It warmed up a bit from the morning practice, and the wind was sure not a factor in this afternoon practice and my second and final live view of these prospects on the South roster.
The quarterbacks finally seemed to be clicking, a defensive end got to show his stuff at outside linebacker, a few interior lineman played well, and the linebackers showcased their ability to blitz, cover, and their overall athletic ability.
-I got a chance to really watch Von Miller much of the day, and he showed why I feel he’s a Top 10 draft pick in this draft class and the best prospect in Mobile. He’s noticeably quicker than every linebacker or defensive lineman here, and his explosion laterally and his quick feet have really impressed. Plus, he looked like he had tons of experience dropping in coverage.
-Derek Sherrod did get beat by Von Miller twice in a row, one with an outside rush and one with a devestating inside move. However, the next series against Allen Bailey, Sherrod put Bailey right on the ground with his upper body strength and understanding of playing with leverage. I like that rebound attitude and the mean streak of Sherrod.
-All three quarterbacks looked better today, but I still think Christian Ponder had the best day. He showed very quick feet in drills and looked poised all day in throwing to his receivers. Andy Dalton showed he is a good athlete, and his feet were okay, but the long release was very prevalent, especially when I saw him under pressure. And, he didn’t make very good reads again today. Finally, Greg McElroy had a very good day, with good medium to deep touch range and not just targeting his first option or Preston Dial. I would wager to say that he had a better week than Dalton.
-Derrick Locke has been the best running back of the bunch on the South roster, and maybe even of the whole game. He explodes so well into the whole and his low stature and his wiggle in the whole have allowed him big play after big play. He could have a great gameday.
-As mentioned before, Allen Bailey was put on the ground at least once. He did get a lot of coaching today and showcased his lateral quickness in drills today, and scouts took note. But he’s definitly a project. Actually, the best place I saw him at today was playing defensive tackle as a 3-technique, which is where I think he maybe fits best based off of this week’s practice.
-Texas defensive end Sam Acho got to play in coverage today, and looked surprisingly very comfortable. I talked to him after the practice and he said he was very excited and thought it was a fun experience, and as I mentioned before, he pointed out in the press conference that he played OLB in college in his first two years. He’s definitely rising on my board.
-Charles Clay, who’s size is very impressive for a tight end, fullback hybrid, really struggled today in pass rush pick-up, something that really frustrated me for his size and the position he plays. Also, Anthony Allen didn’t win a single battle as a pass blocker, and Bilal Powell only looked decent in one or two.
-Noel Devine looked a little better today and had a few open field runs. There’s no denying that he can beat guys to the outside or in the open field, but I just wonder that once linebackers track him, he probably can’t burst away for a big play.
-Much to the frustration of everyone watching, Courtney Smith, yesterday’s stud, had a bad case of the drops. Coach Chan Gailey mentioned yesterday that it was an issue, and today he had at least four, all of them his fault. If he’s THAT erratic in catching the ball, then he could be a much later pick than I thought. Also, Leonard Hankerson “did work” once again today, continuing to look impressive.
-On the line, Jake Kirkpatrick really stood out to me. I saw him multiple times handle Phil Taylor and Jarvis Jenkins, two different style defensive tackle rushers. He and the North’s Brandon Fusco are right in the mix for the Top 5 centers.
-Also on the interior line, Rodney Hudson looks very good. He moved and engaged well in space today, and has been opening up huge holes all week. He, Clint Boling, who also had a great day, and Kirkpatrick may be part of the reason why no defensive tackle has been able to shine.
-Colin McCarthy looked very smooth in all the drills he did today. He was smooth in his drop backs in coverage, showed fairly quick feet, good balance in his cuts, and overall looked about as complete of a linebacker I’ve seen here. Also, Kelvin Sheppard sure looks the part, and his explosive and range have really pushed him up my board.
-Two lineman that really struggled today were Pernell McPhee at defensive end and Lee Ziemba at guard. Both were beat up quite a few times that I saw, and I think both will be late round guys now.
-Danny Watkins showed good hands and quick feet for a guard today, stopping a few power rushers and forcing them outside. I would like to see him a bit more in space before he really moves up my board.
-Outside of Von Miller, I think KJ Wright and Nate Irving are the two quickest linebackers out here just based on their pursuit in blitzing drills, their ability to quickly get past running backs, and their foot quickness drills.
-The kick returners for the South squad were Ronald Johnson, Jeremy Kerley, Greg Salas, and Marcus Gilchrist.
-Kicker Josh Jasper was consistent today in getting the ball inside the 5 yard line on kickoffs. He and Alex Henery are the two guys I think should make it as rookies in the NFL.
-BIGGEST WINNERS: Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky; Jake Kirkpatrick, OC, TCU; Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas; Colin McCarthy, OLB, Miami (FL)
Check out the Wednesday Notes tonight with some great insight on JaMarcus Russell, Nick Fairley, what these players here go through, how the agents affect these prospects, and press conference notes.