Winners of Day 3 North Practice: Virginia Tech FB Sam Rogers, East Carolina WR Isaiah Jones, Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp, West Virginia OC Orlovsky, Youngstown State OLB Derek Rivers, Temple LB Haason Reddick, and UConn SAF Obi Melifonwu
By: Eric Galko (WR/DB), Christian Page (QB/TE)
Austin Baumer (RB/LB), Derrik Klassen (OL/DL)
-Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman was once again the cleanest looking thrower for the North team. Nothing was above average or outstanding from the Pitt quarterback but his mechanics, accuracy and ball placement were by far and away better than the other two. He put together a nice series of redzone throws connecting with Trent Taylor on a post route in the back of the endzone while checking off the safety. In the specialty passes, Peterman looked most impressive with the back shoulder throws.
–Sefo Liufau of Colorado still looked to be the odd man out. His funky mechanics (looked like he pulled the ball from behind his back) didn’t help him out and his timing was still off as receivers were waiting for the ball to come to them on comeback routes. He did well in the redzone drills but nothing was exceptional.
-Iowa passer CJ Beathard had an average day but looked technically sound with his footwork and throwing motion. He put together a nice series of fade routes with excellent ball placement and touch. He had an awful pick in the endzone to a stationary Desmond King. He settled for a few check downs in the seven on seven drill.
–Sam Rogers (Virginia Tech) is an intriguing prospect in his own right. A fullback by trade, Rogers displays an uncanny ability to shake free in the flat or on swing/wheel routes. Twice today in one-on-one matchups he was able to do a stutter-step or a shimmy shake to gain separation. Rogers has very quick feet for a fullback/H-back and routinely makes big plays happen. During pass blocking drills, Rogers showed that he can square up, lock-in, and stone blitzing linebackers. He put on a nice showing this week with his versatility.
–Corey Clement (Wisconsin) we all know he can run the ball between the tackles and has one-cut explosiveness, but today he also showed he can be a three-down back and take on rushers. Jonathan Herdman (Simon Fraser) tried a bull-rush and Clement just locked him out with relative ease. As a pass catcher, Clement proved he can be an able receiving threat beating Ben Gedeon (Michigan) on a swing route.
-Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp has earned substantial praise throughout the week of practice, but Thursday may have been his best yet. He’s such a tremendously skilled hands catcher, but it was his double move routes and burst at the top of his route breaks that made the difference. He was the best receiver on the North roster, and he’ll start being considered a first-round crasher.
-Michigan’s Amara Darboh is a bigger receiver and offers such great core strength as a route runner, but it’s his feet and immediate route quickness has made him a special talent. His work helping his quarterback on redzone drills is exactly what he could do in the NFL.
–Isaiah Jones put up crazy numbers in terms of receptions at East Carolina, but I wasn’t his biggest fan coming in as much of his college film doesn’t directly translate to the NFL. But in the redzone drills today, Jones shown his pivot and short-area route running burst that could make him a dangerous slot receiver in the NFL. His efficiency in the redzone looked awfully familiar to the way John Brown dominated in the same drill at the Shrine Game two years ago.
–Michael Roberts is the best tight end on the North roster and it’s not close. He’s smooth as a mover as you’ll find for a big bodied, box-out tight end, and he has some surprising burst after catch. He’ll be a top-100 pick.
-Not much stood out from the group of tight ends today. Mike Roberts of Toledo showed some promise as a downfield blocker in the run game and had a nice open field block to pave way for Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers on an underneath route. Jonnu Smith (Florida International) seems to be the most athletic out of the North group as he showed the best burst off the line with some speed on the sideline.
-Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton is a multi-positional player. Moton played guard in 2015 before transitioning to tackle in 2016. For the first two days of practice, Moton was playing tackle, but kicked inside to guard for Thursday’s practice. Moton held his own inside, but he was better at tackle earlier in the week. Playing interior offensive line requires more quickness and reactionary skills, and Moton looked a little off there when playing guard.
-West Virginia’s Tyler Orlosky is a bully. Coming from the B12, he may get downgraded off the bat because of the blocking schemes, but he has moments of dominance. Orlosky had a handful of great reps during 1-on-1s, including one full blown pancake during combination drills. There is a case to be made as the best interior blocker on the North team.
-Don’t let the small school label be a detractor: Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers can cook as an edge rusher. He is a big, lean pass rusher who can attack the edge with speed and aggression. Rivers was putting on a clinic during today’s 1-on-1s and team drills. He stood clearly above the rest of the pass rushers today.
-Illinois’s Dawuane Smoot is a speed threat off the edge. He has a long body and a sweet get-off that allows him to quickly initiate contact and begin winning the play. Smoot had a few nice pass rushes during 1-on-1s, especially when he tried to bend the edge. Smoot has been up and down this week, but Thursday’s practice was an up.
–Haason Reddick (Temple) really continues to impress and get better every day. He came into the Senior bowl as an undersized edge rusher in college that will have to move inside. All he does is win, whether that’s as a rusher, in coverage, or stopping the run. Reddick had two pass break-ups in coverage drills showing his ball skills. During pass rush drills, Reddick threw Kareem Hunt (Toledo) out of the way “wowing” the crowd. The type of strength, sideline-to-sideline speed, and agility he puts on exhibition make me a firm believer he can play in any scheme, inside or outside. During 11 on 11’s, he put on a nasty speed rush easily getting by USC’s Zach Banner untouched. Don’t be surprised if Reddick sneaks into round one.
–Derek Rivers (Youngstown State) plays so smart in the 11 on 11 drills. This week he has been by far the best edge defender at setting the edge against the run. During pass rush drills he put on display a quality blend of speed/leverage to get around blockers. Rivers stock is up after this week.
–Vince Biegel (Wisconsin) came in as the most experienced edge defender out of the group and after watching him in one-on-one pass rushing drills this week its frustrating to put a mark on him. Biegel doesn’t have a go-to move and rarely tries to counter after his initial rush is stalled. Playing 4-3 OLB exclusively isn’t out of the question.
-I’m now firmly aboard the Obi Melifonwu train of UConn. I (Eric Galko) was low on him coming into the season because I didn’t love his work as a junior, but those in the NFL had been hyping him up during the year and before this. After today’s practice especially, in which he handled receivers in one-on-one drills and could easily transition to a short-area cornerback (along with having tremendous athletic upside as a safety), the sky is the limit for how high he can go.
-West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas had his ups and downs today, and that’s been the norm all week. Long, physical and offers great flashes of finishing ability at the catch-point, he gets too handsy at times and lets gets get inside of his pedal and beat him on breaks too often. Cooper Kupp had a devastating double move on him, and that anticipation issue is on film as well.
-Saint Francis’s Lorezno Jerome and Boston College’s John Johnson both had strong days today. Jerome is very patient away from his frame as a man-pickup safety, and John Johnson is super explosive and a natural athlete. Lamar’s Brendan Langley has had a very rough week.