With only four days to get to know your surroundings, study a playbook, get to know the coaches, develop chemistry with teammates and somehow remember to play your best in front of NFL scouts, events like East-West Shrine Week have phases for each day.
On the first two days, the better athletes can really show their stuff. There isn’t a lot of next-level technique from the positions that need it most since they’re frantically trying to establish assignments and chemistry, so you get a good look at the true athletes instead.
However, in days three and four you can really get a feel for how quick of leaners the players are, which evident by how well they’re retaining coaching and their NFL playbook.
These are players from both the East team and the West team who made me underline their names in my notes on Wednesday.
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QUINCY ADEBOYEJO, WR, OLE MISS
Red zone one-on-ones. This is too easy for Ole Miss WR Quincy Adeboyejo. They can't keep up with his feet. pic.twitter.com/7zxIDMYN4t
I know I had Adeboyejo on my list of prospects that showed out Tuesday, but I had to make sure to put him on here again to let Bucs fans know that this guy is a legitimate option for them to take and make the roster if they do.
The clip above is one example of how defenders just couldn’t keep up with how fast Adeboyejo’s feet were. After practice I talked to him about where he learned to move his feet like that, and said that every offseason when he goes home to Dallas, Texas, where he has a coach who makes him perfect how he runs routes. He said he;s taught to know that his feet are a weapon – and, by the way, this is the same coach who teaches Antonio Brown the same things.
And again, this time to the inside. Adeboyejo's known for straight speed, but he is separating on command this week in and out of breaks. pic.twitter.com/v18plCnsb1
The safety play shown in the clip above isn’t going to be that bad in the NFL, however, you can still know that and appreciate how advance Adeboyejo’s deception is with both his hips and his feet.
He told me that he has, in fact, talked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, and I’m sure their scouts and coaches are noticing the same thing I am with Adeboyejo.
I’ve learned from people who watched him at Ole Miss that there are some effort concerns. Coaches at the Shrine practices have had to get on him, and a few other guys, about running back to their spots and always finishing out plays. After talking to him, I didn’t notice any kind of character red flags like that, but it was only one conversation.
If his work ethic checks out, he would be a good Day 3 draft option for the Buccaneers.
FISH SMITHSON, S, KANSAS
Great PBU here by Kansas S Fish Smithson on Drake TE Eric Saubert. One-on-ones in the red zone drill is tough. Smithson got it done. pic.twitter.com/CDfKksMIJV
No, his real name isn’t “Fish”, but that is what Anthony is known by to most – he got that nickname from his late grandmother, but he’s never told anyone outside of his family why his nickname is what it is.
Smithson was the starting safety from the very first snap of practice on Monday, which usually means the coaches either liked his tape going into he week a lot or he had already demonstrated an understanding of the playbook. Despite him being the most swagged out player on that first day (a shooters sleeve, dark visor, high socks, etc.), I wasn’t overly impressed with his play.
That was on day one.
On day three, these guys are starting to fully grasp their NFL playbook and begin to play with full confidence. That’s what I saw out of Smithson on Wednesday.
In the play above, he was chosen – by the coaches – to go one-on-one with Drake tight end Eric Saubert, who has been having a very impressive week. A red zone one-on-one drill like this is stacked against the defender. Yet Smithson made a great play in the corner over the taller tight end. He showed good awareness and had the recovery speed to get to where he needed to for the pass break up.
He’s starting to stand out of the safeties on the East side.
BILLY BROWN, WR, SHEPHERD
Brown had a nice grab in warm ups. Listed at WR, but he's basically the same size as the TEs. Looks more natural than all of them, too. pic.twitter.com/fblFVbPwQW
Shepherd wide receiver Billy Brown is quickly becoming a Shrine favorite of mine. Each day there has been at least one or two plays I’ve remembered from him, and on Wednesday he showed out again.
Brown is listed as a wide receiver, but after looking at him standing next to the tight ends, I did some digging on the official measurements.
Brown, who is listed as 6-foot-4, 245 pounds on his school’s website, actually came in at 6-foot-3, 252 pounds. Toledo’s Michael Roberts, who everyone claims as this big-bodied, pass catching tight end, was listed at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, when he’s really 6-foot-4, 259 pounds.
So if Brown, who, compared to the rest of the tight ends, is more natural and athletic with his catches and routes and is only an inch shorter and seven pounds lighter than Roberts, give me Brown.
I don’t know what his blocking skills are like since he’s working out as a tight end and hasn’t been asked to take on defensive ends or linebackers. However, if that ability check out, I’m moving him to tight end. He has the highest mismatch potential of any of the players at the Shrine event that are his size.
If he were listed as a tight end, he’d be my TE1.
GABE MARKS, WR, WASHINGTON STATE
Washington State WR Gabe Marks picking up where he left off yesterday. They can't keep up with his quickness and burst. pic.twitter.com/DOwCjR78wh
The clip above was actually from Tuesday’s practice, but I’m using it because it best serves the point I’m about to make.
When you have guys who come into these all-star events as deep threats, scouts have to leave the event knowing the receiver can win with more than just straight line speed. Scouts want to see if that deep speed is due to overall athleticism, which can translate to other areas. You can tell that by how explosive a player is in and out of routes as well as how quickly they can separate from their defenders with good technique.
The clip above is a good example of Marks doing just that. He won a good amount of routes on Monday that were 20-30 yards down the field, but on Tuesday and Wednesday he also showed he can beat defenders by quickly chopping his feet and flipping his hips. The faster a player is at that, the less recovery time they allow for a defender. That usually translates to catches and open space.
For Tampa Bay, I would say that Mark is my WR3 behind Jalen Robinette and Quincy Adeboyejo.
From the Stands
Back when I was working for another Bucs outlet during training camp last year, I did a segment called “From the Stands” which featured cool, unique moments between players and fans.
I’ve decide to bring that back for this recap because I have a good one to share.
After the East practice, Miami safety Jamal Carter took the time to take a picture holding up his alma mater’s “U” with a little fan. The little guy was so nervous to meet Carter, and Carter couldn’t have been nicer to him and him mother.
On camera we have myself and PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds talking about who we were impressed by during the practice as well as who we’re hearing or seeing some of the Buccaneer staff members and coach talking to.
Make sure you tune into that tomorrow. Ask some questions during the video about guys you’re curious to get updates on. We will be doing the same at the Senior Bowl next week.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com
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