In my personal first look at the South team, I was looking forward to seeing these quarterbacks and receivers for their first time this week, especially now that they had a day of chemistry and timing to work on for today.
A lot of impact receivers and tight ends here, but wasn’t too impressed with the quarterbacks or the big name defensive lineman that I was hoping for.
Look for my Daily Notes later tonight after the Press Conference.
-The big story today was the battle between the top two receivers here. Leonard Hankerson has beena favorite of ours all year long, and I think he will step in and be a number two starter right away, with the first round not out of the question. He showed strong hands, explosive routes, and almost uncoverable at times. However, Courtney Smith was ultra-impressive considered he’s a small school late addition, and his 6’4, 200 pound frame was dominate all day. Great focus in looking the ball in, was the main focus of the quarterbacks looking down field, and uses his body well to make a play. He’s flying up my boards, but I have to go back and check the film to make sure he’s legit.
-As for the quarterbacks, I am thoroughly disappointed with this crop. I loved Christian Ponder coming into this week, and while his injury checked out (see Monday’s Daily Notes) and his velocity was there, he was a bit erratic on the outside. I still like his deep touch and quick release which he showcased today, and he’s still the best QB on this South roster.
-I said via twitter a few days ago that I’m not on the Andy Dalton bandwagon, and it looks like all those that were on it should pump the breaks. He was very erratic with his passing today, and his release seemed slower than I remembered. One scout from the 49ers actually compared it’s ineffectiveness to Tim Tebow’s, which isn’t good news for him.
-While Dalton struggled, his teammate Jeremy Kerley impressed today. He wasn’t in Hankerson’s or Smith’s class talent-wise, but he’s was very explosive in and out of his breaks, showed very consistent hands with this inaccurate quarterbacks, and a lot of teams really were impressed that I talked to.
-I took a quick peek at the offensive lineman today, and I did notice that Derek Sherrod did standout as I expected. He’s the safest left tackle in this class, and the thing that stands out to me most is his focus on what he’s doing. Never has sloppy technique, picks up blitzers well, confident in his slides to the outside, just a complete tackle. DeMarcus Love struggled mightily with inside rushers today, and Lee Ziemba looked solid played guard and was a mauler once he got to the 2nd level as a run blocker. Also, Danny Watkins moved well in space, and had a very nice block on a screen play that set Bilal Powell up for a big run.
-At tight end, Luke Stocker stole the show. He wasn’t overly impressive in the blocking aspect, but the Bills staff was singing his praises the entire time the tight ends were pass catching. He runs great routes, soft yet strong hands, and could be a dangerous seam threat. Also, DJ Williams showed great ball skills and used his hands to rip the ball from defenders. He was tough to cover, but I still think he needs to play some fullback this week.
–Derrick Locke was explosive today and had some big plays in the open field. Noel Devine looked very small and struggled to get into open space.
-To wrap up the offense, Greg McElroy wasn’t very impressive today…except when throwing to his Alabama tight end Preston Dial. They hooked up on a handful of pretty middle of the field plays, but that’s my biggest concern with McElroy: he doesn’t play well outside of his comfort zone. If he’s with a team for 4-5 years with the same coach, he could be a solid backup quarterback, but otherwise, I doubt it.
-One note: Greg Salas is the best body catcher I’ve seen in a long time. He gets open very well, but almost everything is into his body. I’ll give him one thing, he doesn’t let them bounce out too often.
-I only saw the secondary for a little while, but I noticed Curtis Brown of Texas. He was very aggressive and made some good breaks on the ball. But against a good route runner like Salas or Hankerson, he was beat deep. Also, Ahmad Black was very instinctive out there, breaking up at least two passes that no other safety could have today just based on his reading of the quarterback. I wish Matt McGloin of Penn State was here, he could push Black to the 1st round. Also, Demarcus Van Dyke stood out to me, but not in a good way. He looks so skinny out there its unbelievable he can hang with bigger receivers. He’ll need to bulk up, but he wasn’t awful today.
-Another note: I saw two injuries today. Marcus Gilbert looked like he had a toe injury and was limping for a while, and Shareece Wright, who was playing well today and had good coverage on Hankerson, injuried his toe late in practice. No word on either yet.
-Finally, on the defense’s front seven, Allen Bailey did not stand out at all. Comparing him to Cameron Jordan was way off on my part before I got to South practice, and he’s now for sure out of the 1st round on my board. Great athlete (picture on twitter), but I question how he’ll play at the NFL level. Could be a solid 5-technique though. Also, Cedric Thornton played fairly well today. He was quick off the snap and stayed low in his rush, and had a nice underneath move to sack McElroy.
–BIGGEST WINNERS: Courtney Smith, WR, South Alabama; Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL); Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee; Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU
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Check out our Daily Notes later on today with some team observations, press conference notes, and other insight, including a Mike Leach sighting? Seriously?