ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The final day of full contact practice at the Shrine Game was completed on Wednesday as scouts now head to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The third day of pads practice saw a number of next level prospects move to the forefront, especially players on the lines of scrimmage.
AJ Francis/DL/Maryland: If there was an offensive lineman who could stop Francis he was not to be found in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The big defender was unstoppable all practice long and pushed opponents into the backfield, overrunning blocks and collapsing the pocket. He possesses NFL size as well as power and needs to just brush his game off. Francis leaves St. Petersburg with an improved draft grade.
Earl Watford/OL/James Madison: Watford came to Shrine practices with a reputation as one of the better zone blocking prospects available in April's draft. During Shrine practice on Wednesday, he displayed added power to his game. Watford effectively out-positioned opponents from the action and held his ground. His strength at the point of attack was questioned by scouts and today Watford did a good job quelling those concerns.
Nick Speller/OL/UMass: Speller was rarely mentioned by scouts prior to the season but did a good job on Wednesday. He displayed himself as a solid position blocker and played with a large degree of strength. Speller handled some of the better pass rushers during practice and showed a complete game.
Mark Jackson/OL/Glenville State: Jackson rebounded from a poor showing on Tuesday and stepped up his game today. He lined up at both guard and tackle and controlled opponents once he got his hands on them. Jackson was effective in the one-on-one drills as well as during scrimmage. He offers a good upside but needs to polish his game. His performance at Shrine practice proves he's headed in the right direction.
Lucas Reed/TE/New Mexico: The younger brother of Brooks Reed looked like a star in the making early in his college career yet his development was slowed by coaching changes and switches in offensive schemes. He very much looks the part and displayed himself proficient as a blocker and pass catcher on Wednesday.
Chris Pantale/TE/Boston College: Pantale was highly rated by league scouts coming into the season but struggled along with the rest of his Boston College teammates in 2012. On Wednesday, he showed why many believe he has a long NFL future ahead of him. Pantale is not special in any single area of the tight end position rather very solid in his entire game. He's a consistent blocker who controls opponents at the point of attack. Pantale is also effective as an underneath receiver. He solidified himself as a last day pick and Pantale displayed all the skills necessary to be a second tight end at the next level.
Jasper Collins/WR/Mount Union: The Division III product proved he belonged on the field with star players from the likes of Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State. Collins was the fastest and one of the best receivers on the West team all week. He runs good routes, shows a burst of speed and made a number of difficult catches at every practice. Collins did struggle when opponents jammed him at the line of scrimmage and lacks the great size for the next level. He comes with return skills, something to watch for in the game.
Kerwynn Williams/RB/Utah State: While Christine Michael of Texas A&M grabbed most of the headlines at the running back position, Williams also displayed next-level skill and stood out on Wednesday. He's a sleek ball carrier with outstanding vision and quickness. Williams created yardage and had several long runs in full scrimmage. He displayed the uncanny ability to make defenders miss, pick the small opening on the field then burst through the hole for a long gainer.
Keith Pough/LB/Howard: Pough was one of the few linebackers who stood out on the field during Shrine practices. He was proficient stopping the run as well as covering the pass and made several plays which drew praise from coaches. Pough does not possess great size yet played big and looked explosive. He does not only play tough football but Pough also showed a great deal of smarts and instincts on the field.
Micah Hyde/CB/Iowa: Several defensive backs looked good on Wednesday though none stood out as much as Hyde. He's a feisty cornerback who takes chances and came away with one beautiful interception during full scrimmage. Hyde's ability to burst to the ball out of his plant really jumped out to scouts as did his ability to stay with the action and keep away from mental mistakes.
Wes Horton/DE/USC: Horton really looked the part on the field and at times played to it. He's a tall defensive end with terrific quickness and speed. His athleticism jumps out to scouts as do the times he makes plays. Horton flashed ability and has scouts excited about his potential.
Not So Impressive
R.J. Dill/OL/Rutgers: Dill is a king sized offensive tackle yet a stiff blocker who was consistently exploited by speed rushers. He does not show the athleticism or agility necessary for the next level.
Terry Hawthorne/CB/Illinois: Hawthorne was highly rated coming into the season but is watching his draft stock drop after a poor senior campaign. His struggles continued at Shrine practices as Hawthorne was consistently beaten in drills as well as scrimmage and rarely made plays on the ball.
Notes: Several of the players who performed well on Tuesday continued that momentum today. Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas Pine-Bluff again looked good as did Auburn receiver Emory Blake. North Carolina State safety Earl Wolff turned in another strong performance as did small school defensive end David Bass of Missouri Western.