Tag Archive: Richmond


East-West Shrine Game Recap

Quarterbacks:

1-      Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana- Stanley still has room to improve as his accuracy and timing seemed to be a bit off at times, but he has the size and arm strength that makes him an intriguing developmental Day 3 guy in my opinion. He has a ways to go from working under center and making reads, etc. However, he’s got talent worth stashing as a 3rd quarterback late in the draft in my opinion.

2-      Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech- Cameron has never been my favorite prospect, but he showed me a little more velocity than I thought he had this week and I think he has some potential to be developed into a solid back-up.

3-      Matt Scott, Arizona- Scott certainly had his struggles this week, but he spins a clean ball and has the 2nd best velocity of all the quarterbacks in St. Petersburg and has the kind of athleticism that teams will be looking into at quarterback given the emergence of the zone read in the NFL. He’s very much a developmental prospect that is better out of the shotgun than under center at this point, but I think he warrants consideration on Day 3.

4-      Alex Carder, Western Michigan- I have never been a big fan of Carder and I don’t think he’s going to be a NFL starter, but he grades out as a 7th round/UDFA quarterback from what I’ve seen of him. I don’t think he spins a very clean ball and doesn’t have much beyond average arm strength and velocity, so I don’t think he has much upside at the next level.

5-      Seth Doege, Texas Tech- Doege’s lack of arm strength was on display this week and while he has made a career out of overcoming adversity I don’t think he is going to be a NFL starter. He will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Graham Harrell and be developed as a potential back-up in the NFL.

6-      Collin Klein, Kansas State- Klein struggled with velocity and accuracy every day that he was here and I think that there were so many questioning whether he could play quarterback at the next level coming into the week that it’s even more difficult to make that argument now. I actually expected him to be bigger considering the beating he took the past two years running the ball so much but he only weighed in at 218 pounds despite being over 6’4”. He looked best to me when he was running the ball, and maybe someone will still take a flyer on him late on Day 3 to try to develop him or maybe sign him as an undrafted free agent, but it’s hard to imagine him being a NFL quarterback after watching him this week.

Running Backs:

1-      Christine Michael, Texas A&M- There’s not a strong argument to be made that Michael isn’t the running back with the highest upside here in St. Petersburg. According to @DashDiallo1 (Follow him) he is high on the reserve list for the Senior Bowl and he has had a great week. Brandon pointed out something I had not noticed before- Michael seemed to be looking at the ball as he was taking hand-offs and pitches instead of keeping his eyes up and reading his blocks. I hadn’t noticed this, but that’s definitely something that he has to work on. He has all the size and athleticism to be a quality NFL running back, and if he can clean up his eye level when taking hand-offs or tosses he will be ready to make an immediate impact. It is certainly concerning, but it should be coachable.

2-      Ray Graham, Pittsburgh- Graham should be ready to contribute right away as he has the burst and athleticism you want as well as reliable hands. He’s had a good week and was the strongest back on the East roster.

3-      Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt- There are some that are high on Stacy and some that aren’t, but I’m a fan. He’s not a flashy back, but he does a lot of things well and I think if he lands with the right team he could be a solid contributor as a rookie. He’s not as explosive as Michael or Graham but his game translates to the next level.

4-      Kerwynn Williams, Utah State- Williams looked good this week as well and despite being an undersized back he has some burst and explosiveness. I don’t think he is a sub 4.5 guy in the 40 and there were some times I saw him get strung out when he tried to get the edge this week. I’m not sure he can be a NFL starter, but I think he has the potential to be a complementary back.

5-      Zach Line, SMU- Line caught my eye last year when I was watching SMU and I think he is going to make a NFL roster as a running back/fullback hybrid. Pure full-backs aren’t very typical anymore and that makes Line’s skill set valuable. I haven’t seen him block often, but he runs the ball effectively despite a lack of great speed and he has caught the ball well when I’ve seen him this week.

6-      Montel Harris, Temple- Harris has so many red flags thanks to his injury history and off-field issues that even with a great performance this week I would have hesitated to give him a draftable grade. He’s an undrafted free agent to me not only because of those things, but because of the wear and tear he’s had as a ball carrier. If you invite him into a camp and he impresses that’s one thing, but this running back class is way too deep to pick him in my opinion.

Wide Receivers:

1-      Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech- Coming into this week I thought Fuller was a sleeper and while he may not have had a perfect week I think he showed that he is a smooth runner with room to grow as a route runner, impressive straight line speed and reliable hands. There were plenty of people looking forward to seeing what Marcus Davis could do, but more and more I think evaluators are realizing that Fuller was the more talented Virginia Tech receiver on this roster. This was his break-out campaign and he has plenty to work on, but he is a great day three sleeper at receiver that has a lot of upside.

2-      Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State- Bumphis isn’t going to burn you vertically and I think he’s probably in the 4.5-4.54 range in the 40 yard dash, but what he can do is out-quick you. He is so good in and out of his breaks, he showed that he can run good routes, and he generated separation when he was allowed to work in the slot. He’s not going to run by a lot of players vertically, but he can make plays in the slot and gain yardage after the catch.

3-      Erik Highsmith, North Carolina- The only disappointing thing about Highsmith’s week was the weigh in, where he apparently measured at 6004 (6’.5”) instead of his listed height of 6’3”. He also measured in at 190 pounds with 8 inch hands, the smallest on the entire East roster. However, while he may not be a blazing fast kid he runs solid routes, knows how to use his hands to keep defenders off of him and he has good hands. In a very deep class at receiver Highsmith is going to be overlooked by a lot more flashy receivers, but even if it’s in the 6th-7th range or as an undrafted free agent I would be surprised if he doesn’t make a roster.

4-      Keenan Davis, Iowa- Davis had a good week this week and while I don’t think he’s a great threat on the outside I like him as a slot receiver threat. He measured in at a legit 6’2”, 216 pounds with huge 10 3/8” hands and while he doesn’t exactly eat up cushion he showed reliable hands all week. I liked what I saw from him this week and in the game.

5-      Emory Blake, Auburn- Blake didn’t stick out to me too much in a positive or negative way this week, but when I saw him I didn’t see drops and he may not be a guy with blazing speed but he can stretch the field vertically and track the ball in the air. He’s going to be a day three guy as well thanks to this very deep class, but he has a NFL skill set.

6-      Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee State- Amos isn’t going to blow the doors off the combine by any means (4.5-4.54 guy in my opinion) but he has some quickness to him, he can create a little separation when he’s running routes (though he can improve here) and he showed impressive hands to snag passes outside of his frame. He’s another late round kid, but he can be a reliable possession guy for you at the next level, particularly in the slot.

Tight Ends:

1-      DC Jefferson, Rutgers- Jefferson had an impressive week and it was really evident that he was not properly utilized at Rutgers in part because of poor quarterback play. He’s got all the size and athleticism you could want at tight end and he showed the ability to high point throws and make catches with his hands outside of his frame. He’s got a lot of untapped upside and could be a nice value in the 3-4 round range given his talent level.

2-      Joseph Fauria, UCLA- Fauria was a player I was looking forward to evaluating this week, especially as a blocker, but he got injured early in the week and wasn’t able to come back in time for the game. He’s got plenty of upside thanks to his size and athleticism so it was a shame we didn’t get to see him compete all week.

3-      Lucas Reed, New Mexico- Reed was a player I was not familiar with at all but despite lacking blazing speed he has reliable hands along with a NFL body that should make him a relatively appealing day 3 target in a deep tight end class.

4-      Chris Pantale, Boston College- Pantale isn’t a flashy prospect but I thought he had a solid week. I don’t think he’s going to be a top 100 prospect by any means, but he should get a look later on day three.

Offensive Line:

1-      Terron Armstead, OT/OG, Arkansas-Pine Bluff- I don’t think anyone had a better week than Armstead did. He wasn’t perfect, but he showed that he can play offensive tackle from an athletic standpoint. He showed better technique than I anticipated as well and even though he opened up his hips early at times and got beat inside he was too much for any defensive end to handle in the game. The only defensive ends I saw beat him rushing the passer this week were David Bass and Devin Taylor, and we saw what happened to Tanner Hawkinson when he was tasked with blocking Taylor in the game.

2-      Mark Jackson, OT/OG, Glenville State- Jackson has the size and length you look for in an offensive lineman at over 6’5” with 33.5” arms. He didn’t look great outside at tackle because I don’t think he has the foot quickness for it, but if he loses a little weight (he weighed in at 341 pounds, I think he would be better off in the 325-330 range, so that’s something to monitor at the combine or his pro-day) I think he would be fine at guard. He is strong and while he doesn’t look like a natural puller he can generate push off the ball and he’s hard to shed after he engages you. He’s a quality day 3 option at guard.

3-      Manase Foketi, OT/OG, West Texas A&M- Foketi was a huge let down this week since we never even got to see him practice. I saw him standing watching drills on Monday and wondered if he was going to get in on practice the next day but he didn’t practice on Tuesday either and by the end of the week he wasn’t even in St. Petersburg anymore. I haven’t found out why he never competed but I am interested to hear what the reason was.

4-      T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina- Johnson got some time at center and at guard this week and while he isn’t a great athlete he has all the size and length you could want at center as he measured in at over 6’4”, 323 pounds with 33 inch arms. He has shown that he can anchor against strong defensive tackles 1 on 1 and he looked good snapping the ball this week. He was the best center in St. Petersburg all week and he definitely warrants a pick on Day 3.

5-      Earl Watford, OG, James Madison- Watford didn’t play in the game unfortunately (I heard it was something with his knee) but he showed that he is athletic enough to play guard at the next level even if he still needs to get stronger and continue to improve on his technique. If he can add some lower body strength to help him anchor and drive he should stick on a roster.

6-      Jeff Baca, OG, UCLA- Baca is a late round guy but I think he has solid anchor and did a pretty good job in pass protection this week. He doesn’t have a lot of starter upside at the next level, but he did enough this week to earn a late round draftable grade from me.

Defensive Line:

1-      David Bass, DE, Missouri Western State- Bass was extremely impressive to me this week. I came in with high hopes for him and he certainly lived up to them. He has NFL size, athleticism and he did a good job versus the run and the pass all week. I have to go back and watch more of him, but I think he has helped elevate himself into potential top 100 consideration.

2-      Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton- Catapano isn’t an elite athlete but he has a great motor, he’s strong, has active hands and is hard to push off the ball. He is the kind of kid who is going to get the most out of all his ability and his 6’3”, 270 pound frame with just under 34 inch arms. He’s an impressive kid and he’s going to be a contributor to a defensive line rotation as a rookie.

3-      Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina- Taylor is a guy who has as much upside as anyone in St. Petersburg but when I’ve watched him he just hasn’t lived up to his immense upside given his athleticism and his 6’7”, 275 pound frame. He had an up and down week in my opinion, but he had a great game going up against Tanner Hawkinson all night. Hawkinson doesn’t have good enough feet to stick at tackle and he doesn’t have the strength to play guard so Taylor beat him using his speed and his strength consistently all night. Taylor won’t have it so easy with NFL caliber tackles at the next level though, and despite his intriguing upside I still am not sold on him being an impact pass rusher at the next level.

4-      William Campbell, DT, Michigan- Campbell had a good week going against a poor cast of interior offensive linemen on the West roster but he has NFL size and athleticism. He never lived up to my expectations at Michigan but while he is still raw he certainly has upside. I think he’s a day 3 caliber draft pick with some upside as a nose tackle in a 4-3.

5-      Scott Vallone, DT/DE, Rutgers- Vallone didn’t have an amazing week but he has shown the ability to be disruptive and make plays versus the run. He’s never been much of a pass rusher, but I think he has some value as an undersized defensive tackle.

6-      Will Pericak, DT, Colorado- Pericak isn’t a flashy player but I think he has a place on a NFL roster. He’s got the size, length and strength to stick in a defensive line rotation. His motor and effort level impressed me this week.

Linebackers:

1-      Keith Pough, Howard- Pough had a fantastic week of practice. I think the thing that impressed me the most was the vocal leadership he was able to show and he was one of the only players that was able to energize the West practices at all. I definitely need to watch more of him but he really stuck out to me this week.

2-      DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina- I didn’t see as much of Holloman as I wanted to this week but he showed me enough to make me want to go back and watch more South Carolina to see him in action. He is likely a day 3 pick, but I think he has NFL talent.

3-      Sio Moore, Connecticut- Moore doesn’t strike me as a great fit in a 4-3 as an outside linebacker but I haven’t seen him in coverage a lot. Still, I think he is at his best when he is rushing the passer and when he was given the opportunity to that (even with his hand down) he was effective. I don’t think he fits the mold as a 3-4 OLB either though, so he might be a two down linebacker in a 4-3 who can put his hand down and rush the passer on obvious 3rd downs. He has upside, but he’s not a fit for every team in my opinion.

4-      Gerald Hodges, Penn State- Hodges packs some punch as a hitter but he didn’t stick out to me frequently this week when I was watching practice. When I did see him he seemed to flow to the ball well but I didn’t see him shed blocks effectively at the point of attack. That’s something I’ll certainly have to investigate more when I watch Penn State.

5-      A.J. Klein, Iowa State- Klein is a tackling machine that impressed me when I watched Iowa State, but he didn’t stick out to me much this week. He’s not a great athlete so he is going to have to compensate for that with good or great instincts, but I didn’t get a good enough look at him to evaluate that this week.

6-      Steve Greer, Virginia- Like a couple other linebackers in St. Petersburg he isn’t a great athlete but he showed a nose for the ball when I saw him this week and I already knew he was a good tackler. He’s going to have to play special teams to ensure a roster spot but I think he’s got value as a back-up linebacker.

Cornerbacks:

1-      Brandon McGee, Miami- McGee had an up and down season when I saw him play this year but he had a very good week. He showed fluid hips, good feet and impressive ball skills this week and he is going to run a very impressive 40 yard dash time at the combine. He’s got a lot of upside so keep an eye on him.

2-      Nigel Malone, Kansas State- Malone has been a guy I’ve liked all season since I previewed Kansas State before the season and he continues to live up to my expectations. He’s not the biggest or the fastest, but especially in a zone scheme he could be a very reliable corner. He’s got smooth hips, good feet and impressive ball skills. He evidenced those in the game as he got a pick 6 (even though it was thrown right to him). He might not end up in the top 100, but I’ll take him any time on Day 3.

3-      Terry Hawthorne, Illinois- Hawthorne has plenty of upside but he didn’t seem to close on passes in front of him very well this week, didn’t show me very smooth transitions and while he has good ball skills I wonder how good of a starting corner he can be. He had a nice interception when he was dropped into zone in this game (looked like Cover-3 but it was hard to see from the press box which was on the opposite side of the field from his interception) and he has talent, I just don’t know if I’d pick him day 2.

4-      Branden Smith, Georgia- Smith is an undersized corner who isn’t a great tackler but he is a good athlete with quality ball skills. He did badly misplay a pass thrown by Matt Scott to Chad Bumphis in the game that led to a long touchdown reception for Bumphis, but he usually plays the ball well. He doesn’t have the size or length to be an impact player and he weighed in at under 170 pounds but he has enough talent to warrant consideration on day 3.

5-      Sheldon Price, UCLA- Price had a solid season this year at UCLA and while I still have some questions about his game he definitely has the speed to play corner and he looked pretty good when flipping his hips in coverage this week. He has sub 4.5 speed which allows him to recover when beaten initially as well which helped him in 1 on 1’s this week.

6-      Josh Johnson, Purdue- Johnson has shown the versatility to contribute as a return man on special teams and to be a solid corner. He’s undersized but he showed me some ball skills this week and I think he warrants mid-late consideration on day 3.

Safeties:

1-      Cooper Taylor, Richmond- Taylor was a player I hadn’t seen at all coming in and I was anticipating him being a stiff, oversized safety that wasn’t good in coverage. I am happy to admit I was completely wrong and that Taylor showed good hips, impressive range and a good feel for the safety position. He’s got a great combination of size and athleticism and I think he warrants top 100 consideration based on what I saw from him this week.

2-      Duke Williams, Nevada- I’ve had my eye on Duke for a couple years now since he was a junior. He can really hit and while I have some questions about him in coverage I think he is a quality option at safety on Day 3.

3-      Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse- Thomas has good range and while he is undersized he seems to support the run pretty well despite the occasional missed tackle. At times he bites too hard on the run though and as the last line of defense that is a problem. He will get knocked for his lack of size, but if he can work on being less aggressive I think he could have a future as a starter.

4-      Earl Wolfe, NC State- Wolfe was a player I had a high opinion of coming into the week but he showed some ability in coverage as well as some ball skills. He’s a little undersized at 5’11”, 206 pounds but I think he will get drafted on day 3.

5-      Zeke Motta, Notre Dame- Motta carried a late day 3/undrafted free agent grade for me coming into the week but he showed more range and fluidity in coverage than I expected. I’m still not sold on him beyond a day 3 prospect, but he’s got more upside than I originally thought.

6-      Rashard Hall, Clemson- Hall didn’t impress me a lot when I watched tape of him but he has some ball skills and despite some missed tackles he looked solid against the run. He’s not my favorite safety prospect, but I think he has draftable talent.

1- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Grade: #1 overall pick
2- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal: Grade: Top 5-10 overall pick
3- Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Grade: Top 15 overall pick
4- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Grade: 2nd round
6- Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: Grade: 3rd round
7- Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State: Grade: 3rd round
8- Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Grade: 3rd/4th round
10- B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga: Grade: 4th round
11- Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State: Grade: 4th/5th round
12- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Grade: 5th round
13- Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Grade: 5th round
14- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: Grade: 5th/6th round
15- Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: Grade: 5th/6th round
16- John Brantley, QB, Florida: Grade: 6th round
17- Matt Scott, QB, Arizona: Grade: 6th round/7th round
18- Patrick Witt, QB, Yale: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
19- Case Keenum, QB, Houston: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
20- Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina: Grade: UDFA
21- G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa: Grade: UDFA
22- Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond: Grade: UDFA
23- Austin Davis, QB, Southern Mississippi: Grade: UDFA
24- Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU: Grade: UDFA
25- Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU: Grade: UDFA

Martin Parker (on right) was the defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, and I interviewed him for the second time shortly after this picture was taken.

For those of you who don’t know, Martin Parker is a defensive tackle from Richmond. He was a four year starter there, and graduated this year and was invited to the East-West Shrine Game which is where I first met him. I interviewed him before the game during the week, and again on the field after his team dominated the game and he was named the Defensive MVP of the contest. Then he went to the NFL Combine and put up impressive numbers measuring in at 6’2″, 303 pounds, running a 4.95 40 yard dash time (officially) and had 22 reps on the bench press. After all of this, though, he still was not drafted much to my surprise as well as many others. But Martin is not one to give up easily, and he continued training and working hard, even ending up on the roster of the Chicago Rush, an Arena Football League team, during the lockout. Now he has been signed to an undrafted free agent deal with the NFL’s New York Giants. Nothing is guaranteed for him, but he is ready for the next challenge and I know that everyone here at NFL Draft Monsters is rooting for him to make the roster. Maybe after you this read this interview and get to know him, you will too.

Martin Parker Interview:

Tom: A lot has happened since we last spoke! Do you mind if we start from after the shrine game and work our way back to where we are now?

Martin: Sure, well I was lucky enough to get an invite to the combine and I was able to go out to Indianapolis and I felt lucky to be able to go on the Colts field and work out with all of those guys, and I actually performed better than I thought I would so I really thought I was going to get drafted after the combine. Then the draft rolled around and I was watching it with my family and friends and I didn’t get drafted, but I took it on the chin and woke up the next day and kept training and working because I knew my time would come. During the process while the NFL was still locked out the Chicago Rush from the AFL approached me about playing there and after talking it over with my agent we decided it couldn’t hurt and that I could benefit from it, so I went there for about 6 weeks and played in 6 games for them. I ended up with 6 sacks, but it was a huge transition. Counter moves don’t work there, it’s all about your get-off and your initial pass rush move, which was something I needed to work on, so being there for 6 weeks gave me an opportunity to do that and it helped me improve my initial get off and my initial pass rush move. Then I went back to training, and the lockout ended and I got a lot of offers, but the Giants were my first one and it was a great fit for me seeing as they are a team that focuses on the defensive line with their defensive scheme, so I knew they were the team I wanted to go to as soon as I got the offer on Monday. 2 hours after I got it I gave them the word and accepted their offer and here we are today.

Tom: Wow, great synopsis. If you don’t mind I’m going to delve into some more of it to get more specific on some parts.

Martin: Sure, go ahead.

Tom: Ok, great. What was the combine like? I was very impressed with your showing there but I’m sure it was a unique experience.

Martin: It was just a totally new experience, there was no way to prepare for it. On TV you only see the drills, the 40 yard dashes, and the other physical tests they put you through, but behind the scenes so much more goes on.

Tom: What stuck out to you most? Did anything particularly weird happen to you?

Martin: Nothing particularly weird no, but I’d say the thing that stuck out to me most was just realizing that I could compete with these D-1 athletes from Florida State, Auburn, and other powerhouse schools and that I could play on this level.

Tom: How many teams did you conduct an interview with?

Martin: I’d say the majority of the league. I talked with a lot of the teams, I’m not sure exactly how many.

Tom: What were the interviews like? Were they all similar or did they vary a lot?

Martin: I’d say they were similar for the most part, they wanted to feel me out as a person and as a player. They wanted to see how much I knew about the game, how high my football IQ was, whether I was a team player or not, stuff like that. They wanted to know what my coaches and teammates would say about me if they asked, and I was always a team player, a good teammate and a good kid in college, so I knew they would say good things.

Tom: So you checked out huh? No skeletons in your closet! Haha

Martin: Nope I checked out just fine.

Tom: Did any teams bring up your performance at the East-West practices when they talked to you?

Martin: Not a lot of them, but the head coach from Miami (Tony Sporano) brought it up and told me the film he saw from that week was the best film that he had seen of me and that it showed I had clearly progressed since the last game of the season, which was great to hear, especially since I felt I had progressed also. But it was good to hear that from someone else.

Tom: How did you arrange things for your pro day? I know you and Justin both came from Richmond, did you guys just hold it there or did you hold it with some more guys some place else?

Martin: Justin and I both went back to Richmond for our pro-days. It’s funny, my trainers and everyone else told me not to run my 40 yard dash again at my pro-day because I had done well when I was timed at the combine so I wasn’t going to, but two minutes before my name was called I decided I was going to do it again and I ended up running a 4.92 which was even better than my combine time, it’s funny how those things work out sometimes. I also improved on my bench press numbers from my combine.

Tom: That’s a great story! And clearly you felt prepared enough to do both of those things again even though you had prepared well, to me that speaks to your preparation and your work ethic, and it shows that you kept working hard even after your combine performance.

Martin: Exactly and that’s what I wanted to show the teams that came to see me at my pro-day.

Tom: Ok, so what did you do on draft day?

Martin: I went back to Connecticut and had all of my family and even some friends from Richmond up to my house and we watched the draft together, so it was hard when I didn’t get drafted.

Tom: How tough was it not hearing your name called on draft day?

Martin: It was really tough, I was really down about it the night after the draft ended, but I knew that wasn’t the end of my journey, it was just the beginning, so the next morning I got out of bed early as usual and got back to training and that has led me back to this great opportunity to be a member of the Giants.

Tom: That’s a perfect attitude to have, that’s great to hear. What was the most helpful or best piece of advice you got after the draft?

Martin: I’d say that the most helpful thing I heard after the draft was from my Uncles. They told me before the draft even started that they were very proud of me for the hard work that I had put in to get to this point, they were proud that I had finished school at Richmond and they were proud of the football career that I had already had up to this point, so that was great to hear. And they said the same thing after the draft.

Tom: That’s great to hear, I’m glad you have that kind of a support system behind you. So where have you been training?

Martin: I’ve been training in downtown Manhattan, and I have been training with a guy who had never had a client specifically for the combine before. He was an Olympic athlete so he helped me with all of my speed work.

Tom: Well after your combine and pro-day performance I guess it’s safe to say whatever he does works!

Martin: Haha, definitely. He helped me out a lot.

Tom: I remember you saying you wanted to work on your leverage and flexibility, how is that coming?

Martin: Yeah I definitely wanted to work on that, and the AFL actually really helped improve that. I wanted to be able to keep my leverage and get under the offensive linemen to drive them back, and I wanted to have the flexibility to dip my shoulder and drive around the edge to get to the quarterback, so playing in the AFL for 6 games really helped me improve that along with my initial moves.

Tom: Hand usage is a huge part of playing defensive tackle, some guys do MMA training to improve that, how would you describe your hand usage and would you ever consider that kind of training regimen?

Martin: I actually have done some MMA work and I would definitely say it helps. It teaches you to be violent with your hands obviously, which is a huge part of keeping blockers off of you. And being a 4 year starter at Richmond and having played in three different defensive schemes with three different coaching staffs I’ve seen every scheme and every block you can see, so being able to improve your hand usage to keep blockers off of you and to shed blocks is very important.

Tom: What teams called (or maybe we should start with what teams DIDN’T call!) once they were allowed to talk to you?

Martin: A lot of teams called, over half the league called I would say, so it was good to feel wanted and to feel that people thought I deserved a shot, but after I got the Giants offer and talked to my agent about it we knew that was the best fit for me, so we decided to accept that offer early just so we could get the process over with.

Tom: What made you ultimately decide to go to New York?

Martin: It’s just a great fit like I said before. They are known for their defensive line and their defensive line is what makes their entire scheme go, and I am really excited to be a part of a team that has such an intense focus on the play of the defensive line because it will be a great experience for me. Plus playing with a defensive line that has had so much experience making plays and being disruptive will be great.

Tom: How rewarding was it when you finally signed with the Giants and had a spot?

Martin: It’s funny, everyone around me was more excited that I was. It’s funny how that happens sometimes, but it was more of a relief for me than anything. After the combine I was convinced that I could play at this level, but I thought that I was going to get drafted. Not getting drafted was obviously a humbling experience though, and the wait was a long one to finally get signed because of the lockout. So after that long process, which was essentially an 8 month interview starting in December, it was nice to finally know where I was going so I could get back to playing football again.

Tom: What is the one thing you are most looking forward to at training camp?

Martin: Just stepping out on that field you know? I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, and to finally have my chance in the NFL is something I have been looking forward to for a long time. I can’t wait to get out there and play some football again.

Tom: Do you think you can make the 53 man roster? I know what my answer is, but I thought I’d ask you first.

Martin: Hahaha. Absolutely I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could make the roster. Obviously it won’t be easy, but nothing has been given to me or been easy for me up to this point, so there’s no reason this should be any easier. But I am committed, I work hard and I am ready to get out there and compete. I am going to approach every day of practice like it is a game and just give it my all, that’s all I can really do.

Tom: Who was the first person you called after you agreed to go to the Giants?

Martin: Haha, I called my mom and then I told the rest of my family. They were really excited.

Tom: What is your opinion of Lawrence Sidbury? Did you ever get to start alongside him?

Martin: Yeah I got two start next to him for two or three years… I think two. It was great playing with him because he is just so fast and so quick off the ball. You almost felt like as a defensive tackle that you would be guaranteed a shot at a sack every game because he forced quarterbacks to step up in the pocket so consistently. It was great playing with him. It was definitely a transition for me personally after he left for the NFL and I had to play without him.

Tom: Do you think he is ready to contribute to the Falcons rotation? We could really use the pass rush.

Martin: Definitely. I’m just waiting for him to get unleashed and rush the passer like everyone knows he can. Hopefully this is the year for that.

Tom: Ok, fun question: Where is your MVP trophy from the East-West Shrine Game at this moment?

Martin: Hahahaha… wow… where is it…

Tom: I got you! Character concern #1!

Martin: Hahaha. I think it’s in a box at my house, stored in a safe place obviously.

Tom: Ready for you to move close to the Giants facility when they lock you up long term!

Martin: Haha, exactly!

Tom: Are there any up and coming Richmond Spiders I should keep an eye and an ear out for?

Martin: Definitely. Aaron Corp sticks out obviously. We have a bunch of guys that are going to be seniors, so Richmond is a team to watch out for this year!

Tom: Duly noted! And I don’t know what kind of consolation this is, but after the draft the entire draftnik community was convinced that you were the consensus “player who should have been drafted”, how does that make you feel? Haha

Martin: That’s great to hear! Obviously I agree with that and I think I should have been drafted, but there were reasons that I wasn’t. That’s all in the past now though, and I can’t worry about any of that now that I have gotten my shot with the Giants.

Tom: Well I for one was extremely happy that you got a spot, I was keeping one eye on Twitter, the other on ESPN, and listening to NFL Network to try to find out as soon as possible when you were going to get picked up, because I knew it was going to happen. I Can’t describe my elation when I heard you signed, can’t imagine how happy you must have been. So congratulations, good luck, and just know that I, as well as thousands of other fans and supporters are pulling for you to make the 53 man roster! Thank you so much for the interview, it had been too long. I will keep in touch better than I did the past few months. Good luck in training camp and never hesitate to give me a ring or shoot me a text, I’d always love to hear from you. Unless you’ve got any questions for me, I’m all done with the interview!

Martin: No questions from my end, thanks for the call!

Tom: No problem Martin. Thanks again, and kick some ass and take some names in training camp!

Martin: Haha, will do!

Hopefully you enjoyed that interview with Martin Parker. Look out for a couple more in the coming days, and thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Parker really improved his stock in the offseason and I think he will be a quality NFL defensive tackle.

Positives: Pretty good size, good athleticism and a great motor. Parker really helped his stock this offseason as he demonstrated good burst off the ball, a well developed swim move and an ability to penetrate and disrupt plays in the backfield. He stands up pretty well versus the run and doesn’t get moved off the ball very easily in one on one situations. He has the quickness and burst off the line to offer some ability as a pass rusher. He has a good work ethic and drive and showed improved hand usage at the East-West Shrine Game. He seems to be a pretty good tackler and shows some ability to wrap up tacklers in the trenches. Gives good effort in pursuit from the backside and closes well when he zeroes in on a ball carrier or quarterback. Has a good attitude and is willing to play anywhere.

Negatives: He isn’t a great fit for all schemes because he is best when he can get off the ball and penetrate. He doesn’t occupy blocks well and struggles against double teams. Needs to make sure he plays with consistent pad level which will help him stand up against the run better, and could stand to get stronger in the lower body. He has a good swim move but he goes to that move too much and that limits its effectiveness. He needs to work on a club and rip move to help him shed blocks as he continues to improve his hand usage. Sometimes stays blocked too much if he can’t beat his man initially off the snap and that has a lot to do with his lack of a pass rush repertoire, he needs to work on moves so he has secondary pass rush options to get off blocks.

Overall: Parker is a quality talent and I think he will be able to contribute some as a rookie. His ceiling is probably a solid #2 DT in a one gap scheme, but I definitely think he can be a good #3 DT in a rotation before he becomes a starter. He needs to be coached up and developed a bit but with his work ethic and desire I have no doubt that he will take coaching well and improve once he gets to the NFL. He has the size, athletic ability and work ethic to be a quality defensive tackle in the NFL so I really look forward to him getting drafted.

Projection: 4th/5th round. He really improved his stock this offseason and I imagine he interviewed well as he seemed to be a good kid when I talked to him. I wish him only success and I hope he goes in the 4th round in the draft, he deserves it.

SKILLS:
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Strength: 3.5
Quickness: 3.5
Pass Rush: 3.0
Point of Attack: 3.0
Recognition: 3.0
Motor: 4.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Martin Parker Interview

Here is my interview with Martin Parker from before the East-West Shrine Game and after he won the Defensive MVP award in the game. Enjoy!

Martin Parker (on the right) after he won the Defensive MVP award in the East-West Shrine Game. I interviewed him for the second time shortly after this picture was taken.

Tom: How do you think the week went overall as far as all the practices?

Martin: I think it was a great week, at first it was a little nerve racking but getting out there and practicing made it a lot better for me.

Tom: What would you say is your biggest strength as a football player?

Martin: I would have to say my motor and my determination. No matter where a play is I want to be the one who is chasing the play down and trying to make a play from the backside on the running back, quarterback or even wide receiver.

Tom: What is something you might want to work on or develop once you get to the NFL?

Martin: One thing I really want to work on is my leverage, my flexibility and body strength. I’m not a weak person but I think I can improve my strength and I just want to improve my leverage just to make me a better football player.

Tom: Any goals left for the rest of the week?

Martin: I mean, I am never satisfied with what I do, personally I think I have had a good week of practice. I just want to prove that I, Martin Parker, from the University of Richmond can play at this level of football against these bigger offensive lineman.

Tom: Who is the toughest player you’ve gone against in practice this week?

Martin: The offensive lineman from Illinois, I forget the name. *Randall Hunt* He was definitely bigger than any other offensive lineman I had gone against at guard. It was one of those things where I had to attack the challenge head on and I think I held my own against him and the other offensive linemen.

Tom: You and David Arkin had some good battles this week, any thoughts on him?

Martin: He’s a great player. Our whole battle started on Monday in the ballroom and just continued through the rest of the week. He’s another great player from the FCS level that is going to get his shot to make it to the NFL, he has a great skill set to make it there.

Tom: You kind of laughed when I asked you that question, do you remember a couple of the plays in the ball room on the first day of practice?

Martin: It was the first play where our DL coach told us to take it easy and take it slow and he came off the ball hard and knocked me over so the next play I came off hard and put him in the backfield. I walked away calmly after that though.

Tom: What do you think is your best scheme fit in the NFL?

Martin: I can play where-ever any team wants me to play. I know a lot of people say that because they think that it will help them sound good, but I’ve played DE, 3 tech, nose guard, 3-4 DE and I’ve been successful at all of those positions in my four years at Richmond. If a team drafts me and wants me to go play 3-4 DE then I will go out there and I promise you I will be one of the best players out there. I’ve been playing 3 technique for four years at Richmond, so I know I can hold my own at that position.

Tom: Have you talked to any teams or scouts yet?

Martin: Earlier in the week I talked to a handful of teams, nothing since then though. It will be interesting to see how all the pieces of the puzzle come together.

Tom: Do you have any preference as far as what kind of coach you would like to play for?

Martin: I went through three different head coaches at Richmond, three defensive line coaches at Richmond so I have experience under pretty much any kind of football coach you can have. It really isn’t bothersome to me, whoever my coach is I am going to listen to what they have to say so that I can have success in whatever system they run.

Tom: Your teammate Justin Rogers had a good week, any thoughts on him as a player?

Martin: He’s a great player, he has been ever since we have been at Richmond. He came out this weekend seeking to prove that he can cover wide receivers that a lot of people didn’t think he could cover. He’s made a name for himself this week and batted some balls down this week to put himself in a good position.

Tom: What is one thing you’d like the world to know that it might not already know.

Martin: That I’m different. I’m always full of surprises.

Tom: Thanks again for the interview, and good luck in the game tomorrow!

After the game interview:

Tom: I had to get an interview with you after you won MVP. *Laughter* 2 sacks, a forced fumble, you dominated today! How does it feel?

Martin: Right now I can’t stop smiling. Coming into this game I just wanted to have a solid game and come out and put myself in a good position after this game. After the first sack I just wanted more. The defensive line played great today. We pushed each other. On the sideline we told each other wanted two, we wanted three, we wanted four sacks.

Tom: Remember I interviewed you before NFL Network! *Laughter* I was there before it began! All the guys I interviewed played well today, especially you, so… I’m just saying…

Martin: *Laughter* I give the credit to everybody!

Tom: Where do you go from here now?

Martin: I’m going back to New York to continue training again and get ready for the combine.

Tom: Great! Well thanks again and congratulations on MVP! Enjoy the night!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

East Practice Notes: Day 3

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin looked a bit better today, he had a couple nice throws that showed good ball placement and accuracy, more like you might be used to if you’ve seen him play in college. His arm strength isn’t as good as I have heard some say, it’s solid but his zip is only adequate on his throws. Because he is at Delaware people are naturally hoping for him to be the next Flacco with a rocket arm, but he is a more accurate passer with only above-average arm strength in my opinion. His progression to a QB who plays from under center will take time, but he bobbled the first two snaps he took from under center when warming up this week, so even though I think he bobbled one today he has certainly showed improvement, and that’s all you want to see with a QB moving from a spread/shotgun offense.

Halfbacks:

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

I was a big Cooper fan before his injury so it’s good to see him playing again and getting his quickness back. There were a few times today that you could notice his quickness and burst coming back when his offensive line allowed penetration and he was able to quickly change direction and find room to run. He seems to have good vision, he definitely has some of his burst and quickness back which is great to see. His injury was a pretty bad one. He looked good catching passes out of the backfield as well. So with his speed coming back (his 40 time will be important for him as well as other times at the combine), him running well, catching the ball out of the backfield and potentially adding value on kick returns (if he is truly coming back healthy he can be a very valuable returner) he definitely warrants a mid-round pick if he checks out medically. Good to see him back! Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to him tomorrow.

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter has been the most impressive back this week in my opinion. I think he is probably the best feature back prospect here. He’s short but well built and he has huge legs, especially for only being about 5’9”. He generates  a lot of power, has shown good speed, quickness and soft hands out of the backfield. He has definitely helped himself this week and continued his strong play after his huge game against Kansas State in Syracuse’s bowl game. I’d love to interview him as well.

Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut:

I love Sherman as a FB prospect. He runs hard, keeps his pads low and has good hands out of the backfield. He has impressed me this week, and I think he definitely deserves mid-round consideration as a fullback in the NFL.

Wide Receivers:

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver has had a good week of practice and continues to show his good hands, flash good route running and showed a little ability to catch the ball in traffic today. Largely I think he is a finesse receiver, which isn’t a bad thing, but it limits his potential when going over the middle. However, he has officially been invited to the Senior Bowl next week to replace Jerrel Jernigan, who was injured while training apparently. It’s too bad for Jernigan, but it’s a great opportunity to show what he can do against even better competition in the Senior Bowl.

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

I really like what I have seen from Baker this week. He’s extremely skinny and while he doesn’t have a huge frame he definitely needs to add weight and get stronger overall, especially in the arms and legs. However, he does have strong hands and he showed that on the field and when he gave me a firm handshake when I introduced myself. He looks like a totally different player than he did at the beginning of the first practice and I am glad that he progressed so much this week. He even had a nice block on a safety today with a lot of pop! I never would have expected him to hit like that. He is definitely a draftable player and I think he has a NFL future in the slot. His route running has definitely progressed this week, he has been creating consistent separation on the corners on the East this week.

Offensive Linemen:

Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson:

Hairston is a huge guy and has long arms (34.75 inches when measured) and I think he has some potential at RT. He has a solid punch and shows the ability to use his long arms to keep the defender at bay, and did a good job of forcing Trattou wide during one on one drills. He struggles with speed and I don’t think he has very good feet, but he has potential value at RT.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin started off well but has struggled a bit the last couple days. I think he could stand to get stronger in the lower body which would help him anchor as a pass blocker and get more drive as a run blocker. He’s a small school guy and he has shown some ability against better competition, but Martin Parker has beaten him a number of times this week. I think he has some ability, but is probably a mid-late round pick after what I’ve seen this week. Maybe 5th round?

Defensive Linemen:

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker continued to impress today and he did a good job getting off the ball and showed a nice swim move in one on one drills. It is clearly his go-to move, but it is apparent that he needs to develop other moves to use because he went to the swim move well a couple times too many and became a bit predictable with that move right off the snap. It works, but he needs to develop other moves to help keep the blockers off balance. But he has good size, arm length, quickness off the ball and he has a good swim move already. He has definitely helped himself this week, and I think he’d be a good fit in a scheme that asks their defensive linemen to penetrate and get into the backfield.

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

Austin continues to impress, but I think it is fair to say he is not quite in football shape yet. I don’t know if he will garner a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, but I would love to see him there if he did get an invitation. He has looked good this week, shown some violent hands, has drawn a number of double teams, but seems to have worn down as practice goes on. He isn’t carrying too much weight, I just don’t think he is used to playing football like this yet because of his time off from the game. He has definitely helped himself this week, but we all know he had ability. I just want to see consistency from him which we haven’t exactly seen yet. I have seen him get blocked one on one in pass protection a number of times this week which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he has the ability to dominate some of these guys and I was left wanting a little more in that regard.

Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on McClain up until this point because he never really stuck out to me. He’d get into the backfield here or there, but I don’t think he is good enough off the snap to consistently penetrate into the backfield in the NFL. I think he might have some value as a space eater as he has a wide build, long arms and stocky size at 6’1.5” and 305 pounds. That should net him mid-late round consideration, but I haven’t seen a ton from him as a pass rusher. He had a nice spin move on Ryan Bartholomew today in one on one’s, but like I said I have only seen a flash every once in a while of him penetrating or collapsing the pocket this week.

Justin Trattou, DE, Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on Trattou this week either, but he has solid size, arm length and good hand usage. He doesn’t have much speed off the edge, so weighing in at only 254 pounds will really hurt him. He has struggled to get the edge in one on one drills this week with speed, so I don’t think he will be much of a speed rusher in the NFL. I think he will have to dedicate to filling out his frame to be a rotational DE in a 4-3 or maybe really bulk up his 6’3” frame and try to get to 275+ to try playing 3-4 DE. That’s a lot of weight to put on and while I definitely think he has room to add weight I don’t know if he has room to put on 30 pounds or more. He seems to be a hard worker though, and like I said I like his hand usage and strength, but right now he is not fast enough off the ball to consistently rush the passer at 4-3 DE and he is way too small to hold up at 3-4 DE.

Linebackers:

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

Dent continues to fill well, get in position to make tackles and generally be around the ball (especially against the run). I don’t think he is a perfect fit for a 4-3 because he has some struggles in coverage, doesn’t have very good hips and I’m not sure how well he runs, but I think he is a perfect fit for a 3-4 ILB. He plays so well downhill, has such a great knowledge and understanding of gap responsibility, and even though he hasn’t been able to show it this week I think he has good value as a blitzer. I will hopefully have an interview with him as well as a number of other guys, but I am really high on Dent (especially as a 3-4 ILB).

Greg Lloyd II, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg has had a good week, continues to flow to the ball well, show good instincts and get in position to make tackles. I don’t know where his stock is at right now, but I really like him as a 3-4 ILB prospect. I’d say Dent is a better inside linebacker prospect at this point but I have seen more of him than I have of Greg. I will definitely have an interview of Greg this week and just in talking to him a bit after practice he seems to be a great guy, very smart and easy going. I have a feeling he will impress in interviews, and he seemed to take control of the defensive unit he has played with this week each day which I love to see.

Bruce Miller, LB, UCF:

Miller has a great motor, he is a heads up player and he has solid speed, but he just doesn’t have the get-off or the edge speed to stick at DE in a 4-3. His arm length has hurt him this week as he has struggled to get off blocks from guys with longer arms like Jah Reid and Chris Hairston, both of whom have struggled with speed this week. I have heard he will have to move to linebacker, but I think his only hope there is to move to inside linebacker, probably in a 3-4. I don’t know how he is in coverage at all, but even if he doesn’t have an ideal position as a starter on a defense I think he definitely warrants late round consideration or priority free agent value because of what he could bring as a special teamer. His motor, effort, heads up play and tackling will be valuable there even if he doesn’t fit in perfectly in any scheme at the next level.

Defensive Backs:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers continues to have a good week. I like him the best out of the four corners on the East, and I like him about as well as I like Lindsey on the West. He has pretty good footwork, closes well, has long arms for his size and has generally just been good in coverage this week. He has definitely helped himself. However, he doesn’t have very good hands for the interception despite his ability to make plays on the ball to deflect it away, and he has small hands. I don’t think he will ever get a lot of interceptions at the NFL, but a guy with his closing speed and vertical could definitely get his hands on some passes.

Thanks for reading! There is still more to come.

–Tom

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin had a pretty off practice today. In one on one’s he threw high on probably five or six throws, and this is without pressure since it’s just a one on one match-up for the corner. He struggled with ball placement and though his throws had pretty good zip he was letting them get away from him a bit. He flashed impressive ball placement a couple times, including a nice throw on a slant to Toliver. He showed some good anticipation, zip and accuracy on the throw by hitting Toliver in the hole in the zone on the slant. However, he seemed to be checking down faster than I’d like and on a couple plays he missed an open receiver (Perry Baker twice) so I am wondering about his ability to read defenses a little bit. He has pretty good size and arm strength, but his accuracy was not there today.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech:

Taylor had a pretty off practice as well. He overthrew a couple receivers and didn’t have very good ball placement either. He has the arm strength, I am just waiting for him to start placing his throws better. I know he can do it, but he hasn’t shown it yet this week. I talked to him today about an interview and he seemed open to it, hopefully I will be able to get that done in the next couple days.

Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy:

Didn’t see him throw much today, but when I did his passes were usually off target. He struggled making reads today as well, more obviously than Devlin and Taylor did in my opinion. I’m pretty convinced that he is going to be a wildcat QB only at the next level. He will have to convert to RB.

Halfbacks:

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter looks fast, he has good feet from what I can tell and though I didn’t pay much attention to him today specifically he looks good. He continues to show pretty soft hands.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

He got stuffed a couple times in the run game, once by Marvin Austin, but I’m not sure they are good reflections of his vision or his quickness. He has pretty good hands, I believe he caught a pass out of the flat today.

Evan Royster, RB, Penn State:

Royster didn’t impress me much again today, there was a throw to him in the flat that he only got his left hand on from Devlin, wasn’t placed very well. Still doesn’t look very quick or fast to me.

Wide Receivers:

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

This kid blew me away at the beginning of practice today. Yesterday he was dropping easy passes without a defender guarding him and today he was making snags away from his body after creating some separation in one on one drills. He didn’t look quite as fast with pads on, but he still moves well. He needs work on his route running, but he definitely has the suddenness, the speed and the burst to be an effective route runner, just has to work at it. His hands look totally different than they did yesterday, he had to be nervous at the beginning of practice. He showed some route running ability by getting separation on Van Dyke and running a nice curl on Justin Rogers (who has looked great) and running it so well that Rogers lost his footing and fell down as Baker made his break. He made a body catch later in the practice, so his hands aren’t amazing, nor is his route running, but he looks much better today than he did at the start of yesterday’s practice. He looked like a different player almost. I’ll be looking for more consistency later in the week, hopefully I will be able to talk to him and get an interview.

Lester Jean, WR, FAU:

Jean had a much better practice today as well. He doesn’t run very good routes, but he has some suddenness and he absolutely shook Van Dyke on one route and got a lot of separation. He showed much better hands and caught the ball well away from his body and even dug out a low throw for a nice catch. He struggles with his footwork when running routes though, and it limits his ability to create separation. I’m not sure how much quickness he will ever have coming in and out of breaks, but he does have good speed and looked fast in pads today. He also showed some ability to adjust to the ball when it is in the air, which is good. With his size, speed and potentially good hands he presents some value to be sure. He looked much better today than he did yesterday. He and Baker had great practices.

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver is my favorite WR here and he had an up and down practice, but is definitely still the best WR here in my opinion. He has very reliable hands though he dropped two passes that I saw today and both of them involved contact. On one play he ran a good slant route and caught the ball but as he caught it Josh Thomas, a corner from Buffalo, laid a big hit on him and jarred the ball loose. Later he ran another slant and shied away from contact that he knew was coming a bit and didn’t make a play on the ball, though it was not very well thrown. It’s pretty apparent that he doesn’t like contact and is more of a finesse receiver, so I don’t think he will want to go over the middle a lot in the NFL. However, his hands are the best of the receivers here in my opinion and he showed some good route running today. He absolutely burned Mario Butler on one long play but it was over thrown. He looks like a solid 3rd or 4th rounder to me for sure.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union:

Shorts started out slow today and actually lost his footing a few times at the beginning and one more time later in the practice. He was tentative in his breaks after the initial footing problems and you could tell he was taking his breaks a bit slower to make sure he didn’t fall down so he didn’t waste the rep. He adjusts pretty well to the ball, but his hands are inconsistent in my opinion. He drops some catchable balls and also brings some in. He looks like a 5th/6th round guy to me right now.

Terrence Turner, WR, Indiana:

Turner seems to be the worst wide receiver on the East squad. He has struggled to create separation, he doesn’t have very good speed and his hands are inconsistent. He’s had a tough couple of days.

Tight Ends:

Charles Gantt, TE, Michigan State:

I didn’t see much of Gantt today but he seems to have solid hands. I want to see him blocking more because I have heard a lot of good things about him as a blocker.

Offensive Linemen:

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin had an up and down day. A couple times he had effective blocks on Marvin Austin but Austin also beat him on a couple run plays, though he looked good in pass protection against him. Arkin struggled against Martin Parker, the DT from Richmond. This is going to be a really interesting match-up to watch because they have had some good battles already in the first two days. Arkin got beat by a nice swim move by Parker and then Parker bull rushed Arkin into the pocket again. Arkin definitely has some ability though, he just needs to play with more consistent leverage.

Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson:

I haven’t been very impressed with Hairston. He is huge but he doesn’t look like he has good feet and he got away with a hold, a pretty blatant one where he was just tugging with one arm on the DE’s jersey as he ran around him to try to pursue from the backside on a running play up the middle. He looks like a late round pick to me so far.

Defensive Linemen:

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker had a pretty good day when I saw him today. He beat Arkin twice with swim moves and bull-rushed him into the pocket effectively on another play. He has a pretty wide body and he has natural leverage because of his size, he seems to be strong as well. In a system that likes defensive tackles to penetrate and get upfield he definitely has some value.

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

Austin had a solid practice, but it wasn’t dominating. He shows signs of his great ability but he drew a lot of doubles today. He fought hard against them but when you are doubled there’s not a lot you can do. He also struggled a bit to get off blocks from Arkin in pass protection, but did a bit better versus the run. He holds his ground well versus one on one blocks for the most part, and shows some violent hands to shed at times. His hand usage could be more consistent in my opinion.

Linebackers:

Greg Lloyd, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg looked good today, he played well. He fills well versus the run and a couple times he read the play in literally half a second and then moved well in pursuit. He plays well downhill and I think he could be a perfect fit as an ILB in a 3-4 defense. I am not sure how comfortable he is in coverage, as he looks a bit tentative at times. I’ll be watching him in that aspect this week. But I think he’s a perfect fit in a 3-4.

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

I really like Dent and he continues to fill well versus the run and put himself in position to make tackles in the running game. Like Greg I think he is a perfect fit in a 3-4 defense at ILB, and I am not sure how good he is in coverage. I try to watch him but there is a lot going on, so it’s hard to do at times. However, I am very high on Dent. He is a tackling machine.

Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State:

Rolle is an agile player and he looked very comfortable in coverage to me today, especially in zone. He is still very undersized though, and that hurts him against the run.

Defensive Backs:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers looks like the best corner on the East to me. He has a great motor, pretty good closing speed and he makes plays on the ball and has had a bunch of pass deflections in the first two days of practice. He’s a smaller guy but I love his effort and his ball skills. I don’t know how he is at tackling yet since they haven’t been tackling practices. He has had good coverage for the most part, but Baker did break his ankles on one curl route. However, he stuck with Baker on a streak route stride for stride. He has had a great couple days of practice.

Mario Butler, CB, Georgia Tech:

Butler has not impressed me thus far. He got worked a couple times today in coverage though on a couple bad throws he managed to make a play on the ball for a deflection. He has just underwhelmed me thus far, he doesn’t seem like a mid-round pick to me right now.

Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo:

Thomas had a solid practice today. He laid a couple big hits on people, both of them jarring passes incomplete when they would have normally been catches. He definitely packs some punch as a hitter. I’m not sure how well he locates the ball in the air, but I’ll be watching him more later this week.

Demarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami:

Van Dyke has struggled a lot the past couple days. He got worked on a few routes today and gave up pretty easy separation to the receivers he was defending and didn’t seem to have much ability to make up ground or close to make a play on the ball. He has definitely been the worst corner for the East.

Jonathan Nelson, S, Oklahoma:

I didn’t see much of Nelson today but he did intercept a pass off of Pat Devlin during practice. Devlin threw the ball late and was staring his receiver down and Nelson read his eyes well, got in front of it and made a nice interception look pretty easy.

Hopefully you enjoyed these notes, thanks for reading! Look out for more posts the rest of the week!

–Tom

Hello to everyone from Orlando! I am here all week for the East-West Shrine game practices and the game on Saturday. I look forward to taking a lot of notes and of course posting my thoughts at night on my blog for all to read! So enjoy the notes from the East practice that I just finished up. The West notes will be done later tonight as well.

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin had a solid day. It didn’t start well when he bobbled the first two warm-up snaps he took under center, which kind of worried me at first. However, he didn’t bobble any snaps the rest of the practice that I saw. He was throwing a little high early and got intercepted on his first throw thanks to a tip by a corner once the ball got there. He seems to have pretty solid size, solid zip on his throws. He has long arms too as far as I could tell without measurements.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech:

Taylor had a solid day too, and it was big for him to measure in at 6 feet. He looks small on the field, especially next to Devlin. He was a little erratic today, missing high and low, and struggled with ball placement some. His passes definitely had the most zip on them of the East QB’s.

Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy:

Dobbs is not much of a passer, and his only value at QB at the next level will be running wildcat or something. His spirals weren’t very tight early, struggled with ball placement and didn’t seem to have very good zip on his throws.

Halfbacks:

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

Cooper was handling kick returns early in practice, though they were just walk-through kickoff drills. He was extremely fast before the injury, and it looks like he is returning to form a bit. It’s hard to say for sure, but he looked fast today. Showed soft hands today in drills too. I don’t think I saw him drop a pass.

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter looked great today. He looked very fast, got upfield quickly, made some really nice moves in open space and to get into the open field. He had an incredible game against Kansas State and he played like he still had momentum from that game today. He looked the best out of the RB’s on the East to me.

Evan Royster, RB, Penn State:

Royster lacked burst like he seemed to on tape in my opinion. Doesn’t explode in or out of his cuts at all, doesn’t seem to have very good footwork as a runner. I wonder about his vision too because he shuffles his feet and takes extra steps when the play is developing instead of finding a hole and making a cut to hit the hole. He looked really slow compared to Cooper and Carter too.

Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut:

Sherman really stuck out to me. He showed great hands out of the backfield, especially for a fullback, and seemed to have good vision as a runner as well. He looked great today.

Wide Receivers:

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver looked like the best receiver on the East today without a doubt in my mind. I was high on him coming into practice, but only one pass thrown to him hit the ground that I saw. He dropped it but every other pass he caught easily. He seems to have pretty big hands, really long arms and he catches the ball well away from his body. Seemed to try to catch and turn too quickly on the one he dropped. His legs are really skinny though and he himself is skinny, and he doesn’t have much explosion out of his breaks to create separation. If he gets stronger in the lower body and works with a good receiver coach on that I think he could improve in that area, but it’s a concern for me at this point even though I love his hands.

Lestar Jean, WR, FAU:

Jean looked skinny overall but not as skinny as a couple other guys. Coaches were working with him on his stance a couple times early in practice to help him get off the ball better. He was body catching for the majority of practice when I saw him. Plus he was wasting steps in and out of his breaks, most notably on curl routes.

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

Baker started off horribly in this practice. He looks extremely skinny, especially in the legs, and he was dropping everything early. I saw him make one catch and drop every other ball in the first round of receiver drills. He seemed to be really nervous and was not running good routes during that time. However, he has great speed and definitely looked like the fastest receiver on the East squad to me. Not only that, but he calmed down as the practice continued and made a couple of good catches with his hands and away from his body late. He definitely started slow but he made very obvious progression throughout the practice.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union:

Shorts had a solid day. He made a couple catches but also dropped a couple catchable balls. He looked like he had a solid frame, definitely not skinny like a couple of the other receivers. I’m not sold on his hands yet, but he has some speed.

Tight Ends:

Greg Smith, TE, Texas:

Smith had one good catch in the beginning drills but he dropped a few passes that he definitely should have caught. He also had a couple false starts and struggled with ball placement initially as a long snapper, but he seemed to get better with that as he went along. Overall though, not a great day.

Charles Gantt, TE, Michigan State:

Gantt had a false start and also had a pretty funny moment during blocking drills when he planted his foot and his foot went right through the side of his shoe, tearing a huge hole in the side of his shoe. He had to come out of drills and get a new pair of shoes before he could continue.

Offensive Tackle:

Chris Hairston

Hairston is a huge dude, but he looked like he was carrying some extra weight. I don’t think he has the foot speed to stick at LT, but he is working out at OT. He has solid technique based on what I saw today, but his feet look heavy and he lumbers a bit at times. It’s something I will look out for this week. He did a good job of bending at the knees and not at the waist in drills from what I saw.

Jah Reid

Reid is a big guy and was spending time at RT today. He has pretty solid fundamental footwork but in drills he was bending at his waist a lot which is definitely a concern. It’s hard for him to get leverage because of his size, but bending at the waist is a definite red flag and I saw him do that a number of times.

Offensive Guard/Center:

Randall Hutt, OG, Illinois:

Hutt had a pretty bad day today. He had three false starts I believe and he struggled in the run game, and especially had trouble with Marvin Austin.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin is a small school guy that I had not heard of before I saw him on the roster, so I was anxious to get a look at him. He had a couple of false starts, but other than that he looked great today. One of them was on the first play when Marvin Austin was lined up right in front of him, so I’m sure he wanted to get off the ball a little quicker than normal. He looked very good at the point of attack today, had a nice pancake block on Martin Parker, a DT from Richmond. He held up pretty well in pass protection too, though Parker got leverage on him and drove him slowly into the personal space of the QB today. When the ball was thrown they went at it for a second or two afterwards. But Arkin had a great day.

Bryant Browning, OG, Ohio State:

Browning had a bad day. He got pulled quickly for Hunt and had two false starts that I saw.

William Rackley, C/OG, Lehigh:

He is listed on the West Roster but he was moved to the East team for practice today. He has really big legs and moves well which is important for an interior lineman. He’s listed as a center but I am pretty sure he saw time at guard. He had a solid day today, I look forward to seeing more of him this week.

Ryan Bartholomew, C/OG, Syracuse:

Bartholomew had a solid day of practice. I don’t have a lot of notes on him, but he did a good job of sealing on a couple blocks and spent time at guard and at center. Versatility is huge and if he can play center and either or both guard spots it will help his stock.

Defensive Line:

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

I was really looking forward to seeing Austin play, especially because I am a big UNC fan. He had a very good day today, though that is to be expected because of his talent level. I have never been convinced he has a very good motor, but he has pretty violent hands and he shed blocks pretty nicely today. He was pretty disruptive and had a couple nice swim moves to get into the backfield. He looked pretty good at the point of attack and when he didn’t shed blocks he didn’t get pushed off the line. He also had a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage today. He had a strong practice, and I am trying to lock down an interview with him at some point this week.

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker didn’t have a great day as he struggled a bit at the point of attack against Arkin, but he plays with good natural leverage because he doesn’t have great size. He had a pretty good bull rush but the QB held onto the ball a long time which gave him more time to slowly drive Arkin into the pocket.

Linebackers:

Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State:

I like Rolle but he looks SO small out there. He measured in under 5’10” today and that will hurt him a lot as a prospect. He was getting washed out in the running game today which is not going to endear him to scouts. He needs to add weight to his frame and get stronger if he is going to have any chance of holding up in the box. I didn’t pay much attention to him in coverage, but I will do that later this week. But his size sticks out to you right away, but I am not someone who will be scared away from a guy because of his size. For that reason I will look forward to seeing him show me his ability that got him this far the rest of the week.

Greg Lloyd II, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg looked good today. He is a pretty big guy and has a great frame to add weight to. He seemed to be the emotional leader of the East’s first unit today and he was the one calling guys into the huddle and telling them the play they were going to run. That’s always great to see from a player, to see him take command, etc. He was filling well versus the run too, but it was only a walk through. He seems to have pretty good instincts and recognition skills. I liked what I saw from him.

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

Dent is another guy that I am high on. Hopefully I will get an interview with a few of these guys, and Dent is definitely high on my list. He is an absolute tackling machine and he is always in position to make tackles. He fills very well against the run and seems to have a very good grasp of gap assignments and responsibilities. I’m not sure how well he will run, but he plays very well when he can play downhill and though he couldn’t show it today he is a great tackler.

Scott Lutrus, OLB, Connecticut:

I don’t have many notes on him, but he had an interception off of a tipped ball by Justin Rogers today.

Cornerbacks:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers looked pretty good in coverage and seemed to close on the ball pretty well the few times I saw him. He had a pass deflection against Devlin that led to an interception by Lutrus as mentioned above. I am going to keep an eye on him this week to be sure.

Sorry about the lack of notes on the DB’s from today. I’m sure I’ll have more tomorrow. It was a lot to take in at first but I got better at taking notes as practice went along. I am really excited to see everybody in pads the rest of the week instead of just helmets today. Hope you enjoyed the notes and look out for the West notes later tonight and notes on both teams the rest of the week! Also check out NFLDraftMonsters.com for updates from me and Ben Allbright all week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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