Authored by Jeff Risdon - 25th January, 2011 - 2:17 pm
Starting fresh on Tuesday, here are the notes from the North's practice.
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Star of the morning: Cameron Jordan.
He not only won every individual battle I watched, he dominated them. Great leverage, quick feet, gets his shoulders thru the gap and explodes out. There was a drill where he lined up right over the tackle the way a 3-4 end would, and he showed the ability to go inside or outside. He knows he?s unstoppable here, similar to the way BJ Raji was a couple years ago when he almost seemed bored at the inferior competition.
Spent some time watching the DBs in drills. Thoughts:
Best corner was Rashad Carmichael of Virginia Tech. Not very big but he extends his arms on the jam well, stronger than he looks. Low, controlled backpedal and he flips out of it at good speed and balanced. Was able to turn and run with any receiver. Showed natural hands. Thrived on inside technique, he?s clearly played it before and has been well-coached. Reminds me of Kyle Wilson last year but a little more fluid athletically, not as physical in run support though at VT. He?s not bad at that, just not great.
Eric Hagg (Nebraska) struggled. Very upright when he runs, reaches out early with his hands, got his hips too far open when trying to turn and run. The coaches were working on an inside technique drill and his man (Titus Young and Dwayne Harris) easily got inside him.
Joe Lefeged (Rutgers) is a guy I really want to like but he didn?t have a good morning. Slow to see the routes and he?s not a dynamic athlete when he reacts. Steps way in the bucket when changing direction. Got flattened by Lance Kendricks when trying to chase down an outside run in 11-on-11 drill. Just not quick enough either athletically or in making decisions, not today anyways. I?ve seen him play much better in some games.
DaNorris Searcy (UNC) impressed me, relatively speaking. Thickly built, showed good strength and field awareness. Not real fast to turn and run but closed on the ball well. Displayed very good hands, made a couple of athletic catches. Read the receiver well to find the ball and pick up the route. My expectations weren?t high and he greatly exceeded them.
Quinton Carter (Oklahoma) has the worst hands of any DB I?ve ever seen in any postseason games or the Combine. He can?t catch a thing. He did show nice range and closing speed on the ball, he just can?t catch it. He?s not as big in person than he appeared on game tape, though he shows good tackling form and some pop with his hits.
Jalil Brown is ?the other Colorado corner? after Jimmy Smith. Another guy too upright in his backpedal, but he breaks with power and hits top speed quickly. Uses his size nicely in the inside technique drill but got caught leaning by Niles Paul, who ripped inside his overextended shoulder and blew past.
Quick thoughts on the wideouts:
Titus Young (Boise State) is the best of the lot. Very vocal, grunts all the time like a women?s tennis player. Real slippery with great feet. He owned the sidelines, gets outside real quick and quickly corrals the ball. Showed strong hands, snatched the ball from the air. Made a great toe-tap catch on a strong throw from Ricky Stanzi under tight coverage from Jalil Brown.
The other Boise State wideout, Austin Pettis, is almost scary raw. Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard had to coach him up on rudimentary things after almost every play. Wild with his feet, taking extra steps to make a cut, no route discipline or consistency. Had one play where he made a nice catch over his head but Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett quickly dislodged the ball because Pettis never tucked the ball away, left it out dangling. Much more of a project than I expected, but he does have intriguing size and can flat-out fly. To his credit, he processed the coaching quickly and made adjustments.
SDSU?s Vincent Brown has great hands and really goes out and attacks the ball. He takes an extra hop step off the line that needs to go, though.
Dwayne Harris (East Carolina) is very explosive in space, but he doesn?t cut with sharpness and was easily steered when pressed. Carmichael pushed him 3 yards out of bounds before they were two yards from the line on one rep. Made a couple of tough low catches on inaccurate throws from Jake Locker, of which there are seemingly no other kind.
Dane Sanzebacher looked like he was in over his head. Just not a dynamic enough athlete and he?s not physical. Failed to locate the ball on a play in 11s that got picked.
I watched a couple of drills up close. Overall impression: this is not an impressive lot.
Mark Herzlich (BC) had a poor morning. In a screen drill where they had to break outside and tackle a fellow LB playing the role of runner, he overran the outside twice. Consistently arm tackled and left his feet to make the tackle.
Casey Matthews (Oregon) is real upright even though he?s not real big. Doesn?t have the burst to quickly close on the ball. Also got sucked in on play action every single time in 11s. Couldn?t stop Ross Homan (Ohio State LB) from getting around the corner in the screen drill. Homan did little to stand out either.
Greg Jones (Michigan State) is the biggest hitter. Good tackling technique, keeps balanced and drives thru the man. He?s added about 10 pounds since I last saw him in September and wears it well. Flows to the ball well and made a huge hit in 11s that drew oohs. Best candidate here to be a 3-4 ILB even though he?s short?and he?s real short at under 6?.
Mason Foster (Washington) has the quickest closing burst and does so under control. Also looked the most comfortable in space, though he let his feet early on a couple of tackles that a better runner than an opposing LB would eat alive. Lawrence Wilson (UConn) is probably better in coverage and has the makings of a good nickel-package LB. He?s real light though and got pushed around in 11s.
Watched the pass rush drill next. Aside from the top stuff on Jordan, here?s what I saw:
Christian Ballard (Iowa) showed great quickness and the ability to get into the blockers before they can extend their arms. Dominated Kevin Kowalski (Toledo center who did not look like he belonged), and made a nice inside-out move on Stephen Schilling (Michigan), though he ran right past the QB on the play.
Just in general, all the offensive linemen really struggled with the defenders going inside them. The B gap was exploited all drill against the tackles. Jordan and Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma) both had a couple of reps where they did a quick fake outside and got through the gap almost untouched. Beal embarrassed Nate Solder (Colorado) in that regard and looked quicker than I expected. The only DL that couldn?t win battles consistently was Pierre Allen (Nebraksa) who was easily stonewalled because he gets too upright and doesn?t have leg drive. Both James Brewer (Indiana) and Solder pushed him well beyond the QB and controlled him.
Slippery Rock center Brandon Fusco had a lot of trouble with inside power, and after a couple of reps where he got beat he bounced a shotgun snap. Not a good showing for a guy who is largely a blank slate to the coaches in attendance.
I know everyone wants to know about the QBs, but honestly I didn?t pay a whole lot of attention to them this morning. I saw Stanzi make a few nice throws with zip to the sideline. Locker threw the ball well over the middle but when the route is outside I don?t think even he knows where the ball is going to wind up. He overthrew one where Young was wide open on the sideline, so far overthrown that a Seahawks coach standing on the fencerow caught it. Kaepernick had one play where he didn?t read the coverage and threw the wrong route when the receiver clearly had the inside post wide open; Kaepernick threw the corner even though that?s where the safety help was, and it was obvious. His wind-up/release is longer than his peers here.