Senior Bowl: Day 1 practice reports

Harry How

A breakdown of the first day of practice Senior Bowl week.

Here is a break down of the first day of Senior Bowl practices. UK took the North since they were broadcast on TV, while I covered the South practice. For my full South practice report you can go here. Also here are the North and South weigh-in results.

South Team (Here is my take on defensive backs and offensive linemen):

Defensive Backs:

Sanders Commings, Georgia:

Commings is thought to be more of a corner, but after today's practice he may be viewed more of a free safety prospect. He was not fluid in flipping his hips, and really struggled when asked to run with receivers. He did some nice things when he played off in a zone and the play was in front of him, but other than that it was not a strong day.

Robert Lester, Alabama:

Lester looked good early on in practice in both individual and 1-on-1 drills, but disappeared or struggled later. He didn't struggle particularly in any one area, but he didn't show dominance either. He was pretty inconsistent in the team drills, with one rep showing nice recognition and back peddle and then the next rep missing his assignment. Overall solid day, but not spectacular.

Bacarri Rambo, Georgia:

Rambo looked flawless in the individual position drills setting the bench mark everyone else was compared to, but he all but disappeared once he started going up against receivers/tight ends. He still made a play or two, but overall he was late recognizing a number of passes, and took bad angles to the ball. Given how he started and his overall hype it was a poor overall showing.

J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern:

It quickly became apparent that Wilcox has just one year at safety under his belt. While he flashes big play ability he looked simply lost out there at times. He really struggled in the positional drills, especially with his ability to flip his hips and his back peddle. While there is some legitimate promise there, he's very much a developmental prospect.

Leon McFadden, San Diego State:

McFadden had the best all-around showing today among defensive backs. He was very fluid in the drills, displaying good speed and quickness. He really excelled when faced with receivers. He showed physicality and great reaction time, and was constantly the toughest draw for a particular receiver.

Offensive Line:

Larry Warford, Kentucky:

Warford had the best all-around day by any offensive lineman, he was quick off the ball and showed a good anchor, rarely letting anyone push him back or control the point of attack. He also showed surprising quickness for his size and handled speed well.

Dallas Thomas, Tennessee:

Thomas played both guard and tackle in practice and handled his own at both positions. He didn't have the best anchor and didn't finish guys off, but he showed quick feet and re-routed a number of defenders keeping the pocket generally clean. A couple times he did get beat, but overall it was a pretty solid practice.

Lane Johnson, Oklahoma:

Really thought he had a great all-around practice, he lined up at both tackle spots and really showed quick feet and a nice sound base. He anchored well and didn't allow much penetration. He wasn't as good versus the run, but it was by no means a bad showing.

OT Oday Aboushi, OL Garrrett Gilkey and OL Xavier Nixon all looked solid or better as well.

North:

NFL Network decided to cover just the North Squad today, and it was fairly limited in what they actually televised. But here are my notes from todays practice.

Highly touted cornerback Jordan Poyer from Oregon State struggled in press coverage in his one on one drill against fellow Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton. Poyer failed to get much of a jam at the line of scrimmage and would have been called for a hold as Wheaton made his cut on a stick route.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson also struggled to get an effective jam in press coverage, but looked much more at home playing off-man, breaking on an out route nicely to keep the completion to a minimum gain.

Desmond Trufant was the stand out corner from what they televised on NFL network. He heavily contested a quick slant route, breaking quickly on the ball and managing to get his hand in to break up the pass. A few reps later, he played press against Wheaton. Wheaton was able to elude the Trufant at the line of scrimmage, but Trufant opened his hips very quickly to help himself recover. But then Wheaton cut inside and Trufant was forced to hold.

Wheaton impressed me every rep he took. Every corner appeared to have trouble defending him, drawing a couple of holds in and out of his breaks. At 6'0", 182 pounds, he could be an interesting option as a slot receiver.

Along the offensive line, I was eager to see Kyle Long, the 6'7", 312 pound tackle prospect. He displayed his obvious athleticism for his size, moving very fluently. But he measured in with short arms, and that might force him to play inside at the next level. He struggled at right tackle against Texas defensive end Alex Okafor. Long was quick to the edge, but Okafor made quick work of clubbing away Long's hands and flew past him without Long really touching him. They moved Long to left tackle, where he battled against Michael Buchanan. Buchanan got off the snap quickly but Long managed to recover thanks to that athleticism. He re-anchored well, but then held Buchanan on his second attempt.

Left tackle Eric Fisher looked every part of a first round pick. Standing at 6'7", 305 pounds, Fisher showed off his good technique on several occasions. On his first block, he was patient and allowed the defender to arrive instead of reaching for the defender and being off-balance. Later on, he ran Ofakor past the quarterback with relative ease, never looking flustered or troubled.

The only look we got at safety TJ McDonald was in 11 on 11 drills. He made an interception on a horribly overthrown ball from Mike Glennon intended for a wide open tight end up the seam. But then he took a poor angle on an end-around run, allowing the runner to get outside and up the sideline. Hopefully we'll see more from McDonald as the week progresses.

A couple of running backs caught my eye in the 11 on 11 drills. Kenjon Barner of Oregon flashed his speed and elusiveness, but also took a couple of inside runs, which aren't typical of a 'speed' guy. Barner needs to show he has patience in waiting for his blocks to develop and finding a hole if he wants to be thought of as more than just a change of pace guy. The other running back was Robbie Rouse from Fresnoe State. At 5'7", he's Brandon Banks size, but he weighed in at 190 pounds. Mike Mayock noted how he was 'thick' and he looks like he can withstand a hit and run between the tackles, even at his height. I had wondered how his weight might effect his speed, but he flashed some decent burst on a couple of plays.

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