NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Lions coaching staff is running a physical and emotional practices here at the Senior Bowl. With such a physical competition it seemed a lot of injuries were cropping up. Overall it was a very good practice with the tone set early. Today the players were used to their surroundings and it showed. I thought some players bounced back well and some continued to ascend up draft boards.
Here are my 15 thoughts from Day Three at South Practice.
1. Overall QB play for the South team was better today than in the previous two practices. The QBs started to build a better rapport with the players and as EJ Manuel told me, the QB are told to “just throw to a spot”. I thought Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson was the most impressive again today. He clearly didn’t have a flawless practice, but I like his ability to throw the ball over the middle and has good RPMs on it.
EJ Manuel had his ups and downs, as I said yesterday with him, it seems like he struggles as the tempo picks up and the throws get more challenging. Finally, I thought Landry Jones had his best practice today. He lagged a little bit behind the other two QBs mainly because he was throwing the ball high and wide a lot to the receivers running 12 yard out patterns.
Landry also reverted to the same old thing he did in college, and that is when the play broke down he was done for. Instead of throwing the ball away or running it, he made poor decisions and threw into tight coverage. There is still time to change my mind but so far I feel that Wilson and Glennon have been the two best QBs regardless of team.
2. Kentucky OG Larry Warford was a beast out there today. Jim Schwartz and the Lions coaches had each OL/DL go up against each other is pass rush drills and I thought Warford shined during these drills. The first thing that stands out about him is his size and strength. He is able to lock on to defenders and literally just stop them in their tracks, once he locks on it’s over. He moves better than I thought for his size and took on all comers with ease today via a strong lower body anchor. On separate occasions he stonewalled John Jenkins (twice), beat Cory Grissom on another and Josh Boyd handily. As Warford goes through the NFL draft process and trains for the combine his fitness level will improve and he will become even more impressive.
3. Other standouts from the Offensive line pass rush drills today were Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson and Louisiana Tech OT Jordan Mills. Johnson has such good movement skills for a big man. I was extremely impressed by his ability to recover and hold off the pass rush after getting beat off the snap by Lavar Edwards. Johnson has a good kick step and sets up quickly, which allowed him to recover, set up and get his hands on Edwards who was a quarter count quick off the snap.
Jordan Mills continued to build on yesterday’s positive . He’s not as naturally gifted athletically as Johnson or Fisher but, he played with leverage and showed great hands. Once again he was matched up with Ezekial Ansah and handled him fairly easily with good hand placement. Mills also moved inside to guard for a look, but I thought he looked much better at OT.
4. Alabama LB Nico Johnson was much more visible today than he was on day one. Johnson was a physical presence in the run game and made a number of plays at the line of scrimmage. He is the biggest linebacker on the squad and has a real muscular build. Direct quote from my notes “Johnson is stout vs. the run and can take on blockers, but he is slowwww.” It’s clear he’s not the most athletic linebacker and he will definitely be limited to run support duties in the NFL.
5. An under the radar prospect who turned some heads here today is Tennessee-Martin’s Montori Hughes. Hughes is a big boy, but made some really nice plays. Hughes is a big bodied tackle who has surprising quicks. He was able to clog things up for the linebackers at the line today. When he made a play today, he made everyone knew about it as he was real fired up at points today. Hughes was one of the reasons why the South defense was able to dominate the offense in team drills.
6. None of the pass rushers on the South squad have been overly impressive. Mallicah Goodman got beat multiple times and didn’t show much explosion or a good pass rush move. BYU’s Ezekial Ansah continued to be mediocre at best. He was matched up vs. Florida OT Xavier Nixon which was a real good match up. Both Nixon and Ansah used their hands really well, but Nixon ultimately won the battle. (Nixon hurt his wrist on the play). If I had to pick a pass rusher on the South that I have liked the best it would be LSU DE Lavar Edwards. He has incredibly long arms and is a sneaky good athlete. On one particular play he pulled off a great swim move vs. Virginia OT Oday Aboushi, which had scouts in attendance taking notice. There were times that even Edwards was mediocre today, but at least he made me take notice today, while the others have been invisible.
7. Receiver wise I still think Quinton Patton is head and shoulders above the rest of the guys on the squad. His wiry build and body control allow him to catch the ball in many different fashions. He is able to keep concentration while sliding to the ground to make a catch, displays good footwork on the sidelines, can adjust to a deep ball and is a hands catcher. Patton seems to be the life of the party, say to speak, as he is always joking around with teammates both on and off the field. Patton seems to be enjoying playing the game and loving his Senior Bowl experience meeting new players and competing.