GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT
NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
by 'Pigskin' Paul Guillemette, editor of Paul's Pigskin Place and Special GBN Scout
Thursday January 16
Alrighty boys and girls here is a wrap on the final day of practice for Shrine Week. As expected it was a padless walk through, but there were a few moments worth mentioning.Wednesday, January 15
I was impressed with the quickness and footwork of Georgia Tech DB JEREA THOMAS who has been playing safety this week. The position surprises me because I’m not aware of many, no make that any, 5-9, 191-pound safeties in the NFL. My memory says I saw him at CB watching TECH play multiple times this past season. He showed his ball awareness with a nice end zone INT of a deflected ball during 11-on-11. He’s made plays all week and should be a late round pick in May.
The EAST offensive co-ordinator JUNE JONES has clearly created a package of plays for athletic Northern Illinois QB JORDAN LYNCH that will allow him to run with the ball as an option more than we usually see. It was on display this morning and quite effective. LYNCH was gaining chunks of yards with his feet, and looked more comfortable as a passer with that being almost a second option.
I had a smile on my face for a good 10 minutes watching TIM KRUMRIE work out with his defensive line group this morning. He was stressing the importance of keeping blockers hands from locking into the chest of his DL. He did an individual “slap” game with each player and the guys were all hooting and hollering and laughing as they took turns trying deflect KRUMRIE’s maneuvering and hand slapping. It was a great episode of effective teaching and bonding. Football is still a game and this session proved that it can still be fun. How is KRUMRIE not an NFL DL Coach right now on some staff? In fact, the quote of the day from KRUMRIE, talking to his guys about holding their water and not anticipating the snap count: “But if you screw up, keep going and do it at 100 miles per hour.”
Bowling Green TE ALEX BAYER appears to be the No. 1 option for long snapping, with Tennessee C JAMES STONE being the second option.
Coastal Carolina WR MATT HAZEL has proven once again that small school guys generally respond positively to the higher level of player competition and coaching at these venues. HAZEL has looked better and more comfortable every day this week. I fully expect him to have a good game Saturday.
After 4 days of observation I would expect the EAST squad to win the kicking battle on game day. ZACH HOCKER, has looked better than Texas K ANTHONY VERA with his accuracy and mechanics. VERA may actually have a slightly stronger leg, but he is more erratic overall. I will give the Punting edge to RICHIE LEONE of Houston of the WEST squad. He kicks farther and with better hang time than STEVEN CLARK, who has not displayed the control that he exhibited in his effort against Alabama.
The EAST seems to have really developed some team chemistry and spirit this week. In addition to the DL fun the team also carried one of JERRY GLANVILLE’s assistants off the practice field on their shoulders, chanting at the end of practice. Another pretty cool, fun moment.
The best watch of the afternoon today was the LB group. With Michigan State bulldog MAX BULLOUGH and Southern Cal‘s DEVON KENNARD leading the way they are a pretty noisy, active group. They kid with their coach and themselves, but work pretty hard. It is clear though that the stone hands of the group is Notre Dame OLB PRINCE SHEMBO. In their ball drills they cheered when PRINCE would actually make a catch.
Valdosta State WR SEANTAVIOUS JONES is another small school player who has really improved as the week has gone on. He looked particularly dangerous today on end zone throws. He was very effective on back shoulder catches.
And speaking of players from small schools, CB MARCUS WILLIAMS from FCS national champion North Dakota State also looks the part of a legit prospect. He got better every day and was very receptive to coaching.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the practices this week was the apparent refusal of a few players to accept the coaching work trying to be done. The worst case of it came from one of the WEST RB group who literally refused to change the way he cradled the ball while running, to help prevent stripping by the defenders. The coach was preaching “high & tight” and this player still carried it out and loose. I’ve made a personal note in my Shrine book that this kid fails to make an NFL team next fall with that kind of attitude. The staffs here may not be current NFL coaches, but overall I saw a lot of quality coaching for both teams, by a bunch of guys who have NFL playing and coaching experience. Players had a solid chance to learn this week and most did.
I’m sure hoping that we have enough players on hand Saturday to play the actual Shrine Game. Some elite players (at least in heir agents’ minds) are dropping out of the Senior Bowl every day now. And more and more Shrine Game guys are being announced as their replacements. It’s getting damn close to game time here, and I hope they finish the week here and play before leaving for Mobile.
That’s a wrap folks, since Friday is a brief walk through in The Trop, which media has no access to. I’ll be at the game and will file a report later this weekend on observations there. Hope I’ve been able to provide you with some insight and info on what it’s been like down here this week. And thanks to the GBN again for letting me be his eyes and ears down here. Back at you next week from Mobile.
Cool temps, no rain and the East football squad greeted me as I arrived at practice this Wednesday morning. The team looked refreshed and ready for some contact after being relegated to an indoor walk thru Tuesday.
I decided that since I always end up spending too much time watching the big uglies work I would at least start my morning with DB drill work. Lo and behold, who should be camped out directly beneath the goal post watching the same group but TED THOMPSON? It’s a large group of DB despite the absence of E.J. GAINES who is nursing wounds from the Mizzou Bowl game. I quickly identified two good sized CBs who looked smooth with their footwork in ball direction drills in ANDRE HAL of Vanderbilt and small-college star PIERRE DESIR of Lindenwood. HAL had a strong steady career at Vandy and reminds me some of CASEY HAYWARD his former Commodore teammate who is now with the PACKERS. He’s not flashy and is probably best suited in a primarily zone cover scheme, but he can turn his hips and accelerate quite nicely after a change of direction. He also locates he ball well. DESIR is the highly touted small school guy who has the length of frame and arms that scouts always look for and rarely find. He’s on a pretty big stage compared to what he’s used to from small school days. He seems a bit slower than HAL in reacting to the ball, but can get to it and shows good coordination and balance.
But I couldn’t stay away from the big boys for long. I was drawn to some drill work by the DL, under the supervision of former BADGERS/BENGALS DT TIM KRUMRIE. I continue to be drawn to the smaller school guys and couldn’t keep my eyes off of the big energizer bunny, ZACH KERR of Delaware. Though lacking a bit in finesse, KERR displays a high rev motor and great enthusiasm for the game. Krumrie calls him Delaware and offers advice and encouragement constantly. In later scrimmage type work KERR inflicted some big hits on blockers and ball carriers. He has a knack for pushing the middle right into the pocket. He’s not running anyone down from behind, but he will chase.
Long and strong is how I would describe Richmond DE KERRY WYNN. I show WYNN’s weight at 270, but he looks a bit thicker than I would have expected. I am anxious to see what his arm length measurement is. He sticks those arms out and deflects passes and stops runners in their tracks.
I’m still thinking that Cornell QB JEFF MATHEWS is the top overall QB down here. But his lack of play against top-level competition is showing in his hesitancy to squeeze the ball into his receivers against D1 level CBs. He holds it a bit longer than you would like and is gong to get sacked way too often. He certainly has NFL talent and athleticism, but he’s going to be a grooming project before he’s ready to compete for a starting job as a pro.
Watching Northern Illinois QB JORDAN LYNCH run the O at midfield I couldn’t help but think to myself that he was sorely tempted to tuck it and run on multiple occasions. The 11-on-11 moved to the red zone, at the 15-yard line, and sure enough on the second play LYNCH tucked it and ran a QB keeper for a TD, straight up the middle.
I don’t see him as much of an NFL prospect, but some CFL team should be excited about the prospects for McGill OT LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF as a big time candidate for the Canadian league. LDT may not look pretty from an NFL blocking technique standard, but he’s reasonably athletic and battles to the whistle. I can see him starting right away for some CFL team.
Arkansas PK ZACH HOCKER had his teammates fired up this morning with his FG kicking which seemed to get better the longer the attempt. He was up to 50 yards when he finally missed a long one, and his mates were hooting and hollering for him to make one more kick. You’d have thought he was possibly earning them all a no curfew night.
His work is far from perfect, but I keep seeing good things from Tennessee C/G JAMES STONE, who has moved from OC to OG this week. He’s showing more strength than I expected, and in a limited area is moving his feet very well. He’s quick in a short area and uses his hands very well to move bigger DL away from the pocket. He’s also quick to the second level blocks on running plays. He’s been much more impressive than I remember from the film study I did of him at OC for Tennessee.
The best RB for my money continues to be another RAJION NEAL, another former Volunteer who is a solidly built guy who has shown incredible quickness, cutting ability and flat out speed. He took one to the house during 11-on-11 work this morning. He faked a couple of defenders out of their jocks with one jump-cut. Then he outran everyone to the end zone. He looks to me like the best RB out of Tennessee since the equally unheralded ARIAN FOSTER. Yes, I like him that much this week.
Louisville OLB XAVIUS BOYD used his speed and athleticism to be all over the field this morning. He penetrated into the backfield on multiple occasions during 11-on-11, but on a couple of occasions the ball was headed in the other direction. His athleticism will be highly coveted by NFL personnel people, but his “guessing” and lack of assignment discipline will also cost him in some personnel evaluations. His overall play clearly indicates he has a future as a starter in the pros, just maybe not immediately.
I took time to chat with Penn State OG JOHN URSCHEL after practice. The double degree math man was arguably the top legitimate student/athlete in the country this past season, although he is very intent on giving a pro football career a serious try. He says he had a special relationship with JOE PATERNO and will always consider him one of the strongest personalities who ever influenced his life. I think URSCHEL may be drafted if he can put up decent numbers at the combine and/or his pro day. He’s a stout body guy, and may be tough to cut once he’s on an NFL roster. He’s also very articulate and polite. That should count for something.
I mentioned Louisville OLB DERRELL JOHNSON on Monday and I continue to be impressed with this large, athletic LB. He put his hand down on the ground for some blocking/pass rush drills and showed an impressive combo of power and speed. In an NFL defense where the DC is creative and willing to move this guy around he could become a star. He will have to work on his pass drops, but has enough going for himself already to be a top 100 pick and see plenty of action in sub packages… at the least.
Another solid, high energy practice was orchestrated by JERRY GLANVILLE and his staff of well respected coaches including JUNE JONES, TIM KRUMRIE, PAUL SPICER, MARCUS MASER and more. And yes ELVIS, Glanville will be leaving 2 tickets for you at the will-call window if you are in the area Saturday.
got off to a strange start to the Shrine Week day two. It rained in
Central Florida this morning and to many Floridians that is like waking
to 8” of blowing snow in Chicago. People panic if they have to go
outside. It took me over two hours to commute 80 miles to the morning
practice. When I got there, ten minutes late, I was told there was no
one there practicing. Minutes later my cell delivered the message that
due to rain the East practice was being held as a walk-through inside
the Trade Winds Resort ballroom. That was not even worth traveling the
extra 25 miles for. So my only report for the day is of the WEST
The best looking ball comes off the hand of KEITH WENNING. He
it deep with a tight spiral and good accuracy. He looks a little unsure
of his reads at times and holds the ball too long against good
coverage. I have been a bit disappointed at the inconsistency of KEITH
PRICE/Washington. He moves the best of all three and has very good arm
strength. But on the move he makes some very poor throws. His accuracy
overall has not been as good as WENNING.
BERNARD REEDY/WR/TOLEDO may be the best looking “little guy”
receiving corps so far. He is both quick & fast, with good if not
great hands. He’s also directing traffic and helping his fellow
receivers identify coverage in drills. I would assume he would also be
of help in the punt return game. Another “unknown” small school guy who
has caught my eye more than a
few times thus far is SEANTAVIUS JONES/WR/Valdosta State. He looks even
longer than his listed 6’3”. He stride nicely and generates speed in
about 10-yards. His legs are longer than those of ERIN ANDREWS. In fact
watching him at times I am reminded by daddy long-legs JACOBY JONES of
the RAVENS. He also appears to be a solid hands-catcher.
Also tied to scope out the work of small school standout
DOZIER/Furman who is practicing inside at OG this week. My initial take
is that he has the athleticism to play at the next level and is a
natural knee bender. But he is going to have to beef up by a good 10-15
lbs. to hold up against big NFL DT. His arms do look long and he seems
to have a good grasp of the importance of hand positioning inside the
chest cavity of opponents.
Another OL of note may be GABE IKARD/OC/Oklahoma. He’s a sound
technician and looks like a very solid 290 lbs. He may need a bit more
bulk, but he appears functionally strong and seems like a real student
of the game. He’s constantly asking formation and assignment questions
of his OL coach, and it doesn’t seem like it’s because he doesn’t
understand what’s going on. I feel like he’s making sure he understands
what everyone’s assignment is and why.
MONDAY January, 13
are off and running at Shrine Week
2014. After a double-secret closed player weigh in session this
morning both teams hit the practice fields this afternoon.
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