NORTH PRACTICE REPORT – Wednesday

I saw a lot of big name coaches today huddling together watching the linebackers and defensive linemen. Interesting to hear what Super Bowl winning coaches discussed in relation to the players that could fit in their scheme. This was my final  look at the North squad, as tomorrow they will be back in uppers, but I will still be in attendance.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-This unit has been struggling as a whole the entire week, and nothing changed today. Shawn Lauvao (Arizona State) looked like the smallest and weakest offensive lineman when I saw him on Monday, and today he furthered that opinion. He was absolutely trucked by DE Alex Carrington (Arkansas State) in a stunt drill. He has been getting physically overwhelmed all week.

-Vladimir Ducasse struggled more often than not today. The adjustment of speed levels from what he is used to is obviously giving him some serious issues. His feet get stuck in mud as he is engaged with the defender, and his punches looked weak today. Too many times I found him trying to recover after getting beat by the likes of Brandon Graham (Michigan) and even Austen Lane (Murray State)

TIGHT ENDS/WIDE RECEIVERS

-Ed Dickson (Oregon) really looked good today. He was catching the ball and going north in one motion, very smooth and looked better in space than some of the receivers. While he needs to put some bulk on, especially to his legs, I think he is going to be a valuable asset to an NFL offense.

-Jacoby Ford put on a show today after a so-so first couple of practices. His speed is as good as advertised and he was exploding out of breaks better than anyone I’ve put the eyeball on so far. He caught everything thrown his way and if that remains the case at the Combine and his pro day, Ford could slip in to the first round.

-Donald Jones (Youngstown State) was a late addition to the squad, and he looked overmatched. He dropped a few passes and struggled to get off press coverage.

RUNNING BACKS

-Another impressive day by LeGarrette Blount (Oregon). I overheard a pack of AFC West scouts commenting on his combination of size and speed. They were impressed how he finished runs and outran some of the defensive backs.

-Joique Bell (Wayne State) entered the week with a lot to gain considering he is coming from a Division II program. I liked the aggression he ran with but he struggled to locate the hole, just seemed a step behind speed wise.

-Lonyae Miller (Fresno State) did not stand out his first couple of days, but he had a nice showing today in the team drills. He made tacklers miss and showed some surprising burst once he got through the linebackers.

QUARTERBACKS

-Sean Canfield (Oregon State) cemented himself as the top signal caller on the North squad in my book. His arm strength is suspect, but he knows how to make up for it. He consistently throws a tight spiral and his ability to put the ball exactly where he wants to is a tremendous asset. I really like this kid and his future is brighter than Pike and LeFevour.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-This unit is clearly head and shoulders above the offensive line. Jared Odrick (Penn State) led the way in team drills, as he was nearly unblockable. He was shedding blocks well and I constantly found him in the backfield, re-directing a running back or forcing the QB to move in the pocket.

-Mike Neal (Purdue) gets off the snap well, but doesn’t do much when he is engaged. He got locked on to by Iupati a few times and showed nothing in terms of shedding the block.

-The Lions defensive line coach grilled D’Anthony Smith for getting knocked backward five yards in the double team drill. Smith gets overwhelmed by that kind of power, and he was non-existent in teams drills.

LINEBACKERS

-I saw Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott following this unit around the field as if he were a kid looking for an autograph. He had to like what he saw in AJ Edds (Iowa). He displayed some quick feet in the bag drills and showed outstanding coverage ability. He flows to the ball and just has a nice feel for the game. Physical tackler that uses nice technique too.

-Phillip Dillard (Nebraska) was a factor against the pass as well, both in coverage and as a blitzer. He disguised a blitz to Canfield’s blind side and if it were completely live, he would have laid Canfield out right as he reached the rear end of his five step drop. He showed some nice ability in sticking with tight ends in space as well, pretty much the only one that stuck with Dickson.

-Justin Cole (San Jose State) was another late addition to the squad, and he is very raw. His ability however appears to be there, and he was night and day a different player in team drills from that I saw early in practice. Scouts and coaches love to see that kind of short term progression, responding to coaching is a big deal here.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

-Kyle Wilson (Boise State) had another impressive day and I think it is safe to say he is the best senior cornerback in this class. While he is not a big guy, he was just killing receivers at the line with his press coverage. He made Donald Jones look silly in the one-on-one drill which resulted in Canfield not even throwing the ball because of how bad Wilson roughed him up.

-I was very impressed by Chris Cook (Virginia) at cornerback. For a guy that stands 6’2, his hips are very smooth and he has very little wasted motion in his movements. His length makes him a big factor as a press corner and he made an outstanding interception where he under cut a route with perfect timing.

-Kyle McCarthy (Notre Dame) did not stand out earlier this week but he showed a lot of range today. While his speed isn’t there, he anticipates throws well and he can burst out of his backpedal. Made some nice plays on the ball in deep coverage.

WEDNESDAY’s WINNERS

Jacoby Ford – WR – Clemson

His speed was on an entirely different level than anyone on the field today. He got the ball in space a few times and simply made the defensive backs appear as if they were wearing bricks as shoes. He even beat Boise State corner Kyle Wilson on a deep route with plenty of separation for the QB to work with.

Chris Cook – CB – Virginia

Has outstanding length and strength which makes him a factor at the line. But he showed some nice hip movement and definitely has the tools to play corner at the next level.

WEDNESDAY’s LOSERS

Donald Butler – LB – Washington

Looked very weak in traffic today. When an offensive lineman got a clean look at him, he was completely overwhelmed and pushed back a few yards. With a guy that small, he needs to show more athleticism than what I saw today.

Donald Jones – Youngstown State

Didn’t show the speed or quickness. Couldn’t catch the passes in traffic. And his struggles to get off jam coverage was noticeably weak. With limited time to show his ability today, he certainly dropped the ball (pun intended).

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