The North team was met with more typical January Mobile weather on Thursday morning, with cloudy overcast skies and cool breezy conditions. The practice started off slow as the players warmed up, but the pace picked up as the weather improved as the morning wore on.
After a period of group installation and stretching to begin Thursday morning’s practice, the North team pass catchers broke off with their receivers coach to work on a few drills which included fighting off press coverage, practicing sideline catches and fighting another wide receiver in the air for a football thrown their way.
The wide receivers finished the individual period of practice by running through a catching gauntlet, in which they had to turn and catch bullet passes from the coaching staff. The coaches instructed their receivers to keep their heads up and keep their eyes on the ball while going through the drill, and this session showed the players’ quickness going in and out of cuts. The quickest player in this drill appeared to be the speedy Duke product Jamison Crowder.
The next practice period included wide receiver and defensive back one-on-ones from inside the redzone, and this period provided the best evaluation of the receivers for this practice.
The small 5-foot-8, 174 pound Crowder didn’t do as well in this drill working as an outside receiver. On one rep Crowder got jammed at the line of scrimmage by Miami of Ohio cornerback Quinten Rollins and fell down, and then received another chance on the next play but was physically dominated again and pushed inside on the play.
Ohio State’s Devin Smith also had mixed results in this period, getting jammed at the line of scrimmage on his first attempt by Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell but then making a great leaping catch in the back of the endzone over Oregon State corner Steven Nelson. East Carolina’s Justin Hardy had similar results, winning his first attempt by going over the top of Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs for a great catch on a fade route but getting beat to the ball by Utah’s Eric Rowe on his next rep.
The two wide receviers that performed the best in the redzone portion of one-on-ones were Michigan State’s Tony Lippett and Baylor’s Antwan Goodley. On one rep Lippett beat Rollins on an outside slant and then on his other rep the 6-foot-2 receiver made a great leaping catch over Diggs in the back of the endzone and fought Diggs for the football to come down with the touchdown. Goodley made two similar plays, catching a touchdown on a quick slant against Rowe and then running a great fade route, in which he faked Rollins to gain three yards of separation in the back of the endzone for a score.
The final practice periods featured some situational seven-on-sevens and 11-on-11s in which the receivers didn’t get a lot of work in the passing game as they featured lot of running plays and flat passes to running backs and tight ends. Washington State receiver Vince Mayle got his chance to touch the ball on a wide receiver reverse but got destroyed in the backfield by Utah’s Nate Orchard.
Stanford’s Ty Montgomery also got a look in 11-on-11s, and found a hole in the coverage between three defenders near the goal line, in which he was targeted by Sean Mannion and then the 6-foot-2, 219 pound Montgomery spun by by those defenders and ran into the endzone for the only touchdown by the North receivers in this period.On Thursday the linebackers groups started off with some agility bag drills including some that focused on footwork. All of the linebackers went through the drill with relative ease except for Zack Hodges who seemed to be banged up. Hodges struggled with his lateral movement and also dropped the passes thrown to him in the drill. Later in the practice Hodges made a great goal line hit to stop north team running back Cobb. But again seemed to be favoring his leg or groin when he gingerly jogged down to the other end of the field for special teams.
Nate Orchard continues to have a good Senior Bowl week and once again shined throughout the morning practice on Thursday. Orchard had a number of good reps in the one on one drills against the offensive linemen. Orchard showed a good speed rush this week, but also proved to scouts that he has some counter moves and ability to sniff out situations. At one point late during Thursday’s practice during 11-on–11’s, Orchard recognized the offense running a screen pass, got off his block and actually intercepted the pass, drawing raves from the coaches and his teammates on the field, while also impressing the scouts and NFL personnel in the stands.
Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, who has arguably been the most disappointing player this week, struggled again on Thursday. During the one-on-one sessions, Clemmings wasn’t fast enough to set and got roasted by speedy Utah pass-rusher Nate Orchard. He later was beat by Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes, who used a nice swim move to sneak past the Pittsburgh Panther.
Clemmings came into the week with a ton of hype, but the former Panther weighed-in a bit small and hasn’t stood out in practices. When the coaching staff slid him to left tackle, he struggled to handle the North team’s speed rushers. Clemmings, who was considered to be a first round prospect heading into the week, has looked more like a project and a second day selection this week.
At 6-foot-1, 343 pounds, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton is a mountain of a man and he continued to dominate during one-on-one’s on Thursday. Shelton uses his size and brute strength to overpower offensive linemen, but his hand usage is also quite impressive.
Shelton blew through a double team during a two-on-one session by shoving one blocker into the other. The Washington product looks like a first round pick that would be an ideal fit with a team that runs a base 3-4 defense. But scouts believe that Shelton would fit with any style of defense.
Duke guard Laken Tomlinson had a very good practice and looks like a strong prospect for the next level. Stanford defensive tackle Henry Anderson got stood up and shoved back by Tomlinson in an early rep during the team’s one-on-one session. Later on, the Duke standout pancaked Iowa defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat, who struggled throughout practice.
Tomlinson has some qualities that are reminiscent of former Kentucky guard Larry Warford. The former Blue Devil (6-3, 323) is a wide player and he has a very strong base. Tomlinson was one of the smartest and well-spoken players that PewterReport.com interviewed, which should go a long way with NFL clubs. Penn State’s Adrian Amos (6-0, 209) looked like a center fielder type safety at Thursday’s practice. Being as the safeties were rarely contested during seven-on-sevens, the focus when it came to coverage were on individual drills. That being said, the former Nittany Lion had an impressive over the shoulder catch on a deep ball drill, showing his ability to get his head turned while maintaining good position. Amos doesn’t seem like a player who can play in the box, but looks to have potential in coverage. He also ran hard on kick coverage, and special teams is a good place to prove yourself if you’re not an elite player.
Similar to Amo’s skill-set was Michigan State’s Kurtis Drummond. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, the former Spartan has good size to go along with his speed. He also showed his quick feet during seven-on-sevens, and although he was never contested through the air, he impressed with taking sharp angles towards the ball-carrier after breaking from his back peddle. Drummond also ran hard on special teams, but was confused by a decoy return man on one play.
The best play by a safety during 11-11s was made by Northwestern’s Ibraheim Campbell. The former Wildcat did a great job dropping back into a zone, reading the quarterback’s eyes, and breaking the tight end’s route to get the interception. At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Campbell’s stocky frame appears better suited for an in-the-box safety, where he also had a few nice reps at. Campbell showed his willingness to charge the pile during run pursuit.
Although he’s listed as a cornerback, Utah’s Eric Rowe was taking reps with the safeties. The 6-foot-1, 201 pound defensive back certainly possesses the size of a strong safety, and his experience at corner should give him a head start on technique in coverage. Again, safeties were rarely contested during scrimmage by the big defensive back had a nice interception on Wednesday.
Arizona State safety Damarious Randall continued to impress with his athleticism on Thursday. Randall is a smooth athlete that seems to glide around the field. He has an explosive first step out of his breaks and stood out in individual drills while transitioning out of his back pedal.
Miami of Ohio cornerback Quinten Rollins is a similar athlete to Randall. He’s very fast and also glides around the gridiron. It’s hard to believe that he has only been playing football for one year, and it’s clear that the MAC Defensive Player of the Year is intelligent with how quickly he’s picked up the drills and the concepts of playing cornerback.
As impressive as Rollins is, he and the North team cornerbacks struggled against the wide receivers in the end zone as the team practiced red zone execution. The only cornerback or safety that really stood out in coverage was USC’s Josh Shaw, whose size and length made it difficult to throw over.
One of the better catches of the day was made by Michigan State wide receiver Tony Lippett, who leaped up to catch a fade pass over Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs.
The Tennessee coaching staff was working with the corners and safeties on jamming the receivers off the ball at the 5-yard line, and it was a struggle for most to properly target the inside shoulder and quickly get their head around to look for the ball.
The defensive backs fared better in 11-on-11 drills with Campbell picking off East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden, who really struggled with floating balls and ball placement all week in Mobile, Ala. due below average arm strength. Diggs also recorded a pick, intercepting Baylor’s Bryce Petty, who was late with a throw across the middle. Like Carden, Petty has had a disappointing week at the Senior Bowl.
Despite his smallish stature, Crowder really stood out as a willing run blocker and had a nice stalk block on Randall during 11-on-11s.
At tight end, Norte Dame’s Ben Koyack (6-4, 261) looked good in blocking drills with the bags. Koyack showed solid technique, extending his arms and using his legs to drive his opponent back. The former Irish player also ran some good routs during seven-on-sevens, although he wasn’t thrown to much. He’s not particularly fast, but he made nice cuts, and showed good awareness to get open off a broken play.
Casey Pierce (6-4, 232) out of Kent State ran an impressive deep route, that he finished with a nice catch on the sidelines. Pierce also showed his blocking ability, even against Utah’s highly touted Nate Orchard during one-on-ones.
Delaware’s Nick Boyle ran a few nice out routs, but struggled at times getting off the line. He was held up at the line of scrimmage on a few plays, but showed decent speed once he got going. Boyle also showed his power on one play where he trucked Texas’s Quandre Diggs after the reception. The hard hit during 11-on-11s caught the attention of some scouts.
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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
I would like to see crowder in the slot next year. He’s made for it and cheap as he’s probably a 3rd rounder maybe 4th. We need some speed and Herron can’t catch a cold.
we will see if any of these guys are on bucs radar!
I like WR Jamison Crowder from Duke also DT Carl Davis from Iowa also RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa. There are around 40 players from the senior bowl that would help the bucs. go bucs
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