While the South squad spent their afternoon at Fairhope Stadium, the North squad graced the turf of Ladd Peebles Stadium for their first day of practice on Monday. With a roster that features a number of intriguing prospects at every position, there was plenty of talent out on the field. Let’s take a look at each position group, with some quick thoughts on some of the players who stood out, for better or for worse.
It goes without saying that the players under center are put under the microscope the most often, and that held true today at Ladd Peebles. The North quarterbacks, including Kellen Moore (Boise State), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) and Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), all have their own questions to answer regarding their place in the signal caller pecking order. All three showed flashes this afternoon, but displayed some of their limitations as well. Moore lacked zip on most of his throws, and while he displayed good ball placement on the shorter routes, his arm strength (or lack thereof) was evident most of the day. Wilson spun the ball fairly well, but saw some of his passes flutter on him in the deeper areas of the field. One thing I loved out of Wilson is that when he was not taking part in the drill, he was taking reps on air on his own while watching the action on the field. Cousins showed the strongest arm of the bunch, and while he is the tallest passer on the North roster, he only measured in at just over 6-2 during weigh-ins Monday morning. Cousins is almost undoubtedly the best NFL prospect at the position on the North squad.
Evaluating the running backs on a day like today is tough as they were not in pads and not going full speed, but it was clear that Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati) has a gear that the other backs on the North roster don’t have. Boise State’s Doug Martin, 5-9, 219, was much more physically imposing and showed the ability to change direction as well, but Pead’s suddenness and ability to make people miss in the hole were impressive. Emil Igwenagu (Massachusetts), a tight end from the college ranks who also spent most of his time on the line at the Shrine game last week, spent most of the day in the backfield as a fullback on Monday. Igwenagu is a smooth athlete who, while he allowed some balls to get into his frame on occasion, showed soft hands and versatility that will make him a commodity on the third day of the draft.
There are a lot of interesting names at the wideout spot on the North roster, but the most intriguing was DeVier Posey from Ohio State. Posey only played half the season in 2011 after serving a suspension earlier in the fall, but he was the smoothest player at his position by far. Posey ran good routes, showed soft hands on occasion, and while he isn’t a true burner on the outside, he showed the ability to separate as well. Appalachian State’s Brian Quick, who measured in at a disappointing 6-3 Monday morning (he was expected by many to be closer to 6-5), struggled catching the football. He had a number of concentration drops but made one or two plays down the field as well, displaying good eyes and body control. Marvin Jones (California) surprised with his performance today, showing some good suddenness, separation ability, and decent ball skills. Jones made a number of plays on the football in one-on-ones and stood out in my eyes. Marvin McNutt (Iowa) showed good ball skills but is lacking in the speed and quickness department, which will limit him at the next level. Gerell Robinson (Arizona State) and TJ Graham (North Carolina State) both showed physical tools, but too often fought the football and had a number of drops on the day. Graham also served as the primary punt returner on the day, and showed some flashes of his long speed in the later drills.
Missouri’s Michael Egnew is clearly looking to add more weight, and came in at a surprising 255 lbs after being previously listed at under 230. Egnew made a number of plays in team drills, and flashed soft hands and body control as a receiver. He’ll need to prove that he has the ability to serve as an in-line blocker this week, something he was not asked to do at Mizzou. Brian Linthicum (Michigan State) showed decent athleticism, but had a couple of drops on the day as well. Linthicum will also have to prove himself as a run blocker this week, and it will be interesting to see how he performs on Saturday against a South squad that has a number of talented players at the defensive end and outside linebacker positions.
The player who stood out all day was Ohio State’s Mike Adams. Adams, who drew the most “oohs” and “aahs” of the morning at the weigh-ins (6-7, 323 lbs), looked every bit the part of a top-tier first-round pick. He’s got great size, good feet, and long arms, and showed very well in the 1-on-1 drills. Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) started the day at right tackle, and after measuring with the longest wing span on either team this morning it was easy to see why he has gotten a lot of attention. Osemele plays with a good base and while some have said he may have to move inside to guard, he showed decent feet on the outside today and I’m interested to see how he fares there for the rest of the week. Two interior linemen who stood out were Mike Brewster of Ohio State and Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin. Both are explosive, experienced players who show the ability to get to the second level.
On the defensive front, two players who really stood out in drills were Kendall Reyes (Connectivut) and Vinny Curry (Marshall); incidentally both entered the week with a number of questions about their value. Reyes’ lack of overall girth was expected to be an issue, but he showed that his athleticism and first step could possibly overcome those problems. Curry flashed brilliance at some points, playing with good pad level and showing the ability to flatten out off the edge. Jack Crawford (Penn State) certainly looks the part, and flashed some upside throughout the afternoon. As a prospect who has only played six years of football, he is certainly one to watch moving forward.
The linebacker position is a tough one to evaluate on days when there aren’t pads on, but one thing that was very apparent was the athleticism from Nebraska’s Lavonte David. David, 6-0, 225, measured in as the shortest and lightest linebacker on either roster, but he ran step for step with backs and tight ends down the field on multiple occasions. How he holds up physically at the point of attack will be a major talking point for David moving forward throughout the week.
The early portions of practice saw some rainfall, so in slippery conditions it was tough to get a great read on some of the defensive backs. However, Donnie Fletcher (Boston College) showed the ability to click and close on the football in individual drills. Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) displayed fluid hips and quick feet in drills as well, but was beaten down the field once or twice. Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard was also beaten down the field on multiple occasions, struggling to handle the speed of both Marvin Jones and DeVier Posey.
PhiladelphiaEagles.com will have continuing coverage of the Senior Bowl throughout the week, stay tuned.
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