2013 Senior Bowl: 15 Thoughts from Day Three (South Practice)

8. Southeast Louisiana CB Robert Alford continues to show that he is an incredible athlete and one of the most agile athletes out here. I have noticed that Alford tends to hold or interfere at the tops of many opposing routes. While he is in good initial position, when the receiver is starting his break Alford tends to grab a hold of some jersey. He definitely won’t be able to get away with that kind of stuff in the NFL. It’s correctable and we have to remember that he isn’t used to playing against these types of QBs or WRs.

9. The safety play on the South side isn’t nearly as good as it is on the North side. Alabama S Robert Lester struggled badly again today and it was disappointing because I had once had high hopes for him. Most of it can be attributed to his high cut and limited change of direction skills. He just plain and simple can’t get out of his breaks like these other guys. Georgia S Shawn Williams has somewhat of a similar problem, but I thought he was much better today. He set a tone with his big hit and take down of Stepfan Taylor. As long as he can keep play in front of him, and focuses on the run game he is alright. Asking him to cover a lot of ground or man up vs. receivers might be asking for him to do too much. The other safety on the South roster is Georgia Southern’s JJ Wilcox who is an impressive looking athlete, with size, speed and strength to translate to the NFL level. To be honest not much of Wilcox has stood out for the good or bad up to this point.

10. Missouri OLB Zaviar Gooden had a very active day today. I thought he was much more visible than on day two. Gooden’s ability to run with tight ends and even receivers is a huge advantage for him. In pass coverage he takes good drops in zone and has the speed to cover a lot of ground. In man coverage I saw him open his hips and run laterally with TE Rivera blanketing him along the way. As a run support linebacker he was able to fill nicely on occasion and make plays on the RB in the hole. It should be noted that I thought Texas A&M LB Sean Porter was much more active today as well. Both are undersized guys, but Gooden is the more impressive player in my opinion.

11. Rice TE Vance McDonald has turned some heads down here with his big frame and better than expected blocking ability. He made a fantastic one handed catch down the middle of the field and ended practice hauling in a laser from EJ Manuel down the middle of the field. McDonald is one of the most balanced TE in Mobile, but I have seen him drop a number of catchable balls and that has turned me off on him a bit. He’s made the tough catches, but needs to show better concentration on the easy to catch passes.

12. Both Stepfan Taylor and Mike Gillislee look like NFL backs to me. Neither one is real flashy, they are just consistent. They find the hole, hit the hole and gain positive yards on each play. Taylor is a smaller, more compact player while Gillislee has a taller more lean build. Gillislee had an explosive run today, through a hole opened by Aboushi in which he showed good vision, burst and a powerful stiff arm to keep the safety at bay. The week is only half over, but I think UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin has the top RB spot sewn up, so these two guys are jockeying for #2.

13. A new addition to the South Roster who I thought performed well today was LSU WR Russell Shepard. I got a good look at Shepard’s hands as I was situated right in front of the WR drill area. He made very good adjustments to each throw, caught it away from his body and got his feet in bounds. It’s always tough being a late arrival to these things, but he was thrown into the mix and had a good first day. I have long been a fan of his, but his inconsistency was troubling. Shepard needs a big week down here to show scouts he can be an NFL WR and his lack of production at LSU was tied to the offensive philosophy and QB changes at times.

14. Speaking of WR drills Baylor’s Terrance Williams had a much better day drill wise. His hands and footwork were more consistent. I still think Williams was having trouble separating and that isn’t good for a player that is projected to be a vertical WR. I am anxious to see how Williams builds on the positive momentum he started today throughout the rest of the week and into the game on Saturday.

15. Stanford OLB Chase Thomas is a real smart and intelligent linebacker, however I think he has been disappointing this week. He’s just not going to be able to do the things at this level that he got away with at Stanford. As a pass rusher he had no success at all and he is too slow in man to man coverage. What Thomas does well is play with sound technique and sets the edge in the run game, but I don’t know if that will be enough for NFL teams to overlook his lack of speed, agility and pass rush upside.

Other Notes:

– TE Mychal Rivera continued to catch the ball well, but he’s not a very good blocker.
– Alabama TE Michael Williams dropped some balls today, but was his usual self as an edge blocker.
– Here’s the list of players that I know were injured today: Georgia’s Sanders Commings and Bacarri Rambo. South Alabama’s Jake Johnson, Florida’s Xavier Nixon and SDSU’s Leon McFadden (who transitions out of his breaks really well) is pulling out of the game for an unknown reason.

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