MOBILE, Ala. –
– Maybe because it was the last padded practice, maybe because they’ve been out of pads until this week for nearly a month, maybe it was the nice weather, whatever it was, the South team came with by far the most competitive and entertaining practice of the week Wednesday afternoon.
– Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton said it was hyper competitive because it was the final padded practice before Saturday but he clearly enjoyed every minute of it. To him, it’s what this week is supposed to be about as players from all over the nation come here to compete to prove they are the best.
– Patton is one that has done that consistently, making big plays all over the field. He’s got some upside to him, no doubt.
– The battle this week between Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson and Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher as the best at the position has been a relative draw. Both have been consistently excellent and Johnson was good again on Wednesday afternoon.
– Georgia S Bacarri Rambo (who I’ll have more on later) appeared to suffer some sort of hamstring injury and he sat out the latter half of practice. Rambo had been playing solid as expected in coverage on the back end most of the week.
– BYU DE Ezekial Ansah also appeared to aggravate an injury but he came back and was able to finish out the practice.
– Ansah is an intriguing prospect for teams here because of his combination of size and athleticism but he’s still quite raw. He’s struggled a bit in pass rush drills but flashes on occasion. He’s going to be a bit of a project for any team that gets him but the upside is there.
– Cal DB Marc Anthony has been, perhaps, the best corner out of a talented lot here this week. He was solid again Wednesday and continues to show that he has the total package. He’s fast but he’s also under control at all times.
– Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter has been solid all week as well. Porter had some nice moments in Wednesday’s practice, including a big hit on a run play in 11 on 11.
– Closer to home, Mizzou LB Zaviar Gooden had a strong afternoon Wednesday. He was all over the place in the run game, made some plays in coverage and even caught an deflected pass and returned it for a touchdown.
– Kentucky G Larry Warford said he has been working to cut weight and expects to ultimately play around 330 pounds. I’ll have more on him later this week but he’s a big, physical mauling type who might make sense for the Rams in the second or third round. His size and style would seem to be a match.
– Warford gave some funny answers to some funny questions after practice:
When asked what the best thing about being 300-plus pounds is, Warford responded “I get to sit in the front seat of cars a lot.”
When asked he worst part of being his size, Warford responded “Giving up rollercoasters.” He explained that most of the big rides have buckle systems that don’t allow for men his size to get strapped in safely.
– During the practice, the defense dominated the first part of team drills with guys flying all over the place and delivering big hits. They controlled the line of scrimmage and Georgia S Shawn Williams seemed to be firmly in the mix most of the time.
– The offense picked it up later in the practice with Florida RB Mike Gillislee once again ripping off some big runs. Gillislee has been a pleasant surprise this week. He’ll have moments where he disappears but has been good for some big runs seemingly every day.
– At QB, none of the guys look as good in this setting as Mike Glennon does for the North team. Landry Jones is probably the most consistent as E.J. Manuel of Florida State and Tyler Wilson of Arkansas have been up and down. But none have really dominated.
– That’ll do it for blog updates from here. I’ll have more feature stories coming in the next few days. Thanks for following along all week. See you back in St. Louis.
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MOBILE, Ala. –
– It was a beautiful morning here at Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the North team went through its final padded practice of this year’s event. With temperatures in the mid-60s, it was a good day for a number of players as they took full advantage of practicing in front of the assembled scouts and coaches. Most of the league types will head home tonight or tomorrow and then watch the tape of the game next week.
– The story of the morning was the return of New Orleans HC Sean Payton, who arrived here in Mobile and took in Wednesday morning’s practice alongside top lieutenant and fill in Joe Vitt. Payton was re-instated by the league on Tuesday and here for practice Wednesday. He held court with the media for a while after the practice.
– Oregon OL Kyle Long, brother of Chris, again did not practice Wednesday as he deals with an illness.
– Michigan WR/QB Denard Robinson was cleared for contact and wearing the normal white jersey with his teammates on Wednesday for the first time. He’s been recovering from a nerve injury in his elbow.
– Also in the house again Wednesday was South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore would be one of the top prospects in this year’s draft were it not for the devastating knee injury he suffered during the season. Lattimore is on the road to recovery and here to get in front of some scouts and coaches. Rams GM Les Snead even spoke to him briefly yesterday.
– Quick update on former Rams CB Travis Fisher, who I promised I’d update you on yesterday. He’s working as a DBs coach for a high school in Florida and is hoping to catch on as a scout.
– Once again, Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher impressed. He has great feet and his punch is a bit better than advertised. During some 9 on 7 run drills, Fisher was downright dominant. On one play, he took on talented Texas DE Alex Okafor and drove him into the ground with a pancake block.
– UCLA DE Datone Jones continues to be perhaps the best pass rusher on the North squad. He’s beaten Fisher a few times, including once on Wednesday morning.
– The QB situation remains questionable for this draft as a whole but NC State’s Mike Glennon is showing up this week. This atmosphere seems to be quite conducive for him because there’s no pressure, no pass rush and he can stand in the pocket and deliver. He threw one perfect deep ball down the right sideline to KSU WR Chris Harper that drew oohs and aahs from the assembled crowd. Glennon throws a pretty ball, that’s for sure.
– Another solid practice for UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin, who still looks like the best running back on the North squad and possibly here this week.
– Utah State DB Will Davis didn’t have a real strong showing but he has great potential, especially as a nickel.
– Florida International S John Cyprien is a bit of an unknown but a solid prospect on the back end. He has good speed to close on the ball and isn’t afraid to deliver a blow.
– Ohio State DE John Simon again did not practice Wednesday.
– Elon WR Aaron Mellette looks a bit awkward wearing No. 33 and playing wide receiver but he ran some good routes and made some nice plays throughout the practice. He could be an intriguing prospect.
– Harvard FB Kyle Justzczyk might not look like a natural lead blocker but he has turned some heads this week. He’s versatile enough to get out and catch passes, shows decent burst running for a fullback and has been more than willing to try to open holes blocking. Not sure if the Rams will go back to having a full time fullback but if they do he could be an interesting prospect.
– I’ll have more on him later but UNC DT Sylvester Williams grew up in North County in St. Louis in a rough neighborhood before moving to Jefferson City to live with his sister for high school. He was a huge Rams fan and loved the Greatest Show on Turf teams and all St. Louis teams in general. He has a good story and I’ll have it all for you later on.
– That’s all for now. Don’t forget, chat is starting shortly and I’ll answer any questions you might have. I may have to cut out early because of the South practice but I’ll answer more this evening if that’s the case.
– Thanks for reading.
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