Tag Archive: Graig Cooper


Here are some players who had up and down weeks at the East-West Shrine Game and thus did not improve or hurt their stock. I got pretty long winded in some of these so these are just the offensive guys that I thought warranted mentioning. The defensive guys that didn’t improve their stocks and the players I thought hurt themselves in Orlando will round out the third post I do on this subject. Sorry for the delay on this, school takes up a lot of my time as I’m sure you can all imagine. Enjoy!

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho: I am a fan of Nathan Enderle but he had an inconsistent week at the East-West Shrine Game. His ball placement was inconsistent during the practices but overall I think he improved over the course of the week. More than anything I think Enderle struggles to be consistent. He showed this during the game when he struggled with accuracy a bit when he first came in, but then he helped lead the West to their only scoring drive of the entire game when he threw a TD pass with good touch and then converted a 2pt conversion. After that he struggled a bit again. He has a strong arm and he has the ability to put the ball wherever he wants it, he just doesn’t do it consistently. That limits his draft stock as a quarterback. However, he has good size, arm strength and he flashes good ball placement. He has delivered late in games before, and I think with a year or two of development he could eventually be a solid NFL starting QB. I think he could use some coaching on his footwork because that might have something to do with his inconsistent accuracy. He also tends to miss high more than anything else, so despite his fluid throwing motion maybe they could tinker with his release point? That’s just one possible thing they could try. Regardless, he has tools worth developing and I think he will stick in the nfl as a back-up at least. I do think he could be a solid starter in the future though.

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware: Devlin had an up and down week and was not impressive during the game on Saturday either. Clearly he is adjusting to making his throws after taking the ball from under center and going through his drops instead of setting up to throw after taking a shotgun snap. We have all seen his accuracy so we know he can throw an accurate ball, but he would have really helped his stock if he had shown better ball placement this week. I think he is worth a 3rd or 4th round pick at this point because he has solid arm strength, good accuracy and solid size. I think he can be an above-average starter in the NFL but I am not as high on him as others seem to be.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin: Tolzien probably had the best week of practice of any of the QB’s because he was consistent with his ball placement and further demonstrated that he has above average arm strength. It occurred to me that he has a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion that a coach will have to try to tinker with, but other than that his mechanics aren’t bad. He has experience in a pro style offense and is very familiar with play action fakes from playing at Wisconsin. I think he will be a 7th round pick but if he doesn’t get drafted I’m sure he will be signed as an undrafted free agent. I think he will be a career backup in the NFL but that isn’t a bad living by any means.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech: Taylor didn’t have a great week either. He measured in at over 6 feet tall which, as stupid as it sounds, is important for his stock if he wants to play QB in the NFL. He had the best zip on his passes of anyone here in my opinion but his ball placement consistently left some to be desired. I don’t know how comfortable he is at reading defenses and he still tends to drop his eyes and look at the rush. He does this more than I would like instead of moving in the pocket to find throwing lanes. I don’t know if he will ever have the instinct to run and extend the play outside of the pocket “coached out of him” which makes me question his ceiling. He might be able to be an average NFL starter, but I think he will have to spend a few years as a back-up before he even gets a chance to try that.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Cooper seemed to be regaining his previous form that he had before his injury which was good to see. He looked faster and quicker than he did over the course of the season which is what I was hoping to see. He seemed to be regaining his previous burst though I am not sure how good his footwork and vision is. He seems to dance around in the backfield a bit much for my liking and sometimes tries to bounce things outside when he should take what he can get. I think he will be a solid third down back and special team threat in the NFL especially if he can get healthy and stay that way. He showed soft hands all week and when he gets in the open field he has the shiftiness to make guys miss. I think he is probably a 5th round pick at this point because of the injury and his lack of production during the season this year. However, good interviews and a good showing at the combine could help him even in a deep running back class.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada: Taua had an up and down week in my opinion, but he runs hard and he has pretty soft hands out of the backfield. The first couple days he dropped a couple passes which made me question his hands, but he bounced back as the week progressed. I don’t think he will be a feature back in the NFL, but I think he has the potential to stick as a late round guy who can pound the ball between the tackles and also catch the ball out of the backfield effectively. I think his ceiling is a more compact Jason Snelling who has made a lot of quality contributions to the Falcons since he was drafted there.

Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland: I am not a big Da’Rel Scott fan to be honest, and I was disappointed that he had what I thought was a mediocre week at the East-West Shrine Game and garnered an invitation to the Senior Bowl over Delone Carter who I consider the better player even if he isn’t as well known. Regardless, Scott showed inconsistent hands all week at the East-West Shrine Game but flashed better hands on the last day of practice I saw as well as in the game. He has great straight line speed but I am not sold on him as a feature back in the NFL.

Alex Green, RB, Hawaii: Green had an up and down week because he showed much better burst and speed than I expected him to have and he showed good route running and hands as a receiver which was great to see. However he fumbled on the first snap of the game and I’m not sure that he has anything better than 4.55 speed and I don’t think he has very good vision. I am not sure he will be drafted before the 6th or 7th round if he is drafted at all. He has tools though so he could stick even as a UDFA, but he has things to work on to be sure.

Terrence Turner, WR, Indiana: Turner is a very confusing guy to me. He has impressive size and probably 4.5-4.55 speed… but he could not catch the ball all week in practice. He would body catch, he would drop passes with his hands, he just looked completely unimpressive all week. It was not an up and down affair at all, he just looked terrible. But then the game comes around and he was making catches away from his body with his hands and I didn’t see him drop a single pass all game. I was completely dumbfounded. The practices are important, but I think the game holds weight also so I elected to not grade him as a loser for this week given his surprising performance in the game. He had to do something like that to give him any chance to be drafted, so I’d say his stock is unchanged. I’d say he is at most a 6th or 7th rounder at this point but there were some flashes in that game that intrigued me as a late round developmental receiver.

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati: Binns was inconsistent this week. He didn’t get off jams at the line of scrimmage well, he doesn’t seem to like contact much, and because of his size and long strides I have noticed he doesn’t have much burst in and out of his breaks as a receiver which hurts his ability to create separation. He has good hands and long arms which helps his cause, but I am not sure he will be anything more than a solid #2 unless he finds a way to get a lot more explosion and suddenness out of his route running. He seems more like a straight-line speed guy to me.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary: Parker started out well because I had never seen him and he was catching everything thrown his way and he was creating solid separation but he seemed to progressively lose momentum as the week went on. He was on Ryan Whalen’s level of not letting any passes thrown near him fall to the ground the first couple days, but he seemed to be rounding off his breaks more as the week continued, he let a couple passes get into his chest and he dropped a couple passes. You would prefer to see a player start off poorly and then improve throughout the week if they are going to start out badly at all, but Parker did the opposite and that hurts him a bit. However, he definitely showed ability that I was not sure he would have, so he should garner some attention in the 7th round or as a UDFA should he not get drafted.

Lester Jean, WR, Florida Atlantic: Some are much higher on Jean than I am, I thought he had an ok week but he started out pretty slow much like Perry Baker did, but his route running did not improve like Baker’s did over the week. He seems to waste steps when making his breaks on curls for instance, and did not create consistent separation that I saw all week. He body catches a lot and I didn’t see him make clean catches away from his hands much during the week. He has pretty good size and speed for the position and inconsistent hands, so there is potential for him to develop into a solid possession receiver in the NFL if he can clean up his footwork and route running. You can work on catching the ball once you get to the NFL too, so if he is committed he can improve. However I wouldn’t draft him before the 5th round right now.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada: I liked what I saw from Green this week. He was selling out for every pass that he could get to, even diving for a pass that was well overthrown on a ballroom carpet on the first day of practice. He showed good hands by making nice catches away from his body and while I am not sure he will ever be a dynamic TE I think he can be a reliable target. He isn’t a burner at the position so while that is a bit disappointing I was very encouraged by some of the blocking I saw from him this week. He had a few nice drive blocks, one or two even on players as big as him (if not a bit bigger). He has some work to do as a run blocker, but he showed some nice flashes of drive blocking that I did not expect to see from him at all.

Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson: Hairston has really long arms so while he does not have good lateral mobility I think he has a NFL future as a back-up RT that could potentially develop into a solid starter. He struggled with speed rushers, but he used his long arms effectively to keep smaller players from getting off of his blocks and he had at least solid lateral agility to force some speed rush attempts wide of the QB and didn’t seem particularly susceptible to inside moves either. He’s a late round pick, but he has the potential to develop into a starter.

Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida: Jah Reid is a guy that I was not particularly impressed with. He bends at the waist a lot, and when I saw this regularly the first two days of practice I didn’t pay much attention to him the rest of the week. I think he’s a 6th/7th round pick that has the ceiling of an ok back-up. Others thought he had a good week but I am just not impressed with him.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading my thoughts, let me know what you think of them and look forward for my final notes as well as some scouting reports as I find free time to scout over the next couple weeks. I am also working on a mock, but I’m going to wait until after the Superbowl to really put a lot of effort into completing it. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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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

First of all, I apologize profusely for the huge gap between this post and my last post, which was close to three weeks ago. My computer had a bunch of viruses on it and apparently the hard drive was about to break (which Geek Squad said was probably caused by bumping or dropping it, woops!) so I got it fixed, it took about a week, and I now have Windows 7 instead of Vista and I just installed Microsoft Office 2007 about an hour ago before I finished writing this up (since I couldn’t read any of my notes before that because I didn’t have Microsoft Word on my laptop. It was a pretty serious issue. I also couldn’t watch tape all that time!) Anyways, between my laptop breaking and not having Microsoft Office I had a long unintentional break between my posts, so thank you for bearing with me and occasionally checking my blog out to see if I had gotten my act together and written anything! Here, at long last, is my post about the Wisconsin-Miami Champs Bowl game from last season!

Harris is talented both as a runner and as a passer, but he needs to learn to put more zip on his throws if he is going to legitimize himself as a NFL prospect.

When you watch Miami games Jacory Harris is a guy you just have to take notes on. He’s a very talented guy, he’s a good quarterback and he’s a threat to run, and those players are always intriguing and they always warrant a lot of discussion and projection, especially if they mature throughout their careers, learn to make better decisions, read defenses, and generally just become more efficient. An efficient QB who can run when all else fails and pick up quality yards is scary, which is why Mike Vick was the #1 overall pick in 2001. Little did we all know that you can’t just learn to throw accurately, make good decisions and read defenses from the pocket once you get to the NFL, but he was picked that high because if he became as good at throwing as he was at running he would have been one of the best players in the NFL. Anyways, Harris warrants discussion for a number of reasons. He has pretty good accuracy, and does a respectable job of reading defenses for a young quarterback and showed the ability to recognize a blitz and find his hot read quickly to avoid a sack and to pick up quality yards. That’s good to see.

However, Harris really seemed to struggle in this game. He does not strike me as a tough quarterback at all, and at times he would run timidly and does not seem at all willing to take a hit even if it means picking up the first down. I know you don’t want your quarterback running around initializing contact, but when he’s scrambling and he can either run out of bounds two yards short of the first down marker or put his head down and get as many yards as possible, I want my QB to put his head down and go for it, not run out of bounds with his tail between his legs. Maybe that’s just me, but that’s how I feel about it. Harris seems to prefer jogging out of bounds, and I don’t really like to see that. He also seemed bothered by the cold, but that wasn’t just a problem for him, the whole Miami team was huddled around the heaters and it was only 50 or 55 degrees outside. The Wisconsin players all had short sleeves on, mostly because in the Winter it gets real cold up north, so 50+ is t-shirt weather to those of us from Minnesota and Wisconsin. So between his timid running style and the fact that he seemed to be bothered by the “cold” I was not very happy with how Harris did in this game from a toughness aspect. He did take some shots and he popped right back up from all of them, but that just confused me more because you’d think that if he could absorb the hits he was taking when he was dropping back to pass that he could “suck it up” (so to speak) and run harder when he does scramble.

Harris never got comfortable against Wisconsin. Whether it was his ankle injury, the regular pressure from Wisconsin or the "cold" weather, he never settled in and got into a rhythm.

One thing that is a little alarming about Harris’ game is the amount of touch and air he puts under the majority of his throws. He throws an accurate ball and does great when touch is required, but sometimes you need to throw the ball with some zip and he does not seem to understand when that is necessary. He floats a LOT of passes, whether he is on the run, whether he has his feet set in the pocket, or whether he is throwing into a quickly closing window over the middle. I don’t know if that is something he will ever be able to stop doing since he has probably been getting away with it for his entire playing career, but if it is indeed correctable then he should already be working on it as we speak. Hopefully he shows me some progression in this area because it is really concerning how much air and touch he has on the majority of his passes.

Harris also never really looked comfortable in this game. He had his moments when he completed a few passes in a row, but Wisconsin got enough pressure on him (which, along with his injured ankle, had to contribute to him never getting into a rhythm) to keep him from ever getting into a groove and it definitely showed. He didn’t go through his progressions as well as I would have liked, he stared down his receivers regularly, he didn’t do a good job of buying time in the pocket without scrambling outside of the tackle box, and he looked sloppy throwing on the run when he couldn’t set his feet. He needs to do a better job of keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage even when rolling to his left. That is when you will see right-handed QB’s get a little less accurate if they don’t keep their shoulders square. In my experience it is because their throwing motion will be slightly elongated and their mechanics will therefore be different, meaning the throw won’t be as accurate and won’t have as much zip on it as it would have regularly had if he had set his feet or kept his shoulders square while rolling out.

Overall, Harris has a lot of talent and ability, but he has to work harder on the little things, the fundamentals, if he is going to take big enough strides to be considered a potential NFL starter and an early NFL Draft pick. Right now I’d grade him as a 4th or 5th round selection because of his potential and ability. That alone warrants some consideration in the mid-rounds and if he can be coached up well then he could be well worth the investment. However, he does not look like a NFL starter to me yet. Of course it is very early to be predicting how he will do in the NFL and where he will be drafted because he is going to be a Junior in his second season as the full-time starter, so I realize I am jumping the gun with this. I just feel obligated to state where I think he is as far as his progression as a QB, and in my opinion he is still rather raw and needs developing. Hopefully he stays through his Senior season so he can get as much experience as possible before moving on to the NFL. I have to say, I am intrigued by some of his ability and I really hope he works on putting more zip and less touch on some of his passes this year. Hopefully he takes some significant strides in his second season as a starter.

If Cooper can come back from his serious knee injury healthy then he could still be an impact player in the NFL.

One other player I knew I had to take notes on was Graig Cooper, who was a junior running back for the ‘Canes at the time. As soon as you see him touch the ball you can tell that this kid is fast. He flies around the field, has great acceleration and great burst to hit holes, seams, anything. He definitely has potential as a game-changing running back in the NFL. The tragic part about this was that he suffered a very serious knee injury in this game in the 2nd half on a rather run of the mill kick-off return. In fact, if he hadn’t suffered the injury he could have potentially scored on the play, though that is purely my own speculation. I don’t have much of an update on his rehab obviously, but I read that he has not yet been cleared to begin running as of early April. Hopefully he has made progress since then, but the fact remains that this was a very serious injury, and I would be pretty surprised if he was 100% during his senior season, which is disappointing for him and for his fans (of which I was one) because I was really rooting for him last year. It’s a shame this had to happen to him at such a critical time in his career.

In any event, I still managed to get some notes on him from this game before his injury, and though it would be particularly impressive if he came back to pre-injury form I think he will still have value even if he isn’t just as explosive as he was before he got hurt. He seems to have pretty good vision, and on one particular play that I remember JJ Watt did not stay at home and collapsed to where the run was supposed to go, but Cooper got the ball and immediately cut to the outside to where Watt would normally be and got a nice gain on the play. If he plays next year (which I really hope he will, even if it isn’t a significant amount) I will be interested to see how much of his great quickness and explosiveness he regains as he gets closer and closer to 100%. Hopefully he comes back as strong as can be expected, and I will be carefully monitoring his progress as more information becomes available. I’ll keep you all posted naturally.

Hankerson made this incredible one-handed grab late in the game. I know he has reliable hands, but if he can show this kind of concentration even on routine catches he will be an early NFL Draft pick.

Harris’ primary receivers on the ‘Canes are Leonard Hankerson, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin, which is a pretty nice trio of receiving targets. I didn’t get a lot of notes on them in this game, though I have been impressed with each of them at different times when I have seen them. Frankly, Harris didn’t give them a lot of catchable balls in this game so it was hard to find times to take notes on them, but when I saw them catch passes they all impressed me. Hankerson had a great one-handed catch late in the game and made another catch or two with his hands which was nice to see. Byrd, as far as I can tell from my notes, didn’t make a catch without catching the ball away from his body which was great to see. And Benjamin has always been good for big chunks of yardage and a lot of separation, and he nearly pulled off a terrific 3rd down catch along the sidelines on Miami’s last ditch attempt after they recovered an onside kick. I am excited to see how all three progress this season, and I think that if Harris continues to improve and if Miami’s offensive line holds up they could have a very explosive offense on their hands. I am excited to see them all play.

Orlando Franklin, Miami’s left tackle in this game, is going to receive mixed reviews from me. I heard rather frequently last year that he looked good filling in for Jason Fox, Miami’s very reliable left tackle who got hurt during his senior season before he left for the NFL. However, he looks more like a left guard to me than a left tackle, though he will have ample opportunity to prove me wrong during his senior campaign. He doesn’t look very quick out of his stance, and he seemed to struggle with Schofield and Watt versus the pass and Watt gave him some trouble with his quickness off the ball versus the run as well. Overall, he just didn’t seem athletic enough to handle Schofield, Watt or Chris Borland, a linebacker who will occasionally play with his hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs. I don’t know if he was quite prepared to play left tackle last season, so hopefully he will look more comfortable on the outside as a senior when he is preparing to play the position. I will definitely be paying attention to him this year.

Bailey has a lot of potential and natural athletic ability, but I am not a believer yet. He needs to get stronger versus the run and improve his hand usage before I buy him as a potential 1st round pick.

On the defensive side of the ball Miami naturally has some talented players, but Allen Bailey is definitely one of the more highly touted players on the roster. He has drawn comparisons to Justin Tuck because of his versatility to play defensive tackle and defensive end, though I think he mainly played defensive end in this game. However, I can’t say I was entirely impressed with him in this game. He had a sack where he got a nice bull-rush on Josh Oglesby, shed his block and wrapped Tolzien up for a sack, but he was also blocked effectively in the run game by Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Oglesby multiple times. That was particularly alarming because a DE/DT ‘tweener should be strong enough with good enough hand usage to man-handle 95% of TE blocks. I can understand getting blocked effectively by Graham a time or two because he has a good reputation as a run blocker (even if I think he gets away with holding rather regularly). But he got blocked effectively by Graham multiple times one on one, by Kendricks multiple times, and got blocked one on one effectively by Josh Oglesby versus the run. That was pretty shocking, and it really made me question him as a prospect. Sure, he can get after the passer, but if he can’t defend the run or shed blocks in the trenches then his value as a prospect will be significantly lower to me. He’s getting a lot of positive pub right now, but I am definitely not a believer in Bailey as of today. He has another year to show me what he can do, but he needs to show me a lot more ability versus the run for me to think he will be the quality player everyone else seems to think he will be.

One player I saw flash some impressive ability was Olivier Vernon, a freshman defensive end on Miami. He didn’t get a lot of playing time as a freshman, but he absolutely tossed Gabe Carimi like a rag-doll on a run play and got a great TFL. He didn’t make any other plays as good as this one in the game that I noticed, but he sure did flash some ability on this play. I have high hopes for him in his career, and I think that he will show some substantial growth as a sophomore. I am very interested in seeing him play this season, he is definitely a sleeper for the DE position. Hopefully he breaks out and makes me look smart!

Harris has 1st round ability, and he is one of my favorite draft elligible corners this year. (Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan)

Finally, one player that I am a big fan of on Miami’s defense is their corner Brandon Harris. He was only a sophomore last season but he managed 15 pass deflections and two interceptions on the year. I watched the Miami-FSU game early in the year and I immediately noticed him. He just makes big plays whenever I watch him. There was one particular play against Wisconsin when Harris got beaten, I believe it was by Garrett Graham underneath, and he turned upfield and I thought it was a certain touchdown. But Harris didn’t give up on the play and he came up behind Graham and as he began to wrap him up he punched the ball out just before he crossed the goal line. Miami recovered the ball in the end zone for a touch-back and Miami stayed in the game, all because Harris didn’t give up on this play and forced the fumble. I think he is going to end up declaring after his junior season and he is going to be a high draft pick if he plays well this year in my opinion. He is definitely one of my favorite draft-eligible corners, even if he doesn’t support the run as well as I might like. Definitely keep an eye out for Harris next season, I think he is going to break out even more than he did last year.

That just about concludes the notes I have for the Miami Hurricanes. Check out my blog post below for my write-ups on the Wisconsin players I took enough notes on to get a feel for their ability as a player. Hopefully you enjoy this post and my other posts to come. Thanks for reading!

–Tom