2017 Senior Bowl: Wednesday Practice Report: North Team
This is Charlie Campbell’s Wednesday 2017 Senior Bowl Practice Report for the North Team. 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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By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
The North team took the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their second practice of the Senior Bowl. The Chicago Bears coaching staff ran the practice and will coach them all week. The Bears staff had the players practicing in full pads. Here is a run down of the noteworthy players.
Wednesday was an impressive practice for Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp. The best parts came from Kupp being excellent in the team scrimmage. He started it off by getting open on a slant with quickness off the line. Shortly after that, Kupp showed nice awareness getting open in zone coverage on a crossing route for a gain of about 15 yards. He then got separation from West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas running a dig route. Kupp was superb in the team session, and in the one-on-ones, he had a highlight-reel juggling catch with Iowa cornerback Desmond King all over him.
Perhaps Kupp needed to warm up, because earlier in the one-on-ones, he wasn’t getting separation from Lamar cornerback Brenden Langley. Langley blanketed him on a go route into the end zone to slap the pass away. Langley ran with him to force an incompletion and slapped another pass away as Kupp couldn’t separate. Langley deserves credit for a nice practice as other cornerbacks struggled with Kupp. Two days into the Senior Bowl, Kupp is solidifying his standing as a second-day pick.
Douglas is a corner with good size and ball skills, but he is limited in the technique that he can play. He is a big press man corner for the NFL, as he struggles to play off man or zone coverage.
The other offensive player who was very impressive for the North was Toledo running back Kareem Hunt. He was very tough for linebackers to cover in the one-on-ones, as he used his speed to get the better of Michigan linebacker Ben Gedeon on a crossing route. In the team scrimmage, Hunt ripped off a nice gain on a screen pass where he darted downfield. He used his speed to get open against Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman in the flat for a short touchdown reception. In space, Hunt broke down Michigan corner Jourdan Lewis with a nasty juke move to burst downfield. Hunt is a quick and slippery runner who will be a nice fit as a receiving back.
It wasn’t all bad for Lewis, as he had some nice plays running with receivers, including a pass break up on Air Force wideout Jalen Robinette. Lewis also was tremendous snuffing out a screen to Robinette in the team scrimmage. On Tuesday night, Lewis (5-10, 188) told WalterFootball.com that he planned on adding some weight for the NFL and that should help him. Lewis could be a nice slot corner as a day-two pick.
Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle had a solid session on Wednesday with success in the one-on-ones. Sprinkle had a number of wins walling off safety Lorenzo Jerome for a few receptions. Sprinkle also had a nice day as a blocker.
Toledo tight end Michael Roberts had some issues with dropped passes on Wednesday. He couldn’t secure one reception as Nebraska safety Nate Gerry was able to rip the ball out of his grasp. Later on, Illinois outside linebacker Carroll Phillips was able to get a similar break up on Roberts in the team scrimmage. Roberts needs to show more control of the ball on Thursday.
Illinois outside linebacker Carroll Phillips continues to be an interesting player. On Tuesday, he did well in the one-on-ones, but didn’t duplicate that on Wednesday. Pitt tackle Adam Bisnowaty showed Phillips’ size limitations (6-3, 237), as once Bisnowaty got his hands on Phillips, the speed rusher was unable to shed the block. However, Phillips was very good in the team scrimmage. He had the pass breakup on Roberts, fired into the backfield to blow up a zone run, and bull rushed into the pocket to get a sack. Phillips could be a dangerous outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but his off-the-field issues could cause him to slide.
Michigan running back De’Veon Smith played well on Wednesday. Continuing what he started last week at the East-West Shrine, Smith showed nice receiving skills out of the backfield with the ability to contribute as a blocker. Smith also ran hard by keeping his feet after some serious collisions in the tackle box. In the team scrimmage, he had a good catch in the flat for a nice gain and then ripped off a good run to the perimeter. Smith isn’t the fastest back, but he is a tough runner with versatility to contribute in a variety of ways. Sources also say he is an intelligent player with instincts. Smith could be a mid-round value pick.
Pitt quarterback Nate Peterman threw the ball well with some anticipation and accuracy for the second straight day. Peterman threaded a well-placed pass to Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith between a few defenders on a deep out.
USC offensive tackle Zach Banner had some issues in the pass rushing one-on-ones. He lost a rep to Ohio’s Tarell Basham on a speed rush to the inside. Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot beat Banner with strength and speed. Banner is a very tall offensive lineman and he gets in trouble when he stands up too high.
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