Senior Bowl: South Team Practice Report

I wanted to post some thoughts on what I saw today at the Senior Bowl's South practice, for my full report go here. While exchanging e-mails with UKRedskin, I mentioned how I was curious to see what people watching at home got from the practice, and he came up with the idea of posting both view points. I'll post some of my thoughts first, before posting UK's.

Quarterbacks:

Brandon Weeden, Ok. State: Weeden is really separating himself from the rest of the quarterbacks down in Mobile. In addition to showing good velocity and accuracy with his throws, he stands out due to his maturity as well. He appears to be communicating the best with his receivers and backs, making sure they lineup properly and acknowledging them when they make great catches. Just really looks to be a leader on the field.

Nick Foles, Arizona: Foles took a step back today overall. He shows a strong deep ball, but his accuracy was off today and many of his passes sailed out of bounds. Overall I thought his footwork was really solid today, but his release was slow today and not very impressive. While his slower delivery might not be as much of a problem in practice where the defensive linemen, aren't supposed to hit the QB, it won't fly in the NFL. Foles needs to rebound the rest of the week to be considered a top 5 QB option.

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State: Lindley is just too inaccurate and inconsistent at this point. Today he'd make one perfect throw and then miss on the next two or three (badly) which were much easier throws to make. Really seemed to struggle on timing routes, and waited too long for his receiver to come open.

Running Backs:

Chris Rainey, Florida: Rainey got equal time at both RB and WR, while also returning kicks. Was an apparent favorite of the Redskins coaching staff, as in the evening press conference Mike Shanahan chose him to represent the team (and spoke glowingly of him). Rainey showcased both his speed and catching ability during today's practice. He showed nice versatility and should be a nice utility player at the next level.

Vic Ballard, Miss. State: Ballard ran really strong today, he showed nice burst through the hole, and really finished runs. He didn't look as comfortable catching the ball, but does look like he can be a nice back at the next level.

Wide Receivers:

Juron Criner, Arizona: Criner just had a fantastic day. He caught everything thrown his way including multiple highlight reel catches. He got better separation in the 1-on-1 and team drills than i expected and really turned some heads today.

Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller made two really nice catches on the first two throws he saw, and it looked like he was going to build on his impressive first day, but after that he went down hill. Fuller had a couple of bad drops through out the practice and while he made a few nice catches, it wasn't a great all-around day.

Patrick Edwards, Houston: Edwards really struggled yesterday, but rebounded with a nice all-around practice. He looked real clean in getting out of his breaks and did a better job of catching the ball away from his body.

Offensive Linemen:

OT Matt McCants, UAB: McCants still didn't have a great day, but he looked light years better than yesterday. It's important to remember that McCants is consistently going up against top 15 talents, Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw. So an average day against them is still pretty impressive. I saw greatly improved footwork by McCants, but his rawness is still apparent.

OT Zebrie Sanders, FSU: Sanders was another lineman who improved today. He still struggles to anchor consistently, especially against the top rushers. Seems more comfortable on run blocking plays, and flashes enough to say that he could start early (on the right side), but I want to see more strength in his game.

OT Jeff Allen, Illinois: Allen improved today and showed nice footwork and a decent anchor. He's not an elite prospect, but does look like an eventual starter at the next level.

Corner backs:

Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt: Hayward really seems to be taking to the Redskins coaching staff extremely well. Displays a lot of leadership out there on the field helping teammates get into the right position and talking to them inbetween plays about what they need to work on. While there is a general concern about his deep speed, he never really got 'beat' throughout the day. Hayward also showed a good bit of physicality today, which helped him cover some of the bigger receivers. If I'm a betting man, I'd say that if Raheem Morris has any influence in the draft Hayward will be a Redskin come next April (probably with the 3rd round pick).

Dwight Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette: Bentley is one of the most impressive players on either squad. Not necessarily because he's going to be an early round draft pick, but rather because he always seems to be making plays. Bentley had another strong practice and should really be moving up draft boards with his performance this week. He doesn't let the big receivers on the South squad bother him, and really forces them to work at it.

Here's UK's report:

Tuesday was the first day of full-padded practice. It was also the first time NFL Network got a look at the South team, coached by our very on Washington Redskins staff. Here are a few of my notes as I followed along live on NFL Network.

  • Brandon Weeden was clearly the best quarterback on the South team and perhaps the best quarterback in Mobile. He showed off solid arm strength and looked good on the run when rolling out on bootlegs.
  • Nick Foles didn't look like he had a good day from what they showed of him on TV. He threw a couple of balls behind receivers and had one or two bad center-to-quarterback exchanges. There was also a few quarterback runs called for him, which is clearly not his strength. Those plays were instantly blown up by the South team's powerful defensive line, which brings me nicely to my next point...
  • Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw were the clear winners of the day along the defensive line. They both wreaked havoc on offensive lineman in one on one drills (which admittedly gives the defensive lineman an advantage because they get more space than usual to work with. I've said all along that I think Upshaw is a 4-3 defensive end. I don't think he has the speed to stand up and rush from a 3-4 outside linebacker spot, but get him to 280 pounds and stick him in as an end in the 4-3 and you're set on one side
  • Mike Mayock and Chales Davis both emphasized a point of Ingram. He looks too small to play end in a 4-3, and maybe lakes the burst to play 3-4 outside linebacker, but they used the example of Aldon Smith of the 49ers this year. You find a way to get him on the field in whatever front and you let him get after the quarterback. He was very rarely blocked from what they showed of the defensive lineman and had some nice spin and swim moves.
  • Receiver-come-running back-come-kick returner Chris Rainey might well be the fastest man at the Senior Bowl. In one on one drills, he lined up as a receiver against highly rated Janoris Jenkins, ate up the 10 yard cushion and ran right past him on a go route.
  • Jenkins however, came right back the next time and stopped Rainey from separating, with the pass falling incomplete. Jenkins looked really good from what I saw today, and scouts and coaches alike love players showing an ability to come back after being beaten.
  • Sticking with Corners, one small school prospect jumped off the screen. Louisiana-Lafayette corner Dwight Bentley showed some nice coverage skills. He made an interception off a dropped pass by Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller, and generally showed good instincts. Our friend JimmyK, who is also at the Senior Bowl, said he saw Redskins scouts talking to Bentley.
  • Jeff Fuller had a bad day. They showed about five routes of his on TV. He struggled badly when he got jammed at the line in press coverage and had at least two drops that I saw (one was picked off by Bentley)
  • North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones looked pretty good the couple times I saw him. He appeared to have the physicality to deal with press coverage at the line, and ran some crisp routes.
  • A final receiver to note, Arizona receiver Juron Criner made a spectacular one-handed catch off a ball thrown behind him (I believe by Foles). JimmyK said he saw Redskins scouts talking to him after practice as well.
  • Baylor interior offensive lineman Philip Blake had some good and bad reps in one on ones. He did a good job anchoring on a couple of blocks, and then get beat the next. Felt like two steps forward, one step back.
  • And finally, Troy offensive lineman James Brown had a solid day, taking reps at right tackle. Brown measured in at 6'3" and a half, 307 pounds, and held his own against a very strong group of defensive lineman.

.Steve Shoup will be covering Senior Bowl Live this year for his own site Fanspeak.com, but will provide write-ups on players for the Redskins here on Hogs Haven as well. Check out his NFL Draft Page for more details and updates throughout the draft season! HTTR!

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