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2017 Senior Bowl: South Roster Day 1 Practice Report

Winners from Day 1 of the South Practice: Grambling State receiver Chad Williams, Alabama TE OJ Howard, Western Kentucky OG Forrest Lamp, Texas A&M DE Daeshon Hall and LSU CB Tre’Davious White.

Notes from:
Eric Galko (ALL), Derrik Klassen (QB/RB/WR)
Christian Page (WR/DB), Austin Baumer (OL/DL)

Quarterbacks
-Cal’s Davis Webb has the cleanest stroke of any of the QBs on the South team. His ball placement was the most consistent, although it wasn’t always in a perfect spot for the receiver. We’ll see if Webb can do a better job with his plant step and not lock up his hips before he throws.

-The quarterback most likely to draw Dak Prescott comparisons, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs looked good throwing vertical routes, but consistently missed on quick outs. Had a smart throwaway during team drills. Dobbs often plays with loose feet and it tends to mess up the timing of his process, needs to tighten up. -Tiffin’s

-Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin was certainly the surprise invite to the Senior Bowl, and he struggled as aspected. His ball placement was all over the place. He flashed a few nice throws, but struggle to keep it consistent. Pipkin’s release isn’t quick or powerful, most of his throws got there a tick late. Hopefully, he can speed up his process this week.

Running Backs
-BYU’s Jamaal Williams entered as the expected top running back and looked the part after Day 1. Williams is a smooth runner, and was making nice cuts during team drills and was consistently the most productive of the running back group. Williams simply looked natural.

-With 10-inch hands and expected to be the top pass-catching running back in Mobile this week, NC State’s Matt Dayes had a couple of plays where he won with speed and quickness and showed he’s danger in space. There were plays where he got locked in the backfield, but when he got a sliver of space, he made the most of it. We’ll see how he does in third down situations tomorrow.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
-Overall, the receivers looked solid but a couple had an underwhelming day. LSU’s Travin Dural didn’t impress with any specific trait and displayed heavy feet and not much burst out of his breaks. Compared to other receivers, it didn’t look like Dural wanted the ball as he showed minimal aggression in attacking routes or even really getting open.  

-Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds struggled early in practice in individual drills with a couple drops but still finished the day with good marks. He displayed his crazy length by consistently snagging balls out of the air in one on one drills coming down with some hard grabs. He created separation with some suddenness and showed some short area quickness that may be new to some people.
Chad Williams of Grambling may have been the big winner of the day. He showcased great ball tracking skills and concentration in traffic. He made it a theme in bullying San Diego State cornerback Damontae Kazee in the one on one drills. Williams wow’d the crowd with his strong hands with glimpses of upper body strength when shaking off man coverage. Fellow Grambling receivers impressed at the HBCU Spirit of America Bowl two weeks ago, a game designed for HBCU seniors, but this week is Chad Williams’s chance to shine. Williams’s isn’t the most quick-twitch receiver and is a bit of a slow starter, but his finishing ability in traffic and vertical finishing ability shined for Day 1, as expected based on our preview.
Gerald Everett of South Alabama showed out in the receiving part of the game with plenty of impressive grabs within a high degree of difficulty. He displayed his athleticism and length laying out for one sideline grab while also coming away with a few grabs in traffic. His blocking technique was sporadic as in the drills he would shoot too high with coaches’ comments following right after.  
OJ Howard of Alabama checked all the boxes showing the athleticism, receiving ability and blocking technique in the first day of practice. He shined in the 11 on 11 drills threatening the seam multiple times beating defenders constantly (Auburn’s Rudy Ford and Houston’s Tyus Bowser). Howard started the day off with a couple one-handed grabs.

 

Offensive Line
-Troy’s Antonio Garcia gained Tyron Smith comps from us before the week because he’s so light on his feet and is able to generate ample power in his kick slide as he’s mobile. He played the part of the South’s top offensive tackles except against Daeshon Hall, who’s power and length seemed to out-match his sub-300 pound size. That may prove to be an issue this week, more than expected.

-Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp had a near flawless day of practice. While his arms aren’t ideally long enough, his transition to guard has made it almost a positive. He locks into position easily and with great technique, keeping his elbows out and maintaining great strength through his hands. He controlled multiple defensive tackles in one on ones, but his work in team drills in zone blocking and play-action protection were both very impressive.

-LSU C Ethan Pocic was up and down today. On one particular snap he was beaten by UCLA DT Eddie Vanderdoes with a swim move. On the next, snap he was able to thwart Alabama DT Dalvin Tomlinson on a speed move inside. Pocic showed the type of adjusting that you like to see after a mistake and looks to take coaching very receptively.

-Miami (FL) G Danny Isidora had a rough first day. He got beat again and again in 1 on 1’s whether it was a power bull rush or a swim move. He lacked the necessary quickness and punch to stall anybody today. He looked vastly overmatched in the strength category.

-UCLA OT Conor McDermott also had a rocky first practice. He is very susceptible to speed rushers on the edge getting beat by Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon. McDermott looked out of his element from the right side as well. For McDermott to boost his stock he is going to have to slide his feet more quickly on the edge and keep his balance when the rusher dips inside.

Defensive Line
-The best defensive lineman of the day was easily Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall. While he was overshadowed a bit by Myles Garrett, the expected first-overall pick, Hall proved today just how physically impressive he could be. He beat the South Roster’s best offensive tackle, Antonio Garcia, with a speed edge rush and a bull rush on back to back reps, and his ability to stay low and powerful as a rusher despite his 6’6 frame is really impressive.

-UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes displayed quick feet and a pretty impressive burst in 1 on 1’s. He performed a swift swim move on an inside rush against Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp who is arguably the best offensive lineman prospect here. Vanderdoes used a little bit of power and speed moves on his inside rushes.

-Tulane’s Tanzel Smart was ferocious during day 1 displaying the type of burst necessary for a 3-technique pass rusher at the next level. Smart was explosive winning numerous 1 on 1 battles. The acceleration and power/speed moves he put on today definitely made him some money. At one point in 11 on 11’s he and LSU C Ethan Pocic got into a post-play scuffle. That is the kind of fiery burst you want to see in an NFL job interview.

-Clemson’s Carlos Watkins didn’t impress like he was expected to in 1 on 1’s after a really productive year rushing the passer. He was slow off the ball and was routinely stalled with bull rushes. Look for Watkins to have a much better day two.


Linebackers
-Florida’s Alex Anzalone showed up strong for the first day of practice. He quickly swarmed to run plays, stood strong is his gaps and swallowed runners. He set a good tone for the week. In a somewhat lackluster inside linebacker class, Anzalone, the graduate junior, could rise with a strong week.

-Expected as the best true linebacker here, LSU’s Duke Riley’s speed was evident. He likely fits between Deion Jones and Kwon Alexander as a prospect He flew toward plays and his gaps. He’s not the biggest guy, but he was always near the play as he was at LSU this season.

 

Defensive Backs
Jonathan “Rudy” Ford of Auburn was one of the more technically sound defensive backs in the first day of practice. He wet through the walk through drills and positive comments followed from the coaches of the drill. He got beat over the middle of the field once to Alabama’s OJ Howard but overall maintained to keep the separation in check.

-Miami’s Rashawn Jenkins was a fluid mover and shows the ability to quickly turn and run. He impressed with ball skills (looked like a natural receiver high pointing passes) showing soft hands and vision in the defensive backfield.
Damontae Kazee of San Diego State had some hiccups early as he was out muscled a few times by Grambling’s Chad Williams. Kazee’s small frame showed up today but his quickness and anticipation was still impressive. He showed today that being a slot cornerback is probably his best destination.
-Tre’Davious White of LSU looked the best in weigh-ins this morning and continued to impress the first day of practice. His anticipation was most notable as he picked of a Joshua Dobbs’ early in the practice. He constantly jumped routes in front of receivers with a few pass breakups but plenty of contested catches.