NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The second day of Senior Bowl practices saw the pads go on and the competition for NFL roster spots ramped up. With the entire NFL scouting and player personnel departments in attendance players had an opportunity to turn heads. Just like during day one there were some players who stood out and caught my eye, for both good reasons and bad.
Here are my thoughts of day two North Practice from Mobile, Alabama.
1. It’s pretty clear after two practices that the best player on the North Squad is Eric Fisher. He was taking on all comers in one on one drills and handling almost all of them with ease. He stonewalled Alex Okafor a number of times, with a good anchor and strong hands. He slides his feet and forces the defensive player to go where he wants them too.
For a 6’7″ player he is flexibility and keeps his hips low. While it’s unlikely he will be able to overtake Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel for the #1 OT spot. It’s clear he’s the number two OT in this draft.
2. A lot of attention has been paid to Michigan QB turned WR Denard Robinson this week. From my perspective there has been a clear adjustment period in terms of becoming a receiver. He has had trouble catching the ball at times despite the fact he has 10″ hands. As a route runner he is real raw and tends to round his routes instead of having precise footwork.
However, he did show the ability to consistently separate in coverage, especially vertical. Any team that picks him is going to be doing so with the understanding that he might not be able to contribute right away, but he has the athletic ability and potential to pay dividends with time and development.
3. Desmond Trufant continued his standout play in the defensive backfield. He’s got very good hips, mirrors the receiver well and does a very good job of breaking sharply on routes. I like him in the slot because he is 6′ tall, but has the quickness and change of direction to run with smaller receivers. He’s been very aggressive and goes hard on every single rep. He made it clear to me many times that this week was all about competing.
Trufant has established himself as a clear day two selection and with his ability to play both cornerback slots could got early on day two. On top of that he is a very well spoken player and has a genuine passion for the game that comes through in his interviews.
4. Syracuse OT Justin Pugh performed well today. He was used at both left tackle as well as right tackle and showed good movement skills and a good anchor. His weigh in results were a little disappointing as he only measured in 6047 and 301 pounds, but he showed that his height shouldn’t be a huge problem as he uses his leverage well didn’t seem flustered against the top competition.
Pugh got matched up with Illinois DE Michael Buchanon twice and completely dominated him, stopping Buchanon in his tracks. Former Patriots OT Matt Light was about the same height as Pugh and I could see him playing tackle a similar way.
5. UCLA DE Datone Jones continued to turn heads showing a combination of explosion and power. The highlight of practice might have been his one on one battles with CMU OT Eric Fisher. In the reps I watched Fisher held up very well, but it was apparent that Jones has power that some other players here just don’t have. Jones played primarily RDE, but on occasion was moved inside to push the pocket from the 3-Tech.
There’s no doubt Jones has really helped himself this week. Jones told me personally that what NFL teams love is that he can add 10-15 pounds to his frame and it won’t effect his explosiveness.
6. Quarterback wise it was another up and down day for the North team. None of the QBs really stood out, but I thought North Carolina State QB Mike Glennon had the best day overall. He showed pretty good mobility for the his size and threw well on the run. It looked like he settle in and got in a bit of a rhythm. Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib really struggled today with is accuracy.
He got down on himself and fumbled a couple of snaps. The out and up route gave him a lot of trouble, as it did Glennon. It seems like it will be a back and forth battle until the end to see who comes out of here as the top dog. But, so far none have really impressed.
7. The thing that stands out about Oregon State CB Jordan Poyer is that he is always in the right position. He displayed good footwork in press technique and was able to open his hips and run up-field vertically with almost any receivers. Later in practice he was in underneath zone coverage and was able to break up a pass that would have been a pick six if he was able to hold onto it.
He’s got a great build and every WR I talk to say he’s the smarted CB they have faced.
8. The running backs got their opportunity to do pass protection drills today which is always fun to watch. Robbie Rouse struggled a bit as you would expect. He was willing to block and didn’t shy away from contact but, was beaten by a swim move at least twice. One was by new addition Ty Powell from Harding University.
The best of the bunch had to be UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin, he stuck his helmet into the chest of opposing rushers and was able to stay engaged for a good amount of time. Franklin also stood out again for his ability to get up field and create big plays. Once again Franklin displayed good hands and looks like a more complete RB prospect than initially thought.