2013 Senior Bowl: Practice Report

This is Charlie Campbell’s Wednesday 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.

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2013 Senior Bowl: Wednesday Practice Report (North Team)

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

The Oakland Raiders’ coaching staff ran Wednesday’s North team practice with the players in full pads. Oakland’s staff has been impressive this week. The coaches have run high-paced practices that get in a lot of reps and don’t waste time. They also have put the players in all the matchups that scouts would like to see.

There were a few players who really stood out with good practices on Wednesday. N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon, Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant all were very impressive. We’ll have more on them shortly.

After the warmups, the North squad got to work on some pass-protection one-on-ones with running backs going against linebackers and safeties. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner really stood out on Tuesday with his ability to pick up and block blitzers. On Wednesday however, he didn’t have as much success.

Barner lost his first rep to Florida International safety Jonathan Cyrpien. Things didn’t get any better as Nevada safety Duke Williams bull rushed Barner straight into the quarterback marker. Barner got some revenge on a one-on-one passing route by beating North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick with an out and up route.

UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin had a mixed outing. Reddick worked through him to win their first matchup. Franklin bounced back to hold off Reddick in a rematch. Franklin won his rep against Cyprien, but could’ve been guilty of a hold. He then split his receiving reps with a win against USC safety T.J. McDonald. Following those, Franklin didn’t get separation and had a ball slapped away by Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore.

Reddick had a couple of victories on blitzes against Harvard fullback Kyle Juszcyk. He used a swim move on one and a speed rush on another.

When it was time for the one-on-ones between the receivers and cornerbacks, a few players really did well. The most impressive among them was Trufant. He started out by slapping a pass away from Marshall receiver Aaron Dobson. Trufant then had tight coverage on Dobson on a quick slant with a near pass broken up.

Trufant continued his success by forcing incompletions on his last two reps. The first came with good coverage to push a throw out of bounds against Oregon State wideout Markus Wheaton, and the next was when Trufant batted away a ball intended for Syracuse receiver Alec Lemon. Trufant is a big trash-talker and plays with a cocky swagger. He’s helped himself this week.

Unlike Trufant, Connecticut corner Dwayne Gratz had a mixed practice. He stuck with Lemon on a cross to slap a pass away and had another breakup on a pass intended for Denard Robinson. However, Elon receiver Aaron Mellette made a fabulous catch leaping on a back shoulder throw that beat good coverage from Gratz. Mellette also beat Gratz on a slant route.

Some of the receivers flashed as well. Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin showed how fast he is by burning Nevada safety Duke Williams on a go route. Kansas State’s Chris Harper made a few catches using his power to out fight defensive backs.

In the one-on-one battles between the offensive and defensive linemen, some of the top players of the week continued to impress. Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher has been rock solid all week. He went against the North’s best pass-rusher, Texas defensive end Alex Okafor, in this practice and looked good.

The first rep was a more of a draw. Okafor got some push on a bull rush, but Fisher eventually stopped him short of the quarterback marker. That played out again on a rush around the corner on which Fisher kept Okafor from getting home. Okafor then tried a rush to the inside, but that went nowhere as Fisher drove him laterally across the line.

Fisher was challenged by a bull rush from powerful UCLA end Datone Jones, but Fisher did enough to hold Jones from getting anything more than a pressure. This has been an impressive week for Fisher and should solidify his status in the first round now that he has proven the ability to consistently win against a higher level of competition.

Okafor and Jones fared rather well when they weren’t going against Fisher. Jones beat Illinois guard Hugh Thornton with a some power to push Thornton aside. Jones had another win against Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh.

Okafor continued his week-long domination of Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner. Okafor burned him with two speed rushes around the corner. Jones did that to Wagner as well. The big Badger tackle had wins in other reps going against Sio Moore and Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan. Overall, Wagner has had too many struggles with speed-rushers this week and hasn’t helped himself.

North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams had another mixed day of practice. He won a rep with a speed rush to the inside and beat Notre Dame’s Braxston Cave with a power bull rush. In a rematch, Cave came back to mirror and sustain his block on Williams. Cave won another play when he shoved Williams into the ground.

Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short had some good and bad moments. He beat Thornton with a speed rush, but lost reps to Missouri Southern guard Brandon Williams. Short also had a bull rush go nowhere against San Jose State guard Dan Quessenberry.

Quessenberry has had a good week and stood out on Wednesday. He was impressive with how he held up on an edge rush by Buchanan.

Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh had a mixed outing. He lost a rep to SMU defensive end Margus Hunt on a power bull rush, but Pugh stuffed a spin move by Hunt on another rep. Pugh won both of his reps against Moore, but lost one on a bull rush to Penn State’s Jordan Hill.

The defensive line had some splash plays in the team scrimmage. Jones forced a fumble when he bumped Glennon on a rush. It would’ve been a sack in a game. Okafor had a sack on the first play and instinctively slapped the ball out of the hand of Miami of Ohio quarterback Zach Dysert. Okafor wasn’t supposed to do that, but the defensive coaches didn’t seem to mind too much.

Hunt picked up a nice run stuff for no gain after coming unblocked and pursuing to the ball. On another play, Hunt pressured Ryan Nassib into an incompletion on a screen pass.

Glennon made some very impressive throws on Wednesday. The first was a great pass to Mellette. It was deep down the field along the sideline and hit him in stride between Cyprien and Williams. It caused a murmur in the crowd.

Glennon followed that up with a precise pass to Goodwin on a deep out. It was a well-placed ball to beat coverage from Utah State’s Will Davis. Glennon has been rather solid this week. He hasn’t been outstanding, but he has done his job and helped himself.

Nassib tossed a beautiful pass between two defenders to Wheaton. It was a perfectly thrown ball that couldn’t have been more accurate. Jones may have had a sack on the play in a real game. Nassib also lofted a nice ball down the sideline to Barner on a wheel route. The running back juggled the ball before controlling it for a big gain.

Dysert didn’t really stand out as good or bad on Wednesday. He hasn’t really impressed this week and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

Wednesday was the final padded practice before the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

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