After Tuesday’s practice was moved indoors and changed to a walk-through due to rain in St. Petersburg, Fla., the East team took to the practice field at Shorecrest Prepatory School under the supervision of head coach Jerry Glanville.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were out in full force at the morning practice as several position coaches, including linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, defensive line coach Joe Cullen, cornerbacks coach Gil Byrd and nickel cornerbacks coach Larry Marmie among others. Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was in attendance, in addition to director of player personnel Dennis Hickey, director of college scouting Eric Stokes and a good number of area college scouts.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continued to display NFL traits and why he is the most talented passer at the East-West Shrine Game. While his timing was off a bit with receivers he has thrown to for just three days on some downfield passes, Garoppolo showed off his strong arm and nice touch on deep balls on Wednesday.
Garoppolo said after practice that he must work on three-, five- and seven-step drops at the next level after operating out of the shotgun through most of his college days. Glanville kept him in the shotgun more than the other quarterbacks because he wants him to showcase what he does best in front of NFL scouts, not try to get him used to operating under center for the first time in East practices, knowing it will takes months – not days – for Garoppolo to master that.
Glanvilles allowed Northern Illinois’ scrambling quarterback Jordan Lynch to showcase his running ability on a couple of designed bootlegs and a perfectly executed QB draw up the middle in the red zone that went for a touchdown. Lynch needs a lot of work as a passer, but is further ahead in that area than Kansas State’s running QB Collin Klein, who was on the East squad last year, did at this stage of his career. Lynch appears to lack the arm strength necessary to make all the throws required in the NFL.
Of the East wide receivers, Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon shows the most polish and skill. Despite being 5-foot-8, 187 pounds, Gallon is hard to re-route because of his quickness and toughness. He does a nice job of separating and has a bit of a second gear to go get fast-approaching balls already in flight. His size will likely limit him to the slot, but he has the skills to thrive there in the NFL as a late-round pick.
Canadian right tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a very physical player that mixed it up with East Carolina defensive end Derrell Johnson. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Duvernay-Tardif muscled Johnson around when he was rushing from the left side in one-on-one pass rushing drills. When Johnson went to the right side of the defensive line he used his quickness to his advantage with greater success.
Duvernay-Tardif also got physical and showed a mean streak against Purdue defensive lineman Bruce Gaston, Jr. as the two briefly scuffled after a drill.
North Carolina safety Tre Boston looks bigger than his listed measurables of 6-foot-1, 190 pounds. He has a long frame with long arms and looks like he’s 6-foot-3 and plays big, too. Boston broke up a couple of passes on Wednesday morning.
Richmond defensive end Kerry Wynn has a good frame at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds and moves well for his size. He needs to work on his techniques and disengaging from blockers, but showed good awareness to bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage when he was stonewalled in pass protection by mammoth 6-foot-10, 320-pound offensive tackle Matt Hall from Belhaven.
West Virginia defensive end Will Clarke also has NFL size at 6-foot-7, 273 pounds, but needs to have more of a physical presence at the point of attack. Clarke needs to develop a mean streak and a swim move where he can take advantage of his long arms and use them to quickly disengage from offensive tackles.
East running backs Rajion Neal (Tennessee) and LaDarius Perkins (Mississippi State) showed flashes of NFL speed and quickness in juking defenders in the open field. Neal and Perkins look like the two most talented backs in St. Petersburg this week.
PewterReport.com was an hour late to the West practice at St. Petersburg High School due to the 2:00 p.m. press conferences at One Buccaneer Place featuring new Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and caught the tail end of the workout. The West squad is coached by Romeo Crennel and lacks some of the star power featured on the East team.
Cullen, Hickey, director of pro personnel Shelton Quarles, and some of Tampa Bay’s area college scouts attended the West’s afternoon practice.
Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar has a great frame at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds and is a great in-line blocker with good athleticism. Najvar drove block Pittsburgh State linebacker Nate Dreiling for seven yards and planted him as Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay scored a touchdown in the red zone.
Najvar and Montana offensive tackle Danny Kistler Jr. did a great job of double-teaming 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive end Josh Mauro and driving him into the ground. Najvar is the kind of complete tight end that could help Tampa Bay. Kistler is a massive, 6-foot-8, 315-pound right tackle that has a strong upper body, but has a tendency to lose his balance at times because he’s built top heavy and has skinny legs.
Fresno State guard Austin Wentworth struggled at times in his transition from left tackle in college to playing inside in the pros. Wentworth has good footwork and blocks with tenacity.
Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard is an excellent communicator and is very outspoken. With a good personality, some swagger and a 6-foot-3, 290-pound frame, Ikard has the potential to be a good leader at the next level and was seen talking trash to the West defensive linebackers.
Boise State left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. has the quickness and athleticism to be a blindside protector at the next level, but may lack the size at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds. He has good footwork, but can be effectively bull-rushed. Leno needs to add about 15 pounds of bulk to his frame to hold up at the next level or move inside to guard.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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