Authored by Jeff Risdon - 25th January, 2010 - 6:38 pm
Monday featured a divided practice, with the North squad practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and the South at Fairhope Stadium. I avoided the Tim Tebow throngs and went to the North team practice.
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Because it?s the first day and the coaching is all new to these players, it?s important to try and keep perspective on the initial performances. Still, every player here is acutely aware that everyone who is anyone in the NFL has got them under the microscope.
Dan Lefevour, Central Michigan--easily the most accurate of the three, showed good ball placement on out routes and displayed good feet and a quicker release than he had at CMU. His fastball lacks zip though, and when he did unload a legit missile he overthrew Garrett Graham by at least 10 yards.
Tony Pike, Cincinnati--very high release point and his throws were consistently high too. Best arm of the three, and he too has quickened his release. Long strides into his throws.
Sean Canfield, Oregon State--lefty had a very bad first day; protracted release that is almost painfully slow, and his throws were consistently late and low. Arm strength wasn?t as good as Lefevour?s either.
The clear stud of the group today was Legarrette Blount of Oregon, who showed great burst and surprisingly quick feet. He will not be arm tackled. Also made a nice pluck of a throw at his ankles. He runs very upright but he flips his shoulders very instinctively to avoid the big hit, a la Adrian Peterson.
Joique Bell of Wayne State lacks quick acceleration but he?s got great vision and a low center of gravity. He seemed stiff and unsure in route running.
Chris Brown of Oklahoma struggled with the footwork drills, twice knocking over cones that nobody else touched. He did look very good running routes and catching the ball with his hands, however.
Cincinnati?s Mardy Gilyard had a so-so day. He failed to reach down for a bad Canfield throw, and he dropped a perfect throw on the sidelines when it appeared he looked down to see his feet. He also made some real nice hand snatches in a gauntlet drill and he?s very quick and controlled coming out of his cuts. In 11-on-11 drills he made a great edge block on Devin McCourty, turned him 90 degrees and drove him 5 yards inside.
Danario Alexander of Missouri towers over the other receivers and plays very upright. Despite that, he failed on a couple of chances to climb the ladder to make a catch on high Pike throws.
Clemson?s Jacoby Ford showed great explosion off the line and good feet on the sidelines. He consistently snared the ball with his hands and quickly tucked it away.
Taylor Price of Ohio University (my alma mater!) earned a lot of ?that guy is real smooth? comments from scouts. The ball got into his pads a little too much but he came out of breaks with much better feet and body control than he had at OU. Moving up.
A very troubling sight happened right in front of me. While working on a pass rush drill, Wisconsin?s O?Brien Schofield shrieked and crumpled to the ground clutching his left knee in obvious pain. It?s very sad because on the prior snap he got behind UMass? Vlad Ducasse before the big man even got out of his stance, and Ducasse was holding him and twisting him when he fell.
Ducasse did not look good. Moreso, he looked like it was his first time running with the big dogs and will clearly need some time adjusting to the speed of the game. Penn State?s Jared Odrick got an easy one on him inside too, which led to a profane-laced ?coaching? moment for Ducasse.
Michigan?s Brandon Graham was unstoppable on the edge. He beat Virginia Tech?s Sergio Render with a quick shoulder dip, then bull-rushed a blocker (sorry, I forget which one) with tremendous burst and pad level.
Just in general the DL was way ahead of the OL across the board, with one notable exception. Idaho G Mike Iupati was drawing all sorts of smiles and ?wows? with his explosion off the snap and his ability to get his hands inside with great power. In one 11-on-11 drill he fired out, knocked Louisiana Tech?s D?Anthony Smith (who otherwise had a good day) backwards, then cleaned up the edge that Utah?s Zane Beadles (badly overmatched all day) failed to secure, turning the defender inside and driving him into a LB. One AFC OL coach yelled to his OC a few yards away, ?Get me that guy now!? to great laughter.
I didn?t see much of the DBs or LBs as they were on the shadier side of the stadium. Hey, I?m here from Michigan where it?s snowing, and the weather in Mobile was a wonderful 64 and sunny--and you?d better believe I?m soaking in the rays! Now about the smurf blue Dodge Caliber rental car that I got saddled with...