Wednesday, January 26, 2005 By Todd McShay Scouts Inc. MOBILE, Ala. -- Here's the buzz from Wednesday's Senior Bowl practices: South practice The one real drawback of postseason all-star games is the potential for injuries. Unfortunately it happens, however, and the South squad is dealing with a number of them. In some cases the injury doesn't really impact the player's stock. While Auburn DC Carlos Rogers could have returned from a hamstring injury he suffered during individual drills in Tuesday's practice, several scouts let him know he had already shown them enough to give him a first round evaluation. Consequently, Rogers will spend the remainder of the week on the sidelines. In other cases, the injury doesn't cause the players' stock to drop but it robs him of an opportunity to showcase his talents to potential future employers in attendance. UAB wide receiver Roddy White, who will miss the rest of the week with a groin injury, is a good example. Although White showed impressive speed before the injury, there are questions about his route-running ability. He didn't get enough time on the field to answer them. White has already packed up his things and returned to Arizona, where he is training for the upcoming NFL scouting combine in February and pro timing day in March. Virginia Tech DC Eric Green finds himself in a similar position after injuring his hamstring. He's sidelined for the remainder of the week, too. The player whose injury could affect his draft-value the most, however, is Alabama OT Wesley Britt. After suffering a hairline fracture in one of his legs during Wednesday's morning practice, Britt now has the difficult tack of getting healthy in time for the combine. In addition, doctors had to insert a permanent rod and two screws into his tibia after he broke his leg in late October 2003. There will obviously be questions about his durability. Tennessee OLB Kevin Burnett's last-minute decision not to play in the Senior Bowl showed a lack of responsibility and agitated several scouts. Burnett is known as a high-class, hard-working player and person, which is why his decision left a lot of NFL personnel officials scratching their heads. The fact that Burnett has excellent range and athletic ability makes his decision that much more perplexing. Senior Bowl practices include a lot of cover drills where he could have shined and improved his draft stock. West Virginia RB Kay-Jay Harris continues to impress. Harris has consistently run hard and has been aggressive when asked to block. He has also caught the ball and showed more versatility than several scouts expected to see out of him. However, Harris still needs to work on his vision and patience. With several teams mixing up 4-3 fronts and 3-4 fronts during games, the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position is en vogue in the NFL right now. As a result, Troy State DE Demarcus Ware's strong play hasn't gone unnoticed. Ware has the skills set to eventually excel in this role, as he has an explosive first step and shows great closing speed to the quarterback. He has also surprised several scouts with how well he has looked in coverage. This week's showing has helped Ware considerably and should have solidified him a spot on Day 1. Alabama's Cornelius Wortham is another South linebacker that is having a strong week of practice. Wortham slipped off the radar screen around the league after he dislocated his elbow in a practice before the start of the 2003 season and he didn't play a snap that year. However, a strong senior season and a strong week thus far has drawn the attention of several scouts. Wortham has shown better-than-expected athletic ability, has been physical at the point of attack and is a reliable open field tackler who takes good angles to the ball. In fact, he has played so well that it wouldn't be all that surprising if a team selected him in the third or fourth round of the draft. Georgia Tech FS James Butler needs to finish the week strong after getting off to a disappointing start. Butler simply hasn't played well. He hasn't been physical, taken good angles to the ball or tackled well. His intangibles are also a concern, as he doesn't appear to give the same effort on every play and hasn't shown much intensity during practices. Nehemiah Broughton rushed for 788 yards on 129 carries as The Citadel's primary ball carrier this past season, but if he wants to make it in the NFL he'll need to do so as a versatile fullback. The small school prospect has excellent size (5-11, 252 pounds) and has done a good job as a blocker this week -- both as a downfield run blocker and in pass protection. He has room to improve his technique but has the tools to excel in that area in the NFL. Broughton also has shown reliable hands as a receiver and a good combination of power and burst when carrying the ball out of the one-back set, which is a role he could play on a situational basis in the NFL. All in all, Broughton has made a smooth transition and has proven capable of playing the FB position in the NFL, which is why he may have earned a late-round draft pick this week. North practice The North team's Wednesday practice can best be described as shoddy. Offsides penalties killed the tempo of "inside-run" drills. The overall pace of the practice was choppy and it seemed that many of the players were going through the motions. Finally, several botched center-quarterback exchanges marred the "team" session at the end of the practice. Part of the problem may have been OC David Baas, who has limited experience after being moved from guard to center a few games into his senior season at Michigan. However, the majority of the mishaps occurred with Purdue's Kyle Orton at the helm, which indicates that he is the stem. Orton spent a good majority of his time at Purdue working out of the shotgun and might be struggling with the adjustment. Many quarterbacks playing in a shotgun offense in college have trouble when asked to go to a more traditional role under center. The exchange can usually be fixed, but a lot of quarterbacks have trouble getting used to reading defenses during their drops because they are so accustomed to getting the ball at their drop-point out of the shotgun formation. Tim Couch had loads of trouble making the transition when he was in Cleveland and Byron Leftwich (Jaguars) is still having trouble with it right now. Akron QB Charlie Frye has improved as the week has progressed. He still isn't showing great zip on the ball, but he seems to be stepping into his throws better and also is doing a more consistent job of following through. Frye appears to be gaining confidence as he has become more comfortable with his receivers and the offensive scheme. He continues to show good foot quickness and athleticism within the pocket. Frye also has emerged as the leader of the North team, which isn't surprising considering his intangibles and leadership skills. Connecticut's Dan Orlovsky, on the other hand, continues to struggle. He has made some nice throws and clearly is a "gamer" type that plays better in 11-on-11 situations than he does in individual and "skeleton" drills. However, he has the worst arm strength of the three North quarterbacks and has been the most erratic. Orlovsky's elongated delivery is also a concern when projecting his potential to get rid of the football on time in the NFL. We've always thought that Orlovsky was an overrated quarterback heading into the season but his stock has gone down even more this week. It wouldn't be surprising if Orlovsky slipped out of the first day of the upcoming draft. After dropping a few passes early in the week, Indiana WR Courtney Roby has been one of the standouts on the North team. Roby has settled in and is playing with confidence. It is obvious that he now knows he belongs here. The 6-0, 184-pound receiver has shown good vertical speed, body control and toughness throughout individual, group and team drills the last two days. He also has been catching the ball extremely well and proved that he's not afraid to go over the middle with two catches in traffic during Wednesday afternoon's session. Oklahoma State punter/kicker Cole Farden has done nothing to convince NFL officials in attendance that he's worth spending a draft pick on. Farden's lack of leg strength on kickoffs has been glaring, as he gets very minimal height and could only get several of his attempts between the 15-and-20 yard lines. Farden had a couple stronger punt attempts in Wednesday's practice, but overall his hang-time and distance have been poor. Stanford TE Alex Smith isn't having a spectacular week, but he's quietly going about his business and proving to a good enough all-around player to potentially earn a starting NFL job in the future. Smith doesn't have great speed or explosive qualities, which is why he often goes unnoticed. He's never going to be the vertical threat that elite tight ends Antonio Gates (Chargers) or Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs) are but, he is a complete player that could potentially provide an upgrade for several NFL teams at the position. Smith has adequate size and is an efficient blocker. He is a smooth athlete that does a good job of separating from man-coverage and finds a lot of soft spots versus zone-coverage. Smith also has outstanding hands and is an extremely reliable target in the middle of the field. In our opinion, Smith doesn't have enough special qualities to spend a first round pick on him, but he's definitely a good value if taken in the second round. UCLA FB/RB Manuel White is trying to prove versatile enough as a runner, receiver and blocker to make an impact as a fullback at the next level. He has shown the vision, burst and power to handle short-yardage carries and also looks very natural catching the football. However, if White doesn't improve as a blocker, he's not going to last long in the NFL. White has the size but his technique and power must improve. After watching San Diego State LB Kirk Morrison absolutely flatten him on what was supposed to be a perimeter isolation block, there are a lot of questions about White's strength and toughness. Colorado State TE Joel Dreessen reminds us a lot of Dallas Clark (Colts). Dreessen doesn't have quite as much speed as Clark, but both are undersized H-back types with adequate blocking skills in space, good body control and athleticism and extremely reliable hands as a receiver. Dreessen likely will never be more than a pass-catching No. 2 tight end in the NFL, but he's worth an early Day 2 draft pick because of his potential to make plays as a short-to-intermediate receiver in two-tight end sets. Dreessen also showed a lot of toughness when he held onto the football while getting laid-out by UNLV DS Jamaal Brimmer on a vertical seam route in today's practice. Judging by that play and the film we've seen of him, he has the mentality to also contribute on special teams n the NFL.