While I’ll be covering the Shrine Game extensively at www.OptimumScouting.com all week, I always wanted to make sure to maintain a bit of a Dolphins spin, as I’ve seen two Dolphins scouts here this week so far (and that may be it, as others are going to the Raycom All-Star game).
I’ve noted mostly receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs in these notes, with a quarterback and some lineman that intrigued me from a Dolphins-need perspective. Today they didn’t hit, but still value in what I and Dolphins scouts could glean today.
-Of the quarterbacks, Collin Klein of Kansas State was the one who brought the most intrigue to this Shrine Game quarterback class, mostly as it if…well…he is a quarterback. And based off the first day, we actually may have some answers. For one, his release looked higher and a bit quicker, which is a good start. But there’s still a hitch in his release, and he really aims the ball as he follows through to his release point. Also, his velocity downfield was a major concern, and he really could strike through to his targets across the field. His footwork was too short, and he really needs to explode back, get his depth, and plant and drive. Also, he capped a lackluster and concerning day with two late reads across the field that ended up as interceptions.
-Rodney Smith of Florida State seemed to be the best outside and potentially X receiver of the group. He took well to coaching it seemed, and worked hard to fine tune his routes and get separate. He also adjusted on multiple occasions to passes, including a very nice between-two DB snag on a later-than-it-should-have-been pass by Collin Klien. A big week of consistency could make Smith a VERY intriguing receiver prospect.
-The two Virginia Tech receivers caught my eye today, but for different reasons. Marcus Davis looks the part, carved out of stone in his upper and lower half and looking like the most physical and naturally talented receiver here. But he struggled mightily to pick up where the deep ball was, had two drops, and looked slow and really unpolished in routes. It’s just day one, but it wasn’t a good start. As for the other Hokie, Corey Fuller showcased his weeks at times, and worked well in the slot position. I hope they leave him there all week, because his speed and body positioning on the interior could really give him a chance to thrive.
-The most impressive receiver from my perspective today was Keenan Davis, though others said Jasper Collins impressed them most. Davis high pointed the ball very well today, adjusted his body well on deeper throws, and worked better-than-expected on outside routes. One of the best interior receivers I think this week because of his high pointing ability, willingness to work in traffic, and his body positioning in the mid-field, he’s started off the week on a good note.
-Jasper Collins stood out to me immediately, but not in the way I expected. He looked much smaller than I anticipated, and though as of the moment I’m writing this I don’t have the weigh in notes, he doesn’t look overly imposing. He did attack the ball well downfield, and sank his hips low to explode in his routes to get separation, better than I expected he would based on his time at Mount Union. Safe to say this week means a lot to the former Division III receiver.
-While I’ll admit I didn’t watch any of Middle Tennessee State’s Anthony Amos before I got to St. Petersburg, based off today, I certainly should. He took well to coaching, and obviously is a bit raw in his routes across the field. But he adjusts to the ball very well, positions his body naturally well on the interior, and seems to have consistent ball grabbing skills. One to follow.
-As for the tight ends, the only likely draftable one of the bunch performed well in Rutgers DC Jefferson. While he’s not a burner, he worked hard in his routes, both across linebackers (where he fought through multiple chips and gave the quarterback a throwing window), as well as attacking the seam as well. Under-utilized at Rutgers, he’s shown the route development and the extension away from his body already this week. Blocking drills shouldn’t be a problem either for Jefferson.
-Didn’t take too close of a look at the offensive line today (not in full pads), but two that did stand out were Terron Armstead of Arkansas Pine-Bluff and David Bass of Missouri Western State. Armstead looked the part in pass protection, getting great extension on his deep kick slides, and setting up well and consistently to even anticipate inside rushes to pinch inside. As for Bass, he showed good burst and change of direction in the run game, and made an impact despite it not being full contact.
-Not a whole lot that I noticed today at linebacker, as this crew really is a lackluster crop. However, emotionally, it looks like Howard’s Keith Pough is already starting to assume a bit of a leadership role. Vocal today, seeming to feel comfortable despite being a “small schooler”, Pough made a good first impression to scouts who took note. He did struggle in his coverage transitions though, which is expected for a mostly-rushing linebacker in college.
-Man, there are a lot of defensive backs here, with nine cornerbacks and seven safeties on the East roster alone. Of the class, though, two REALLY stood out. One was Clemson’s Rashard Hall, who impressed me as I reviewed him for this game. He showed explosive hips and change of direction, and looked as though he could cover receivers (and likely will at times this week) in man coverage.
-The other really impressive defensive back was Cooper Taylor of Richmond. Get used to hearing that name this week, because he really looks the part of the hype I heard about him in the pre-season of this year. The 6’4 safety is a monster in the defensive back drills compared to his 6’0 or smaller counterparts, yet he’s reacting and closing on passes as well as any of them. His change of direction, efficient aggression, and reaction to the play were fantastic today, including a Collin Klien interception. I’ll look for him to be maybe one of three small schoolers here fighting for a Top 3 round pick.
-I also noticed Illinois’s Terry Hawthorne, who struggled to adjust upfield on a few occasions in shorter routes, UCLA’s Aaron Hester, who ran downfield well with receivers but lacked proper receiver-sideline spacing on a vertical route, and Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas, who impressed in his transitions in slot match-ups when he was given a chance there.