Lots of notes on the top receivers in the game, as well as getting a good look at the East’s talented offensive line and the West’s talented secondary.
Keenan Davis, Terron Armstead, David Bass, and Terry Hawthorne would all be very nice to see in a Dolphins uniform come April.
MDD Lead Editor: Eric Galko
-Virginia Tech’s Marcus Daviscontinued his struggles in locating the ball vertically, and didn’t look the part of an NFL outside receiver. For a bigger receiver who can work down the field well, he should be controlling the deep routes, not struggling in them.
-Florida State’s Rodney Smith was working well downfield and was even high pointing the ball well, but struggled to consistently bring down the ball, including one poor drop on a well-placed Nathan Stanley jump ball. For Smith thus far, everything in impressing except his ability to bring in the ball.
-North Carolina’s Erik Highsmith on the other had was doing a great job in looking the ball into his hands, and was consistently catching the ball away from his body well. He couldn’t consistently stay in bounds , but part of that was due to poor timing by quarterbacks, something that will progressively improve as the week goes on.
-Finally, Auburn’s Emory Blake had another impressive day running routes, showing great plant and drive in out routes, getting consistent separation on inside and outside breaking routes, and had a one-handed grab on the sidelines before crashing into (likely impressed) NFL scouts.
-Another impressive day from Keenan Davis, as he dominated my tweets most of the day. He was attacking the ball well in the air, finishing catches on the interior, and tracked the ball well vertically. He’s been the only receiver on this roster to have impressive both days.
-I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Dan Buckner today, including working better outside the hashes than I thought he would coming in. He extends very well away from his body, and can finish catches. However, he seems to make catches tougher than they are at times, and could use his body better after the press.
-The small Jasper Collins struggled versus press today, had at least one drop that I saw, and struggled all day with getting separation vs. physical corners. That’s the biggest knock on him,a nd though he impressed when he got vertical yesterday and his routes showed better definition than expected on the outside, he’s no lock to be a draft pick as of now.
-At tight end, Lucas Reed of New Mexico was the only one who really stood out, using his hands to get upfield in the seam on multiple occasions, and showcasing the physicality and natural ability to be a high upside tight end. He drew praise from the coaching staff on multiple occasions.
-This is where my notes really heated up, as the line battles were the attention of 80% of the scouts there when they began. The star of the offensive tackles was almost without question Terron Armstead, a player who I’ve been a fan of all year. He showed ideal body technique, hand placement, and kick slide depth in pass pro, and pinched inside well in the run game in team drills. He showed the ability to seal defensive ends in the run game, and was the only offensive tackle to slow/stop David Bass (more on him later) all day.
-The biggest news today was Manase Foketi injury being discovered. He has a pulled right calf, and it seems he may be out all week. That’s really tough news, as he could have really helped his stock this week to be in the Day 2 discussion.
-Also I noted, Blaize Foltz looked a bit slow off the snap, but he snaps his hands up quickly and shows good pop off the line. Also, Sam Brenner of Utah took to coaching today, including two absorbing two coaching points and taking them in stride. I heard from a scout last night on what a smart, coachable, heady guy he is, and he showed that a bit today.
-The star of the practice without question was Missouri Western State’s David Bass. He was a step quicker than another defensive linemen off the snap, maintained balance and explosiveness in every drill, and was using his hands with force in both drills and one vs. one reps. In the pass protection drill, he was 4 for 5 in getting a sack, with only Terron Armsteadslowing him (but likely still forced QB out of the pocket). A dominate day, he may no longer be a “late round sleeper” if he keeps this play up.
-Also impressing was Mike Catapano of Princeton. The defensive end struggled to bend on the outside and run the arc as a pass rusher, but he consistently stays low in drills and in one vs. one drills, and dipped his inside shoulder very well. He was active and aggressive all day, and was a force as a rusher today, giving blockers (especially Rutgers’s RJ Dill) fits all day.
-Gerald Hodges of Penn State was active today, both in pass coverage pick-up as well as in the run game in team drills. He was reacting well in pick-up and zone coverage, and sank to transition well in drills. And in team drills, he stayed low, scrapped, and attacked upfield to force the runner outside or into his arms on multiple occasions. He looks like the most polished of the East linebackers.
-Also standing out was UConn’s Sio Moore, who was flying around the field in team drills, disengaging well and attacking the ball carrier well. I didn’t get a great look at him in coverage, but he showed the ability to sink and transition at times on film. I’m curious to track him closer tomorrow to see if he can be consistent in a weak-side or strong-side role at linebacker.
-Once again, Cooper Taylor impressed today, as the Richmond safety followed up a surprising Monday. Showing great reaction and pickup ability with running back and tight ends, he closed on routes quickly and only gave up one catch in his zone/man, which was a quick out by Ray Graham (tough to defend from SS spot).
-Josh Evans of Florida was transitioning well and exploding to his reads consistently in 7 on 7s, and maybe was the most consistent in being in ideal position of the safeties.
The best cornerback of the day from my eyes was Terry Hawthorne. The most talented cornerback here and our top rated one coming into the game, he showed great press ability, showing a good understanding of when to sink and adjust vertically as well as stay tight to defend against in-breaking routes. I didn’t see every snap he had, but from what I saw, against both smaller/speedy guys and Dan Buckner, he stayed tight and physical across the field.
-Iowa’s Micah Hyde stayed with his receivers well today, and what he lacks in speed he seemed to make up for in ideal reactions. He’s a major instinct guy, and I think the more he sees these receivers, he’ll be able to compensate for his lack of foot speed more consistently. Also, Khalid Wooten of Nevada flashed as a press cornerback. Like the upside with him.
-Finally, Notre Dame’s Zeke Motta, on two occasions, ran perfectly with receivers in vertical routes. One time, he didn’t turn his head at all, and Keenan Davis nearly made a circus catch around him (but he was in ideal position). The next vertical route, he stayed tight on the receiver’s inside hip, adjusted to the ball, and came up with the interception. If he can cover in man like that, Motta is showing there isn’t much he can’t do at an adequate or beyond level.