Senior Bowl Report: Tuesday's North Practice
Written by John Clifford on 01/20/2009
North practice began with the same format and routine of drills – OL working in pairs with blocking pads, nothing noteworthy in there until they get working to a point when guys want to fight each other.
Further up the field, the QBs are trying to make an NFL throw to WRs running deeper outs, with the coaches emphasizing the cut, losing the DB and not losing any speed into, and out of the cut and after the catch – as common and important as any drill WRs see during Senior Bowl week – can they run routes? Are they coachable in quickly correcting their route running? Here it was clear that Derrick Williams possessed superior next level skills compared to most others. Barden’s size and technique caused him to lag behind, rounding the route, unable to release with speed. Foster needed to improve, demonstrating a weak cut. In this area, Williams and Robiskie showed the most NFL polish.
Switching gears back to the OL, they were ready to do battle one-on-one. It began with Oklahoma’s massive LT Phil Loadholt, an immovable object in his 2 reps against Illinois DE Will Davis. Next up, Kraig Urbik from Wisconsin won back-to-back battles against Mizzou’s Ziggy Hood. Holding was all Cal’s interior lineman Alex Mack could do to B.C. DL B.J. Raji and it wasn’t nearly enough and Raji still pushed him back into the pocket. Small school standouts William Beatty (OL from UConn) and Larry English (DE from Northern Illinois) battled to a draw, but it was a first clear look at English’s speed – something to keep an eye on. Illini lineman Xavier Fulton held up to Big-10 rival Michigan’s DE Tim Jamison on consecutive plays. The rather calm and routine flow was broken up by the intense pass rush of Iowa’s Mitch King, smoking Cincinnati’s Trevor Canfield. Not to be outdone, BC’s Ron Brace imploded Virginia Tech’s Ryan Shuman off the snap, blowing him way back into the pocket. Completely the defensive dominance in this rotation, B.J. Raji had Wisconsin’s Kraig Urbik falling forward and completely missing.
The battle between WRs and CBs was uneventful at best – mostly a corner class that couldn’t successfully jam anyone of f the line. Penn State WR Derrick Williams’ speed and route running was enough to handle the jam from UConn’s Darius Butler. Ohio State’s Robiskie had no trouble with Virginia Tech DB Macho Harris. Closing out the drill, Sooners wide out Inglesias drew praise for improved play and getting around Cincinnati’s DeAngelo Smith.
The North moved into 9-on-11, and on the first play, B.J. Raji blew Alex Mack into the backfield with explosive force. The next play, Tim Jamison came from left end to pop Sheets in the backfield for a loss. And the next play, Larry English appeared to be playing at a different speed, getting ridiculous penetration – and before I completed writing the word, a Bengals coach has veins bursting from his neck, screaming, “Too much penetration!” Mind you, this is not from the left side, where Sooners’ LT Loadholt appearing to be a beast among children, is playing like one – an immovable object. Harrell’s next snap went to the ground (his second in as many days). Raji took Oregon’s interior lineman Max Unger past Harrell, who tripped on the handoff exchange. Pettigrew got praised for finally knocking someone on his ass in the blocking game (on the right side of the line, on the final play of the drill).
The group breaks back into positional groups – DL with footwork and looseballs, RBs working LBs and DBs in coverage, OL in block scheme and moving downfield, etc.
The QBs are in 5-wide and right away one question is answered – Washington State WR Brandon Gibson didn’t appear to injure himself yesterday on the go-route from Bomar after pulling up a bit lame, reaching out with his hand and making a clean catch on a 15-yard slant thrown a little too far ahead of him. Central Arkansas QB Nathan Brown makes his first really questionable throw, sailing a 35-yard pass on target to OU WR Inglesias, with that much air under the ball, a defender eats it up. Texas Tech’s Harrell, by contrast, made a beautiful NFL throw on a deep out to TE John Phillips of Virginia, well-timed and over the outside shoulder, Phillips to his own credit made an excellent catch and run.
With this work done, the North quickly moved to get 11-on-11 work in, beginning with UNC’s Brooks Foster making best catch of the week (so far), spinning to get a ball thrown behind him by Bomar, in traffic over the deep middle, holding on despite fairly heavy contact from multiple defenders. The next play was a highlight for Michigan DE Tim Jamison, blowing up a reverse to WR Ramses Barden for a loss. Beavers DB Keenan Lewis executed a well-timed pass break-up on the following play on a thrown intended for Penn State’s Derrick Williams.
With Brown taking over at QB, Western Michigan’s Louis Delmas made a notable play with a physical pass defensed against Oklahoma State’s behemoth TE Brandon Pettigrew on a nice play-action rollout. Brown followed up with another quick play-action and release, short and over the middle to Robiskie who showed good yards after the catch ability.
Harrell moved in at QB and Ducks RB Jeremiah Johnson exploded on a toss sweep with an excellent run. Harrell hit Gibson deep, on a well run route, with a great thrown – on time and on target.
Whether or not there’s a “climber” of any sort in this group, a Joe Flacco, much less a Jay Cutler, is a separate question from stepping back and wondering how good these 3 look as a 3-deep Senior Bowl group? Usually by his point, I think I can pick out a laugher so to speak (laugher in the context of draft consideration and assessment, perhaps notwithstanding next level consideration altogether). Will all 3 of these guys even be old-day one locks at this point? I’m not prepared to place any chips on that bet. My only point – my early impressions – top to bottom, solid execution from the QB position from the North and it’s early in the week, I’d consider that atypical by Senior Bowl standards.
Notable from quick special teams work – Robiskie muffs a punt return.
Major one-on-one OL-DL battles ensued; giving coaches and scouts a lot to consume this morning.
Oregon OL Max Unger began facing BC’s B.J. Raji who beat him badly and surprisingly to the outside. Lost in the speed of his pass rush wake (and the crowd) was whomever NIU DE Larry English beat.
Illinois OL Xavier Fulton lined up across teammate Will Davis and Davis beat him with an inside move. With Cincinnati OL Trevor Canfield facing Iowa DL Mitch King, this kicked the intensity up a notch with Canfield pounding his chest and King digging in one of his paws, attitude versus motor - uneventful this time - something to keep an eye one. Rivals Virginia Tech OL Ryan Shuman and BC DT Ron Brace stepped in next and played to a draw, Shuman managing to get Brace on the ground and falling on top of him, but on the next rep, Brace blew Shuman into the pocket. Oregon State OL Andy Levitre gave us the first victim when Purdue DL Alex Magee beat him badly on consecutive plays demonstrating a full complement of speed, power and moves. Score one for the offense with Oklahoma LT Phil Loadholt taking back control, making UConn DL Cody Brown look like a blitzing safety, forcing him high and wide twice. Levitre redeemed himself a bit, standing up Michigan DE Tim Jamison and stopping him cold with solid technique and footwork, on the next play, Jamison overplayed what Levitre just did and worked him back inside, beating him with an easy move. Wisconsin OL Kraig Urbik faced Missouri DL Ziggy Hood and Iowa DL Mitch King on consecutive reps and couldn’t handle either one. Likewise for Oregon OL Max Unger, he was thrown the tandem of Eagles, BC’s B.J. Raji and DT Ron Brace and was embarrassed by their power off the snap. Cal OL Alex Mack was Ziggy Hood’s next spin move victim, but stopped him on the next play with a subtle hook around the shoulder and neck. Oregon State OL Andy Levitre was beaten to the outside by NIU DE Larry English, but most notable, I think it’s possible English went around him untouched - that it was close enough is telling. Oklahoma LT Phil Loadholt was able to deny Illinois DL Will Davis any power - Loadholt was immovable. Cincinnati OL Trevor Canfield was beaten twice by Purdue DL Alex Magee, again, his speed stands out much like Kamerion Wimbley’s had. Cal OL Alex Mack facing BC DT Ron Brace held up on the 2nd snap, appearing to realize that his power and speed is leveraged with that advantage off the snap of the ball. Oregon OL Max Unger was destroyed by BC’s B.J. Raji, but interestingly, and by contrast, Unger held up quite handily against Iowa DL Mitch King on the next rep. The one-on-ones close out with UConn teammates OL William Beatty facing DL Cody Brown playing to a draw on a sharp contrast of plays, Brown bull rushing Beatty, blasting him into the back field, but Beatty stuffing Brown on the next play.
In Final 11-on-11 drills South Florida’s Tyrone McKenzie began with great penetration and TFL in the flat. Later, Bomar hung up and mis-timed a sideline throw to Cal Poly WR Barden , despite the completion thanks to Barden’s effort, most in the crowd had to be thinking (a) not an NFL decision at a minimum or (b) it’s at least picked off at the next level, probably for 6 points. Purdue RB Kory Sheets continues to shine with his receiving and outside running speed. Derrick Williams had a terrible drop over the middle – end of practice, never when you want to have one of those.
Last Edited: 04/05/2009