NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
After a lackluster practice on Wednesday, the action really picked up today. The Jaguars coaching staff orchestrated a competitive, intensity, and exciting practice session with a ton of 1-on-1 battles. The session even consisted of a player mimicking Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski after he scored a touchdown. As the competition ramped up, some players elevated their games, and some came up short. These are the observations from the final South Session.
1) TCU CB Kevin White really stood out in full speed, competitive pass drills today. Every time he was challenged he made it difficult on the receiver to catch the ball cleanly and even when he was beaten, White was within inches of breaking up the pass. He’s extremely quick, can get out his peddle, and sticks to the hip of receivers. I think White has moved into the day two mix of the draft.
2) Mississippi State DE Preston Smith made it difficult for the offense to get plays off at times on Thursday. He was extremely effective at creating disruption during team drills. Smith has the size to play in any scheme or defensive front. On one play he create pressure by shooting the inside gap and on the next play he won to the outside with power. Smith is backing up his in-season performance down here in Mobile.
3) Miami(FL) TE Clive Walford continued his stellar play today, especially in the red zone. He was by far the toughest Tight End to cover in the red area using his combination of size, length, and quickness to beat man coverage. One two occasions he imitated Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski with emphatic spikes. That led to all the other players getting hyped up and upped the intensity of the session.
4) Ole Miss Safety Cody Prewitt looked sharp in Red Zone coverage drills. His instincts were once again on display reading the Quarterbacks eyes, getting a quick jump on the ball, and breaking up multiple passes. He probably won’t test real well at the combine, but there is no denying he has some great instincts in over the top coverage. To be honest, I didn’t expect him to look this good in this setting and he’s really turned my head.
5) In one of the craziest developments of the week Norfolk State OLB Lynden Trail actually took reps at Tight End at one point in today’s practice. Trail is the type of physical talent both offensive and defensive coordinators drool over. He didn’t look out of place during TE drills and you can understand why scouts wanted to see him take part in some drills. His size and athleticism would present real problems for smaller LBs and Safeties. Five minutes after playing TE, Trail moved back to OLB in 7-on-7 and promptly intercepted a pass.
6) Not an “on-field” note, but something that has caught my attention this week. I’ve been really impressed by Sammie Coates maturity, character, and how he handles himself in general. Coates graduated early and vowed to his father (who has since passed away) that one day he’d play in the Senior Bowl. Being from Alabama this game meant a lot to his family and if Coates didn’t graduate early he was prepared to go back to school, so he’d be eligible for the game next year. Coates has done every single media request made of him and seems to have a really good head on his shoulders. I think the perception of Coates is something different nationwide, but he’s a tremendous individual.
7) On the field Coates showcased a few skills he can bring to the NFL immediately. Coates and QB Blake Sims connected on a back-shoulder throw in which he elevated high above the smaller CB to reel in the touchdown. It’s clear Coates athleticism is on a different level and he should be able to make those types of plays as a rookie next year.
8) We know Georgia Tech OG Shaq Mason will struggle in pass protection and other techniques he just wasn’t asked to play at Georgia Tech, but he stood out to me today on the offensive line. Mason was able to get underneath a few DL and literally press them off the line of scrimmage. One rep imparticular stands out to me and that was vs. Grady Jarrett. Mason stayed low got his hands extended and jacked Jarrett up off his feet. For a roundish OG measuring just over 6’0″ it’s nice to see him play with that leverage and strength.
A few other notes:
– Many Scouts think Alabama OG Arie Kouandjio will be a better NFL player than his brother Cyrus.
– Tyler Locket body catches the ball too much for me. He’s a tremendous football player, but I’d like to see him use his hands more often.
– La’El Collins took reps at Left Guard today with Ty Sambrailo moving to his natural Left Tackle position. I hope this is something we get to see in the game on Saturday.
– Florida Atlantic CB D’Joun Smith was another CB that made plays in 1-on-1 drills. Unfortunately he got injured on a play in which he intercepted a Bryan Bennett pass.
– One guy I haven’t got to watch a lot of this week is UCF Safety Clayton Geathers, but he made a number of plays in the back of the end zone during red zone drills. We took some film of the WR/DB drills today and he’s someone I’m definitely going to focus in on more.