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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
From ESPN Insider
Plenty of fast starts on Day 1
Monday of Senior Bowl week features a lot of players getting used to new schemes and teammates, and a lot of coaching and teaching while players are in shorts and helmets.
It's not an ideal setting for evaluating NFL prospects, but a handful of players clearly got off to fast starts on Day 1, setting the tone for the week as they try to separate from the pack and cement their draft status.
D-linemen stand out
The South team defensive line was clearly the most active, dominant unit on Day 1. North Carolina DE Quinton Coples enters the week as the highest-rated prospect in Mobile, and he lived up to the hype in his first practice. Coples owned the day from start to finish, and you can get a complete breakdown of his performance in our Stock Report to the right.
Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw showed power as both a run defender and pass-rusher. Upshaw is not an elite speedster, but he used leverage well and consistently won with quickness and power during one-on-one pass-rush drills.
The only mild concern with Upshaw is his instincts and how quickly he diagnoses plays in space. He was recognizing plays on a couple of occasions, and at one point it took him a few seconds to see a misdirection play. That's something we'll keep an eye on as the practice week progresses.
South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram did diagnose plays quickly, and he also used power and quickness to win the majority of his matchups during one-on-one drills and the team period.
Trio of wideouts shine
Arkansas WR Joe Adams showcased his speed and showed good quickness off the line and in and out of breaks. Adams also displayed impressive hands, catching everything that was thrown his way.
North Carolina WR Dwight Jones turned heads during the weigh-in -- checking in at a solid 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds -- and he followed that up by using his size effectively as a route-runner.
Jones does not have great suddenness, but his size gives him a built-in ability to separate, and he used his frame well within his routes. He also caught the ball well.
Finally, Appalachian State WR Brian Quick (6-3½, 222) needs some polish as a route-runner, but he has quick feet and fluid hips for a big receiver. Quick will round off cuts or take an extra step at times, but he was solid catching the ball, especially over his head on vertical routes.
He was caught off-guard by how quickly Boise State QB Kellen Moore got the ball out on a quick out route, but later in practice Quick made a nice play on a sideline 9-route in the end zone, turning to find the ball and bringing it down inbounds.
And while Quick isn't a blazer, he did show in a one-on-one matchup with Cal-Poly CB Asa Jackson the ability to use his long strides to eat up a cushion in a hurry. Quick is looking to show he can handle a higher level of competition, and he got off to a good start in Day 1.
We found out on Day 1 that Baylor WR Kendall Wright
South team notebook
Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl
As noted above, Weeden had the best day among the South quarterbacks. He was not as effective when rolling to his left as to his right, but when rolling right he was crisp and accurate.
He also made an impressive throw down the seam to Arkansas WR Joe Adams, one that required the kind of timing that is hard to get down in an all-star setting. Weeden made a quick decision and was accurate with the ball, turning it into one of the better throws we saw today.
Foles continues to flash his talent, but his timing was off on Day 2. His passes were late and behind receivers at times, and he also seemed to be guiding the ball rather than letting it fly. That showed up on a throw from the left hash to the right sideline that died on him.
It wasn't a bad day for Foles -- at one point he made an accurate touch pass to a running back on a crossing route during the team period, allowing the back to pick up some yards after the catch -- but he just wasn't as clean or crisp as Weeden.
Finally, Lindley showed the ability to get through his progressions, but he needs to get off his first receiver more quickly. Lindley is also heavy-footed and not as mobile inside or outside the pocket as Weeden and Foles. And while he has as strong arm, Lindley continues to be erratic within the strike zone and misses it altogether at times.
Linemen look good
• Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders recovered from a tough start on Day 1, playing with better pad level and showing the ability to reset after initial contact. Sanders needs to add more overall strength and will never be a road grader in the running game, but he can protect the edge with his long arms and light feet, and he looked much better on Day 2.
• Illinois OT Jeff Allen was knocked back a couple of times by North Carolina DE Quinton Coples -- to be fair, though, Coples has owned everyone he's faced -- but Allen displayed good feet and ability to anchor in pass protection. He was good sliding his feet and using his hands to stay in front of pass-rushers.
• South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram continues to show an explosive first step, and impressive power and leverage to get into the pads of blockers and shock them back. Ingram also flashed a very good spin move when lined up inside, and with back-to-back solid performances he could be locking down a spot in the middle of the first round.
• Clemson DT Brandon Thompson is quietly having a good start to the week. Thompson has shown quickness and the ability to anchor against double-teams, and he has quick hands and more athleticism than you might think. He was disruptive during 9-on-7 running drills, collecting a couple of tackles for loss.
• Texas A&M DT Tony Jerod-Eddie flashed the strength and power to get good initial surge off the line. H's a limited athlete, but with is strong play at the point of attack Jerod-Eddie looks like a great fit as a 5-technique (DE) in a 3-4 scheme.
Defensive backs stand out
• Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward is showing in Mobile what we saw from him during film study, which is the instinct to read quarterbacks and routes and make plays on balls in front of him. He's a tough player, but Hayward lacks ideal fluidity and will never be a great man-to-man cover corner.
• LSU SS Brandon Taylor is a bit slow transitioning out of his backpedal and will never be a great cover guy -- he could likely hold up well enough in zone coverage -- but even in this setting he's showing his toughness against the run. Taylor laid out Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard, putting his physical game on display and proving his worth in run support.
WR Criner's impressive hands
Arizona WR Juron Criner had a hard time creating separation and didn't show much explosiveness out of breaks, but he caught everything thrown his way. Criner was excellent on Day 2 with his ability to extend his arms and snatch balls out of the air.