This is the third in a six part series covering the 2014 Senior Bowl and practices that occurred in January that could give you more insight for your rookie drafts.
This is day three, the last real practice with the most hitting and realistic conditions. It was a lot colder than I expected for Alabama (27 degrees in the morning practice), but the players were ready to go and show off their new skills and talents. Teamwork was more evident today. Even ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted about some of the impressions the players had made here in Alabama. Here are my thoughts on the players Wednesday practices broken down in alphabetical order:
Antonio Andrews, RB W KY
The receiver made a habit of confusing his coverage by starting a route to the inside and then crossing up to break outside. I don’t think I saw him catch the ball with anything, but his hands, never letting it into his body. Abbrederis shows good body control, catches the ball well in traffic, and moves well laterally. Once again he was the best receiver in the North.
The quarterback looked more relaxed and poised out at practice today. He found players in stride, placing the ball in front of the receivers. Carr had better footwork and really appeared to be a leader who might get drafted by the end of the first round of the NFL Draft. According to Coach Bradley, he stood out in meeting with his leadership.
The tweener was explosive, and held his position when playing defensive end. He uses a combination of a power clubbing move and a quick spin to create space. Clarke moves quickly across the line of scrimmage and keeps his hands up trying to knock down passes if he can’t get to the quarterback.
The defensive lineman flows well to the ball as he finds the ball carrier quickly. He does a good job disengaging blockers with tremendous leverage. Donald has strong leg drive to get penetration, stays low, and follows that up with a spin move to get around blockers. He keeps his hands all over the offensive linemen which lets him control where they are going. His high motor never stops. While Donald doesn’t fit a 3-4 scheme, the defensive tackle will be a great, elusive playmaker in the right 4-3 system. He was well spoken in his press conference and is ready for the challenges of being undersized on the inside.
He caught the ball well shielding the defender and looked better as a pass blocker, showing more effort than the day before. The running back has quick feet, loose hips, and reads his blocks to get the most out of his touches. Fluellen finds the cut back lane easily, breaks tackles, and refuses to go down easily.
The defensive playmaker appeared to be un-blockable for the majority of the day. He is quick of the edge, flowing well to the ball. Ford has a wacky, off-balance personality and tried to strip the pigskin from every ball carrier he met.
He threw the ball with light feet and missed some throws deep. The quarterback battled adversity and overcame learning two new offenses. Garoppolo shows improvement in each practice and will have a great opportunity to increase his draft stock with a solid game on Saturday.
Grant does a great job catching the ball in stride. He make crisp receptions with his soft hands, and shows amazing body control. The receiver might have made the catch of the day as it was a deep bucket catch right on the sideline and the defender had no chance to stop him for a long touchdown.
The receiver is most dangerous out of the slot with a free release as he can eat up space quickly. He has strong hands, and is willing to catch the ball in traffic. Herron breaks down quickly and gears up to full speed in the blink of an eye. He skies above the defensive back to make catches and adjusts well to the ball in the air. Every day he got better and Herron is just a sliver behind Abberderis in talent, but has the better build.
The playmaker had a better practice than yesterday as well. Huff is a hands catcher with fluid hips who can make tippy toe receptions right at the sideline. The receiver gets to the highest point to make the catch, uses great body control, and has sideline awareness. I like him as a red zone threat and is a threat on reverses.
He knocked down passes and played physical with the receivers. The safety has decent hands, and stays with tight ends in coverage. Jean-Baptiste looked better playing centerfield than in coverage even though Shane Hallam likes him more as a corner. The safety had a nice pass breakup in the corner of the end zone.
Once again, this defensive lineman had a strong practice. Jones knocked his blockers off their feet and held his spot on the line of scrimmage forcing the play to go around him. He is a disruptive force who can use a swim move as easily as a bull rush. The defensive tackle has powerful legs, quick feet, and is always hustling.
The best player at this event finally had a so-so day. We all know he has soft hands, good balance, tracks the ball well in the air, and is a fiery competitor. However, Matthews fought the ball on deeper throws and got disrupted on contested passes. He needs to redeem himself with a strong game to try to cement himself a spot in the NFL Draft’s first round.
This receiver went from my doghouse on day one (he dropped passes and looked off-balance) to the penthouse today. Norwood has good body control, fights for the ball, and looks like a competitor on every rep. He runs crisp routes and got wide open deep down the field. The crowd got behind this local kid today.
He adjusts well to the ball in the air, contorting his body around. Patton catches the ball in stride with his soft hands. The receiver knows where he is on the field at all times and finds a way to create separation. I knew nothing of this local player before I came here and now I think he could find a job in the NFL as a returner/WR4.
He spent the beginning of practice fielding punts. Sims has quick feet and gets small in the hole. I like the angles the running back took and he never gave up on pass blocking drills even when he got knocked back. He possesses a good catch radius with a great sense of balance.
This was my first day really paying attention to this high motor defender. He has great lateral mobility while using his power and leverage to throw blockers off their feet. The transition to an outside backer is a little daunting for him as he struggled some covering receivers. Smith uses his hands as weapons against offensive linemen and flies down the line of scrimmage to make a play.
The defensive lineman is not strong at the point of attack. While he had a decent day one, Sutton has continued to slide in his efforts each day. He may be more of a reserve despite his big trunk.
The athletic linebacker is a good pass rusher who uses a combination of a swim move and raw speed to get around blockers. He was one of the best outside linebackers in coverage and may surprise a few teams along the way. When you think of explosion around the edge, think of “Captain” Tripp(s).
He breaks down quickly to find the ball carrier using his quick feet and vision. Van Noy is versatile as he can rush the passer or stay back in coverage, doing a great job with either. The linebacker was the leader of the defense and will be a great addition to any NFL defense.