Today at practice we finally got to see both teams play – and in ideal weather. The sun was shining and even though there was a bit of a nip in the air the field conditions were perfect. It was a great sign especially after a slippery Monday. Full pads allowed for many players to state their cases – who stood out and who dropped the ball? Here are some of my rambling observations.
None of the North quarterbacks really stood out to me. But I did keep an eye on footwork early on and it’s unanimous that Russell Wilson is the most natural in his dropback. His steps are natural, light, and unforced. If this was beach football, he would hardly leave a footprint. His height and arm are still obvious concerns but the fact that the footwork is often the last thing to click for a young QB is a nice sign for Wilson. Kellen Moore I was not impressed with in the slightest and can’t get over how much he doesn’t look like an NFL QB. Kirk Cousins looked okay, not particularly good or bad. He has shown the arm to make all of the throws but hasn’t gotten into rhythm yet.
With running backs, Doug Martin had the best day. After Trent Richardson, he may be the safest back in the draft and has shown punt return ability to boot. Chris Polk continues to underwhelm, showing no explosion and some lumps in pass protection. He has some stock salvaging to do.
DeVier Posey looked smooth as usual but puts the ball on the ground way far too often. Completely random: He’s a lefty. So if he makes a left-handed highlight catch at some point in his career adjust your reaction accordingly. Brian Quick had a really nice catch in traffic but I haven’t seen him use his size to his advantage as much as someone his height should. Marvin McNutt is the best receiver on the North team but just had to drop a beautifully thrown fly route from Kirk Cousins – which happened to be one of the last things he did before practice ended thus leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Consistency issues are still there.
I’ll admit that I didn’t keep an eye on the trenches too much, but a guy who stood out is Kendall Reyes. At the weigh-in he showed that he’s large but doesn’t carry any extra weight. He stuffed the run well and showed that he can move too, pursuing a ball-carrier 20 yards down the field at one point.
I like the competitiveness of Leonard Johnson. He’s passionate and will vocally react. He’s small and will get beat by larger receivers but he’s growing on me. Scrappy is how I would describe him. Someone who is not growing on me is Alfonzo Dennard. While he did make a nice play as gunner on special teams, he doesn’t excel at turning and running with receivers. Getting beat deep by Alshon Jeffery should have been a warning sign but you’re really seeing it first-hand now at practice. Maybe being on such a great defense covered up some flaws in Dennard’s game.
George Iloka had the highlight of the day with a diving interception and has opened some eyes with his play and size. But to me he seems really stiff and can get exposed while in man coverage. His stock is rising but I figured that is worth noting that an important part about his game still needs refining.
Nick Foles has not had a great week so far. The indecisiveness continues and he’s just not looking natural right now. He has the arm, the size, and looks good throwing the ball while warming up, but things have not clicked. In my opinion, like Blaine Gabbert should have been, he’s a 3rd rounder who has to sit and learn. Brandon Weeden has been the best QB at the Senior Bowl – very comfortable in his reads and the RPM on his passes makes catching the ball easier for his wideouts.
Chris Rainey got work at WR/RB, and looked good at both. His routes were crisp, but I still would like to see how he catches the ball in the air, something he wasn’t asked to do often in college. If the only way he can catch the ball is with his feet on the ground then his catching radius goes down massively. Also before getting caught up in the flash, I need to see him block. The rest of the running backs looked average except for Lennon Creer, who looked rusty. He did just arrive in town but when the coaches get on you for quitting on a play, that’s not good.
I really want to like Antonio Allen. He’s a gamer and has the swagger that you like in defensive backs, but he wastes motions too often when covering space and doesn’t have super change of direction. Even the slightest wasted move at safety could mean 6. That may be correctable though, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Jake Bequette got work at outside linebacker and looked out of place. In agility drills he probably would get a C- from me, and I’m a lenient grader. It could be because he’s thinking more than playing but he looks much better with his hand down.
Quinton Coples dominated at the point of attack. He is so good at re-establishing the line of scrimmage and played with the mean streak you would expect from a guy who sets out to “destroy everybody.” I don’t know if he’s ever going to become any more than a 10+ sack guy but he’s playing himself back into top 10 considerations with his disruptive play. My comparison to Calais Campbell is looking good right now.
The only other guy who looked as overpowering as Coples today for the South was Courtney Upshaw. His first punch is so strong. While he can struggle to disengage when a big lineman gets their paws on him, if he’s the one to initiate contact it’s game over. His ability to set the edge at either DE or OLB is going to be coveted. If I had to compare him to someone it would be the immensely underrated Jarrett Johnson, with slightly better pass rushing ability.
As you would expect from reading the comments about Upshaw/Coples, the offensive linemen didn’t do great. Jeff Allen, Matt McCants, and Zebrie Sanders (whose agents should be furious that he’s playing RT instead of LT) especially had difficulties, primarily in run-blocking.
With Melvin Ingram, I feel like I’m missing the boat. He’s a good player, and is super versatile but I would not confidently select him in the 1st round unless that team has very few needs. A team like the Jets that will move him around would be ideal. One thing that Ingram is a master at is taking advantage of weaker offensive linemen – even more reason to move him around. But if a team drafts him expecting him to stick at one position and make Pro Bowls, I think they’ll be let down.
I have huge redflags about Marquis Maze. For the 2nd practice in a row, he ran around with his shirt hanging out. I don’t know why, but that irks me. And after practice, I spoke with him and he was still complaining about his height measurement. 28 hours later, you just got done with an exhausting practice and you’re still complaining about your height measurement? C’mon man! If there’s something you should be complaining about, it’s your (over)weight. Okay, that’s probably the meanest I’ll ever be to a prospect because I hate judging the character of people that I don’t know well. Still, I think he has some growing up to do at the next level.
Lastly, I love Casey Hayward. He was physical in tight coverage but QBs really wanted to test him today and to no avail. Hayward held Jeff Fuller in check after Fuller opened some eyes on Day 1. He won’t get much love because he’s not a burner and he’s not a highlight film, but I can think of no better way to describe Casey Hayward than exceptionally solid.
Zach Brown said that he is going to aim for a 4.35 forty yard dash prior to the NFL Combine and work from there.
Terrance Ganaway played a bit of FB.
Kevin Zeitler played some Center.
Cordy Glenn slid over to LG.
LaVonte David in coverage versus Michael Egnew – advantage Egnew.
There is so much going on at one time that it is information overload. As a result, there are many players who I just couldn’t get a good look at and wouldn’t be confident in commenting on or stealing from someone else’s notes. If you have a player in particular who you would like information about, hit me up on Twitter and I’ll take a closer look.