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North/South Notes today (long)

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by Nors, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. Nors

    Nors Benched

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    South practice; Tuesday afternoon…
    By Colin Lindsay, GBN Editor and Publisher

    Finally felt just a tad overdressed as the sun came out once in a while, the winds died away and the temperatures finally got above whatever is freezing down in this part of the world. (Still, there hasn’t been a hint of a snowflake since we got here!). Whether it was the fact that the wind was down, the South QBs threw the ball much better this afternoon. In fact, Andre’ Woodson appears to have separated himself from at least the other South passers; Woodson has a very compact, economical release, however, he still appears to be more of a touch passer than a cannon and in fact, really doesn’t put all that much mustard on his passes. Perhaps as a result, he seems to have an inordinate number of passes that are just a tad behind the intended receiver. Meanwhile, Hawaii QB Col Brennan gets plenty of zip on his passes but has a really unorthodox delivery. Indeed, whereas most passers start their release from a cocked position somewhere behind their ear, Brennan literally shoots from the hip with his release starting down around his waist. As such when his mechanics are on Brennan throws darts, but when they are off the ball sails.

    Florida WR Andre Caldwell stills appears to be the top receiver on the South team but Donnie Avery may be giving him a run for his money. Avery hauled in one deep pattern that would have gone for a long TD and then made a couple of catches in traffic in 11-on-11 play. Avery though did muff a hand-off on a reverse failing to hook with Tennesse QB Erik Ainge. On the other hand, Louisville WR Harry Douglas continued to struggle to get open and again dropped too many passes. Texas WR Limas Sweed also dropped a couple of passes however the big former Longhorn at least has an excuse. Sweed just had the cast removed from his wrist last week after undergoing surgery to repair several partially torn ligaments earlier this season. in his left wrist. In fact, doctors reportedly told Sweed not to play in the Senior Bowl, however, he decided to participate even though he hasn‘t taken part in live drills for weeks and still doesn't have full range of motion and is wearing a brace.

    For the most part Tuesday afternoon we concentrated on the offensive and defensive lines. And for the most part, especially in the live 11-on-11 scrimmage, the defensive front dominated their offensive counterparts. With the full offense running a handful of plays against the full defense, DEs Jeremy Thompson of Wake Forest and Darrell Robertson of Georgia Tech and Maryland DT Dre Moore had the equivalent of sacks, while Kentucky OLB Wesley Woodyard did a nice job stretching out a wide running play for little or no gain. In fact, Tech’s Robertson has quietly emerged as one of the South’s better defenders. Robertson is a rangy defender with a quick first step and a nice swim move who was also given a few reps at OLB this afternoon. Wake’s Thompson also has made his share of plays, however, if he doesn’t beat his man with his first move will often not get off the line of scrimmage at all. On the other hand, Alabama DE Wallace Gilberry didn’t show much in the way of explosion or upper body strength and often got little penetration, although he was able to run around Newberry OT Heath Benedict with relative ease on one rush. Benedict, though, had more success against Hampton DE Kendall Langford in a dual of smaller-school stars, when he was able to muscle the former Pirate to the ground. At the same time, though, pro scouts had to be a little disappointed with what they saw from Texas A&M DT Red Bryant. Bryant worked hard, but for the most part, was a straight ahead bull-rusher who tended to get too high too early and really struggled to make a whole lot of consistent penetration up field. Same for Maryland’s Moore who is big, but doesn’t show much quickness or lateral agility.

    As noted it was a very inconsistent afternoon for the South offensive lineman. The main problem seems to be that while the O-line has plenty of size there isn’t a lot of foot speed or quickness out there. One clue about the line‘s troubles is that even with better known prospects on the roster like Vanderbilt’s Chris Williams, Barry Richardson of Clemson and the afore-mentioned Benedict, the nominal first-tem LT for the South appears to be little-known Oneil Cousins of UTEP. And Cousins, a one-time defensive lineman, did show some of the best foot quickness among the South’s offensive linemen; he also has long arms but doesn’t always get the necessary extension to cut-off a quick outside pass rush and needs to work on his change of direction skills. Meanwhile, Vandy’s Williams had an up-and-down day winning some battles, but losing a few too many others, again especially when trying to stay to the outside with a quick edge rush. Clemson’ Richardson on the other hand really struggled. No question, the 331-pounder is huge with a massive lower body, but he really couldn’t move his feet and may have to find a home at OG or C to play at the next level. Texas A&M C Cody Wallace also continued to be badly overmatched as he was seldom able to hold the point of attack against bull rushers or stay with even rudimentary moves. In fact, a case could be made that Wake Forest C Steve Justice was the South’s most consistent lineman at least this afternoon. While not as big as most of his linemates, the 290-pound Justice consistently got good position and leverage and was able to stay between his man and the ball without conceding much penetration. Pitt C/G Mike McGlynn also had a decent afternoon; McGlynn wasn’t all that artistic but he’s a battler with good technique.

    This and that… The ’mismatch’ of the day had to go to the aptly named Kentucky RB Rafael Little when the 194-pounder, who somehow ended up as the wedge-buster on the KO team, collided with 321-pound OT Heath Benedict who was anchoring the wedge. It was a lumpy day all-around for Little, who actually has shown some explosive quickness in Mobile, as he got pasted by South Florida LB Ben Moffitt in a pass-rush drill… After being scolded several times by 49ers’ coaches during Monday’s initial workout, Georgia Tech MLB Phillip Wheeler was around the ball all afternoon and showed some emotional leadership while he was at it… The play of the day though came from Tennessee State DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who made an acrobatic, leaping interception… Mississippi State DE/LB Titus Brown has worked at both positions this week and looks far more comfortable coming off the edge than he does playing in reverse… North DT Kentwan Balmer of North Carolina, who had a strong practice on Monday, strained a hamstring and will not participate the remainder of the week. Balmer will be replaced by Iowa State DT Ahtyba Rubin, who played well at last week's Shrine Game… The early reports on UNLV LB Beau Bell, who went down in a heap with a knee injury in the morning practice, may be positive; a final diagnosis won’t be known until Bell gets the results of the MRI he underwent this afternoon, but the early indications are that it is only a sprain, although like Balmer he won’t play again this week.

    North practice; Tuesday morning…
    By Colin Lindsay, GBN Editor and Publisher

    Former Southern Cal assistant Lane Kiffin, now the head man at Oakland, put the North Senior Bowl team, including 9 other former Trojans through a brisk workout this morning. The offense was pretty conservative today without too many throws downfield, but the early returns suggest the North QBs - Chad Henne of Mchigan, USC’s John David Booty and Joe Flacco of Delaware - may have a slight edge over their South counterparts. Like the three South QBs, the North QBs struggle with accuracy issues, but generally showed stronger arms. Flacco, who replaced Boston College’s Matt Ryan on the North team may have the most upside of any of this year’s Senior Bowl passers. Flacco is a big guy with a very strong arm who can make all the throws. Flacco also has surprising mobility for a 6-5, 230-plus pounder. This morning, for example, he pulled the ball down and was 15-20 yards up field before he was ‘touched’ down.

    Arguably the most talented group in Mobile this year may be the North LB corps which include first round prospects Keith Rivers of USC, Dan Connor of Penn State, and Xavier of Virginia Tech, along with Shawn Crable of Michigan, Jordon Dizon of Colorado, Beau Bell of UNLV and converted UCLA DE Bruce Davis. Indeed, one can just see the competitive juices flowing even when the players are going through simple positional drills. There are also some interesting differences in the players’ respective skill sets. Rivers, for example, is a rangy type who runs very well and is very smooth changing directions. Same story for Connor who has great feet, although he actually looks a little on the small side; indeed, Connor, who isn’t particularly thick through the lower body, almost looks more like a big safety than a LB. In a pass-rush drill Connor just danced around a couple of would-be blockers including West Virginia FB Owen Schmitt who is still trying to figure out which direction he went. Same for Va Tech’s Adibi who was just too quick for the North backs to block. Dizon is also a tad on the small side, but is thicker through his lower body; Dizon also runs and turns extremely well. On the other hand, neither Bell nor Crable is particularly smooth in transition. Bell, though, was very physical and aggressive in pursuit. Same for Crable, although he did badly overrun one play in the 11-on-11 work, and looked stiff at times in space. Unfortunately, though, Bell went down with an apparent knee injury late in the practice and while he was able to walk off the field on his own, the training staff was obviously concerned.

    Meanwhile, Southern Cal DT Sedrick Ellis continued to give the North offensive line fits. Ellis isn’t particularly tall, but he just explodes off the snap, keeps his pads low, his feet moving and goes hard to the whistle. Same story for Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws who is built along the same lines as Ellis and goes as hard, but isn’t as quick or explosive. On the other hand, NC State DT Demario Pressley struggled to make much headway in one-on-one drills with the offensive line. Several of the North DEs also struggled in the pass-rush drill. USC DE Lawrence Jackson, for example, appeared to get a good jump off the snap but was seldom able to turn the corner. Same for Eastern Michigan DE Jason Jones, who certainly looks the part and appears to have a decent first-step, but needs work on his secondary moves; Jones may also need to work on his upper body strength. In contrast, Chris Ellis of Virginia Tech, another rangy DE with a solid lower body who looks good in pads, showed good explosion off the snap and used his arms well to disengage. At the same time, Cliff Avril of Purdue was able to run around his man on a couple of plays, but wasn’t able to make penetration if he didn’t beat his man on his first step.

    USC OT Sam Baker may be the biggest name. but Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus was the most dominating North OT this morning. Cherilus moves his feet well, sets up efficiently and simply engulfed pass rushers with his upper body strength. Cherilus, though, still needs to concentrate on keeping his pads low. Baker also had his moments shutting down several outside pass rushers. Baker, though, also shut down his feet a couple of times and was run around. In fact, Baker’s teammate OG Drew Radovich had the more consistent morning; Radovich did a nice job locking onto opposing pass rushers and keeping his feet alive. It was a solid morning all around for the North offensive line as OTs Kirk Barton of Ohio State and Nebraska’s Carl Nicks were physically dominating, although neither appeared to be overly quick or athletic. OGs Roy Schuening of Oregon State and Chad Rinehart of Northern Iowa were also solid as was Arizona State C Mike Pollak.

    Today’s North practice didn’t really emphasize the pass, but receivers Adarius Bowman of Oklahoma State and Jordy Nelson of Kansas State had bounce back performances of sort this morning although neither caught anything downfield. The most dangerous North eceiver though was Eddie Royal of Virginia Tech who left both CBs Terrell Thomas of USC and Boston College’s DeJuan Tribble in his wake on successive go-routes. Thomas in fact appeared to be chasing the ball most of the morning as did Terrence Wheatley of Colorado. Indiana C Tracy Porter, on the other hand, may have been the top defensive player of the day, Porter had an interception in a 7-on-7 drill and otherwise was pretty tight in coverage and then made a great read to stuff a screen pass. Chris Godfey of Iowa also very physical in coverage. Safety Thomas DeCoud of California also had a solid workout.
  2. J-DOG

    J-DOG Active Member

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    I've watched the last 2 days on the NFL network and I have to say that if the North does not win this game...I will be shocked.
    I just do not see much talent on the South squad.
    If you are saying that a University of Florida wr is the best wr you have??? Not good.
    I do like the Troy cb, the Auburn Cb and Cromartie from Tennesse State.
    Highsmith the LB from LSU is ok but does not stand out to me.
    On the north however...I like most of thier qb's. The Delaware kid seems to have the best mechanics to me. Booty and Henne have made some nice throws also.
    The DT from USC (Sedrick Ellis) looks like the best player in this game. No one can block that guy. He is big,powerful and has really good quickness. I saw him just blow by a guard like he wasn't even there. That guard was abused on that play.
    The Eastern Mich DE Jason Jones looks like he could play either DE in a standard defense or OLB in a 3-4. The guys on NFL network were saying that the coaches were using him in some drills for OLB's.
    That qb from Hawaii...would not even have him on the board. He weighed in at 185lbs and he can not make the deep out throw and his mechanics need to be overhauled as far as his footwork goes. He played in the shot-gun so long he was having trouble with his drops in practice.
    The south qb's are below average in my opinion. Woodson being the best but he does not look as good as the North top 3 qb's.

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