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dalbuc

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: January 26, 2007, 10:45:58 AM

Thursday's buzz: McDonald, Grubbs shine
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Scouts, Inc.

MOBILE, Ala. -- Here's the buzz from Thursday's Senior Bowl practices:

Around the North practice

Ohio State QB Troy Smith was erratic today. It was the lightest practice of the four so far this week, but it seemed like Smith lost the strike zone a few times. He was hesitant on a few of his reads and missed wide open receivers on three separate occasions that we witnessed.

The overall quarterback play has not been great this week. In past years, the Senior Bowl has boasted first-round quarterbacks such as Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler (Broncos) last year and USC's Carson Palmer (Bengals) a few years ago. Smith and Michigan State Drew Stanton are clearly the top quarterbacks in this year's group, and they've played well for most of the week, but neither is an elite prospect. Stanton has enough upside because of his size and mobility to warrant consideration in the second round, but injuries and inconsistency could cause him to slip. Smith had a far more accomplished collegiate career but his marginal height, elongated delivery and past off-the-field issues could cause him to drop all the way to the third round.

Thursday practice is not an overly challenging day for quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, but Pittsburgh's Tyler Palko was crisp today and probably had his best practice yet. He did mostly throw against air, but he obviously has better timing with his receivers and is getting used to what is being asked of him. To finish the day, Palko looked very good leading the two minute offense and had his offense running efficiently and with a fine tempo.

Fresno State DB Marcus McCauley has had an up-and-down week, but he looked good during the seven-on-seven portion of this morning's practice. He aggressively attacked the ball and broke up two passes. More importantly, he read routes well and anticipated the receiver's breaks well.

West Virginia WR Brandon Myles blew by Michigan CB Leon Hall, whose lack of ideal top-end speed has been exposed at times this week. However, Myles failed to bring the down the tough over-the-shoulder catch despite getting his hands on the ball. Myles has improved his stock by displaying his athleticism and vertical speed this week, but he is a raw developmental project.

Purdue's Anthony Spencer has really had a fine week of practice and continued that today. Measuring in at 6-foot-2½ and 266 pounds, Spencer has tormented the North squad's offensive tackles -- Notre Dame's Ryan Harris in particular today -- with his fine blend of pass rush moves, first-step explosion and the pure speed to turn the corner. He has not been asked to do much of it down here, but Spencer appears to have the change-of-direction skills, ability to sink his hips and overall athleticism to convert to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Don't be shocked to see his name in the first round. He will have plenty of suitors.

There are very few true 3-4 defensive ends who come out of college with that skill set, but Nebraska's Adam Carriker fits that bill exactly. He has perfect size (6-5 7/8, 292) and should continue to gain strength. He uses his long arms and hands extremely well, which will translate into early playing time as a 3-4 end. The Browns might be the team that could use him the most, but he is not worth reaching for with their first pick and surely will be off the board before they pick again in the second round. At pick No. 9, the Dolphins could have interest, but that also is a little high, and they have more pressing needs. The Steelers probably will address other needs with their pick at No. 15, but don't be surprised to see the Bengals consider him at No. 18, if they do in fact switch to a 3-4. At the very worst, Carriker should become a Jet or a Patriot later in the first round.

Around the South practice

Florida defensive lineman Ray McDonald continues to stand out as one of the premier talents at this year's Senior Bowl. His history of knee injuries could keep him out of the first round, but McDonald will be a great value for the team that takes a chance on him in the middle portion of the first day. He has experience playing end and tackle at the collegiate level, and we believe he's capable of contributing at both positions in the NFL. He has the size, toughness, quickness and athletic ability to spend time at strong-side defensive end on early downs, and then move inside as a pass rusher on third downs.


Auburn OG Ben Grubbs stands out as one of the best players at this year's Senior Bowl and he's one of the top two or three offensive linemen, along with USC OC Ryan Kalil and Penn State OT Levi Brown. Grubbs has a thick and strong lower body to go along with his impressive quickness and agility. He finishes off plays and shows good overall toughness. NFL teams don't like to spend first round picks on a guard, but Grubbs could be the exception to that rule in April's draft.

On the flip-side, Aaron Sears (Tennessee) and Justin Blalock (Texas) have failed to impress us throughout the week of practices. Neither displays ideal quick-twitch athleticism to protect the edge as offensive tackles at the next level, and both are destined to play guard as a result. Sears is a bit more agile, but he isn't as big or strong as Blalock. McDonald used his initial quickness to beat Blalock off the snap twice during team drills in this afternoon's practice session.

LSU WR Dwayne Bowe and Tennessee CB Jonathan Wade have had some epic battles in the past and their feisty competition continued this week. Though Bowe has had an excellent week, Wade got the better of him during the red zone drill today. Wade showed good closing speed and knocked the ball out of Bowe's hands before he could secure it on consecutive plays. When Wade doesn't have to think too much and can just react in man-to-man coverage, he has the physical skills to be an effective cover corner. Unfortunately, his physical tools are clearly better than his mental tools at this point in his career.

Georgia TE Martrez Milner showed adequate speed when tracking the ball downfield and quickness when running routes underneath this afternoon. Unfortunately, his physical attributes were overshadowed by the fact he dropped three passes that he should have caught. His focus, timing of his jumps and ability to locate balls thrown over his shoulder all appeared to play roles in the drops.

Alabama State CB Michael Coe was a late invite to the Senior Bowl this week. The former Arkansas transfer emerged as an elite small-school prospect during his senior season and impressed scouts at last week's East-West Shrine game, which prompted his invitation. Coe was beaten twice for touchdowns during team drills this afternoon -- once against Bowe and once against Florida State WR Chris Davis. While it certainly wasn't a good showing, Coe displays a fine combination of size and agility. Saturday's game will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his skills against some top talent from the highest collegiate level.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.
If you think Manziel is the best QB in this draft I can safely assume you are an idiot and will treat you as such.



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#1 : January 26, 2007, 11:08:50 AM

Thanks for all the great stuff, Dal.

Between these news-y items and the scouting reports, you're my leading candidate for board MVP.

Thanks again, it's appreciated.

dalbuc

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#2 : January 26, 2007, 03:03:56 PM

Thanks for all the great stuff, Dal.

Between these news-y items and the scouting reports, you're my leading candidate for board MVP.

Thanks again, it's appreciated.

It is my immoral side that doesn't mind sticking it to the Mouse-Eared Empire.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.
If you think Manziel is the best QB in this draft I can safely assume you are an idiot and will treat you as such.

alldaway

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#3 : January 26, 2007, 06:55:09 PM

Quote
Purdue's Anthony Spencer has really had a fine week of practice and continued that today. Measuring in at 6-foot-2½ and 266 pounds, Spencer has tormented the North squad's offensive tackles -- Notre Dame's Ryan Harris in particular today -- with his fine blend of pass rush moves, first-step explosion and the pure speed to turn the corner. He has not been asked to do much of it down here, but Spencer appears to have the change-of-direction skills, ability to sink his hips and overall athleticism to convert to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Don't be shocked to see his name in the first round. He will have plenty of suitors.

I did not realize his stock had risen so quickly.

dbucfan

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#4 : January 26, 2007, 07:38:45 PM

Thanks for all the great stuff, Dal.

Between these news-y items and the scouting reports, you're my leading candidate for board MVP.

Thanks again, it's appreciated.

It is my immoral side that doesn't mind sticking it to the Mouse-Eared Empire.
  Nice Dal. LOL. 

Would be nice to see the bucs get Thomas or Johnson and follow it up with Ray McDonald.  I have watched this kid play a FL this year and he is really something, knees are a concern, but getting him in round 2 - might be the ticket.

\"A Great Coach has to have a Patient Wife, A Loyal Dog, and a Great Quarterback. . . . but not necessarily in that order\" ~ Coach Bud Grant
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