Close, but it might also be Jimmie Ward. Ward was fantastic in slot and tight end coverage, playing with patient feet, sinking low, and finishing with physicality at the catch point. Jaylen Watkins could also be called the best CB here, as he played tight to all of his receivers this week, using subtle contact on the edge, and showing great patience on playing the ball. With Ward, don't rule out the late first round.