DAY TWO NOTES FROM BOTH PRACTICES:
* Liberty U./Pittsburgh running back Rashad Jennings… impressed everyone during the weigh-in; solidly built upper-body and carries 235 pounds very well. Shows an extra burst in the open field. Coachable kid that listens to his position coach and then responds by improving portions of his game. Made a cut and move in the open field that kept the defender off-balance, but for his size he plays as fast as some of the smaller RB’s on the roster. Should he run in the 4.4 range at the Combine he could easily move his way into being the highest draft senior RB in this class.
* Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson… is shorter than ideal, but well-developed and looks like he could add ten pounds to his frame. Has shown good acceleration, took the ball on an off-tackle to the right side and was able to hit the corner and propel himself down the sideline during team drills. Running hard both days and has given team’s something to think about in terms of his ability to be an every-down back.
* Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt… has played both left and right tackle during the first two practices. Has played on the left side in college, but many NFL scouts see him as being just a right tackle prospect for the next level. He does a good job when he locks onto defenders, but struggles with quicker, more athletic pass rushers on the left side. Gets way to erect off the snap, gives up too much of his big frame and than does not have the ability to re-direct if he misses on his initial punch. Carries more of a fourth-round grade as of today, but if the run on OT’s starts as early as expected than it could impact his final grade in a positive way.
* Southern Miss tight end Shawn Nelson… has really gained the attention of everyone watching the tight end position. He is smooth in his routes, catching most balls with his hands and then accelerating well in the open field. Appears to be about 4.6 40-time and then has done much better than expected in terms of his in-line blocking. Was able to block USC linebacker Ray Maualuga to a standstill during pass rush drill. Still needs to get bigger/stronger in the upper-body, but the effort and production has been there throughout both practices.
* Connecticut offensive tackle William Beatty… this is my guy long-term at the tackle position. He can play left tackle at the NFL level, brings a very good combination of natural size, foot work and athleticism. Has room to grow, will over-extend at times and also not create as much force as desired with his initial punch, but he can slide and mirror with any defender on the North roster, including Larry English and Cody Brown. Just moves so well and effortlessly for a 290-pound blocker. Has the frame to one-day weigh in at 315-320 pounds. Over the course of his career I could see Beatty earning just as many trips to Hawaii as guys like Jason Smith, Michael Oher and Andre Smith, and with the added benefit that you would not have expend a high first round choice to choose him.
* Cincinnati defensive end/tight end Connor Barwin... practiced again at tight end, but did see a few late practice reps at defensive end. He will play defensive end for the most part on Wednesday. He also stands a great chance of setting a record on Saturday as he can become the first player in the history of the 60-year contest to play on both sides of the ball during the actual Senior Bowl game.
* Northern Illinois defensive end Larry English… thickly built natural pass rusher that continues to flash that all important quickness off the ball while also getting scouts talking about where he fits best at the NFL level. One key evaluator said that he would play OLB in a 3-4, but another countered with the idea that he should remain at defensive end like Alex Brown (Bears) or Robert Mathis (Colts).
* Ole Miss linebacker Ashlee Palmer… while a lot of the media and internet scouts have said this kid was added to the roster because he’s an SEC defender the NFL scouts know for a fact that this kid could be one of the best all-around athletes on the South defensive roster. Runs as well as some safeties, gets a very good break on the ball and attacks the line of scrimmage on run plays. Little under-sized for certain schemes, but he can make big-plays and should standout in the game itself.
* Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers… his grade has skyrocketed since the start of his senior campaign and the past two days have done nothing to stop that progress. He is strong at the point of attack, relentless in his pursuit of the football and has flashed good pass rush moves, as well. Has done very well in his 1-on-1 match-ups. He could turn out to be one of the best strong-side 4-3 defensive ends in this draft and a solid second round choice.
* Georgia defensive tackle Corey Irvin… does not impress with his body type, but he has a very good motor, physical and looks to finish the play. Did so both during 1-on-1’s and in team drills. Nearly killed one of his own QB’s by running over them in team drills and has gotten the better of most interior defenders on run plays. Has only one real year of game film for scouts to observe, so that could keep him from jumping into the first few rounds.
* USC defensive lineman Kyle Moore… the most under-rated of the Trojans’ prospects in attendance this week. He can play several positions, but will likely be drafted as a defensive end by a team using a 3-4 scheme. It is hard to find quality 5-technique DE’s that has the length, bulk/size and then talent to actually make plays. He can add 10-15 pounds to his frame over time and become a starting caliber player in the right scheme.
* USC outside linebacker Clay Matthews, Jr… more unsung and under-rated but either way he is making a name for himself in-spite of being a future second-generation NFL player. Has done very well as a pass rusher and just plays with great intensity on every rep. Very good strength; does not stay blocked and has hustled to the ball on each down. Could also be used as a stand-up DE depending upon the scheme.
* Mississippi State defensive back Derek Pegues… have liked his play style, getting aggressive with receivers and showing the ability to stick with nearly all of them during 1-on-1 drills. Fluid hips and likes to come up and get involved versus the run. Certain teams view him at cornerback and others free safety. Can also provide a dangerous return man to the team that selects him.
* West Virginia kicker/punter Patrick McAfee… has a huge and naturally powerful leg, able to really boom both his punts and kickoffs. Accurate on field goals, but the ability to handle all of the kicking duties for a team may allow him to now sneak into the back end of the draft.
WHAT WE’RE HEARING:
* Purdue defensive lineman Alex Magee was in uniform and practicing today, although he was not on the initial roster and did not weigh-in with the rest of the game’s prospects on Monday morning.
* Utah sophomore defensive end Paul Kruger, BYU junior wide receiver Austin Collie and Southern Mississippi were not listed on the list of underclassmen that declared for the NFL Draft because they have already completed their fifth year of eligibility. Collie and Kruger both did a Mormon mission while Gerald McRath missed a season due to an injury.
* Tuskegee senior defensive back Derek Douglas has spent the past two days watching the practices from the sidelines and handing out his bio and highlight DVD to scouts. Thus far he’s been able to meet up with evaluators from 14-16 teams and has contacted Auburn University about working out at their Pro Day.
* Questions are now surrounding what issue or issues might have come up last week in regards to Wisconsin offensive guard Andy Kemp. Kemp weighed in at the East-West Shrine Game only to leave shortly there after when it was announced and shared with all in attendance that he had been invited to the Senior Bowl. He was never listed on the roster here in Mobile and when questioned the game staff and even a former teammate denied that he was ever suppose to attend this week’s game. The speculation is that he either failed his physical or had some type of personal issue arise last week in Houston.
* A total of eight offensive tackles were taken in the first-round of last year’s NFL Draft, according to several evaluators on-hand they expect that number to potentially be lower (4-5) in round one, but the Top-4 tackles could come off the board before the first 15 picks are made.
Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department, SEC Sports Media
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
DAY TWO NOTES FROM BOTH PRACTICES: