NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Today was the last day of Senior Bowl practice and despite the players being in only helmets and shorts I was able to get pretty good notes, thanks to 7 on 7 passing drills as well as defensive line technique work.
It was the scouts finally opportunity to fill in holes on prospects while down here in Mobile as the NFL teams began to clear out and head back on the road.
1. LSU WR Russell Shepard continued his all around solid play today exhibited good route running ability and good away from his body catching. He made the play of the day running a double move vs. BW Webb with EJ Manuel throwing him the ball. Shepard was lined up split out to the left took two steps like he was running a slant which Webb bit on and then broke to the corner, which was left him wide open. EJ Manuel delivered a nice touch pass for a touchdown. The play had all the scouts in the stand oohing and ahhing. It was probably the play of the day offensively.
2. LSU DE Lavar Edwards continued to be the best defensive end prospect on the South roster. The defensive line spent most of the day working with Lions DL Coach Kris Kocurek.
Going through change of direction drills Edwards was clearly the most fluid and agile. He displayed good, quick feet and was able to bend around the corner better than any other defensive linemen going through the drills. Edwards hasn’t stood out too much in actually 1 on 1 pass rushing drills, but has shown enough this week to think he can develop into a good edge rusher with the development of a couple pass rush moves.
3. Today’s practice featured an extended WR vs. DB period so each QB had a chance to throw a lot of ball and impress people in attendance. I thought all three had their moments and all three made plays that left me scratching my head.
Tyler Wilson struggled at times in red zone drills not placing the ball in the proper position and on one play he failed to read zone coverage and was picked off by Alabama LB Nico Johnson. On a whole I have thought Wilson has had a very solid week and has probably helped himself as much as any QB down here.
Landry Jones made some impressive throws today, including a real nice back shoulder throw to Baylor WR Terrance Williams. I thought Jones had command of the offense in red zone drills, anticipated well and threw the ball to the proper spot. Even today however, you could see what happens when the play breaks down and Jones holds the ball too long.
If the ball isn’t out of his hand when it’s supposed to be he struggles to ad lib and “make a play”. It’s the same problem that has hurt him all throughout his career.
It was much of the same from EJ Manuel today. He makes a couple real nice throws, including the one he made while rolling out to his left, getting his shoulders square and delivering a nice flat pass to the RB dragging across the formation. He has also looked good throwing the ball down the middle of the field often hitting TE in stride. But, then there are a number of plays in which he overthrows the receiver in the endzone or is late anticipating the route developing. I
have to say I was more impressed with Manuel than I thought I would be this week, but inconsistency still plagues him.
4. William & Mary DB B.W. Webb, probably had his best showing today. Even though the pads weren’t on there was still things to be gained by watching him. First off, Webb is extremely aggressive on short slant routes. He was fighting for positioning and didn’t give up the inside release easily. On at least one occasion he was able to reach around the receiver and bat the ball down.
While Webb may have been interfering a little bit, by being too physical his overall performance was his best yet. As is the same with most small school players, as the week progresses these guys usually get better.
The same can be said for Southeast LA CB Robert Alford. He was consistently competitive in coverage today. On one of the first passes of the red zone 1 on 1 sessions, he was beaten on a fade route. After taking some coaching points from Lions secondary/3rd down package Coach Tim Walton he was able to adjust his coverage that resulted in a pass break up.
From my vantage point, it appeared the Lions DB coach took a liking to Alford. With the Lions is desperate need of DBs in this year’s draft, Alford is a player to keep an eye on for Lions fans.
5. Baylor WR Terrance Williams had his best day catching the ball today. He showed good hands in the endzone adjusting to the ball and catching it in tight spaces. He catches the back shoulder throw as any receiver on the South squad. Williams’ hasn’t been able elevate his game to the next level this week, but he should be able to develop into a nice #2-3 wide receiver.
6. Tennessee TE Mychal Rivera had himself a very solid day catching the ball. He made a leaping catch in which he was able to extend and adjust in coverage. It had Jaguars scouts in attendance comparing him to Aaron Hernandez. I don’t know about that comparison, however, Rivera has ability to move around the formation, run fluid routes and separate out of his breaks which is about all you can ask for from a H-back, hybrid TE prospect.
Other Notes From Practice.
– Quinton Patton is clearly the most sudden athlete of the Wide Receivers
– Conner Vernon is just a solid receiver. He isn’t flashy, but he continues to run good routes and catches everything that is thrown to him.
– Georgia WR Tavarres King had two bad drops today. There were easy catches which he just botched.
– Tennessee-Martin DT Montori Hughes had another really good practice. He has violent hands, exhibits very good power and is one of the vocal leaders of the South defense.
– Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton continued to show a good rapport with Tyler Wilson. He made two tough catches in the back of the endzone, both times in tight coverage.
– Virginia OL Oday Aboushi moved inside to OG for a couple plays. In that formation Terron Armstead played LT and Jordan Mills played the right tackle spot.
– There have been a ton of injuries on the South squad. They were already short on players today and then Texas A&M LB Sean Porter went down as well. It also appeared that Chase Thomas got banged up at one point.
– Tomorrow is just a basic walk-through, followed by the actual game on Saturday. We won’t have practice notes tomorrow but, look for more Senior Bowl content throughout tonight and tomorrow.