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Senior Bowl Day 1 Practice Report

Posted Jan 21, 2013

MOBILE, Ala. – Day one of the Senior Bowl is in the books and with it, the chance for the prospects to make their first impression of the draft season on the assembled scouts and NFL decision makers. The North and South teams practiced in separate locations following the morning weigh-in, so we've compiled notes from both locations with observations from Tommy Lawlor, Fran Duffy and Bo Wulf.

North

-- Syracuse's Ryan Nassib lined up as the first-string quarterback in installs to start practice. Nassib showed a compact delivery throughout the day, though his accuracy was somewhat inconsistent. On multiple occasions, the former Syracuse signal caller seemed out of sync with his receivers, but that's to be expected since he and the receivers have never worked together in full speed on the field. North Carolina State's Mike Glennon and Miami (OH)'s Zac Dysert went through similar ups and downs on day one.

-- Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long (son of Howie, brother of Chris) spent most of the 2012 season inside at left guard, but saw some reps at right tackle early on in install practice periods. Later in practice, Long shifted back inside to guard and looked much more comfortable.

-- One of the top stories from the North side this week will be the progression of Michigan's Denard Robinson. The former quarterback donned a yellow quarterback practice jersey but practiced almost exclusively with the receivers throughout the day. In individual drills, Robinson was first in line to take repetitions, and failed to drop a ball in this writer's eyes. When the wideouts moved on to one-on-one drills against the defense, however, Robinson stood to the side and played the role of observer, watching each rep with a close eye. The Oakland Raiders staff utilized Robinson as a punt returner late in practice, though he didn't look all too comfortable in that role early on.

-- Staying with the wide receiver group, Aaron Dobson from Marshall showed both in drills and during team periods his ability to get off of press coverage, using good technique and quickness in a phone booth to escape from the defensive back. Dobson is a big target who excelled particularly in the red zone during his time with the Thundering Herd. Oregon State receiver Markus Wheaton showed strong hands throughout the day as well. One player who struggled early on was Elon's Aaron Mellette. Mellette had multiple 'double catches' in drills and failed to show the ability to separate in one-on-one situations.

-- On the defensive side, the standout player appeared to be Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien. Cyprien was incredibly loud and physical throughout the day, playing with the energy and urgency that he showed during the entirety of his senior campaign. Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor was his usual self for most of the day as well, showing the ability to stay in opposing receivers' hip pockets and mix it up throughout the afternoon.

-- At linebacker, Rutgers standout Khaseeme Greene stood out in coverage. A former safety, Greene showed excellent quickness and the ability to stick with backs and tight ends in space. The flip side is that Greene often leans too much on his quickness is lieu of taking blockers on with physicality. Elsewhere at linebacker, Ohio State's John Simon and Connecticut's Trevardo Williams, both known more for their pass-rushing ability, struggled to stick with opposing skill players in space both in drills and in 11-on-11 periods. On the defensive line, UCLA's Datone Jones and Texas' Alex Okafor stood out above the rest. Jones in particular showed off the quick get-off that made him such a terror in the Pac-12 this past fall.

South

-- The South team is very deep in offensive line talent, though Oklahoma's Lane Johnson may be the best of the bunch. A former tight end, Johnson is a natural athlete, and he showed that athleticism throughout pass-blocking drills. He was able to mirror rushers smoothly and was able to recover when he did misstep.

-- Georgia big man John Jenkins is a massive nose tackle prospect. He didn't wow anyone with his athleticism, but he moves very well for a man his size (6-4, 259). Jenkins' effort was impressive, as he went hard on every snap. There were a few plays when he simply destroyed blockers in one-on-one drills. If you're looking for a 3-4 nose tackle, Jenkins could be the best option in this draft.

-- Ziggy Ansah of BYU is the big name on the South defensive line. He is still new to football (track background) and that showed today. His athletic gifts were obvious in the drills, but things did not come easily to him. Other prospects have done these drills since junior high football. Ansah looked like a track guy trying to do football stuff. He was better when the contact part of the day began, as funny as that might sound. Ansah didn't show explosion off the ball, but had good power. His bull rush was very effective. In the team session, he threw Rice tight end Vance McDonald (6-4, 262) to the ground. That was a wow moment. The next play, Alabama tight end Michael Williams came to that side. He is a great blocker, but Ansah stood him up and didn't give an inch. Excellent strength by Ansah.

-- Of the South wide receivers, Baylor's Terrance Williams was the standout performer. After an unspectacular junior season, Williams put up big numbers as a senior. He made several big plays down the field in tight coverage Monday, including one spectacular catch over Robert Alford of Southeast Louisiana. On the down side, Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, 6-0, 204, is an undersized receiver who profiles as a slot guy at the next level. Unfortunately, Swope dropped at least two easy catches Monday. He'll have to bounce back as the week moves on.

-- Of the South quarterbacks, Tyler Wilson probably had the best day. EJ Manuel of Florida State was erratic at times and Oklahoma's Landry Jones struggled with his reads on occasion, though that's to be expected on day one. Wilson showcased the arm strength a few times to hit deep outs to the sideline.

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