Steve Shoup of fanspeak.com is covering the Senior Bowl in Mobile and will be offering up his take on the event to NFL’s Future as the second half of our coverage. Be sure to check out Fanspeak.com’s Senior Bowl headquarters for all of Steve’s musings of the week.
Here is a look at the South team’s first practice today, including what players helped their stock and who struggled in the early going. The South team is coached by the Detroit Lions staff headed by Coach Jim Schwartz. Players were in helmets and shells so full contract wasn’t allowed.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma:
Jones didn’t help himself earlier in the day at the weigh-in, coming under 6’4″ and not having any outstanding measurable, and then had a poor overall performance in practice. He struggled with his footwork coming from under center and didn’t look too comfortable throwing intermediate or longer routes. He has a nice deep ball, but it was rarely on target. He was much more precise on shorter quick passes, but got uncomfortable quick when his first or second read weren’t there.
E.J. Manuel, FSU:
Manuel had a really strong day overall, he showed good mobility in the pocket to buy time and still deliver a strike on the move. His footwork wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad and allowed him to throw a number of strong accurate throws down the field. A couple times in 7-on-7′s and team drills he made some poor decisions or was inaccurate with his throw, but he had a very good practice overall. He’s still a work in progress, but the potential is very much there for him to have an impact at the next level.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas:
Wilson probably had the best day of any of the signal callers. He did throw a bad interception late during team drills, but that was really his only blemish of the day. He showed good poise and awareness in the pocket and displayed a strong accurate arm on a number of throws down field. Overall he did a really good job of placing the ball in the strike zone of his receiver and away from defenders. Wilson definitely opened some eyes with this practice and if he keeps it up this week could move up some draft boards.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford:
Taylor had some concerns about speed coming into the draft process, but showed good burst today, both in rushing and receiving. He might not be the fastest running back, but it didn’t appear to be a liability for him either. He showed good vision finding his hole and finding it quickly. I really liked his decisiveness, which is an underrated trait for the next level. Taylor was also really impressive catching the ball as well, he was good in space and ran crisp routes getting separation from the defender.
Andre Ellington, Clemson:
He had an up and down day, but he did show nice speed and quickness. Also made some really nice plays in space. He had a couple poor plays where he slipped when he tried to make a cut or ran into the pile instead of hitting the hole, but overall it was solid.
Vance McDonald, Rice:
McDonald is an underrated tight end, but had a really strong day that could start pushing him up draft boards. He did everything well today. He ran good solid routes getting separation from both safeties and linebackers. He caught everything that he got his hands on and displayed nice speed. He also did well as a blocker in team drills, showing nice two-way ability.
Michael Williams, Alabama:
Williams isn’t the fastest tight end you will every see, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore him in the passing game. Linebackers struggled all day to cover him as he used his big frame to shield them from the ball, and displayed nice strong hands. Williams really excelled in the blocking game though as he was essentially a 6th offensive linemen out there. He swallowed up both defensive ends and linebackers with ease.
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M:
Early on Swope had a strong practice showing nice quickness and getting in and out of his breaks. Latter in 1-on-1′s and 7-on-7′s he struggled on a couple reps dropping two easy catches, one time really drawing the ire of the coaching staff. He also struggled to get any deep separation, and looked most comfortable on quicker routes.
Quinton Patton, LA Tech:
Patton had a really strong day, he was very fluid and showed nice short area quickness. He also showed nice awareness and strong hands. Patton did struggle on some deeper routes as he wasn’t able to separate, and got out muscled a couple of times. He will need to show that he can be more physical, and it will be something to watch going forward.
Terrance Williams, Baylor:
Had by far the best practice of any receiver. Only guy who was consistently able to get behind the coverage and gain separation throughout the practice. He made a number of highly acrobatic catches and tracked the ball well on long passes. Williams looks to be the whole package and will definitely be someone to watch going forward.
Larry Warford, Kentucky:
Warford had the best all-around day by any offensive lineman, he was quick off the ball and showed a good anchor, rarely letting anyone push him back or control the point of attack. He also showed surprising quickness for his size and handled speed well.
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee:
Thomas played both guard and tackle in practice and handled his own at both positions. He didn’t have the best anchor and didn’t finish guys off, but he showed quick feet and re-routed a number of defenders keeping the pocket generally clean. A couple times he did get beat, but overall it was a pretty solid practice.
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma:
Really thought he had a great all-around practice, he lined up at both tackle spots and really showed quick feet and a nice sound base. He anchored well and didn’t allow much penetration. He wasn’t as good versus the run, but it was by no means a bad showing.
Ezekiel Ansah, BYU:
Up-and-down practice, looked very quick in individual drills and and 1-on-1′s, but struggled some in team drills he didn’t win as many battles as you’d hope. Showed some natural bust and edge ability, but needs to get more wins with that talent level.
John Jenkins, Georgia:
Jenkins was a monster in middle, nearly impossible to block 1-on-1, and disrupting a number of plays with his penetration. He plays with excellent leverage, and despite his size he’s very quick off the ball getting into defender’s pads.
Malliciah Goodman, Clemson:
Goodman was very impressive today, got off the line quick and was perhaps the 2nd toughest defensive lineman to block after Jenkins. He showed a good ability to rush the quarterback and nice recognition against the run.
Sanders Commings, Georgia:
Commings is thought to be more of a corner, but after today’s practice he may be viewed more of a free safety prospect. He was not fluid in flipping his hips, and really struggled when asked to run with receivers. He did some nice things when he played off in a zone and the play was in front of him, but other than that it was not a strong day.
Robert Lester, Alabama:
Lester looked good early on in practice in both individual and 1-on-1 drills, but disappeared or struggled later. He didn’t struggle particularly in any one area, but he didn’t show dominance either. He was pretty inconsistent in the team drills, with one rep showing nice recognition and back peddle and then the next rep missing his assignment. Overall solid day, but not spectacular.
Bacarri Rambo, Georgia:
Rambo looked flawless in the individual position drills setting the bench mark everyone else was compared to, but he all but disappeared once he started going up against receivers/tight ends. He still made a play or two, but overall he was late recognizing a number of passes, and took bad angles to the ball. Given how he started and his overall hype it was a poor overall showing.
J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern:
It quickly became apparent that Wilcox has just one year at safety under his belt. While he flashes big play ability he looked simply lost out there at times. He really struggled in the positional drills, especially with his ability to flip his hips and his back peddle. While there is some legitimate promise there, he’s very much a developmental prospect.
Leon McFadden, San Diego State:
McFadden had the best all-around showing today among defensive backs. He was very fluid in the drills, displaying good speed and quickness. He really excelled when faced with receivers. He showed physicality and great reaction time, and was constantly the toughest draw for a particular receiver.