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Senior Bowl: Tuesday Afternoon Practice (South Squad)

Posted by nickwagoner on January 22, 2013 – 10:20 PM

MOBILE, Ala. -

- The South team took its turn on the practice field this afternoon with a big crowd in attendance. It’s common practice down here for the South team to draw more attention than its northern counterparts. That’s because the South is full of SEC players and we are here smack in the middle of SEC country. This year’s team is loaded with Alabama and Georgia players, in particular.

- Let’s get the proceedings started with a couple of under the radar names that seem to be making a strong impression in the first two days.

- Perhaps no player seems to be doing that more than Rice TE Vance McDonald. McDonald wowed scouts just by showing up and checking in at 6’4, 262 pounds. But McDonald is fast, shows the ability to separate and seems to have strong route running skills. He seems to clearly be the best TE in attendance but he could make a case to be one of the top TE’s taken in April if he continues to show strong here this week.

- Another pair of smaller school guys that are drawing some eyes are Southeastern Louisiana CB Robert Alford and Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton. Patton apparently made some big plays in Monday’s practice and he followed with a few more during the team portion on Tuesday. Alford is a smooth athlete with a lot of upside. Those two could join Missouri Southern DT Brandon Williams as the small school standouts here this week.

- Southern Miss LB Jamie Collins did not practice with an apparent injury. Also, as expected Alabama OT D.J. Fluker did not participate and he departed Mobile because of an injury suffered while training.

- I have a strong suspicion that Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson is going to make himself a lot of money here this week. Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher is going to get much of the hype but Johnson might be right on his heels as the best tackle here and potentially the second best tackle overall when it’s all said and done. Johnson seems to be the more balanced prospect. The scary thing about Johnson is he’s only been playing football for a few years. He’s considered a bit raw as a prospect but the polish seems to be coming fast.

- Speaking of somewhat raw prospects with major upside, BYU DE Ezekial Ansah has major motor and athleticism. He hasn’t necessarily been consistently dominant and wasn’t Tuesday but you can see why NFL types are intrigued by him.

- Was told that Florida OT Xavier Nixon struggled a bit on Monday but he had a couple of nice moments on Tuesday. Nixon popped a big block to open a hole for a long run during team drills by his teammate, Florida RB Mike Gillislee.

- Gillislee has a nice afternoon, particularly in team drills. He broke some long runs and showed good burst.

- Most of the players in attendance here are pretty polished products. As seniors, that goes with the territory. But you might be hard pressed to find a more true to form, downright football player than Georgia S Shawn Williams. Bacarri Rambo might steal a lot of the headlines, maybe because he has a cool name, but Williams seems to do a little of everything and do it all well. He’s an interesting guy to watch, certainly.

- WR Terrance Williams had another good day and continued to make a case to be one of the top receivers taken or at least the top senior WR.

- Didn’t watch too much of the QBs but seemed that Florida State QB E.J. Manuel did a nice job going through his reads and delivering strikes during today’s practice.

- That’s all for today. I’ll have much more coming for the centerpiece of the site today and back in the morning with an update on the North’s final padded practice.

- Thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Senior Bowl: Tuesday Morning Practice (North Squad)

Posted by nickwagoner on January 22, 2013 – 7:12 PM

MOBILE, Ala. -

- Just back from this morning’s North team practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Some guys missing, some guys flashing and a whole lot of on lookers watching.

- First, from a Rams perspective, here’s something I found interesting. GM Les Snead, Director of College Scouting Taylor Morton and a couple others from the scouting staff take a little different approach to scouting here. Rather than sitting in the stands and getting a big picture view, Snead likes to be down on the field, right in the mix. It allows him to stalk the sidelines, see how guys interact and evaluate players up close. Plenty of people come down here for the networking but make no mistake, Snead and Co. are all business.

- Between after the practice interviews on the field and the formal interviews at night, the Rams will have someone talk to pretty much every player in attendance at this Senior Bowl. The formal interviews take place for about two and a half hours every night at a local hotel.

- As for today’s practice, there were a few players either not in attendance or not practicing worth noting in the morning session. Oregon OT Kyle Long, brother of Chris, was nowhere to be found during the practice. No word on his whereabouts but he wasn’t there. Same for Ohio State DT John Simon.

- Linebackers Arthur Brown (Kansas State) and Trevardo Williams (Connecticut) also did not participate in practice.

- A few former Rams are walking the bleachers here. Former wideout/safety Mike Furrey is here. He’s now the head coach at Kentucky Christian University. Although he doesn’t have a defined role yet, former Rams CB Todd Lyght is a part of the Eagles’ coaching staff and down here talking to prospects on their behalf. Another former CB, Travis Fisher, has also been spotted down here. I’ll try to catch up with him for an update.

- It’s an interesting mix this week at quarterback as none of the signal callers seem to stand above the rest. The North features Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Dysert, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib. Glennon hit some big throws during team drills and seven on seven but nobody really seemed to stand above the rest.

- North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams is an impressive player. He’s also a St. Louis native with an interesting story. I plan to have more on him in the coming days.

- Another local guy playing DT who is drawing some buzz is Missouri Southern’s Brandon Williams. He’s built solid despite weighing in around 340 pounds and he has the look of a small school gem.

- Some talented receivers showed up for the North during the Tuesday morning practice. Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton can absolutely fly. He made some big catches down the field in team drills and during seven on sevens. Of course, nobody looks more athletic than Texas’ Marquise Goodwin. This is an Olympic level athlete with the burst and explosion that could make him a big time performer if he gets the fundamentals down.

- Kansas State WR Chris Harper brings a little different dimension. Harper has great size and strength. He’s not the fastest guy here but he’s solid and made some nice grabs.

- Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher is as advertised. A big, long limbed, quick footed tackle. Scouts say he may lack the punch and power to be a dominant run blocker but he has the pass protection skills to step in immediately.

- Michigan WR/QB Denard Robinson is still wearing the no contact jersey. He’s struggling a bit to adjust to his new position and he really struggled with trying to catch punts at the end of practice.

- Of course, everyone who tried to catch punts at the end of practice really struggled.

- Off to get a look at the South team. It seems this is where the major talent is as many of the bigger “names” reside on the South squad. Back with an update on that and much more after this practice.

- Thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Full List of NFL Draft Underclassmen

Posted by nickwagoner on January 22, 2013 – 3:08 PM

MOBILE, Ala. -

- Before I head to practice this morning, I wanted to post the full list of players who have been granted early eligibility for this year’s NFL Draft. A record 73 players have declared early.

- Below is the full release from the league:

The National Football League announced today the names of 73 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25-27 in New York.

Each of the 73 players has met the league’s three-year eligibility rule and each has submitted a written application in which he renounced his remaining college football eligibility.  The deadline for receiving applications was January 15.

The NFL Draft will kick off in primetime for the fourth consecutive year.  The first round will be held on Thursday, April 25.  The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 26.  Rounds four through seven will be held on Saturday, April 27.

The players granted special eligibility for the 2013 NFL Draft:

Number
Player
Pos.
College

1

Allen, Keenan
WR
California

2

Amerson, David
DB
North Carolina State
3

Bailey, Alvin
G
Arkansas
4

Bailey, Stedman
WR
West Virginia
5

Bakhtiari, David
T
Colorado
6

Beckford, Dwayne
LB
Purdue
7

Bell, Le’Veon
RB
Michigan State
8

Bernard, Giovani
RB
North Carolina
9

Bray, Tyler
QB
Tennessee
10

Brown, Terrence
DB
Stanford
11

Carter, Duron
WR
Ohio State
12

Davis, Knile
RB
Arkansas
13

Edwards, Mike
DB
Hawaii
14

Elam, Matt
DB
Florida
15

Ertz, Zach
TE
Stanford
16

Escobar, Gavin
TE
San Diego State
17

Faulk, Chris
T
Louisiana State
18

Floyd, Sharrif
DT
Florida
19

Ford, Michael
RB
Louisiana State
20

Frederick, Travis
C
Wisconsin
21

Geathers, Kwame
NT
Georgia
22

Gholston, William
DE
Michigan State
23

Hankins, Johnathan
DT
Ohio State
24

Harley, Jajuan
DB
Middle Tennessee
25

Hopkins, DeAndre
WR
Clemson
26

Hunter, Justin
WR
Tennessee
27

Jamison, Jawan
RB
Rutgers
28

Jefferson, Stefphon
RB
Nevada
29

Jefferson, Tony
DB
Oklahoma
30

Jenkins, Jelani
LB
Florida
31

Joeckel, Luke
T
Texas A&M
32

Jones, Jarvis
LB
Georgia
33

Jose, Jose
DT
Central Florida
34

Kruger, Joe
DE
Utah
35

Lacy, Eddie
RB
Alabama
36

Lattimore, Marcus
RB
South Carolina
37

Lemonier, Corey
DE
Auburn
38

Logan, Bennie
DT
Louisiana State
39

Maponga, Stansly
DE
Texas Christian
40

Mathieu, Tyrann
DB
Louisiana State
41

Milliner, Dee
DB
Alabama
42

Mingo, Barkevious
DE
Louisiana State
43

Minter, Kevin
LB
Louisiana State
44

Montgomery, Sam
DE
Louisiana State
45

Moore, Brandon
DT
Texas
46

Moore, Damontre
DE
Texas A&M
47

Ogletree, Alec
LB
Georgia
48

Patterson, Cordarrelle
WR
Tennessee
49

Randle, Bradley
RB
Nevada-Las Vegas
50

Randle, Joseph
RB
Oklahoma State
51

Reed, Jordan
TE
Florida
52

Reid, Eric
DB
Louisiana State
53

Reid, Greg
DB
Florida State
54

Rhodes, Xavier
DB
Florida State
55

Richardson, Sheldon
DT
Missouri
56

Robey, Nickell
DB
Southern California
57

Ryan, Logan
DB
Rutgers
58

Sanders, Ace
WR
South Carolina
59

Sentimore, Darrington
DT
Tennessee
60

Simon, Tharold
DB
Louisiana State
61

Sims, Dion
TE
Michigan State
62

Spence, Akeem
DT
Illinois
63

Stills, Kenny
WR
Oklahoma
64

Toilolo, Levine
TE
Stanford
65

Ware, Spencer
RB
Louisiana State
66

Watson, Menelik
T
Florida State
67

Werner, Bjoern
DE
Florida State
68

Williams, Steve
DB
California
69

Wilson, Marquess
WR
Washington State
70

Wing, Brad
P
Louisiana State
71

Wood, Cierre
RB
Notre Dame
72

Woods, Robert
WR
Southern California
73

Wort, Tom
LB
Oklahoma

# # #


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Senior Bowl Festivities Underway

Posted by nickwagoner on January 22, 2013 – 3:26 AM

MOBILE, Ala. -

- Greetings from Mobile, where they claim one of the nation’s largest Mardi Gras parties but for this week at least is the home to the premiere annual College All Star game, the Senior Bowl.

- Practices got underway today and though I wasn’t able to arrive until early this evening, there is already some news to report in terms of the roster.

- First, a player I know many Rams fans are interested in is Alabama OT D.J. Fluker. The big man weighed in this morning, checking in around 6’5, 356 pounds but I’m told his 356 isn’t like former Tide tackle Andre Smith and Fluker is built much more solidly. Unfortunately, reports tonight indicate that will be all for him this week in Mobile and he has already taken off to head home and train for the combine and the draft.

- Also, a few players on the listed roster on the Senior Bowl website were late scratches. That includes Texas S Kenny Vaccaro and Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (also a St. Louis native).

- I’ll do a full roster check with the rundown tomorrow. Also, for those planning, we’ll have a Senior Bowl chat on Wednesday this week. I’m thinking a 12:30 Eastern time start so get your questions in now.

- One thing that jumps out about this Senior Bowl and this year’s draft in general is a lack of pop at the top. There’s not the usual clear cut top guys at many positions. That makes weeks like this one fun. There are a number of positions to watch this week where guys can start to separate from others.

- Perhaps no spot will be better for that than offensive tackle. Even without Fluker, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner and many more are still here jockeying for position behind Texas A&M stud Luke Joeckel.

- Spoke to Fisher at tonight’s media night. An impressive looking kid who is genuinely excited to be here and represent a MAC school. He takes great pride in following the footsteps of Joe Staley, the Super Bowl bound left tackle of the San Francisco 49ers.

- Coming tomorrow, I’ll have a big piece on Oregon OL Kyle Long, the brother of Rams DE Chris. He has an interesting story and he explains why he could no longer put off joining the “family business.”

- Long is an intriguing prospect in his own right. He started at left tackle for the Ducks but when injuries hit, kicked inside to guard. He can play both tackle spots and his versatility is valuable. As for playing for the Rams, he says he’d love to play with his brother but of course, he isn’t dead set on it and would be happy to play anywhere.

- Another interesting position that the Rams could have interest in is safety. Right now, there is no consensus on the top guy though Vaccaro seems to be the early leader in the clubhouse. Still, there is a lot of movement possible there and some contenders are in attendance. Guys like USC’s T.J. McDonald, Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo and South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger are here and looking to make a statement.

- Spoke to Rambo, who aside from winning the awesome surname award, is here on a mission to prove he is more than just a ballhawk. I’ll have plenty on him later this week but Rambo said he knows the perception is that he can’t tackle and he has come to Mobile to prove that perception wrong. By the same token, he’s also not shying away from his ballhawking reputation. He believes that’s a God given skill that one can’t be taught.

- Baylor WR Terrance Williams was an interesting fellow in his own right. Williams credited his coaches for allowing the Bears offense to continue to thrive even without RG3 at QB. He also made it very clear that he intends to differentiate himself in what is a receiver class with no clear cut star. He wants to be the top wideout drafted.

- Georgia DT John Jenkins wins the early award for player who is the most overwhelmingly massive. He’s a large man.

- Michigan QB/WR Denard Robinson seems happy to be here and not upset with playing a position other than his normal quarterback spot. That’s a bit refreshing because not all players in his spot have moved as graciously. He cited Green Bay’s Randall Cobb as a prime example for him to follow.

- Rumor has it Purdue DT Kawann Short made quite the impression today.

- Oh, second prize in the massive human being contest is Kentucky G Larry Warford. I know there’s been a lot of talk amongst Rams fans about Alabama’s super impressive OG prospect Chance Warmack but Warford could be an interesting prospect. He’s big and physical and figures to be there into the second round. He’s the most touted interior prospect here this week and should be worth following.

- Some really talented RBs in the house this week as well, including UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, among others. Barner seemed like a genuine kid excited to be here and show the football world what he can do. He didn’t get a ton of credit for making that Oregon offense go but he had a heck of a year.

- Interesting to note, dismissed LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu aka The Honey Badger, is in town to meet with teams this week and do some damage control.

- Plenty more to come the rest of the week as I’ll be here through Thursday with multiple updates each day, insight from scouts and much more.

- The Rams contingent is here already though I’m told coach Jeff Fisher is not in attendance as he tends to other business (such as defensive coordinator hire). GM Les Snead and his group is here and doing the legwork though so we’ll try to catch up before the week is out.

- In the meantime, thanks for reading and talk to you all tomorrow.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »