This is Charlie Campbell's Monday 2012 Senior Bowl Practice Report. Charlie is reporting live from Mobile, Ala., and he'll describe what he sees at practice and whom certain prospects talk to all week.
The North team took to the field of Ladd Peebles Stadium for their first practice of Senior Bowl on Monday afternoon. The Minnesota Vikings coaching staff was in charge of the North team and they had the players practicing in shells, shorts, shoulder pads and helmets. Typically, Tuesday and Wednesday are the full-padded sessions. To start out practice, they worked on special teams and in their individual position groups.
The wide receivers worked specifically on body control along the sideline. Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick is a big, athletic prospect. He needs to be developed some and work on his footwork for the NFL, but that isn't surprising considering the jump in competition. Ohio State wide receiver Devier Posey and Iowa wideout Marvin McNutt are both polished. McNutt had a fancy one-handed catch.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson was spinning the ball and showing a quality arm on passes. Meanwhile, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore does not have the same arm strength, and his balls were floating a fair amount. Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum had a bad dropped pass working with the quarterbacks. Wilson and Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins both had fumbled snaps.
After the individual period, the squad was broken into a scrimmage session of one-on-ones between the wide receivers and the defensive backs, while a nine-on-nine run scrimmage was waged on the other half of the field. Generally, the wideouts got the best of the one-on-ones. Cal wideout Marvin Jones had a quality practice. He had an impressive win against Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson. Jones also beat Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard on a deep post going into the end zone. Dennard almost broke the pass up but Jones showed impressive strength to hang onto the football as Dennard tried to slap it out.
Quick had a nice leaping catch along the sideline on a pass thrown off the mark, while McNutt burned Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson on slant route. Posey had position on Jackson on a deep ball in the front corner of the end zone, but Posey dropped the pass. Jackson did well fielding punts, but he struggled with defending the receivers.
Boston College cornerback Donnie Fletcher had a solid practice. He has some size, athleticism and strength. He made some good reads and hits on receivers in the one-on-ones.
One of the most impressive players on Monday for the North team was Arizona State wide receiver Gerell Robinson. He beat Johnson in the one-on-ones, and got the better of Fletcher with a beautiful one-handed catch reaching back behind his body. In the 11-on-11 full team scrimmage, Robinson was moving the chains for the offense. He was very effective running the short to intermediate slant. He beat Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming on a comeback route. After making the catch, Robinson dodged Fleming's reach to break free downfield for a good gain. It wasn't all good for Robinson, as he dropped one slant pass. Overall he was a real challenge for defensive backs and Robinson made his presence felt.
The defensive and offensive linemen battled in one-on-ones, and the defensive linemen had the better overall day. Here is a scorecard of some of the one-on-one action:
Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes beat Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler with a speed rush followed by a swim move.
Zeitler came back to end the session by winning two reps against Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu. He stonewalled two bull rushes as the thick Zeitler is very good at anchoring. The way to beat Zeitler is with speed, as bull rushes tend to go nowhere.
Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin and Ohio State center Mike Brewster split four reps with each getting two victories. Brewster rode Martin around the pocket on the first try, while Martin bull rushed Brewster into the quarterback marker on the rematch. The next rep saw Brewster hold off Martin long enough for a pass to be thrown. The final rep had Martin blasting Brewster back and rocking the center onto his heels. That let Martin jet by him to get to the marker.
Boise State defensive tackle Billy Winn battled Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman. Winn lost the first rep as Troutman held him off long enough. They had a draw on another rep where Winn got some charge before being stopped. Winn beat Utah guard Tony Bergstrom with a speed rush.
Bergstrom lost two reps to Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. He burned him with speed rushes to the inside. Johnson had a good practice overall. He also beat Iowa State offensive tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele with some speed rushes to the inside. Osemele was at right tackle. Johnson would start to the outside before darting by Osemele to the interior.
Cincinnati defensive tackle/end Derek Wolfe had two draws going against Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams. Each rep saw Wolfe push the pocket before being stopped short of getting to the marker. Wolfe split two reps with Zeitler. Wolfe won with a speed rush and lost when he tried to bull rush Zeitler.
Adams split two battles with Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry. The first time saw Adams get a hold of Curry, and he was unable to shed the block. The rematch had Curry getting low around the edge and turning the corner to get by Adams.
Washington offensive tackle Senio Kelemete won two reps against Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford. The first rep saw Kelemete stop a bull rush dead on. The second attempt was a speed rush that Kelemete mirrored well.
There were some impressive wins in the line play during the team scrimmage. Vinny Curry and Cam Johnson had good rushes in the 11-on-11 battles. Curry had Russell Wilson sacked on one play after he beat Kelemete on a speed rush around the corner. Johnson beat Osemele on a speed rush with Osemele at right tackle. In judging by the first day, Osemele is misfit at tackle and should move inside to guard. Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin got blown up by a bump block from Troutman and Zeitler. The big offensive linemen put Martin into the turf hard. That is a hard block to beat in the NFL and can give a lot of defensive tackles fits, but beating that block can separate the men from the boys.
To conclude practice, the teams worked on punts. Wisconsin punter Brad Nortman had a good day and was getting good hang time. The Vikings coaches praised Nortman. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David did well as a personal protector for the punter, while Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson was a gritty and effective gunner. Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead, North Carolina State wide receiver T.J. Graham and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson returned the punts. None of them muffed a kick.
There were some other brief notables from the Monday practice. Washington running back Chris Polk and Boise State running back Doug Martin looked good, but it can be tough to read when tackles aren't being made. Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins look like better prospects than Kellen Moore. Moore's arm is seriously lacking. Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler spent some time after practice working on snapping the ball with the Vikings coaching staff. Many NFL guards are required to learn some center in case of injury.
A late add to the Senior Bowl is Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis. He had a solid debut with some good plays in pass coverage in the team scrimmage.