RB Duel Emerges, TE Rivera Shines During South’s Wednesday Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 23, 2013 – 6:24 pm

The dog days of Senior Bowl week are here, as both the North and South teams are 4 days and 3 practices into their week in Mobile. But that didn’t stop new developments from emerging on Wednesday afternoon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, with the South team practicing for roughly 2 hours in a near perfect football climate.

One of the more entertaining developments was the emergence of a duel at RB. Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor is perhaps the most well-known runner on the South squad, having logged 3 straight 1,000-yard rushing and double-digit TD seasons. He was clearly his team’s best RB in Tuesday’s practice and has the kind of build you see in bell cow runners at the NFL level. But on Wednesday it was Florida’s Mike Gillislee who starred for the South. Gillislee broke free on the first play of 9-on-7 drills and then later in the practice he carried the ball on a draw play, burst up the middle and made a sweet cut to the right that allowed him to outrun the angle by pursuing LB Sean Porter. On that play, Gillislee’s burst was on display and it drew a reaction from the bleachers full of coaches and scouts.

I didn’t see Monday’ practice. On Tuesday it was Taylor who was better. On Wednesday it was Gillislee who was better. It’s an interesting duel between those two runners – a pair of runners with similar styles.

Rivera tops the TEs
I noted on Tuesday that the South team had an intriguing group of TEs and that I’d take a closer look at the group to try and discern among them. On Wednesday, a close look was not required in order to discern the talent. Tennessee’s Mychal Rivera was the standout. Granted, Rivera is the better pass-catcher of the group, and it can be easier to notice a pass-catching TE than one that excels in blocking. But, the bottom line is that on Wednesday Rivera solidified his standing as the group’s best pass-catcher. He didn’t drop a pass while I was watching him – both Vance McDonald and Michael Williams did – and he was constantly open. His best play came on a post route he ran while starting down the left seam. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson stepped up into the pocket and fired a laser at Rivera, who leaped and hauled in the catch on a route that took him over the dropping linebacker and under a charging safety.

Rivera measures in at just over 6-3 and at 237 pounds. He appears to have a frame that he could build on, but that takes dedication and discipline, so teams interested in him will have to gauge his commitment. He did labor quite a bit in the late stages of a few periods on Wednesday, but you can hardly blame him considering how many routes he ran. Also, some offenses would prefer a TE with his build because they essentially use TEs as WRs. Regardless, Rivera clearly has pass-catching talent and has been one of the South’s most productive receivers this week.

3 CBs, 3 LBs stand out
The South defense had a spirited practice on Wednesday, and 6 individuals from the back end of that defense stood out. We’ll start with the CBs. The Detroit Lions coaching staff had the entire group of DBs go through drills that required them to sink and turn their hips quickly, and San Diego State’s Leon McFadden and Southeast Louisiana’s Robert Alford looked the most fluid during those drills. Williams & Mary’s BW Webb also looked good in this setting. A guy who flashed a bit on Tuesday – Cal CB Marc Anthony – flashed a bit once again on Wednesday. It should also be noted that Alford and Webb both took turns returning punts on Wednesday, and both fielded all punts cleanly.

For the LBs, Alabama’s Nico Johnson was all over the field, constantly in the middle of a play or the area of an incomplete pass. He lost a one-on-one every now and then during a pass coverage drill, but he was nearly flawless when pass rushing vs. the RBs/FB and he was solid during both 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 work. On one play, in fact, Johnson dropped into zone coverage and reached his depth quick enough to force a high incompletion on a pass from Oklahoma QB Landry Jones to Rivera – one of the few incompletions intended for Rivera on the day. Johnson was playing the MIKE (middle) LB in the South’s defense.

Playing one of the outside LB spots was Texas A&M’s Sean Porter, a 6-1, 231-pound defender who can run well and isn’t afraid to lay a big hit. While Gillislee did run away from Porter on one occasion, one must keep in mind that the Florida RB would run away from most defenders on the field. Porter is an athletic LB, and he made one of the better hits I saw of the week during an 11-on-11 period when he came downhill and blasted a ball-carrier on a good, clean hit.

Speaking of athletic LBs who can run, that’s exactly how one should describe Missouri’s Zaviar Gooden. He’s listed at just under 6-1 and at 233 pounds, and he can fly around the football field. At first glance, it’s even easy to mistake him for a safety. I’m not sure if it’s fair to categorize him as a tweener (that’s usually not a flattering description for a player), but I would categorize him as a LB who plays and looks like a safety.

– It would be fun to see a DT tandem that consisted of Georgia’s Jonathan Jenkins and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams. Jenkins measures in at just under 6-4, 369 pounds, while Williams tips the scales at 6-2½, 313. Williams strikes me as being more capable of developing into a 3-down DT, but if a team had a Jenkins-Williams tandem at DT, something tells me they’d have success defending the run.
— The South offense tried a creative play near the end of practice, but a pair of South defenders were not fooled. The play was a fake handoff to the FB going through the A gap and then a pitch to the HB wide left. Clemson DE Malliciah Goodman and Alabama S Robert Lester were not fooled, though, as Goodman strung the play wide toward the sideline and Lester came downhill and finished off the ball carrier. Both players showed good athleticism and discipline on the play.
Louisiana Tech P Ryan Allen got 4 punts off to close practice on Wednesday. On the 4 punts he had a gross average of 49.3 yards, with 3 of the 40 kicks going at least 50 yards. I didn’t clock the get-off time or the hang time, so perhaps Allen took a few liberties in those areas because there was no rush, which would result in better distances. But the numbers on their own were pretty impressive.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 29 Comments »

29 Responses to “RB Duel Emerges, TE Rivera Shines During South’s Wednesday Practice”

  1. By rogerthevikefan on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

  2. By rogerthevikefan on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Ok maybe he is not the best but he is the most complete WR. I would much rather have him then one of the over priced divas in FA.
    He would give Ponder a reliable outlet besides Rudolph and depending on what happens with Harvin.
    Him and Harvin together would be great.
    Him alone would still be very solid.

  3. By H.M.G. on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Wobby what is up with that list.
    Sylvester Williams and Johnathan Jenkins the only DT you have on it.
    How about the guy who has been dominating the Senior Bowl Brandon Williams.
    6’2 340 lbs. Monster who can destroy double teams and eat the QB.

  4. By H.M.G. on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Although I would not mind getting CB Robert Alford. Maybe even faster then Robinson and better coverage skills.

  5. By RichardA1 on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Going Berzerk! bring on the season! YAAAAAAEH!!

  6. By john61 on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    brandon wiilliams would be a great fit

  7. By Megakrab on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    I just read an article that our vikes went to Jordan Campbell’s junior game last spring to scout him… Looks like he’s already on our radar. SHHHH!!! lol

  8. By Megakrab on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

  9. By H.M.G. on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Both Jenkins and Sly. Williams are soft. Jenkins barely plays half the time. While Sly has the quickness and skills but needs to wok harder.
    Brandon Williams is anything but soft. He has the quickness and all the skills of a NT and a 3 tech-nice. Plus he is one of the hardest workers anyone will ever meet. Seriously he needs to be wearing purple and gold after April 27th.

  10. By john61 on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    i think we should go after all d this years draft, lots of good d players,pickup good fa wr, sign harvin and we would make the packers run scared

  11. By Spencer on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Too many blogs, I can’t keep up :(

  12. By john61 on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    what do you think SPENCER

  13. By vikings rule on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    JaMarcus Russell making comeback at 308 lbs

  14. By rogerthevikefan on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    A quote from probably the 2nd best CB in the draft about Quinton Patton:

    “I feel like (Quinton Patton) from Louisiana Tech is the best receiver I’ve played against since I’ve been here. I’ve gone against some good ones in the SEC, too, but he’s probably the most complete.”

    ~ Mississippi State CB Jonathan Banks,, Oct. 28, 2011

  15. By H.M.G. on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    All the FA WR a divas. None are worth what they think they are. The only FA that should be heavily pursued is the LG Andy Levitre. He is still young around 26-27 and would make the left side of the OLine ELITE.
    Then get WR Patton in the 1st round.
    DT Brandon Williams in the 2nd.
    CB Robert Alford in the 3rd.
    LB A.J. Klien in the 4th.
    WR Aaron Mellete with the other 4th.
    OG\T Jordan Mills in the 5th.
    Best available LB in the 7th.
    Best available DB in the 7th to end the draft.

  16. By Northern Norseman on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply


    I love Brandon Williams myself.

    I can’t remember what article it was that I read about him over in early fall… It was a small school player watch ordeal but yeah the more I kept track of him the more I liked him.

    Only thing is that I was worried about the type of competition he was going against so I really wasn’t sure how good he was. I havn’t been able to keep track of him through senior bowl practices but if he is doing good here than that is great!

    It’ll be interesting to see his progress through the next couple months.

  17. By H.M.G. on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    @Northern Norseman
    He is doing what he did in college. Making guys look weak!

  18. By BlueBird7 on Jan 23, 2013 | Reply

    Yes, indeed. That is you alright………………

  19. By Runway on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

    Ah, I saw the headline– RB — gee, perhaps I was right? I am telling all of you- Spielman will draft a RB.

  20. By Parkway on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

    It’s likely we trade down and could end up with 2 2nds and 2 3rds. Could look something like this:

    2nd: Hopkins (WR)
    2nd: Brown (OLB)
    3rd: Spence (DT)
    3rd: Alford (OG)
    4th: Wreh – Wilson (CB)

    Add in Levitre and Ponder will be able to read a book in the pocket.

  21. By Parkway on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply


  22. By sandiamond on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

    Why all the pumps about Sly Williams? UNC’s Def got spanked all season long by opposing teams and I don’t recall much media hype here about Williams’ great play. When Wobs touts a player hard, he is ALWAYS wrong. lol

  23. By sandiamond on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

    DT Brandon Williams smart kid!

  24. By sandiamond on Jan 24, 2013 | Reply

  25. By anony on Jan 26, 2013 | Reply

    omg I hope they don’t draft another tight end

  26. By ndvike on Jan 26, 2013 | Reply

    I think the Vikings staff will be seriously evaluating QB’s in the draft. Ponder is mediocre at best. Webb is not the answer either. They are both backups in my opinion. For instance, if we would have taken Kaepernick last year, do you really believe Ponder would even be discussed in starting next year? He’s a great person, but come on man! This is about fitting a football in a window the size of a frying pan running thirty miles an hour while you are running backwards with a 350# man about to pummel you into the ground – and do that consistently.

  27. By cameronhaynes2012 on Jan 27, 2013 | Reply

    Go for Revis from the Jets! Think about it! We play Rodgers twice a year, Cutler and Marshall twice a year, And Stafford and Megatron twice a year! We have to be able to stop the pass game! Revis can help us do that easy! INSTANT IMPACT! give the Jets our first round pick then use the others to draft WR, then OLB and Boom all our holes are filled and the Superbowl is within our grasp. It wasn’t our offense that lost the season it was our Defence’s secondary!

  28. By roof repair on Jan 28, 2013 | Reply

    wow, awesome article post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  29. By rj on Jan 30, 2013 | Reply

    revis is overrated, waste of money. WR cobi hamilton i bet would be a stud.

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