ESPN: Tuesday's buzz: Bowe, Hunt shine in practice

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    MOBILE, Ala. -- Here's the buzz from Tuesday's Senior Bowl practices:

    Around the South practice

    LSU WR Dwayne Bowe should be a first-round pick. The 6-foot-2, 222-pounder has great size and strength. Bowe uses his bulk and muscle to shield defenders from the ball and to battle for position. He misjudged one throw on the last play of practice, but he was practically flawless otherwise. Bowe caught the ball cleanly today and adjusted to make some nice catches on poorly thrown balls throughout the afternoon session. Although the South didn't do red-zone drills today, Bowe is the perfect target for that area of the field. It would be hard to imagine teams needing a wide receiver at the end of the first round -- such as New England, Philadelphia and San Diego -- would pass on a talent like Bowe, who looks like the best senior wideout in this year's draft.

    Clemson WR Chansi Stuckey can flat out fly. He will struggle with the physical aspects of his position and certainly will have a hard time with press coverage at the next level, but he will outrun most of the defensive backs he goes against. He has a smooth stride and doesn't take long to get to full speed. Stuckey could be very dangerous on reverses and potentially as a returner.

    After battling several lingering injuries during a disappointing senior season, Auburn RB Kenny Irons looks as if he's close to 100 percent. While he lacks ideal size, Irons runs hard and displays excellent vision when picking creases to hit. It will be interesting to see how Irons performs when the intensity level is jacked up a couple notches during Wednesday's all-out practice session.

    Florida State ILB Buster Davis continues to disprove the theory that his 5-9 frame will prevent him from playing at the next level. While he's certainly not the player to lead a team off the bus, Davis is one of the toughest and most instinctive linebackers in this year's class. He really stood out in terms of his recognition skills and pursuit angles during inside-run and team drills in today's practice.

    One of the best portions of practice today had to be the one-on-one pass blocking drill between the offensive and defensive lines. There were several hard-fought battles, two of which are worth mentioning. First off, Miami DT Kareem Brown powered though Auburn guard Ben Grubbs the first time the two squared off. On the next rep, Grubbs did a far better job of sitting down and preventing Brown from pushing him back into the pocket. The second came later in the drill when Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh got caught too far inside on an attempted block, which made it easy for LSU DE Chase Pittman to turn the corner. The two faced off again right away and initially it looked like the result would be the same. However, Ugoh recovered nicely and eventually put Pittman on the ground. That said, it's worth mentioning that Pittman showed a strong rip move throughout the drill.

    Oregon State TE Joe Newton's inadequacies were exposed today at the South's practice. He looked like he didn't belong today as a receiving weapon or as a blocker. He is very tall and very stiff. Newton bends at the waist, gets rag-dolled by the upper echelon defensive ends and linebackers and simply doesn't have the strength or balance to anchor. As a pass catcher, Newton lacks the quickness or pure speed to separate from NFL linebackers. However, he is a better game than practice player who has a feel for getting open and presenting his quarterback with a good target. Newton also catches the football well and is very reliable in this regard.

    Georgia's Martrez Milner is another tight end failing to impress NFL scouts in attendance. Milner is a fine athlete and has caught the ball more consistently in practice this week than he did as a senior first-year starter in 2006. However, the 256-pound H-back prospect was consistently overpowered during blocking drills versus linebackers this afternoon. Milner leaves his feet far too frequently in a last-ditch effort to overcompensate for his marginal strength and technique.

    Alabama FB Le'Ron McClain was absolutely dominant during one-on-one pass protection drills this afternoon. At one point, he made a mockery of teammate Juwan Simpson by standing up the outside linebacker and driving him to the ground. McClain has also shown soft hands as a receiver, which bodes well for him as one of the top two or three fullback prospects in this year's class.

    USC center Ryan Kalil had problems driving defenders of the ball on Monday. His power was far less of an issue today. On one snap during the team drill, Kalil locked onto Mississippi State DT Antonio Johnson's frame and pushed him back three yards. The most impressive aspect of the play was Kalil's ability to generate that kind of movement despite Johnson stopping his initial momentum. It's a testament to Kalil's tenacity and dedication to finishing blocks.

    Georgia DE Quentin Moses showed good burst and closing speed during one-on-on drills but was inconsistent against the run. On one snap, he got into position, located the ball carrier and shed the block in time to make the play. On the very next play, he got sealed inside and ridden down the line creating an excellent running lane for the back.

    One of the offensive linemen victimized by Moses during one-on-ones was Texas' Justin Blalock, whose future appears to be at guard. Blalock simply couldn't kick out wide enough to get in front of Moses, allowing Moses to turn the corner.

    Around the North practice

    Rutgers' Brian Leonard is a tweener running back/fullback that clearly wanted to prove his potential as a full-time running back by showing up at a slim 224 pounds this week. Unfortunately, the plan is backfiring so far. While Leonard looks a bit quicker than usual, he still does not display the same burst as Penn State RB Tony Hunt, who now is 15 pounds heavier than Leonard. Another concern has been Leonard's struggles as a blocker -- both on isolation run blocks and in pass protection. Leonard needs to pick up the pace in the final few days of the Senior Bowl in order to prevent his draft stock from slipping.

    As for Hunt, he has been the most complete running back on the field -- for either team -- thus far. Hunt lacks ideal elusiveness but he is a big, physical runner with impressive burst through the hole for a bigger back. While he has struggled to catch the ball on a couple of deep throws, Hunt does show reliable hands as a short-to-intermediate route runner, which is how he will be used in the NFL passing game anyway. In a sub-par class of running backs, Hunt is really emerging as a solid first-day prospect.

    Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe did not participate in Tuesday morning's practice as a result of a hamstring injury he suffered late in Monday afternoon's practice. Wolfe had shown excellent receiving skills and sure hands as a punt return specialist in the first outing, but it looks like his week in Mobile will be cut short.

    Overall, this does not look to be a strong group of wide receivers for the North squad. They lack a "Wow Prospect" or someone who looks like a difference maker at the next level. The North's group of defensive backs is clearly superior and we expect these defenders to get the better of the receivers all week in practice. The most impressive receivers so far have been Notre Dame's Rhema McKnight and Virginia Tech's David Clowney, both of which project as second-to-third round picks in the upcoming draft.

    Cal CB Daymeion Hughes continues to stand out in practice. He has good size with wide shoulders and a natural feel for making plays and getting his hands on the football. He is fluid and closes suddenly. His lack of pure speed is a clear drawback however and he will not be able to keep up with the faster receivers in the NFL if left alone deep downfield in man-to-man coverage. Therefore, we think Hughes has the looks of a starting Cover 2 cornerback to best use his skill set -- which is impressive if utilized correctly.

    Fresno St. CB Marcus McCauley is struggling. He was out of position on several occasions and flat beaten on others. Ever since the start of his senior season, McCauley's stock has steadily dropped. He simply has not played well and that looks to be carrying over here in Mobile. McCauley has plenty of time to make up for his poor play, but he had better start soon.

    The intensity level of the North practice picked up when Boston College OT James Marten and Ohio State DT Quinn Pitcock got into a fight during a double team drill. Neither player backed down and had to be separated. With so much on the line and players playing with so much emotion, fights are going to happen but Pitcock may want to avoid these confrontations. He can't afford to waste any energy because he doesn't appear to be in good shape and could be seen throwing up on the field at times. Marten, on the other hand, looked strong for most of the practice. While speed continues to give him problems during one-on-one drills, his footwork has been fairly sound and he reacted well to a spin move.

    Notre Dame OT Ryan Harris is moving well and getting into good position but he isn't driving his legs once engaged with the defender raising concerns about his toughness. During one-on-one drills, 266-pound DE Anthony Spencer put him on his back.

    Cal's Brandon Mebane and Louisville's Amobi Okoye aren't doing a great job of holding their ground when they get reached. However, both defensive tackles are showing good quickness and getting into the backfield.

    Ohio State OG Doug Datish has been relentless and done a good job of driving defenders off the ball but his lack of foot speed is a real concern. He looked like his feet were in quicksand during one-on-one drills and he had some problems getting into position at the second level when asked to slide off a double team. Meanwhile, West Virginia OC Dan Mozes has been impressive. He has been just as tenacious as Datish when run blocking and he held his own during one-on-ones.

    Nebraska DE's Jay Moore and Adam Carriker are using their hands very well and making it difficult for the offensive tackles to sustain their blocks. On the flip side, Carriker is getting caught too far upfield and it's created excellent running lanes for the backs as well as the quarterbacks.

  2. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Gruden, Nolan work by the numbers

    By Ivan Maisel

    MOBILE, Ala. -- North head coach Jon Gruden of Tampa Bay and South head coach Mike Nolan of San Francisco share a problem -- they don't know who is playing for them yet. Nolan, at his news conference Tuesday, pleaded with reporters to give him the uniform numbers and schools of the players they asked about (the players are wearing their school helmets).

    They had some chance of knowing the names of the players who are here. Gruden, asked about the replacements for injured tailback Garrett Wolfe (hamstring) of Northern Illinois and tight end Clark Harris (toe) of Rutgers, didn't even try. The new tailback, he said with a grin that threw itself upon the mercy of the media, is "the young man from Kansas State." The tight end, he said, "is from the University of Delaware. I don't know his name."

    They would be Thomas Clayton and Ben Patrick, respectively.

    "I'm making a lot of new friends at this point," Gruden said. He got the laugh he was looking for.

    I Think You Know My Son
    When San Diego Chargers assistant coach James Lofton arrived at the Mobile airport, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn was leaving. Lofton walked over and introduced himself.

    "My son sacked you this year," Lofton said.

    "Number 6, right?" Quinn asked.

    Lofton nodded and they shared a laugh. Stanford safety David Lofton, No. 6, did sack Quinn this year, but the Irish beat the Cardinal, 31-10.

    What A Rush
    Mississippi State coach Sly Croom stopped by the South practice Tuesday afternoon "to see old friends," he said. Croom's daughter lives in Mobile, so he's always looking for an excuse to come. He stopped his chatting to watch his 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive end, Antonio Johnson, line up against Auburn guard Tim Duckworth in a drill.

    Johnson jumped into the neutral zone.

    "Don't jump offside," Croom said, "like I told you a thousand times!"

    Johnson got back into position. At the snap, he powered through the 6-3, 304-pound Duckworth like he wasn't there. Croom beamed.

    "That boy can rush the passer now," he said.

    Almost Perfect
    LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe has made an impression with his size, speed and hands this week. Midway through the South practice Tuesday, Bowe made an outstanding catch at the sideline, tipping the ball, catching it and managing to get one foot down inbounds before he tumbled over the sideline. You have to hope the memory of that play will overpower the last play of the day. Bowe, five yards behind the defense, got both hands on a perfect post throw from Houston's Kevin Kolb -- and couldn't hold it.

    Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for Send your questions and comments to Ivan at

  3. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Bowe, Carriker, Okoye shining in Mobile
    By Mel Kiper Jr.

    A player's performance at the Senior Bowl can go a long way toward determining his draft status. Here's a quick look at how some of this year's prospects are doing.

    Checking In On The North
    Michigan DB Leon Hall is smooth and displays good hands and hips, but is a little slow in transitioning. He doesn't have an explosive burst. His combine and individual workouts will be important. Hall is a good, solid football player.

    Wake Forest safety Josh Gattis lumbers a little bit and gets beat in coverage. However, safeties aren't used to playing bump-and-run coverage. He doesn't look real natural catching the football in drills. Having questionable hands won't enamor a safety to defensive back coaches.

    Tanard Jackson shows good body control and hands. The Clemson DB has a good burst, but Fresno State WR Paul Williams ran right by him. Pure speed receivers could give him some trouble.

    Cal DB Daymeion Hughes shows great instincts in coverage, but his recovery speed is in question. His combine workouts will answer that question.

    Fresno State corner Marcus McCauley had a great junior year, but struggled as a senior. He shows flashes, but is not consistent.

    Virginia Tech safety Aaron Rouse looks a little stiff. He has questionable coverage ability, didn't play the deep ball well and didn't turn his hips.

    Troy Smith lacks some velocity and accuracy on his throws. The Ohio State QB wasn't real sharp and didn't have much zip on the ball when he needed it. After struggling against Florida in the national title game, Smith needed a big week. It hasn't happened so far.

    Pitt QB Tyler Palko showed a long, sweeping motion, which will give NFL cornerbacks a big edge on him. Michigan State QB Drew Stanton got off to a nice start, but needs to work on his consistency.

    Rhema McKnight's speed is in question. The Notre Dame wideout doesn't gain much separation. NFL cornerbacks will be in his hip pocket.

    Washington State WR Jason Hill struggled with three drops during practice. He didn't look the ball into his hands and needs to work on his concentration.

    Fresno State WR Paul Williams looks very, very good. He shows good hands and quickness out of his cuts.

    Rutgers fullback Brian Leonard did a good job blocking linebackers, but uncharacteristically had some drops. Leonard runs, catches and blocks. His versatility should make him a second-round selection.

    Amobi Okoye, the defensive lineman from Louisville, displays great pass-rush moves and explosiveness. His transition into a spin move gives centers fits. Okoye is arguably one of the top two players in Mobile.

    Nebraska DE Adam Carriker looks outstanding. He has all the physical attributes. Carriker uses his hands extremely well. His teammate and fellow DE Jay Moore shows a quick first step. He gets on the tackle's outside shoulder and beats him around the corner.

    Cal DL Brandon Mebane shows a good power rush. The hard-nosed kid has success pushing the pocket.

    Levi Brown has proven to be one of the better players at the Senior Bowl. The Penn State offensive lineman has good feet and adjusts to the secondary move pretty well.

    Guard/center Samson Satele is very athletic. The Hawaii product struggles some in one-on-one drills, but his versatility will make him a solid second-round choice.

    Colorado kicker Mason Crosby booms the ball. He displays great leg strength. Crosby is not a product of the high altitude in Colorado. He can connect on long field goals under any conditions. Crosby could be a second-round pick.

    Checking In On The South
    Jordan Palmer, Kevin Kolb and Chris Leak have performed OK. Leak's lack of height was evident in some drills and could push him late into the second day. Palmer and Kolb have thrown the ball pretty well. Palmer has displayed the best velocity of the bunch.

    LSU's Dwayne Bowe has been one of the best players in Mobile. He is smooth and explodes out of his breaks. Bowe displays great body positioning. He is the most polished of all the wide receivers.

    WR Aundrae Allison from East Carolina catches the ball well. He runs good routes and altered his speeds.

    Texas offensive lineman Justin Blalock does a good job exploding into the defensive tackle and gets some movement. He has done a good job in one-on-one pass drills and in run blocking.

    Auburn guard Ben Grubbs is a stud. He pushed around Miami DT Kareem Brown. Grubbs is physically and athletically impressive. He should be a late first or early second round pick.

    USC center Ryan Kalil showed he can be a strong anchor. He did a good job in one-on-one drills.

    Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh shows good natural athletic ability. He can handle the quick outside pass rushers. Ugoh has outstanding upside. His best football is ahead of him.

    Joe Staley, an offensive tackle from Central Michigan, needs another solid year in the weight room to improve his overall strength quotient. However, his good feet, balance and athletic ability are evident.

    Georgia DE Quentin Moses shows some outside pass rush ability. However, offensive linemen have had success against him when they get their hands on him.

    Texas DE Tim Crowder flashes a dominant pass rush ability, but other times is neutralized. Crowder needs to show more consistency.

    Oklahoma State DT Ryan McBean shows good quickness and technique.

    Texas cornerback Aaron Ross lacks a little recovery speed, but shows good coverage technique and smooth hips. Ross also displays good feet, toughness, instincts and ball skills. As for his football mentality, Ross is a safety playing corner. His status as a first-round pick is secure.

    Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda punts the ball with great hang time and distance.

    Players Who Have Shined
    DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville
    DE Adam Carriker, Nebraska
    WR Dwayne Bowe, LSU
    G Ben Grubbs, Auburn

    Players Who Need To Step It Up
    C Doug Datish, Ohio State
    OT Ryan Harris, Notre Dame
    WR Jason Hill, Washington State
    CB Marcus McCauley, Fresno State
    WR Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame
    C Dan Mozes, West Virginia
    S Aaron Rouse, Virginia Tech
    DT Tank Tyler, NC State

    Click here to send a question to Mel Kiper for possible use on ESPNEWS.

  4. AmishCowboy

    AmishCowboy if you ain't first, you're last

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    I'm starting to like what i hear about Grubbs.
  5. Cliff

    Cliff Benched

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    Bowe drops LOTS of balls.... LOTS....
  6. tomson75

    tomson75 Brain Dead Shill

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    No joke. Did you see that drop in practice yesterday? Beat his man by ten yards, Kolb drops it in his breadbasket....oops.

    Instantly reminded me of the redskins game.

    No thanks.

    Thanks for the report though WG!

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