The North squad took the practice field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. for the morning practice under sunny skies with temperatures near 50 degrees. The North squad is coached by Dennis Allen and the Oakland Raiders staff, including former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olson who was recently hired to handle the Raiders offense after one season in Jacksonville.
North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon is definitely a project, but has some traits that can be developed. He has the best arm in terms of strength and velocity of the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl. He needs to work on his accuracy and his consistency throwing the ball, in addition to working with a trainer. Glennon needs to work on his footwork and his mobility as he is a bit slow-footed compared to other QBs Ryan Nassib and Zac Dysert. He also needs to hit the weight room and get bigger and add bulk to his skinny frame.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and director of college scouting Eric Stokes were all watching the North quarterbacks intently in the end zone while the rest of the North squad was participating in special teams drills.
Oregon State wide receiver Marcus Wheaton beat Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien on a short square in.
Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant broke up a slant pass intended for Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson, but got a way with a little holding on the back of his jersey. Dobson would later get Trufant back, beating him on a quick slant.
UConn cornerback Dwayne Gratz broke up a pass intended for Syracuse wide receiver Alec Lemon a crossing pattern.
Kansas State wide receiver Chris Harper had a great morning practice and constantly got separation, including on his first rep against Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer. Harper has been impressive this week in Mobile, while Poyer hasn’t made as many plays as we thought he might have made given his penchant for being around the ball at Oregon State.
UConn cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson broke up a pass intended for Michigan wide receiver Denard Robinson, who struggled doing everything in Mobile on Wednesday from catching the ball to fielding punts. Robinson did use his speed and quickness to turn Poyer around on a route across the middle, but failed to bring in the pass. Later on another rep, Robinson showed some physicality pushing Poyer to get open, but the pass was off target.
Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin used his great speed to beat Nevada safety Duke Williams deep on a go route, hauling in a touchdown pass from Dysert.
Glennon and Wheaton nearly connected on a deep pass after the Oregon State receiver smoked Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor.
Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette made a great catch on Cyprien, but it took him a while to get open as Cyprien had great coverage early in the route before Mellette used his big body to finally create separation. Williams broke up a pass intended for Mellette, who didn’t get separation on that particular rep.
Lemon beat Utah State cornerback Will Davis on a stop-and-go route down the sidelines and then made a nice one-handed catch. Lemon isn’t a great receiver, but made a nice play. The Bucs really like Davis, who has held his own in Mobile.
Trufant and Wheaton seem to have a real rivalry going on as the receiver beat cornerback off the line with a move to get open across the middle before Trufant recovered at the end and denied the reception. The talkative Trufant squawked to Wheaton and all within earshot: “That’s recovery! That’s recovery! It’s all about finishing!”
Trufant’s swagger and mouthy ways will be appealing to some coaching staffs, but will turn off others.
Mellette made a couple of nice catches, getting separation one-on-one against Cyprien twice in the 1-on-1’s.
Harper made a real nice catch above his head near the sidelines on an out-and-up route against Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas.
Dobson once again used his speed to turn around and pull away from USC safety T.J. McDonald to haul in a touchdown pass down the middle.
Davis finished off the 1-on-1’s with a nice pass breakup on Robinson, displaying great technique on a jump ball.
In 7-on-7 drills, Taylor continued to struggle as Lemon started the session with a catch on a throw from Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib.
The offensive and defensive linemen went into 1-on-1 drills while the skill positions worked at the other end of the field.
Texas defensive end Alex Okafor had a great practice on Wednesday, dominating Wisconsin right tackle Ricky Wagner and also faring quite well with Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher. Okafor’s weapon of choice on Wednesday was the bull rush, which he used effectively on both Wagner and Fisher.
Fisher was driven back by Okafor and gave up a lot of ground. The athletic Fisher fares much better against quicker, less physical pass rushers rather than big, physical ones like Okafor.
San Jose State right tackle Dan Quessenberry had a good practice and looked better than Wagner did in pass protection. He needs to add some size to help him anchor better, but he is tough and has the ability to slide well in pass pro.
UCLA defensive end Datone Jones is a big, physical defensive end that has great speed and quickness off the line. He gave Wagner fits in 1-on-1 drills, but struggled against Fisher in 1-on-1’s and in 11-on-11 drills.
SMU defensive end Margus Hunt beat Justin Pugh with a swim move to the inside. Pugh has not impressed as much as Fisher and does not look like an elite left tackle prospect. He has incredibly short arms and that didn’t help him against the player that has the longest arms in the draft.
Hunt has massive size and freakish athleticism, but still needs a lot of work on his technique and needs to have a higher motor. Too often he doesn’t use his massive wingspan to his advantage and he allows offensive tackles to get into his body. He needs to extend his arms earlier in his rush and keep his feet moving.
Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short was inconsistent on Wednesday, just as he has been during his time in Mobile and during his college career. He would get good inside penetration on one play and then get stonewalled by guards like Illinois’ Hugh Thornton.
Harper made a sensational leaping catch by the sidelines over Gratz to end the 7-on-7 drills.
In 11-on-11 drills, Rutgers linebacker Steve Beauharnais continued to call plays in the huddle and showed good leadership. He also showed great playmaking ability and was slightly better than Scarlet Knights teammate Khasim Greene this week. On the first play of 11-on-11’s, Dysert was flushed from the pocket by North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and Beauharnais closed in for the sack.
A few plays later, Okafor stunted inside and came up the middle to hit Dysert and force a fumble that was recovered by Williams.
The defensive line continued to cause problems as Jones beat Wagner for a sack on Glennon.
The passing game began to click a bit when Nassib hit Wheaton in between Poyer and Thomas. Nassib also hit Mallette for a big catch in double coverage against Davis and Duke Williams downfield across the middle. Those were probably his two best throws of the practice.
On one of his best rushes, Hunt beat Fisher with an inside move and sacked Nassib. A few plays later, Nassib found a wide-open Kenjon Barner, the Oregon running back, down the sidelines
Harding University linebacker Ty Powell scooped up a fumbled snap by Glennon and took it in for a touchdown.
The biggest hit in practice came when Pugh pulled around on a perimeter running play and pancaked Wreh-Wilson to spring UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin.
Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanon looks much bigger than his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame suggests and he used a great spin move to get around Kent State right tackle Brian Winters to sack Glennon.
Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh was maybe the most consistent offensive lineman over the first three days of practice. While he has the size to play tackle, many are forecasting him to move inside and play guard in the NFL. Pugh won all of his 1-on-1 matchups on Wednesday and looked as polished as anyone on the North team squad. There are certainly more athletically-gifted lineman on the North team, but Pugh using his techniques a well as anyone on the field.
Tackle Eric Fisher continued to wow scouts and fans on Wednesday with his overall repertoire of counter moves. Rarely over the course of the three days did we see Fisher get beat, and if it was it was a technique error. No one on the North squad has come close to beating Fisher with a bull rush or over power him. Fisher has the strength and size that have scouts salivating over his ability to step right in and contribute next fall. And Fisher possesses just a touch of a mean streak, which most teams covet. Fisher always has to get the last shot in.
One minor knock on Fisher is occasionally when being bull rushed, the senior lineman allow his hands to get too high, up around the helmet area.
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