I loved watching Tony Sparano’s practice this week as the South team concluded their final practice today in just helmets and shorts. The practice ran with such a great pace and focused heavily on drills, including some exciting moments in the 2-minute drill. The stands seemed much thinner today with a number of NFL scouts having left prior to the practice. While the North team seemed more willing to get physical without pads, the South seemed to be more crisp and clean.
Jarrett Brown capped off his final practice to finish with a sensational week down in Mobile. If it all clicks with him in live-game situations where he’s forced to move around and reset his feet, Brown could easily wind up the best quarterback in this class. It’s something I base more from what I saw of him this season, which he replicated here this week at the Senior Bowl. His tools, toughness, and athletic ability are off the charts, but he also throws one of the tightest spirals and best looking footballs of the six quarterbacks here this week. Tim Tebow also continued to improve and flash more of his deep ball. In the two-minute drill, he threw a perfect downfield strike to Riley Cooper. He made the mistake of testing the same side of the field on a quick 3-step slant the very next play, which was almost intercepted. Tebow has gotten some private, specialized work on controlling his footwork and throwing motion. Zac Robinson wasn’t his best on the field today. He looked reluctant to fit the ball into tight windows and opted for a lot of checkdowns in the 2-minute drill. He was also almost picked off by Perrish Cox again today.
In a practice like today, it’s difficult to see running backs when the trenches are going closer to half speed. Dexter McCluster caught the ball well out of the backfield without bobbles and without breaking stride. He also worked out a little in fielding punts and kicks. He was used in a variety of ways, which once again included splitting out wide. Roy Upchurch looked good running the ball in the few opportunities he received. No one else really stood out in either direction today.
Riley Cooper built upon on his strong week. His strong hands were on exhibit today. Cooper attacks the balls and works his way back to them while catching them away from his body. A great example of this was on a 15-yard curl route on the left side where he made a nice adjustment and made a grab working his way back to the line of scrimmage. He made a nice play deep down the sideline in which he beat Patrick Robinson and connected with Tim Tebow. Depending upon what he runs, Cooper should have good value in the second round. Andre Roberts excelled in today’s practice as well. The word is tossed around a lot this week, but Roberts really is a very fluid athlete. He has nice speed and runs precise routes. Anthony McCoy also stepped up, showing how fast he can get on top of linebackers and blow downfield. He caught the ball cleanly today and away from his body. Jimmy Graham made yet another athletic play downfield, giving some teams hope that he could mature into the “next” Antonio Gates.
Even though the linemen weren’t going all out today, it was a rough day for the offensive tackles. Selvish Capers impressed early in the week, but today just didn’t seem to translate his success into the team portions of practice. He allowed some pressure off the edge. Chris Scott struggled to handle anything thrown his direction. C.J. Wilson beat him within his framework with punches and Brandon Lang defeated him with speed outside. Scott had better days here, but days like today make it seem like he’d be a better fit at guard, where he doesn’t have to worry as much about foot speed.
Typically, this wouldn’t be a day to get excited about defensive line play, but Brandon Lang did jump out a bit today. The coaches saved a special drill for today in which a couple linemen were asked to handle responsibilities of a 3-4 linebacker dropping into coverage. Lang moved well out of a standing position. Antonio Coleman, someone I haven’t mentioned much this week also looked good. He has a nice speed move to the outside at outside at one point, but also looked smooth with the hips during coverage drills. George Selvie looks like a really nice athlete too.
Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Cheney struggled in coverage. He looked lost on pump fakes and missed some assignments because he dropped into wrong areas in zone coverage. He’s more of a downhill linebacker and those guys typically get exposed in shorts, which Cheney did today. Dekoda Watson actually did a pretty decent job today dropping into coverage. He’s a physical specimen who should light up the Combine, but someone that didn’t impress very much this week, even struggling at times. Without being able to note the physicality of linebackers, it was pretty tough to gauge how they played on the whole. They’ll be tested Saturday when they face the dual threat of Dan LeFevour.
One of the feel good stories of this week has definitely been the return of Myron Rolle to football. Rolle has come back fresh and played as well as any safety in Mobile this week. While Mays has been receiving much of the attention, Rolle seems to have better hips, more quickness, and better overall fluidity, all even more impressive considering his size. Maybe he picked up a soccer ball over his time in England, but whatever he’s done to prepare for this week, Rolle has done a fine job and deserves to be drafted in the high middle rounds. Taylor Mays again looks tight in the hips, but that’s not his style of play. Mays is best suited as a deep safety who can come up and make the hit or attack the football. He admits that as he transitions to the NFL, he should learn to play the football rather than go for the big hit every time. Pads or no pads, Javier Arenas knows only one brand of football and that’s being physical. Perrish Cox has done a great job anticipating throws and breaking on the football early. He nearly had what would have been a pick six in a game. Patrick Robinson has been known for inconsistency and he showed that again today, though made many more positive plays than negative ones. Robinson was beat deep on that previously mentioned deep ball to Riley Cooper, but came back and nearly made the interception the play after. Later in the two-minute drill, he managed to actually make the interception off of a deflection.
This afternoon concluded the official televised practices for the South team. The team will hold a walkthrough Friday morning after the North team to make final preparations for the Senior Bowl. The game will begin at 4:00PM on Saturday and will be televised only on the NFL Network.
Continue to Thursday's North practice recap -->