Steve Shoup of fanspeak.com will be adding a weekly guest post (or two) to NFL’s Future leading up to April’s draft. Steve is in St. Petersburg for the East-West Shrine Game and has all you want to know about the week’s goings-on at Fanspeak’s E-W Shrine headquarters.
Through the first three days of practice here are the offensive players who have helped and hurt themselves the most:
RB Ray Graham, Pitt:
Graham has had a fantastic week of practice, showcasing really good speed and quickness. He’s also shown nice decision making in terms of finding the hole and getting positive yardage. Graham looks to be fully healed from the ACL injury he sustained late in his 2011 campaign. Graham has moved himself up into the late 3rd to early 4th round discussion.
WR Emory Blake, Auburn:
Blake is the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, and will soon join his dad in the fraternity that is the NFL. Wide receiver is perhaps the deepest (in terms of total draftable talent) position in this draft, Blake is making a name for himself this week. He doesn’t have exceptional size or speed, but he’s caught a number of tough balls in traffic, while showing sound route running.
OL Earl Watford, JMU:
Watford may have come from the FCS, but you couldn’t tell that from watching Watford work along the offensive line. He’s been very quick off the ball and has stymied a number of bigger defenders. He plays with good technique and leverage, giving him a lot of upside. What’s most impressive is that Watford has gotten most of his work in a power blocking system, yet his strength is zone blocking.
WR Jasper Collins, Mount Union:
Collins comes from Division III Mount Union which is the same school that produced Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts in recent years. Collins doesn’t have the same physicality or size as those receivers but he should follow them to the NFL level. He’s had a nice week of practice showcasing good speed and impressive quickness. He profiles well in a slot role, but is a bit of a question mark on the outside. That being said he’s done more than enough to earn a shot this week, and expect him to be a popular target in the 5th/6th round.
RB Zach Line, SMU:
Line has led the Mustangs in rushing each of the last three years and has impressed this week despite being compared to a strong running back field. Line is a bigger back with a lot of power, but don’t expect him to automatically be a fullback. He’s run tough all week and shows good burst through the hole. He keeps his legs churning and is the type of back who can be used in power situations. Line also has shown solid pass protection, which is typically a trait that rookie backs lack.
OL Sam Brenner, Utah:
Brenner was thought of as a late round interior lineman with some upside, but after a rough week he may find himself without a draft position next April. Brenner has shown poor technique and has been beaten consistently inside. The coaching staff has repeatedly tried to correct his mistakes to little avail. He’s going to need a strong Pro day/combine to rebound from this week so far.
TE Zach Studfeld, Nevada:
When UCLA TE Joseph Fauria went down the first day of practice, Studfeld was a logical choice to improve his stock. Without Fauria, Studfeld wouldn’t be constantly compared to him, and he would have more reps to impress coaches with. Instead Studfeld has struggled this week particularly with his blocking. He’s also committed multiple false start penalties during 7-on-7’s and team scrimmages. While some miscues are understandable, too many have been falling at Studfeld’s feet. What limited draft prospects he’s had have diminished considerably.
QB Collin Klein, Kansas State:
Klein faced an up-hill climb coming into this week as questions surrounding his throwing ability hounded him. He’s done nothing to help his case in that department at all. He’s got a nice strong arm, but he lacks touch and the ability to hit timing routes. Klein has done well in some areas (leadership, running ability, and zone read decision making), but those were all the areas that people were high on him for.
WR Rodney Smith, FSU:
Smith came into this week with a lot of promise due to his impressive 6’6” height, but he’s been mainly average in practice. It hasn’t been necessarily a bad week of practice, but he has been surpassed by multiple lesser known receivers, and hasn’t done anything to stand out. His size will likely keep him on draft boards, but expect him to be far lower than originally expected.
WR Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky:
Goard came into this week with a strong sleeper label, but unfortunately for him he has yet to wake up. Goard has nice speed and a 6’4” frame to work with, but he’s not really put it all together. He’ll follow up one nice catch with multiple poor routes. Given how deep the position is he has to be falling down draft boards.