Tag Archive: Fullback


Minnesota Golden Gophers Prospect Preview:

Philip Nelson, QB, Sophomore- Nelson returns as the incumbent starter after a solid but unspectacular freshman year. The Gophers struggled to find consistency of any kind at quarterback between MarQueis Gray, Max Shortell and Nelson. Nelson finished the season with the most yardage but the lowest completion percentage of any of the three quarterbacks who threw a pass for the Gophers in 2013, but according to the guys at thedailygopher.com Nelson has looked accurate and displayed improved decision making this spring. That’s a good sign for the Gophers because they need the 6’2”, 215 pound quarterback to complete passes at a higher clip than his 49.3% rate of 2012. He took his lumps last season, but I expect Nelson to be a solid starter for the Gophers despite his age. If he can stay healthy I think he will prove to be an effective QB, albeit one that needs seasoning and development. Based on what I’ve seen from Nelson he doesn’t have the strongest arm, and as far as the NFL is concerned it is probably no better than average at this point. However, he does have pretty reliable accuracy and touch, he can extend plays with his legs (as well as pick up yardage with them) and make throws on the move outside the pocket. Only time will tell if Nelson has the arm strength to make the jump to the next level, but I think he has enough to be a successful college quarterback.

Donnell Kirkwood, RB, Junior- Last year I was completely on board the James Gillum hype train after I watched what I could of him from junior college and all the reports were that he would likely be “the guy” for the Gophers at running back in 2012. In case you were wondering if you can take everything you see or hear in the spring and summer at face value, you can’t. Gillum had 27 carries for 73 yards and 1 touchdown in 2012 despite the hype train and Donnell Kirkwood emerged as a much more effective back. Kirkwood averaged 4.2 yards per carry behind an offensive line that was constantly changing as a result of injuries. He really came on the scene in my eyes against Northwestern (a game that I attended) where he was consistently running with fantastic pad level. He was regularly gaining tough yardage with his leg drive and making Northwestern’s defense fight to even get him to the ground. Kirkwood is a compact running back listed at 5’10”, 223 pounds and he runs with purpose. His pad level is impressive, he gains good yardage after initial contact thanks to his strong lower body, and he has surprising quickness for his size. The downside is that he was barely utilized at all in the passing game last year, and I haven’t evaluated him as a pass protector yet either. I want to see him utilized more out of the backfield as a receiver and I’m intrigued by his potential as a pass protector thanks to his attitude running the ball as well as his size and strength. I’m definitely a big Kirkwood fan and I’m anticipating a 1,000 yard, 10+ touchdown season from him if he stays healthy.

Mike Henry, FB, Senior- Mike Henry is a little-known player because he rarely touches the ball on the Gophers offense, but he offers value as a blocker which is why I felt he warranted mention here. The NFL seems to be utilizing fullbacks less and less, but versatile players that are willing to block are universally valued in NFL circles and I think Henry has a chance to show he fits that bill. He likely won’t get drafted, but if he can demonstrate his blocking prowess as well as show something as a runner or a receiver he could have a chance to stick somewhere.

Derrick Engel, WR, Senior- Derrick Engel enters 2013 as the leading returning receiver for the Gophers, though that isn’t saying much. He totaled 18 receptions and 375 yards last year, including an impressive 20.8 yards per reception. The 6’2”, 187 pound receiver only produced one touchdown though, but that figures to improve if Phillip Nelson can stabilize the Gophers’ quarterback play. From what I have seen of Engel he doesn’t have elite speed (though he had a listed 40 time of 4.4 at 170 pounds coming out of high school), nor does he have spectacular hands, but he seems to be a reliable receiver that Nelson will be able to count on. Whether that gets him a look as an undrafted free agent or not remains to be seen.

Jamel Harbison, WR, Freshman- Harbison redshirted last year and hasn’t had the healthiest of starts to his career as a Gopher but he was healthy enough to go in the spring game and he impressed me. He seems to run crisp routes, adjusts well to less than perfect throws and showed some wiggle after the catch. He’s listed at 5’11”, 199 and will likely get a lot of time in the slot this year. According to thedailygopher.com coaches have been saying he was the most talented receiver on the roster since he was a true freshman last year, but we will see what he can do if he stays healthy all season. He was quoted as saying that the knee was not a problem at all after the spring game and that he had no problems cutting en route to catching 5 balls for 52 yards and 1 touchdown in the game, so hopefully he continues to be effective for the Gophers all season long.

Devin Crawford-Tufts, WR, Junior- Crawford-Tufts was a guy I previewed last year and he still hasn’t lived up to some of the hype he has gotten during his time with the Gophers. On paper he has the size (6’2”, 193) and the speed to be a legitimate contributor at receiver, but as a sophomore he only managed 16 receptions, 189 yards and 1 touchdown which was against Texas Tech in their bowl game. The potential is all there, it’s just a question of whether the lightbulb comes on for him or not. He’s usually a solid bet for a big play, but he and the Gophers’ quarterbacks just haven’t quite connected on them yet.

Drew Goodger, TE, Junior- Goodger returns for his junior year as the top tight end and the 6’5”, 265 pounder intrigues me as an every down prospect at the next level. I haven’t seen enough of him as a receiver (though I guess no one has, really. He only caught 13 balls for 155 yards and 3 TD’s last year) but he has definite upside as a blocker. There will be more footage to go over now that he’s the starter, but I am looking forward to seeing him as a blocker and as a receiver.

Ed Olson, OT, Senior- Olson is the returning starter with the most experience having started 27 games at left tackle for the Gophers. He is listed at 6’7”, 309 pounds and plays with an aggressive mean streak, but most importantly just needs to stay healthy. He has been a starter since Day 1 of his freshman year, but he missed 4 starts due to injury as a freshman, 2 starts due to injury in 2011, and 4 starts in 2012. He has never played and started an entire full season despite entering his fourth season as a starter, so staying healthy for a full year would benefit his draft stock significantly. I think he has the size and length to remain at tackle, but whether he will play at left or right at the next level remains up in the air. He needs to stay healthy and play more consistent, and if he does those things he could be the first Gopher offensive lineman drafted since Greg Eslinger (round 6) and Mark Setterstrom (round 7) were drafted in 2006.

Josh Campion, OT, Sophomore- Campion is a player I am less familiar with than some of these guys, but the guys at thedailygopher.com thought he might be one of the better prospects on the team, so I did my due diligence on him. He’s listed at 6’5”, 326 pounds and started all 13 games at right tackle last year despite being a redshirt freshman. I haven’t scouted him yet, but he’s definitely a player I’m going to keep my eye on when I watch the Gophers this season.

Zac Epping, OG/C, Junior- Epping is the most talented lineman the Gophers have in my opinion and despite being asked to move between both guard spots as well as center as a sophomore he played at a high level at all three. He should be locked into the left guard spot all year as long as he stays healthy, but showing the flexibility to play center will only make him more appealing to NFL teams. He is listed at 6’2”, 321 pounds and is going to be high on my list of interior linemen to watch this upcoming year.

Brian Bobek, C, Junior- Bobek is a transfer from Ohio State that is projected to start at Center for the Gophers this season. If he can solidify the position it will mean the Gophers will have a strong left side of Olson, Epping and Bobek at the pivot. Bobek is listed at 6’2”, 282 pounds but even though he was highly touted out of high school he missed most of the spring practices “due to illness” according to the Gophers. We’ll see if he wins the job outright in fall camp, but he’s probably got the inside track on Jon Christenson, the 6’4”, 306 pound guard/center who started 6 games last year for the Gophers.

Thieren Cockran, DE, Sophomore- Cockran has the highest upside of any of the Gophers’ defensive ends in my opinion. He is listed at 6’6”, 245, has a basketball background and a 6’9” wingspan to boot. According to his high school head coach he consistently timed in the 4.5-4.6 range in high school and even though he only had 1 sack last year I think he is ready to step up and help take some pressure off of Ra’Shede Hageman now that D.L. Wilhite has graduated. Cockran doesn’t have an abundance of experience, but he’s got the speed and length to be a dangerous pass rusher.

Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Senior- Hageman is without a doubt the Gophers’ top defensive prospect. He is a freak athlete listed at 6’6”, 311 pounds with incredible athleticism for his size. I think he has the potential to be a stud defensive end in a 3-4, but he is a very intriguing 4-3 defensive tackle as well. Either way, NFL teams are taking notice and if he can build on his impressive redshirt junior season from a year ago he could end up in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Last year Hageman totaled 35 tackles, 6 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and 2 pass break-ups despite still learning the position. He still needs to learn how to play with better pad level because at 6’6” he tends to play too tall at times. Not only that, but he stands up too much out of his stance for my liking. He’s still raw, but I’d like to see him fire out of his stance and not stand up quite as much. He also is raw when it comes to shedding blocks and actively using his hands, but I believe that he can learn and improve that with time. What he does have is great size, length, raw power and he really flashes an impressive bull rush despite his issues with pad level. He hasn’t made a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage as a defensive tackle versus the run and I think that’s because he’s not a penetrator type, and that makes me think his ceiling might be highest at the defensive end position in a 3-4. He shows a consistently good motor which I really like, he is a pretty reliable tackler, and if his work ethic is as good as I think it is I think the sky is the limit for him. Don’t be surprised when he ends up in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Derrick Wells, CB, Junior- Wells is a former safety turned corner who has the difficult task of playing the “boundary corner” in the Gophers defense. That means he will likely be left on an island 1 on 1 often over the course of the season, so the 6’0”, 206 pound corner will likely be tested during his junior season. Last year Wells totaled 74 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 10 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions. He will be playing a new position this year, but I was impressed with his ball skills when I watched him. NFL teams have been targeting bigger, stronger corners recently and I think Wells fits that bill. I’m excited to see what he can do as a full time starter at corner.

Eric Murray, CB, Sophomore- Murray hasn’t locked down the spot opposite Wells yet, but Phil Steele projected him to be the starter and I have read good things about him during spring practice. The 6’0”, 194 pound corner is a smooth athlete with good hips according to thedailygopher.com and while I can’t claim to have seen him play as a freshman he certainly seems to have upside if he got some first team reps during the spring. It remains to be seen if he will lock down a spot, but I’m intrigued.

Brock Vereen, FS, Senior- Vereen is a solid but not spectacular safety who may not be projected to be drafted right now but has a chance to improve his stock with a strong senior season. He’s listed at 6’0”, 202 pounds and had 64 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 9 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions as a junior in 2012. He is considered one of the leaders of the defense and has experience playing man to man coverage as well as dropping into zone thanks to his time spent at corner earlier in his career. He’s a likely undrafted free agent, but I think he has a chance to sneak up draft boards and give himself a chance to make a team this year.

Jordan Cameron has made some impressive catches this week while displaying impressive athleticism.

West Practice Notes: Day Three

Quarterbacks:

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho:

Enderle showed some of the ball placement that I knew he had today, but it was still very inconsistent. He had a few nice throws that I saw, including a nice throw right on the money to Aldrick Robinson deep. He still missed high a couple times to Armon Binns and struggled going through reads at times. I was really high on Enderle before this season, but he regressed this year for whatever reason. He is definitely still draftable, and with his size, arm strength and inconsistent accuracy he should be a 5th or 6th round draft pick. He will need some development and probably some work on his mechanics (footwork probably, he has a nice fluid throwing motion) but I think he will stick in the NFL.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin:

Tolzien showed pretty consistent ball placement on day three and pretty solid arm strength. He won’t be able to stretch the field that well, but on short and some intermediate throws he has solid zip on his passes. I think he warrants a 7th round pick or a priority free agent pick-up, and he has done a pretty good job of making decisions this week. I think he can be a developmental #3 in the NFL.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M:

Johnson is probably staring down a position change when he gets to the NFL. He has some mobility and impressive size, but he doesn’t have good zip on his passes, he doesn’t read defenses well, doesn’t make good decisions consistently and struggles with ball placement. I wasn’t sold on him at the beginning of the year after watching him, and it seems that everyone else seems to be of that same opinion now.

Halfbacks:

Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina:

DiMarco stuck out to me all week as a pass catcher and as a runner, and when I talked to Justin Griffith (former Falcons fullback and current halfbacks coach for the West team this week) he said that DiMarco was the guy who stuck out to him the most and that he “did well in pass protection” and “caught the ball well out of the backfield.” I agree with both assertions and I thought it was pretty cool that he was impressed with DiMarco when he had stuck out to me as well. To be fair, Griffith did say that he liked all of his guys, not just DiMarco.

Alex Green, RB, Hawaii:

I’m not sure what Green will run, but he showed more burst and speed than I expected him to show today and he also caught the ball well out of the backfield. I think he warrants late round consideration at this point, but he had a solid week of practice to be sure.

Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland:

I’m not sold on Scott. He has dropped some passes out of the backfield this week, though he has caught others, and he doesn’t seem to have very good vision in my opinion. He and Royster had the least impressive weeks as far as running backs go in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he does in the game, because when he gets into a seam he can really turn it into a long play.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada:

Previously Taua struggled a bit catching the ball out of the backfield which was a bit surprising, but he looked much better in that aspect today and that was a pleasant thing to see. I personally grade him as the 4th best RB here behind Carter, Cooper and Green right now, but he had a solid day today.

Wide Receivers:

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati:

Binns has good hands and probably 4.5 speed but I am not sure he will ever create a lot of separation as a route runner. He is a long strider because of his long legs and I haven’t seen him create a lot of separation when running routes this week. I think he has the ceiling of a reliable #2, perhaps not unlike Michael Jenkins of the Falcons, but with better hands in my opinion. He has deceptive deep speed because of his long strides, but he doesn’t have a lot of quickness/burst into his cuts to create separation as a route runner as a result. He does seem to have good body control, he definitely has good hands and he adjusts well to the ball after it is thrown, but I don’t think he’s much more than a 3rd rounder this year. He’s the second best receiver here only to Toliver in my opinion.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary:

Parker was a guy who impressed me the first day and some the second day, but his momentum slowed on the third day. He dropped three passes, the first three drops I had seen from him this week, and did not run his routes with a lot of conviction either. I have seen some of his ability, but right now he seems like a fringe 7th round guy. He doesn’t run great routes, he has solid hands and size but I am not sold on his speed and he hasn’t been overly consistent this week.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU:

I like Robinson. He’s a smaller guy but I think he has potential as a slot receiver. I don’t think he is much more than a 4.5 guy, but he has quickness and some shiftiness, and his route running has progressed some this week and he seems open to coaching. He has good hands too and looks the ball in well. I don’t think he’s much more than a 5th rounder at this point, but I think he can stick on a NFL roster.

Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford:

I literally didn’t see Whalen drop a pass this week. Maybe I just missed one, but he has very reliable hands. He may not ever be a starter since I’m not sure how fast he will run or how well he can create separation, but as a possession guy, perhaps as a #4 WR, he should have a long NFL career because he just doesn’t drop passes. He’s got very reliable hands.

Tight Ends:

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC:

I have to say that I think it’s really funny that there is a DE from Cal named Cameron Jordan and a TE from USC named Jordan Cameron in the same draft. I don’t know if anyone else on the internet has pointed that out, but it needed to happen at some point. Regardless, Cameron has really impressed this week. He has made some really nice catches, he has stretched the field down the seam and shown good athleticism and leaping ability. I had no idea who he was before this week but I have to say I am really impressed and he has certainly been one of the big winners this week. His stock should be soaring right now from relative anonymity to a potential 3rd-4th round prospect.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada:

I think Green quietly had a good week. He has made some very nice catches as well, catches on low throws, diving catches, one handed catches and overall just good catches with his hands and not letting them get into his pads. He has shown some ability as a route runner, though I don’t think he has very good speed, but he has impressed me at times as a run blocker which I was happy to see. He isn’t in my top 5 TE’s as far as positional rankings go, but I definitely think he warrants 4th-5th round consideration and could be a solid sleeper with some development and coaching. I definitely like Green.

Offensive Linemen:

Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:

I have not been impressed with Barksdale this week. He has good size and arm length for the RT position but he has gotten beaten outside, inside and obviously struggles with speed. He has been able to stop guys like Bruce Miller who can’t get by him because of his long arms, but he is nothing more than a 5th round pick because of his size and arm length in my opinion. He has not been impressive to me this week.

Defensive Linemen:

David Carter, DT, UCLA:

I really like what I have seen from Carter this week. He has good size, arm length, is solid off the ball and has shown good hand usage. He’s gotten into the backfield and has shown signs of dominance in one on one drills. Carter has definitely helped himself this week.

Chris Carter, DE, Fresno State:

Carter had a lot of trouble in coverage this week, not unexpectedly in my opinion, and really could only take away the flats and struggled to react well in space and to close on passes this week. He was moved back to the defensive line for one on one drills and showed some speed off the ball to get the edge. He has some potential as a rotational guy but he is kind of a one trick pony at this point. He has some value but I’m not very impressed with him at this point.

Sorry about the delay on these notes. It’s been a bit of an exhausting week. Hope you enjoy them!

–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:

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho:

Enderle had a solid day but again struggled with ball placement. He double clutched a bit like he did yesterday, and didn’t come off as overly accurate. He missed Armon Binns twice when he sailed it over his head, and looked uncomfortable in the pocket at times. Struggled to find places to go with the ball, at times because of good coverage and at times he was probably struggling to find the open guy. He has talent worth developing but his ability to place the ball where he wants to has not been there this week.

Halfbacks:

Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina:

DiMarco has shown soft hands this week out of the backfield. I need to see him block this week though I have had a positive impression of him in that aspect. Just need to take some notes on him. I like what I have seen though.

Wide Receivers:

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati:

Binns has good size and long arms, seems to have reliable hands as well. He caught a touchdown at the end of a two minute drill. He is a long strider from what I can see and at times he struggles to create separation a bit. He ran a pretty good curl route as far as footwork is concerned but couldn’t create separation against Lindsey. I’m not sure how much burst and quickness he has going in and out of his breaks, which will hurt him as a route runner. I haven’t gotten to see how he does when going over the middle, so hopefully he handles that better this week than Toliver did.

Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford:

Whalen has not dropped a pass all week that I have seen. If he gets his hand on it he catches it, and he has made some nice grabs. He will catch passes against his body at times, but he also makes nice catches away from his body with his hands. He will sell out for a catch and isn’t afraid of contact. I’m not sure he is any faster than 4.5 in the 40, but he is fundamentally sound and I guarantee he will make a roster.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary:

Parker continues to show reliable hands, he hasn’t dropped a ball either that I have seen. He has good size, solid speed and he seems fundamentally sound. He was rounding off some of his breaks a bit today, but he is a draftable player in my opinion. I will be keeping an eye on him all week.

Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon:

Maehl just looks so skinny to me, but he showed good effort as a run blocker today and has deceptive speed for a guy his size. He has pretty good hands, but dropped a pass over the middle when it seemed like he might have been worried about contact coming. I can’t say it was alligator arms for sure, but it seemed like a possibility.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, Southern Methodist:

Robinson has good hands in my opinion, but he looked like he didn’t have very good top end speed today. I pegged him as about a 4.5 guy, but obviously we will have to wait for the combine to see what he runs (without pads obviously).

Tight Ends:

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC:

Cameron had another good catch today, but I just didn’t have the opportunity to see him blocking much today from the sideline I was on. Cameron seems to have reliable hands however.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada:

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw from Green as a blocker today. He has shown pretty soft hands when I have seen him, and he has flashed the ability to drive block in the running game which is something I had not seen him do because I hadn’t watched him play often. I look forward to seeing how he does in this department the rest of the week as well as how well he catches the ball.

Offensive Linemen:

Matthew O’Donnell, OT, Queens (Ontario):

O’Donnell is a huge guy which makes him stick out immediately, but I am not sold on him as a NFL RT. He has pretty slow feet and will have a ton of problems playing with good leverage because of his huge stature. He doesn’t seem to have very good hand usage and ability to sustain blocks either, and has struggled in pass protection thus far in practices in my opinion.

Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:

Barksdale has an impressive frame, long arms and he just kind of looks like an offensive tackle. However, he doesn’t have good feet in my opinion and was beaten inside multiple times today. I couldn’t see if it was because he opened his hips up too early, but I think it’s a fair assumption that he was looking for the speed rush and wasn’t ready for the inside rush. I’ve never been a big fan, and though I hear he is a nice guy, I just don’t think he is worth a pick before the 4th or 5th round.

Defensive Linemen:

David Carter, DT, UCLA:

Carter was very disruptive today. He has good size, long arms and showed a nice swim move today. He was disruptive in team drills and looked good in one on one drills when I saw him. He has the perfect size for a 3-4 defense, but has shown the versatility to beat guards inside at tackle. I liked what I saw from him today, and I should have a chance to get an interview with him this week since I talked to him today after practice.

Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State:

Winterswyk is really strong, and uses power moves to get penetration. He has good size, strong arms, hands and has a solid bull rush. He’s tall so he has to work to get leverage, but he doesn’t seem to bend at the waist. He beat Barskdale inside thanks to his strong arms and hand usage in one on ones.

Cheta Ozougwu, DE, Rice:

Ozougwu looks like he has a DE frame. He’s not very tall, but he is pretty filled out. He doesn’t have a lot of edge speed and isn’t very quick off the ball, but he showed some hip flexibility to dip his shoulder to get the edge. He has natural leverage because of his size, and he flashed a spin move to spin off of a block and some solid hand usage to swat away the blocker’s hands when rushing the passer. I don’t think he has a high ceiling as a pass rusher because he isn’t very fast off the ball, but he is a solid player that I think has draftable ability.

Karl Klug, DT, Iowa:

Klug is undersized and doesn’t have very long arms but I still think he is worth a draft pick. He has good hand usage, he uses the swim move well and he gets off blocks despite his shorter arms. He has been disruptive this week and even though he may not be a perfect projection to the next level I think he warrants consideration in the mid-late rounds.

Ted Laurent, DT, Mississippi:

Laurent is a short but squatty player. He showed a solid bull rush and some power. I am going to watch him the rest of the week to see how he holds up against the run, how he is off the ball and what kind of hand usage he has.

Cornerbacks:

Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois:

I was really impressed with Lindsey today. I don’t think he has much better than 4.5 speed, but he has fluid hips, turns and runs well, looked good in man coverage against Whalen, Parker and Binns. Also looked comfortable in zone coverage and showed good footwork to turn and run, but didn’t do as well when he had to close on plays in front of him. I don’t know how good he will be in man coverage in the NFL, but he looked good against bigger receivers that weren’t as quick, probably because they had comparable speed. I was impressed with him today though and I thought he had a great practice.

Thanks for reading! There will be more to come obviously.

–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