If there was any doubt that one player could muster up so much support and create fanfare for a practice, just look at any South practice and see the following Tim Tebow has. This practice got off to a late start and so the start was a little different from what we were used to seeing. Sparano set up a number of more specialized drills that I thought we wouldnít see until tomorrow.
Starting with the quarterbacks, Jarrett Brown really continues to impress me. When he isnít faced with a lot of pressure, heís head and shoulders above the other quarterbacks in terms of mechanics, arm strength, and delivering balls on time. I love his ability to drive the football to the sidelines. His experience will harm him when the pocket breaks downs or when he needs to escape, but I believe heís the best no-pressure quarterback here in Mobile this week. Behind him, Tim Tebow is also improving from day-to-day. Just from watching him interact with his teammates, you can tell why players love playing for him. Heís a high-energy guy that will continue to motivate his teammates to get better. Footwork is quickly improving and his reads are getting better each day. Heís going to be a project regardless of how he performs this week, but the most important thing with him is that he is progressing. Zac Robinson has also been making improvements this week, but had a mixed day. His short and intermediate passes were on target, but he didnít show great route anticipation and threw some wobbly deep balls that hung in the air. All three quarterbacks played well, but that should be expected when thereís barely a hint of a breeze in the air.
Everyone has been raving about Dexter McCluster this week for great reason. McCluster is very likely the fastest player here, but also isnít afraid to shy away from contact. He doesnít mind running up the middle and does a great job in making defenders look like theyíre taking poor angles. He revealed a weakness in pass protection where he was tossed around by Eric Norwood once or twice, but heís at least willing to stick his nose into the linebacker. Heís taken reps at both wide receiver and running back this week and excelled at both positions. Ben Tate on the other hands is pleading his case as one of the better power runners in the senior class. Heís been the best inside runner here so far and should have a good showing breaking tackles in the game. Linebackers have struggled to slow his momentum during practices. Stafon Johnson looked like a natural catching the ball today. Itís just remarkable to see him out on the field so quickly after his potentially life-threatening injury.
Riley Cooper was the star of the receiving corps today. Heís one of the bigger receivers on this roster and is by far the most physical of the bunch. Cooper has no problem shaking off press coverage at the line. In fact, he dismantled Javier Arenas and Trevard Lindley today. Against Lindley he secured the catch in the red zone, but against Arenas, he was plagued once again by a drop. Small school receiver, Andre Roberts should have probably received more praise earlier in the week. Roberts may be the best route runner here on either team and has been as consistent as anyone else. He hasnít made too many explosive plays, but has left some top cornerbacks here looking foolish while he makes grabs with ease. Iíve heard comparisons to Derrick Mason and Steve Smith (NYG), both which I like very much. Joe Webb dropped several passes today and showed his inexperience at the position by failing to locate the ball in the air on one or two occasions. Tight end Jimmy Graham made yet another nice catch running down the seam. Anthony McCoy has been known as a pass catcher on the lean side and struggled here thus far, but today showed to me to be the most physical of the three tight ends on the South team. Heíll need to bulk up to sustain blocks though.
I didnít spend too much time on the offensive line today, but Selvish Capers is a guy Iíve been hearing a lot about this week. He has the athleticism to play left tackle and could go as high as the second round to a team looking for a developmental left tackle. Jeff Byers had another solid outing today. He has the experience as a long-time starter at USC and has looked comfortable this week. Byers has taken reps at both center and guard, either of which he could successfully play at the next level. Mitch Petrus is a relatively small guard who hasnít held up too well over the week against stronger players. The most impressive player that I saw on the line today was Chris Scott. Hereís a large tackle that carries his 346 pounds well on a 6í5 frame. His footwork is better than I expected it would be. On one play he was embarrassingly forced to take a seat at the hands of George Selvie, but also beat him once or twice. He has long arms and should be able to stifle some defensive ends, at right tackle, that lack elite explosiveness.
Terrence Cody had some positive things working on Tuesday, showing his power, but today was back to more of what we saw Monday. He was neutralized by double teams and even knocked off his feet on several plays, showing a lack of balance. Cody offers absolutely nothing in the form of pass-rushing moves and at best will offer a slow push up the middle. He doesnít have the consistency and effort from play-to-play, which probably stems from the shape he arrived in this week. George Selvie finally showed up today. He was hustling all over the field and showed some nice pass-rushing moves as we expected, including the aforementioned great play against Chris Scott. Brandon Lang also put together a nice afternoon. He uses his hands well; attacking offensive tackles to keep them unbalanced. Iím not sure if heíll hold up versus the run at the next level, but he could develop into a fine pass rusher. At tackle, the other Georgia defensive lineman picked up his play after starting slow this week. Jeff Owens showed a bit more explosiveness in his first step today, which helped him split a pair of double teams.
Today was a huge day for Miamiís linebacker Darryl Sharpton. His speed is remarkable and today he impressed me by doing something I didnít know he could really do: rush the quarterback. He did a nice job varying swims and rips to beat blockers. He reacts quickly and played well in coverage. The ďotherĒ Troy player on defense also showed up. Cameron Sheffield showed that he could be a good 3-4 outside linebacker and also do some coverage. He did sticking with running backs and even sticking his hand to break up a pass attempt. He also has the technique down to be a good pass rusher in the NFL. Eric Norwood, on the other hand didnít have a great day. He looked good going up against backs and beat them with ease every time as a pass rusher. However, in coverage he was exposed quite often when given a more traditional linebacker role. Norwood doesnít move well in space, nor could he hang with running backs.
Oklahoma State Perrish Cox had himself a nice afternoon among defensive backs. While Kyle Wilson has been lighting up for the North team, Cox has led the way for the South. He played physical coverage today and showed his superb ball skills. Though I must have missed it, I heard he picked off back-to-back passes at one point today. Javier Arenas also showed his physicality, both at the line of scrimmage and down the field. I love to see Arenas when he hits receivers near the line of scrimmage, but heíll need to learn to avoid contact more than 5 yards downfield. He did a nice job rerouting receivers at the line, but also showed that he can be a little too aggressive when a receiver beat him over the top. He has great fluidity and stays low in his backpedal. Trevard Lindley continued to struggle this afternoon. Heís one of the most fluid athletes at the Senior Bowl, but just has seemed out of place when he has to play press man coverage and when he gets matched up against more physical receivers. He needs some work, but has potential and instincts to be a starter. Likewise, Patrick Robinson also continued his struggles this week. His former teammate, Myron Rolle is really getting back to the top of his game. He came in Monday with a great body and nice frame, but started slow in practice. In the two days with pads, he has really improved his game, making a number of plays close to the line of scrimmage today. Rolle isnít that great in man coverage, but is more than adequate playing in a zone.
Wednesday concluded the final time weíll get to see the players in pads until Saturday. Many refer to today as the ďmoney dayĒ and while some players did just that, there werenít too many who have made the gigantic splashes throughout the week like we sometimes see. Tomorrow, the South team should be in shorts so it will be a good opportunity to see how they stay positioned with their hands and feet. The NFL Network will cover the South team practice once again from 3:00-4:00PM.
Continue to Wednesday's North practice recap -->