Winners of Day 2 North Practice: Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp, West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas, Temple LB Haason Reddick, and Boston College SAF John Johnson.
By: Eric Galko (QB/RB/LB), Christian Page (OL/DL)
Austin Baumer (WR/DB), Derrik Klassen (WR/DB)
-There’s a really unexciting yet important quarterback battle between Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman and Iowa’s CJ Beathard. One of these two will end up as top-three round considered quarterbacks just based on recent history, and the smart money is on Peterman for now. Peterman works best on film, and did today, when he’s working on shorter routes, outside throws under 15 yards and with timing throws in the middle of the field. He’s patient, finishes with plus velocity control, and should be on the radar of West Coast teams.
–CJ Beathard is, in my opinion, just as good, and has arguably better top-end velocity as a passer. He was a bit erratic today on the perimeter and even easier underneath throws, but his ball spin down the field, touch and confidence on the perimeter and capable arm talent to work vertically, coupled with his pro style experience and confidence in his skill set, all speak to his likely ability as an NFL passer.
-Sefo Liufau of Colorado is a really great young man and has some arm talent that’s fun to watch on occasion on film. As for his NFL ablity, I’ll just say he struggled today and leave it at that. I hope he’s enjoying himself at practice this week.
-The best running back on the North squad today was Kareem Hunt of Toledo. He showe concentration as a pass catcher out of the backfield and clearly looks comfortable as an out of backfield route runner. He also had a handful of shifty second level moves when linebackers or safeties too poor angles, and showed his second-level vision and cuts as he did on film.
-Michigan’s De’Veon Smith is clearly powerful, but his burst to and through the hole on outside runs or zone plays wasn’t all that impressive. He’s a bruiser on the interior and I’m a fan on film, but practices in non-contact team drills isn’t suited for him.
–Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) picked up where he left off yesterday displaying good route running to create separation. On one particular play, Kupp got past Desmond King (Iowa) and made a slick catch on the sideline. Kupp has steadily built up steam the last few days with his ability to run routes and catch everything thrown his way. He was the clear winner of the North wide receivers on day two.
–Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech) has the most impressive footwork out of all the receivers here in Mobile. Taylor is very tough to guard on inside slant routes and working out into the flats. Yesterday he put on a crazy triple move on a comeback route on the sideline and today he put Aarion Penton (Missouri) on the turf with some sweet moves. Taylor has shown this week that he is capable of being productive versus top competition. Look for Taylor to be drafted somewhere near the 4th round despite his small catch radius.
–Jalen Robinette (Air Force) struggled a little bit in his first day here, while he showed good hands, he also showed an inability to create separation and get off of the defensive backs. He was repeatedly jammed by West Virginia corner Rasul Douglas, failing to break the press. Robinette looks like a fringe roster spot unless he can find a way to get open.
-East Carolina’s Zay Jones is a highly productive player, but doesn’t appear to have any spectacular traits. He’s a fine catcher with an adequate build. During practices, Jones struggled to get in and out of his breaks. He took too many steps and didn’t accelerate as well as he needed to. There is still value in a reliable short game receiver, though, and Jones can be that. Jones will need to step it up to fit in with the rest of the group.
-Michigan’s Amara Darboh has been one of college football’s hidden gems for a while now. Stiffness in his hips may give him some issues with separation, but Darboh is a quick and nifty player who finds the ball well. He has reliable hands and can make catches that bail out poor placement from the quarterback. Darboh is the type of player who consistently holds a No.2 or No.3 role and produces.
-Temple’s Haason Reddick is making the transition from defensive end to inside linebacker, and so far he’s exceed expectations. He’s a remarkably explosive and quick twitch athlete, so his flashes in that area aren’t surprising. But his capability in read steps and working to the perimeter are impressive. He’s a work in progress as a coverage linebacker vs. interior breaking tight ends and keeping track of running backs out of the backfield and there’s some discomfort, but he’s not that far off.
-Of the two small school linebackers here, Simon Fraser’s Jordan Herdman is (as expected) the clear better prospect. Herdman is active in the middle of the field and looks to thump on the inside against underneath receivers and in the run game. Connor Harris of Lindenwood has struggled mightily in coverage and has gotten lost in traffic, the two areas that are most concerning.
–Derek Rivers of Youngstown State had a very strong day, especially in setting the edge as a run defender. He flowed well and held firm against zone blocking plays and looks the part of a 3-4 edge rusher. Dont’ be surprised when he gets top-50 buzz after the NFL combine.
-The best cornerback on the North roster is Rasul Douglas of West Virginia, who drew his fair share of penaltes in one-on-ones from the “officials” here, but his length and ability to finish away from his frame certainly showed up in practice today. He should test good, not great, but his length alone will sell times, and his redzone ability today impressed substantially. Interviews will be key for him.
–Desmond King (Iowa) continues to impress with his knack for competing with quick receivers and posession receivers alike. King broke up numerous passes in one-on-one drills including a nice punch out in the corner versus Louisville’s Jamari Staples. King displays the necessary hips with very fluid turning into receiver breaks. Many people want to change King to a safety and over the last two days it looks as though he will be succesful at either position.
–Aarion Penton (Missouri) lack of size hurt him today versus the bigger receivers. Amara Darboh made him look silly with a quick twitch cut inside then a deep out on the sideline. Penton has good ball skills and quick feet, but at 5’9 he gives up a significant amount of height. Look for him to play nickel corner exclusively at the next level.
-John Johnson of Boston College has proven to be a multiple position player. At Boston College, Johnson was asked to play both cornerback and safety, depending on how healthy Boston College’s cornerback depth chart was. Johnson is a fluid athlete with great hips and feet. Johnson was one of the few defensive backs who kept up during 1-on-1 vertical routes. His athleticism is evident on every play.
-Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis is going to get hit with the “small corner” label. He’s not terribly short, but at 5’10”, he falls under the benchmark that some teams have for height. Lewis’ game is predicated on quick feet and ball skills, but Lewis struggled to put those on display during Wednesday’s practice. He got beat more often than would have been expected, especially on vertical routes. Lewis is going to need to rebound during Thursday’s practice.