2013 Senior Bowl: Practice Report

This is Scott Wright and Shane P. Hallam Monday 2013 Senior Bowl Practice Report. Scott is president of DraftCountdown, one of the Web’s premier NFL Draft Web sites. This report is part of a collaboration between DraftCountdown.com and WalterFootball.com.

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2013 Senior Bowl: Monday Practice Report

By Scott Wright, President of Draft Countdown.com and Shane P. Hallam, Draft Analyst at DraftCountdown

It was sunny with a cool breeze as the South took the field at Fairhope Municipal Stadium for their first practice. The South was in shells to kick off the week, which is just helmets and shoulder pads. This is always a star-studded session and that was the case once again this year with the likes of Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Rex Ryan and Dabo Swinney on hand.

  • Clemson RB Andre Ellington looked quick on the outside and caught the ball well but seemed lost running up the middle and was almost always met with a defender in 11-on-11 drills.

  • Florida RB Mike Gillislee really shined when given the chance. In the 11-on-11 drills, he fit into tight spaces up the middle and made some nice cuts. Wasn’t all that quick catching and running the football in the RB pass catching drills though.

  • Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor had a solid day as he was used to check down passes a lot and rarely dropped a pass. Had a low pad level in 11-on-11 drills.

  • Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton was the standout of the day on offense. He caught every pass that came his way, even when not perfectly thrown. He could be seen verbally leading the WR group and helping others as the practice went on. His most impressive catch was a pass Tavarres King went up for, missed, and Patton caught it instead. Reminded of Vincent Brown when he was in Mobile.

  • Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton was up and down throughout most of the day. Had a few nice catches over his head and adjusted to poorly thrown balls, but he did let throws get to his pads a few times in some of the footwork and catching drills and was criticized by the WRs coach for it. In the 11-on-11s he ran some good curl and dig routes to get away from corners. Did get coach praise for downfield blocking.

  • Georgia WR Tavarres King didn’t stand out particularly. He caught balls well if they were above his head but struggled in drills with balls thrown near the ground.

  • Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope had a rough outing today. He had at least 3 big drops during the 11-on-11 drills that should have been caught and rarely got separation throughout the practice when going against the DBs.

  • Duke WR Conner Vernon had a solid day. His cutting ability looked above average and always caught the ball away from his body. Wasn’t overly dynamic and in 11-on-11s was covered pretty easily.

  • Baylor WR Terrence Williams showcased his strengths throughout the practice. One of the best drills was him going 1 on 1 with Southeastern Louisiana CB Robert Alford. Williams went with the 9 route and just beat Alford for a TD. Williams struggled in the early drills to get up to speed, but he took coaching well and was impressive in the last hour of the practice.

  • Rice TE Vance McDonald lived up to the billing by Executive Director Phil Savage in terms of catching passes. McDonald has sneaky athleticism and acceleration for a tight end and changed direction quickly. He needed help when blocking late in the practice though and it is an area where he needs to grow.

  • Tennessee TE Mychal Rivera was giving it his all out there. He had a diving catch at one point that was impressive. In the 1-on-1s Rivera looked slow getting off the line, but once he released he showcased soft hands. If the ball wasn’t right too him, he often did not make the correct adjustments though.

  • Alabama TE Michael Williams showcased his blocking ability in the 11-on-11s, but struggled throughout the day catching the ball and matching up with the safeties and linebackers. Dropped easy passes and had poor body control.

  • Southeastern Louisiana CB Robert Alford had a good day of practice. He matched up numerous times with top WR Terrence Williams and though and got beat for a touchdown the first time. As the day progressed, Alford was more physical. He also looked fluid and turned his hips naturally. Broke on the ball well with his make-up speed when needed. Struggled early but grew with coaching throughout the practice.

  • Cal CB Marc Anthony had an average day. He was caught out of position once on a 1-on-1 with Quinton Patton, but for the most part played off in coverage.

  • Georgia CB Sanders Commings showed his physicality on press coverage plays. He help Tavarres King in check a few times. When not pressing in 1-on-1s, Commings struggled to open his hips and run down the field with WRs like Terrence Williams and Conner Vernon. Change of direction skill lacked in early drills.

  • Georgia S Shawn Williams looked slow during the footwork drills but turned it on when he matched up 1-on-1 against the TEs. Was on Michael Williams for a lot of the day and dominated him.

  • Alabama S Robert Lester struggled throughout the practice. Played very high and couldn’t change direction quickly. Was pushed around by Vance McDonald when he tried to press. Got lost in traffic on run plays.

  • San Diego St. CB Leon McFadden was the shining star of the secondary during the practice. In the interception drill, McFadden made a nice catch above his head at one point. He was extremely physical every single play and came away with two interceptions when he anticipated throws. Pushed around Cobi Hamilton in a 1-on-1 situation to break up a pass as well.

  • Georgia S Baccari Rambo showcased some athleticism through the practice but was caught flat footed a few times in 1-on-1s. Looked very tight in the early drills.

  • William & Mary CB B.W. Webb struggled early in the practice during 1-on-1s. Was criticized for a clear grab of Cobi Hamilton’s jersey on a play, and didn’t always square himself up to tackle. He took the coaching well and noticeably improved for the 11-on-11 drills by showcasing better breaking ability. Had a nice rep against Conner Vernon where he refused to let Vernon past him.

  • Georgia Southern S J.J. Wilcox seemed extremely high cut in the early drills and got some personal coaching before the practice even started. When he pressed some of the tight ends he could hold them at bay, but rarely was close to making a play even in the 11-on-11s.

  • The star of the day was probably B.Y.U. DE Ezekiel Ansah, who is clearly raw but about as athletic of a defensive end as your going to find. Ansah was impressive in positional drills, displaying top-notch quickness, foot speed and agility. Ansah also made his presence felt in the team portions of the session, tipping passes in 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s. If Ansah continues to play like this all week he’ll not only cement his spot in the first round but continue to climb up draft boards even further.

  • Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson was rag-dolled a bit at times and needs to get stronger but his pass pro abilities were on full displays. Johnson is rough around the edges but you just can’t teach that type of size and athleticism. There is an opportunity for an offensive tackle in this game to push for a spot in late round one and Johnson is a prime candidate.

  • Georgia DT John Jenkins is certainly easy to spot on the field, which was both a good and bad thing today. “Big John” got off to a slow start, struggling to keep his feet in positional drills and drawing corrective attention from coaches a handful of times. Jenkins came on later in the session though, showing outstanding strength, power and surprising athleticism. I was also impressed with how Jenkins responding to some tough-love coaching, which he may well need at the next level.

  • Missouri OLB Zavier Gooden is super athletic with excellent speed and the range to go sideline-to-sideline. Gooden won’t be a fit for everyone but should profile as a terrific weakside linebacker at the next level.

  • Southern Miss OLB Jamie Collins checked in at 6-3⅜ but may too tall. Collins struggled to keep his pad level down backpedaling in coverage but he is athletic.

  • Florida St. ILB Vince Williams is stiff and a liability in coverage, which may limit him a two-down run thumper role in the pros.

  • Tennessee OT / OG Dallas Thomas, who worked at left tackle most of the day, moves well and is athletic but is not overly stout at the point of attack. Thomas is going to be selected in the top three rounds, but will it be as a tackle or guard? Kind of reminds me of Jeff Allen, who was a second round pick of the Chiefs last year.

  • Stanford OLB Chase Thomas really struggled to match up in coverage and may be a true ‘tweener. The same can be said for Georgia’s Cornelius Washington, who definitely looks the part but doesn’t appear to be an obvious fit at either defensive end or outside linebacker. More questions raised than answers provided today.

  • Florida St. DT Everett Dawkins and South Florida DT Cory Grissom failed to make much of an impact. Dawkins in particular didn’t look great in the positional drills which is a concern for a guy who is supposed to compensate for his lack of size with top athleticism. The good news is there is only one direction to go tomorrow.

  • Chadron St. OT / OG Garrett Gilkey more than held his own and showed that he could play with the big boys. The small school standout was facing the best competition of his life to this point but didn’t back down, which is what you like to see from someone trying to make that leap.

  • Florida St. QB E.J. Manuel was the worst of the three quarterbacks for the South. It seems as though Manuel was trying to showcase his arm strength, which is excellent, but he didn’t change speeds much and was basically gunning everything. Manuel clearly has all of the physical tools but may be more of a thrower than passer and will require development but it’s easy to love those measurables.

  • It was feast or famine for Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, who made some of the nicest throws of the day but struggled at times as well. All of the pieces are there but Jones needs to put them all together and become more consistent.

  • Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson was up and down and many of his passes seemed to wobble a bit. However, as the session progressed Wilson got a bit better, especially once they started the 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

    It’s always difficult to evaluate certain positions when they’re not in full pads, especially the linemen and linebackers. However, there was still plenty to evaluate and as always there were prospects who stood out both positively and negatively.

    In the end the guys who made the best impression were B.Y.U. DE Ezekiel Ansah, San Diego St. CB Leon McFadden, Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson, Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton, Georgia DT John Jenkins and Rice TE Vance McDonald. The biggest disappointment was probably the quarterbacks as a group because despite their high-profiles and impressive resumes Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Landry Jones of Oklahoma and E.J. Manuel of Florida St. are struggled at times and failed to distinguish themselves from the pick. The good news is still a lot of football to be played and tomorrow will provide another chance to impress potential employers.

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