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Thursday Senior Bowl Notes (South)
Authored by Jeff Risdon - 29th January, 2010 - 11:52 am

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The teeming throngs were largely gone, though 400 or so fans still crowded the stands--most of them Alabama faithful. The weather turned a little cloudy and it was much breezier than the morning practice. I counted less than 10 NFL teams with more than one person still in attendance.

The Dolphins conduct their practice sessions in a much less scouting-friendly manner than other recent Senior Bowl staffs have done. There is very little inter-positional battling, as drills are divvied up almost exclusively to individual positional groups. They do run more 11-on-11 action than others have, and that is very fortunate for this unit, as many of the players appear to fare much better in game action than in drills.

OL

NC State?s Ted Larsen stood out in drills, showing good explosion and doing a good job staying in balance. During the 11-on-11 2-minute drill he consistently controlled his assignment and got outside nicely on a screen. He?s on the short side (6?2?) but he has an innate upward surge when he initiates contact, and he uses his stature to his advantage.

John Jerry from Ole Miss is one big hombre, especially thru the chest and shoulders. He throws one heck of a hand punch, and he surprised many by how well he kept his feet moving while engaged. When he lined up at tackle he didn?t look out of his element. Remember, this is a blocker that graded out higher than Michael Oher in 8 games back in 2008, and he showed a lot of that skill on Thursday. He flattened Georgia?s Geno Atkins when Atkins tried to bull rush him. He?s got some Flozell Adams to him.

Arkansas G Mitch Petrus has visibly shorter arms than his compatriots, and it really showed his limitations in drills. Defenders consistently got into his chest and dictated the action, and Petrus? habit of stopping his feet exacerbates the problem.

I had a nice debate with a talent evaluator regarding LSU?s Ciron Black. I see a muffin-topped waist-bender best suited (and well-suited) to play inside, but this person insisted he has the footwork and flexibility to play tackle. Black sort of validated both of our positions in the 11?s drills, where he fired off the snap nicely and created movement inside. He also moved his feet well to help USC center Jeff Byers on Terrence Cody, who outweighs Byers by almost 80 pounds. In positional drills he was scolded for keeping his hands too wide, but he moved better than I expected, though he did lunge out over his base a few times.

Byers continues to impress. He is very quick to call out the defense and his snap exchange is much smoother with the QBs than the other centers. He?s light (299) but does a good job extending his arms with power, and he is tenacious. His leadership is a plus.

Chris Scott from Tennessee is very big (6?5?, 346) but he plays too upright and methodical. His initial surge is hit-and-miss, and he received extra instruction on keeping his arms locked strong without making his whole body stiff. He is ostensibly a tackle but is probably better served moving to guard, though his lack of short-area quickness could limit that.

West Virginia tackle Selvish Capers is very agile but clearly lacks sand in the pants. He is very good at getting out on screens and finding targets in space, but he got walked backwards in pass protection more often than not by pretty much everyone he faced off against.

The defensive linemen ran some agility drills, including one where they ran a figure eight and then had to fire out and hit a dummy at the end.

Observations:

Auburn?s Antonio Coleman flew around the course, under control and able to quickly change direction and burst out of the turn. He backed that up in a drill where they were asked to drop in coverage; Coleman flipped his hips better than some safeties on his team and flashed some nice hands. He also quickly sniffed out a gadget play the offense had cooked up.

C.J. Wilson from East Carolina had good footwork and body control. He wasn?t as comfortable dropping in coverage, and he didn?t show much variety to his pass rush arsenal in 11?s drills. There was once instance where he was in good position to bat down a Tebow pass but he only got one hand up and just missed.

George Selvie continues to have a poor week. He runs very upright and shows little explosion out of his stance or off a lateral move. He is fast but straight-linish in his movement. Selvie was a non-factor in 11?s drills once again.

Terrence Cody once again dominated the middle. He is an immovable object, but Cody uses his hands well to create a little space to get penetration. He did that a couple of times on Thursday. Cody moved pretty well for a 370-pound behemoth, traversing the figure 8 faster than both Georgia linemen here.

One of those Georgia linemen, Geno Atkins, sure looks like a classic DT/DE tweener. He runs with heavy feet and is too far out over them, often needing to take an extra step to gather himself. But he?s undersized and not powerful enough to play inside.

The other Bulldog is Jeff Owens, who is one of those that fares much better in 11?s than in positional drills. He got off blocks nicely and flashed some ability to penetrate. In the agility drills he plodded and looked very uncomfortable in open space, which isn?t necessarily a bad thing for a one-technique DT.

Troy DE Brandon Lang had a good afternoon, looking spry and very controlled in his movement. He nicely diagnosed a draw play and closed inside quickly. Lang fared quite well when asked to drop into coverage, high-pointing a ball and making a nice catch with his hands.

Some other observations from the two-minute drill drill (yes, that?s intentionally redundant):
Tim Tebow is so much more comfortable commanding the 2-minute drill. He makes quick decisions and absolutely guns the ball. It?s as if being pressed for time triggers something in him that speeds up his release a bit and improves his accuracy. Tebow fired some real strikes to Joe Webb and Riley Cooper, and on one play he held safety Harry Coleman with his eyes just long enough to complete a slant a little deeper to Cooper, who has clearly seen this movie before.

Jarrett Brown did not do as well. He is very quick to pack it up and run, particularly if he feels any sort of outside rush. He tucked it down and ran on 3 of the first 4 snaps, and on one of those he missed Tulane?s Jeremy Williams completely alone on the right sideline about 25 yards downfield. Williams freed himself on the play with a nice change of speed that got Trevard Lindley?s feet out of kilter. On a play where he actually stood in the pocket he once again missed seeing a wide open receiver to his right (this time it was Anthony Dixon) and checked down to his tight end with a low throw.

The interior OL consistently allowed very little penetration between the tackles, particularly when Lamarr Houston was playing DT. Houston has no idea what to do with his hands despite having obvious strength and decent feet. Baylor C J.D. Walton completely turned Houston 90 degrees and allowed a huge running lane to Tebow.

South Florida CB Jerome Murphy got chewed out for giving up a completion to the outside.

I?ve been highly critical of Taylor Mays this week, but he made a play on Thursday that showed his potential. He saw Andre Roberts break inside as soon as the ball was snapped, and Mays flew into the backfield untouched, arriving squared up to Roberts less than a step after he was handed the ball. As I continue to say, he would be better served playing strongside LB than safety.

South Carolina LB Eric Norwood chucked USC TE Anthony McCoy well off his clearing route, which allowed Oklahoma State CB Perrish Cox to sprint outside and jump the throw, which he would have picked off had it not been so low. Cox has consistently demonstrated a great knack for jumping routes and closing on the ball. He reminds me of 80s Browns corner Frank Minnifield, though Cox has much better hands than I recall Minny ever having.

Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com