2009 Senior Bowl: Practice Day 4 – Afternoon

By Matt McGuire
Jan. 23, 2009
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The afternoon practice was my last of the Senior Bowl here in Mobile. I have to say this is one of the most fun weeks of my life and I have met a bunch of really great people. Today with the Jaguars was pretty much a walkthrough. On to my observations:

  • Let me just sincerely applaud the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff for actually caring about coaching the game this week. I have been impressed with their intensity and attention to detail. On the other hand, Jack Del Rio couldn’t care less about this game.

    For example, in the morning practice, the Bengals made the North team do a lot of 1v1s with the receivers and defensive backs. They spent a large chunk of time on red zone offense. I was impressed when the coaching staff practiced game simulation in the 2 minute drill with ball spikes and paying attention to the clock. A draftnik friend of mine was telling me the Bengals special teams coach was practicing holding, punting, and place kicking with the special-teamers. What a tremendous opportunity for these kids to get that level of focus and instruction. Kudos to Marvin Lewis and his staff. So many people missed out on a great morning practice.

    Let’s just say if you can find a Vegas point spread for this game, bet the North team and bet them BIG. Del Rio ended practice today 10 minutes early, the coaches and players were lackadaisical on the field, and I felt like the lack of preparation for practice really showed. It wouldn’t shock me if Del Rio is gone after this season because I can see why the Jaguars looked lethargic in games. Today was basically a walkthrough for the South team and I don’t think the Jags coaching staff really cares at all. If you didn’t want to be here, then don’t coach in this game and waste a great opportunity for these seniors in this prestigious week.

  • One thing Scott Wright from DraftCountdown.com and I noticed were how lazy special-teamers Pat McAfee of West Virginia and David Veikune of Hawaii were today. Instead of practicing long snapping and perfecting techniques, they were on the 40 yard line practicing 5 yard flats. Then, McAfee felt like a complete baller when he spun the ball on the ground Steve Smith-style. What if coaches/scouts in the stands were watching what was going on? Why didn’t the Jaguars coaching staff say something and allow this kind of behavior on the field? I will say based on McAfee’s arm, maybe he should have been moved to quarterback this week, considering how awful the talent performed under center.

  • One of the more impressive players I saw on the day was SMU punter Thomas Morstead. He was getting serious hang time and distance on his punts, often booming them from the 45 yard line to the fence behind the near end zone. He also put great touch and control on his punts, as they had a clean spiral. While McAfee and Veikune were dogging, he was honing his craft, working. Morstead is one to watch on Draft Day, and I think his name will be called in the fifth or sixth rounds.

  • Not much to report on, thanks to the Jaguars coaching staff, but here’s what I got. One player who really shined in today’s practice was LSU fullback/tailback Quinn Johnson. He did a great job of focusing on catching the football and I appreciate the effort I saw in him today.

  • John Parker Wilson had a very rough week and overthrew Florida State receiver Greg Carr by a few yards. How do you overthrow a 6-6 receiver? At times, it’s like the receivers don’t even expect the ball to be on target, and no one can blame them. Girl Scouts would have been more impressive with some of these throws.

  • I talked with a few draftnik buddies and no one was impressed with Jackson State corner Dominique Johnson this week. In the red zone drill, 4.7 forty WR Patrick Turner gained at least three yards of separation and made an easy touchdown catch. How do you give up that much separation on a goal line drill? Johnson was clearly out of his league, which doesn’t bode well for his draft stock.

  • Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher got beat once in pass protection from what I saw, and he has struggled just a little bit since his phenomenal Tuesday practice. I really was rooting for him this week, but I can’t tolerate his inconsistency with technique at times, as he got too high and let defensive linemen into his body. This said, at least he is out here. He is a competitive football player. He hasn’t lost any ground among the tackle class in my opinion. By far, I am sold he is the most purely talented lineman in this draft. It is just the technique issues that worry me.

  • Pat White made a great throw today with some zip, touch and accuracy on a wheel route to Clemson tailback James Davis. Hey, if I am going to complain about how bad the quarterbacks have been this week, shouldn’t I mention the only throw with arm strength that I saw?

  • Alabama safety Rashad Johnson really moved up my draft board a little bit this week as I was impressed with his leadership, range, and level of activity on the field.

    Today was my last day here in Mobile, but you can expect a write-up of my observations of the game, as I will be watching the broadcast on the NFL Network. Also, look out for my Senior Bowl Stock Report soon.

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