This is Charlie Campbell's Tuesday 2013 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 Detroit Lions' coaching staff ran Tuesday's South team practice with the players in full pads. The stars of Tuesday for the South were Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor, Florida running back Mike Gillislee, Georgia nose tackle John Jenkins and Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson. All of them had excellent practices from start to finish.
San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden and Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton stood out as well. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was the best of the three South signal-callers. We'll have more on all of their practices shortly.
Unfortunately, there were some injuries that impacted the South roster. Southern Miss linebacker Jaime Collins was out with a hamstring injury and Cornell offensive lineman J.C. Tretter suffered a broken nose. Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope and Tennessee guard/tackle Dallas Thomas were held out too.
The scouts had a good look early in practice at the defensive backs' flexibility in the individual drills. Alabama safety Robert Lester looks very stiff and is a plodder. He needs to work hard to look better at the NFL Scouting Combine. Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings and safety Shawn Williams need improvement as well. On the other hand, Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo and William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb both looked fluid.
Next, the receivers and cornerbacks broke into one-on-ones. The wideouts have the advantage in this drill because they know the route with the quarterback, while the cornerbacks have no help via a safety or a pass rush.
Patton's first rep wasn't impressive as Southeastern Louisiana cornerback Robert Alford ran with him to force an incompletion as both players dived for the ball. Patton came back to make a phenomenal grab against Alford while falling backward. Patton displayed nice quickness on other one-on-one reps. He attacks the football and is a gritty receiver. Patton has competed well this week and is helping his cause.
Another receiver who quietly did well on Tuesday was Baylor's Terrance Williams. Like Patton, Williams' first rep was nothing special as Lester was able to break up a pass. After that though, Williams was getting a lot of separation on defensive backs. He beat Commings on a quick slant and burned Rambo on an out and up to get wide open, but that pass was overthrown. Williams then worked his way open against Webb, but dropped the pass. Most importantly, Williams showed the ability to get separation through quickness and good route-running.
Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton has had a mixed Senior Bowl. He got open against McFadden, but the pass was thrown a little late. McFadden showed nice recovery speed to break up the deep ball. He was consistently providing good coverage in the team scrimmage and seven-on-sevens.
The tight ends, running backs and linebackers fit in their rotations in as well. Gillislee had a nice reception for solid yards on an out route against Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter. Wake Forest fullback Tommy Bohanon also looked good, beating Alabama linebacker Nick Johnson for a nice reception. Rambo, meanwhile, had tight coverage to slap a pass away from Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
The defensive line and offensive line had a spirited one-on-one pass-rushing session. One of the new roster additions was Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills. He drew some positive reviews and had a few good battles in the one-on-one sessions.
BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah started out his session by beating Mills with a bull rush. Ansah got great leverage under Mills' arm to charge into the pocket. The next rep saw Mills allow some penetration, but he held off Ansah long enough to get a win. Ansah beat Mills when they rematched by using a lightning spin move, but Mills stood up a bull rush to earn a split on the final two reps.
Kentucky guard Larry Warford had a good showing on Tuesday. He had two wins against South Florida defensive tackle Corey Grissom. Florida State defensive tackle Everett Dawkins tried a spin move on Warford that went nowhere. Dawkins did beat him on one rep with a speed rush, but Warford bounced back to easily stuff a bull rush from Dawkins.
Unfortunately, Warford didn't go against Georgia nose tackle John Jenkins. The latter was dominant against Clemson center Dalton Freeman; Jenkins outweighs Freeman by about 60 pounds and it showed. Jenkins abused Freeman with a powerful jolt, followed by a rip move, to get to the marker in a blur. It was probably the most impressive rush of the day.
Jenkins' bull rush also victimized Chadron State guard Garrett Gilkey on two plays. The second one saw Gilkey get shoved to the ground courtesy of a rip move and a power rush. 3-4 defenses looking for a disruptor on the inside of their defensive line have to love what they see out of Jenkins.
A potential poor man's version of Jenkins is Tennessee-Martin nose tackle Montori Hughes. He added to Freeman's long day by beating him with a rip move to gain leverage on the center.
Oklahoma's Lane Johnson was the best offensive tackle on the South squad on Tuesday. He beat Clemson's Malliciah Goodman on a few reps, including one where he pushed Goodman into the turf with force. Johnson also had some easy wins with LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards.
Virginia offensive tackle Oday Aboushi and Florida offensive tackle Xavier Nixon had mixed days. Each of them has some athleticism, but needs more refinement on their technique. Aboushi, at times, looks very good mirroring speed-rushers, while Nixon has some ability in the ground game. They both have some potential, but will require more development than a player like Johnson.
The offensive line fared better in the team-scrimmage session. That success allowed Gillislee and Taylor some nice running lanes that they turned into long runs.
Taylor got it started by running toward the middle before cutting to the right side to break into the secondary. He juked a defensive back 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and was off into the open field. It probably would've been a 65-yard touchdown run in an actual game.
Taylor had another nice run up the middle for over 10 yards. He repeatedly got good yards on the inside and showed nice quickness and vision.
Gillislee ran well up the middle too; he's slippery at the second level. He dodges defenders and finds a way to pick up extra yards before defenders can get ahold of him. Gillislee had at least four runs of over 10 yards in the team scrimmage.
Both Taylor and Gillislee looked good in pass protection and receiving as well. They really have showcased a complete skill set to potentially be three-down backs in the NFL. They are two impressive sleeper running backs who could be second-day picks.
Tyler Wilson displayed a solid arm strength and accuracy in both the seven-on-seven and team-scrimmage practices. One of his good throws went to Gillislee for a nice gain. Wilson also showed perfect ball placement to drop a throw into McDonald in a tight window between Rambo and Lester. Wilson showed off some of his arm strength when he laced a fastball into the chest of Connor Vernon on a dig route with defenders close. That route yielded another good gain from Wilson on a bullet to Hamilton between Rambo and Williams.
Wilson had a pretty play on which he ran out on a bootleg before dropping in a perfect pass to Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera. A defender skied high in the air, but Wilson had great touch on the ball to get it over the defender's hands and into his target.
Not everything went Wilson's way though. One of his short passes was deflected up into the air by California cornerback Marc Anthony, allowing Florida State linebacker Vince Williams to run under the ball for the interception. It wasn't exactly Wilson's fault, but his receiver definitely wasn't open and he forced the throw.
Wilson recovered and connected with Patton for a big gain in the deep middle of the field. However, the play was slow enough that the signal-caller would've been sacked in a real game. Still, coaches and scouts like to see a throw and completion as if the protection had been sound.
It was clear from Tuesday that Wilson is the most efficient and polished quarterback on the South squad. His teammates, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, flash big arms and occasional nice throws at times, but neither was very consistent.
Manuel's day wasn't great. For one, he telegraphed a dump-off throw that was batted down by Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas. It could have been easily intercepted. Manuel had another attempt in which Hamilton was running open on a corner post, but the signal-caller sailed the ball out of bounds. Manuel completed a lot of check downs, but he doesn't seem to be a natural passer.
Jones' day had its problems as well, including a fumbled snap to start his reps. He also had a late throw to Vernon that was batted away by Anthony. McFadden followed suit by slapping away a pass from Jones on a dig route.