I came to Mobile on Monday excited to see North WR Aaron Dobson (Marshall) perform at the Senior Bowl. After Tuesday’s practices, though, I came away from Ladd-Peebles Stadium impressed with what the South WRs showed.
After Wednesday morning’s practice, however, it’s going to be hard for the South receivers group to be the most impressive of the day.
The North WRs, led by Dobson but including several others who stood out, performed well in the morning practice. Dobson and Elon’s Aaron Mellette were at the head of the class, as expected. But I also saw Texas WR Marquise Goodwin and Kansas State WR Chris Harper jump up, too. Here are a few standout plays from this group…
– During one-on-ones, Dobson got off the line on press coverage beautifully using his hands and quick feet to beat Texas S Kenny Vaccaro on a go route. Later in the drill, Washington CB Desmond Trufant tried to get physical with Dobson, but the Marshall playmaker eventually won the battle and uncovered himself for another reception.
– Mellette displayed the same ability to beat press coverage and uncover for a reception when he beat Florida International S Jonathan Cyprien on an intermediate route. Mellette showed his ability downfield as well, sprinting past Nevada DB Duke Williams and Utah State DB Will Davis to haul in a long reception down the right sideline during 11-on-11 work.
– Goodwin was good all day on comeback routes, displaying an ability to drive a defender backwards and then stick his foot in the ground and come back to the QB to uncover. He did exactly this late in the practice, made a diving catch to the outside, and got to his feet in time to sprint past the defense down the sideline. Harper was solid all day, especially in routes over the middle. He actually ended the 11-on-11 period while catching a beautifully thrown pass from Miami (OH) QB Zac Dysert that would’ve resulted in a TD.
What’s the story with LB Arthur Brown, S TJ McDonald?
Kansas State LB Arthur Brown and USC S TJ McDonald are great looking athletes who appear to be among the better players at their position here in Mobile. But as you watch practice, you just don’t see them making any sensational plays. They seem to make the routine plays routinely, but there hasn’t been much splash to their game.
Perhaps that’s a good thing, though. Brown rarely is out of position and he’s around the ball frequently. McDonald read a draw perfectly during 11-on-11 work Wednesday and in fact was the only defender who did, displaying natural instincts and discipline. Also with McDonald, whether it’s during full team work or 7-on-7 drills, the football is rarely thrown in his direction, which tells me he’s in the right place at the right time quite a bit, forcing the QB to go another direction.
It’ll be interesting to see how the stock of both Brown and McDonald changes in the build-up to the draft. My guess is that both of them see their stars become brighter as the draft approaches.
A couple solid CBs
Speaking of being in the right place at the right time, that’s exactly how I’d describe the performance of a pair of North CBs on Wednesday – Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor. Neither player made any spectacular impression today, but both were often in the right place at the right time, forcing incompletions and forcing ball carriers to alter their path. Taylor’s best play may have come on the first play of 11-on-11 work, when he was in perfect position to shadow a receiver running a deep crossing route after a play-action fake by the QB.
Poyer measures in at just under 6-0 and 182 pounds, while Taylor tips the scale at 192 and measured in at 5-10½. Not great size for their position, but poor size, either.
Barner in the passing game
Oregon RB Kenjon Barner is an intriguing prospect to me. He comes from that up-tempo, high-scoring offensive system that Chip Kelly ran. Those players, historically, didn’t always translate well into the NFL. But as I wrote earlier in the week, the success the San Francisco 49ers have had with LaMichael James makes me think Barner can fulfill a similar role with an NFL team. There’s a big discrepancy in the speed of the game from college to the pros, but Barner has the kind of speed that really marginalizes that speed margin.
Barner has work to do, though. He was not very good going against LBs and DBs in pass protection drills today. He was bull rushed by Washington DB Desmond Trufant early in the drill and then Rutgers LB Steve Beauharnais got the best of him a bit later with a nice outside-to-inside move.
Later in the period, though, when the defenders were charged with covering the backs out of the backfield, Barner impressed. He beat Vaccaro with an inside move easily and then used an outside release to explode past Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene.
– North Carolina DT Sylvester “Sly” Williams followed up an absolutely dominant day on Tuesday with another excellent day on Wednesday. He was in the backfield frequently disrupting both QBs and RBs.
— I’ve mentioned Illinois LB Michael Buchanon a couple of times this week. On Tuesday he recovered a fumble and returned it for a TD. And on Monday I included him in the “10 players to watch” entry just because he played LB at Illinois, just as Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell did. But I’m not sure if Buchanon will be a LB in the NFL. Perhaps he’ll be a DE. Or perhaps a team that employs the 3-4 defense will take him and put him at that pass-rushing outside LB spot. With his size-athleticism combo and ability to flash as a pass rusher off the edge, I think he may be best served rushing the passer more than dropping into coverage as frequently as a LB does.
Tags: 2013 Senior Bowl
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