It was a cold day in Mobile, though the conditions were actually nicer than Tuesday as there was almost no wind. The sun shone brightly over Ladd Peebles Stadium, and it shined on several players as well.
Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas once again stands head and shoulders above his North peers at quarterback. His mechanics, notably his footwork on drops and consistent release point, are demonstrably more polished than either Miami’s Stephen Morris or Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. From the sounds of things around Mobile, more folks are coming around to my long-held belief that Boyd is not a viable NFL prospect.
Ohio State tackle Jack Mewhort has progressed throughout the week, and he had his best day on Wednesday. He nicely squared his shoulders and showed strong hand placement. His leg drive while engaged in run blocking stood out on a couple of reps. Mewhort’s best ability is to steer edge rushers wide around the pocket, giving his quarterback room to step up. The Browns met with him after practice.
Marshall tight end Gator Hoskins stood out for his hands in drills. While he’s smallish, he somewhat makes up for it with strangely long arms for his height. Hoskins is also adept at presenting himself as a target, and he has the quickest feet of any TE here.
Stanford DE Trent Murphy is a player I’ve vacillated about over the past few months. At times I’ve liked his handiwork, but other times I saw a limited athlete in need of a lot of technical refinement. Today Murphy impressed me with his relentless attacking in reps. The coaches worked with him about getting closer to the blocker before deploying his swim move. His quick feet and field awareness are advanced.
Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler has played well all week, and he continued that on Wednesday at South practice. His movement and anticipation in coverage almost make it seem as if he could play corner. He broke up the very first passing rep of the day, undercutting a route and nearly picking off Jimmy Garoppolo, who never saw him. The Ravens quickly corralled him after practice. Consider his star rising.
Oregon wideout Josh Huff stood out in North practice. His quickness and body control while running routes is impressive. Huff also demonstrated the ability to catch the ball away from his body and quickly transition from receiver to runner. Despite being from Houston, he appeared to really enjoy the cold.
North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner has struggled the first couple of days, but he was better on Wednesday. He has been angling to move inside to guard, and he thrived in that role today. On one rep in team session he destroyed Cal DT Deandre Coleman with good leg drive.
Georgia Tech DB Jemea Thomas continues his impressive stretch of play. I liked him a lot last week at the Shrine Game, and was happy to see him get promoted to the Senior Bowl. Today he made a nice read on an outside run, undercut the tight end block and blew up the play. He’s lined up in the slot and at safety, where he’s most at home. Though he lacks size, he has proven he can handle a role similar to what Don Carey fills in Detroit, the fourth corner and third safety. That’s worth a fifth round pick, which is higher than his projections two weeks ago.
Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore is another Shrine Gamer who was promoted. He was added as an injury replacement for Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen, and he quickly outshined Georgia’s Arthur Lynch in drills. Gillmore is somewhat of a plodder, but he is quicker to get his head and hips around as a receiver and attacks the ball in the air better than either Lynch or Jensen.
Florida State linebacker Christian Jones can be great when he keeps his feet clean. He moves so well in agility and positional drills, and when the big guys in front hold off the blockers he’s fantastic at swooping in and stuffing the run. He flashed his cover skills today in quickly closing on the ball and making the stop immediately on a dump off. Jones also stripped Arthur Lynch after a catch on another rep.
Two players who did not impress on Wednesday were Minnesota DT RaShede Hageman and Baylor G Cyril Richardson. Both have outstanding physical potential but did not play to it. Hageman flashes brilliance at times but is too often complacent and clueless how to shed blocks. His length gets in his way at times.
Richardson’s problem is his narrow base. He’s a massive man with great strength, but he takes away from it but setting his feet too tight and not firing out his arms with good shoulder spread. This issue shows up on game film as well. The more I watch, the less I like.
--Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was quietly in Mobile on Tuesday night. I was unable to ascertain who he was talking with, but I got independent corroboration that he was in town.
--Louisiana Tech DE IK Enemkpali was added to the South roster to replace Ed Stinson. He did little to stand out on his first day.
--Also joining the south was Boston College offensive tackle Matt Patchan. He had some odd official measurements, standing 6’6” but with just 31 7/8” arms and 9.25 inch hands.
--Utah CB Keith McGill left the practice after injuring his lower body in some capacity. On the play it happened he took a poor angle on a quick pass in front of him and walked off very slowly. He wasn’t limping but was unable to walk with much stride, leading me to believe it might be a groin issue. McGill is giant for a corner at 6’3”, and he has impressed throughout the week. His biggest issue is that he will be 25 in March.
--At least half of the NFL personnel in attendance on Wed. morning were gone by the afternoon session. That’s fairly typical. One notable lingerer is Packers GM Ted Thompson, who last week was the only GM to last all week in St. Pete.
--After three days of action and talking with all sorts of people, I believe the first Senior Bowler drafted will be either BYU LB Kyle Van Noy or Notre Dame OL Zack Martin. I rate Van Noy higher. Both look to be taken in the 10-20 overall range.