The West squad held its final padded practice of the East-West Shrine Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fl. A storm came in and the entire practice was played in steady rain. That caused 90 percent of the NFL scouts and media to leave the field and skip the practice. As a result, the coaches ended the practice about an hour early.
It was a good decision, as the wet conditions were clearly having an impact on the players. Passes were being dropped by both the offense and defense, while some players were losing their footing. Fortunately, no prospect seemed to sustain an injury as a result of playing on the wet high-school field. While it was disappointing not to have a complete practice, the West squad had 2.5 padded practices this week, while the East squad had padded sessions only on Wednesday and Tuesday.
The West team did some scrimmaging in its final vigorous workout before the East-West Shrine Game. The West had a seven-on-seven passing session, a one-on-one defensive vs. offensive lineman battle, along with a brief full-team workout. In the seven-on-seven session, Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin showed good reaction skills, along with some nice hands, in jumping to make a leaping interception. Franklin (6-1, 241) is a quick linebacker who has some instincts, but at his size, he should probably be a 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL.
As mentioned, both offensive and defensive players were dropping passes. Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade dropped an interception, while Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie had some issues that saw him get corrected by the coaching staff. It looked like Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa may have had the ball slip out of his hand as he almost threw an interception on a dump-off screen pass. The linebackers and running backs seemed to handle the weather better than the receivers and defensive backs.
USC running back Marc Tyler had another strong practice. He churned his way through the field, and his downhill running style was suited to the conditions. Tyler made a nice catch and run on a screen pass during the team scrimmage. He was chased down about 15 yards downfield by TCU linebacker Tank Carder.
Tight end George Bryan had a good gain with a catch down the middle seam on a well-thrown pass from Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen. The offensive line had some struggles in the 11-on-11 session and allowed multiple sacks. SMU guard Josh LeRibeus and Nebraska offensive tackle Marcel Jones gave up sacks on back-to-back plays to Missouri defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton and Rutgers defensive end Justin Francis. Both used speed rushes to jet by the linemen and have the signal caller in their sights as if it were an actual game. Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford had a good day with some strong rushes in the one-on-ones and the team scrimmage.
Colorado guard Ryan Miller had a false start in the team scrimmage, but bounced back to do a nice job in pass protection on some speed rushes at right tackle. It has been a mixed week for Miller with some plays that showed real power and athleticism while also giving up some pass pressures to powerful bull-rushers or speed rushes around the edge. After entering the Shrine week as a potential second-rounder, Miller is now more likely to be a mid-round pick.
Some of the highlights from the one-on-one session included Marcel Jones getting destroyed by Laval University's (Canada) Armaud Nadon on a speed rush around the edge. Dominique Hamilton blew up Connecticut center Moe Petrus with a bull rush for an impressive victory.
One power player in the NFL, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, watched the session in the rain. After practice, there were very few scouts around because of the rain, but there were a few teams that met with players on the field for interviews.
Here is the rundown of some of the post-practice interviews between the player and a team that was spending some time talking to the prospect:
Jacksonville- Rutgers Justin Francis, Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford and Michigan tight end Kevin Koger
Detroit- Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford