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NFLPA Bowl day 1 practice recap

The weather was perfect today for the 2015 NFLPA Bowl practice here in sunny southern California. The Players did have to deal with some shadows in the stadium during the early morning and late afternoon portion of the practice. The field held up very nicely and I didn’t notice anyone having issues with their footing. The grass is very short on the field so it is a “fast track” for the skill players and it showed.

By: Cody Tewmey
NATIONAL
Quarterbacks
-In the morning the big winner was Brandon Bridge. He connected on quite a few deep balls in the individual drills, putting them right in front of the receivers facemask. This is what I expected from him and he did not disappoint. He has an absolute howitzer for an arm that you really have to see in person to appreciate. The speed that he gets the ball to the receivers is amazing. He needs to develop some touch on his passes to make it in the NFL, a few balls bounced off receivers hands because they were thrown too hard. He does hold the ball a little bit long sometimes and misses his first open read, although in the full team game this did allow him a big scrambling run. He will be a load to take down for NFL defenses when he is in the open field.
-The worst day of all, not just quarterbacks, goes to Andrew Hendrix. He looked lost, missed wide open receivers, threw into traffic, threw balls well over receivers out of bounds, and fumbled the snap multiple times. It came to the point were you began to feel bad for the kid out there. I am not sure if it was nerves or just a bad day, but this was one to forget for Hendrix. At the end of practice he fumbled the snap, again, in the team practice and the coaches followed that by 3 running plays and his day was done. Hopefully, he can rebound on day 2.
-Jameill Showers made some good reads and made some good throws but did not do anything spectacular today. He seems to be a pretty cerebral player, that will be held back in the NFL by his physical tools if anything.
Running Backs
-The best day goes to Malcolm Agnew, he broke free multiple times for some long runs. He showed a good blend of wiggle and speed that translates well to being a “scat” back at the next level. He made quick decisions in the holes, but was patient to let things develop as well. The defenders really had trouble finding him behind the line of scrimmage due to his small size and low pad level when running. No one had a overly bad day for the rest of the running back group, but no one else really stood out.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
-No real stand outs amongst this group. They all played pretty well and consistently beat the guys across from them. Many of there catches were uncontested or deep balls. There were not many drops. If I had to pick one guy that looked the best it would be Chris Conley, with his speed he beat the corners deep multiple times. The best catch of the individual drills goes to Dawan Scott from Miami with a great catch on a deep bomb from Bridge early in the drill. Demarco Robinson was in John Kitna’s dog house because lined up incorrectly and then Kitna rode him pretty hard for a good bit.
-Cameron Clear looks the part of an NFL tight end and he had a good practice with some good catches over the middle.
Defensive linemen
The biggest name in this group is Lean Orr, no doubt about it. He had a pretty good day and look very good in the individual drills. The most important thing I noticed with him is how he was paying attention when he wasn’t involved in the drill. When the coaches got on the group he took the criticism well, or at least he didn’t show lack of effort afterwards. I spend most of the time watching Orr and Marcus Rush. Neither of them got great pass rush, but they both made some smart plays. Orr got his hands up and batted down a pass from Bridge. Rush stayed at home on a fake sweep reverse and made the stop at the line of scrimmage. Quayshawne Buckley showed that he belonged with the big boys getting his hands on and stopping the running backs multiple times up the middle.
AMERICAN
Quarterbacks
-The main reason that the defense looked so good in the afternoon was that none of the quarterbacks looked exceptional. Jerry Lovelocke takes the cake for the worst performer of the day. He missed reads, threw an awful interception, fumbled a snap exchange, and his throws were off target. Rakeem Cato had a few good scrambles in the full team practice but not much to be excited about in the passing game. Cole Stoudt probably had the most consistant day of the group, but again it was not a banner day for anyone. Many of the passes for all three were defended by DB, thrown off target, or were dump off passes after the ball was held to long.
Running Backs
I pleasant surprise from the running back group was Paul Lasike he had a few good runs and showed some good wiggle for a bigger guy. He was also a recipiant of some of the check down passes and showed some pretty good hands. The running back that struggled the most was Joe Bergeron who didn’t maintain balance as he turned the corner and stumbled over his own feet a couple times.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The wide receivers didn’t show much in the afternoon because of the struggles of the quarterbacks. I will keep a closer eye on the receivers tomorrow to see who is the best of this group. Brian Volger had a few good catches and was a bright spot for the offense today. He is a lean guy as far as a body type for a tight end so I think teams will want him to add a little size at the next level. Mario Alford went against Troy Hill most of the day and the QBs avoided that side of the field.
Offensive Line
The biggest guy in this group is Jarvis Harrison, he looks every bit of the 330lbs they have him listed and I be willing to bet he is more then that. He played well and really held the point of attack in the one on one drills and nearly threw a DL into the goal post when he tried to speed rush past him. In the team drill he did have a false start but won consistently vs. Botticelli.
-Sean Donnelly also had a great one on one session, he showcased some good footwork and bend. The two guys that helped themselves the most off the field were Takoby Cofield and Jarvis Harrison they were two of the last people off the field after interviewing with scouts & media members.

Defensive Line
The defensive line in the afternoon was the best unit all day. Ethan Farmer had the best day of the group he showed a great initial burst and variety of moves to get past the OL group. He had a string in one on one drills were he won three straight meeting with three different drills.
-Cameron Botticelli has a really high motor and was high energy all day. I was infective and others definitely stepped up and did the same. He will have to work on his moves to succeed in the NFL, he relies a lot on the speed rush.
-Zach Wagenmann also flashed some good plays, but looked to be out powered by the offensive linemen at times. Brock Hekking really flashed great initial burst and I think will make a good tweener OLB/DE on the next level. I spoke with him after practice and he admitted he will have to learn the nuances of coverage’s since he has not done that a lot.

Defensive Backs
The two guys of note in this group were Troy Hill and Terell Floyd. They both had good days and were the main reason that the quarterbacks were struggling. Terell had a good interception when read the route and broke on the pass for what would have been a pick 6 in a game. Troy Hill had an exceptional day considering that he played in the national championship game less then 48 hours ago. He defended multiple passes early on and then the quarterbacks avoided him most of the rest of the day.

NFLPA Bowl Day 2 practice recap

The weather was perfect again today, and the field was in great shape. The players still had some shadows to deal with but overall it was a perfect setting to play

NATIONAL

Quarterbacks
-From worst to first, Andrew Hendrix really had a good day today and the best day of the morning group. He hit some really good fade routes and was much more decisive in his decision making. Andrew did bobble one of the center quarterback exchanges, but I’ll give him a pass since he is working with a new center.

-Brandon Bridge showed the crowd why he is a project at the next level. He would make a great pass followed by one off target. He made a great pass over the middle to Cameron and then threw a pick on the next play. All the physical gifts make him an intriguing prospect, but he is still a project and likely won’t hear his name until middle or late day 3. Jameill Showers again had a solid day hitting some nice passes, but his read and accuracy were off.

Running Backs
Again the clear cut best back was Malcolm Agnew, if he can overcome his small stature he might be able to carve out a role on an NFL team. He has a great burst, shows good acceleration, and has good balance. The other two running backs that had some good plays were Ricky Seale and Jahwan Edwards.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
-What a day for Chris Conley; he was like a 7/11 today, always open and feeding us good stuff. He had multiple deep routes where took the top off and made nice over the shoulder catches. In the red zone drill he made a great shoestring catch from Hendrix in the corner of the end zone keeping both feet in bounds.

-The next best receiver was Nick Harwell; he made lots of plays today including a few nice TD catches. He looks like a guy that can find a place playing in the slot on the next level. He has average hands but he was catching the ball in his hands and not letting it get to his pads. He ran a great fade route and caught a TD in the red zone 11s drill, and got both feet in bounds.

-The best Tight End again was Cameron Clear with quite a few catches in traffic. The one play for him that scares me is a ball was thrown high by Bridge (during the red zone 11s) and he gator armed it when he hear d the safety closing in. I know it’s just one play but in the NFL as a tight end you have to be willing to take a shot or two even if your QB hangs you out to dry. Devin Mahina had a nice TD catch in the 11 on 11s as well.

Defensive Line
-In the morning session the guy who had the most “splash” plays was Marcus Rush. He really was using his intelligence and football IQ to beat guys on the edge. There was one sequence where he set up the OT with a speed rush to the outside, then on the next play started the same way then planted his foot and spun back inside. He had a wide open shot at the QB, had that been a game situation he would have had a blind side sack.

-Lean Orr had a couple of good splits of the A gap; his initial burst is really nice. Quayshawne Buckley continues to show he can hold up against the higher quality completion; he had multiple good stops up the middle and he had a pass breakup today. One of the things that really impressed me with Buckley is that as soon as he comes off the field he posts himself right next to the coach and is asking questions. He is making the most of the opportunity of having great coaches at his disposal.

-A guy I don’t remember seeing much from in day one, maybe I just missed it, but that was DeShawn William from Clemson, he had an excellent practice. That definitely changed on day two. He was getting off the ball very quickly and pushing the pocket from the middle. He was using a nice swim move to get past the center and guards.

-LaDarius Owens made a great play in 11s when he didn’t bite and chase the run fake away from him and when the QB went to bootleg his way he was right there. Since it was two hand touch the QB was able to buy some time and throw it away, but in a game that would have been a sack lunch for sure.

Linebackers
In the morning session they were in shorts and pads so it’s a little hard to say which linebackers really did well. They were all playing two hand touch and a lot of a linebacker’s skill has to be there tackling ability. The two players that I kept noticing around the ball the most were Zaire Anderson and D.J. Welter. They both were in the backfield multiple times early on a play and would have made a tackle for a loss. Now, I also take that with a grain of salt because the offensive linemen can’t block the same as full pads. Zaire also made a nice interception in traffic off of Brandon Bridge.

Secondary
-No one in the secondary was consistently shutting down their receiving counterpart. The offense won the battle of skill players all morning long. Al-Hajj Shabazz had a good pass breakup in 11s where he read the QBs eyes and jumped the route to break up the play.

-Chris Dunkley also had a decent day with a pass breakup as well. They had multiple calls on them for interference and there were plenty more that weren’t called. I am interested to see if it is that the wide receivers are better for the National team or if this secondary is weaker. Saturday will tell me a lot about this group.

AMERICAN

Quarterbacks
-Thursday was another unflattering day for the quarterbacks. Cole Stoudt probably had the best day with some good throws to Mario Alford in the individual drills. Cato had some nice passes but he still holds the ball too long and wants to scramble too much.

-Jerry Lovelocke looks like he is out of place, he fumbled a few snaps, his throws were off target, and the offense is stagnant when he is the QB.

Running Backs
-Paul Lasike had another nice day with some good receptions out of the backfield and some nice gains on the ground.

-The show today was stolen by Prince-Tyson Gulley he had an amazing practice. In the 11s he broke off two big gains and was setting up his blocks all day long. He looked like an NFL back on Thursday there was no question about it. He reminded me of an Ahmad Bradshaw type of player, he was catching the ball and running elusively with power and burst.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
-The struggles under center continued to hamper the receivers in the afternoon of day two. This time there were a few bright spots to mention though. Mario Alford really is a guy that I think will play on the next level. They had him running some kick returns and he is so fast it’s unreal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him crack 4.4 on his 40 time. His big knock is his questionable hands, but I haven’t seen anything so far that would have me worried. I cannot recall any balls that he dropped that were catchable.

Kaelin Clay made a nice over the shoulder catch as well. He was the next best receiver besides Alford. Anthony Johnson looks the part; he’s big, long arms, and is fast for his size. The problem is his routes are sloppy and need polishing; he’s had a few drops, and really hasn’t made any terrific plays. I really wish that we would have got to see this receiver group with the other quarterbacks for a little while to see what they can do.

-Brian Volger again had a nice day for the tight ends and has be the most consistent pass catcher from that group.

Offensive Linemen
-The small school guy that I really liked today was Antoine Everett. He played tackle in college but they moved him to guard and that looks to be the future position for him. He has really powerful hands and he won over and over in the individual drills. He had a two play sequence against Hudson were he pancaked him and then stonewalled him on back to back plays.

-Jarvis Harrison had another quality day and was stifling his competition all day long. He beat Botticelli on back to back plays in individual drills as well; he basically stopped him right in his tracks both times.

Defensive Line
-Ethan Farmer had another solid day and he looks like he will be able to play DT or DE on depending on the team he goes to and their scheme. He has a great burst and strength and uses a good variety of moves to get by the offense.

-Cameron Botticelli has a great motor but he seems to rely on the speed rush up the middle too often. He will need to work on adding moves to be effective at the next level. Brock Hekking, Andrew Hudson, and Zack Wagenmann all had some positive plays, but none of them were able to do it consistently.

Linebackers
-The two linebackers that showed the most promise in the afternoon were Damien Wilson and J.R. Tavai. They were both flying around the ball a lot and Tavai had a great pass break up (he was yelled at for making too much contact, but I liked it) he went right for the ball and knocked the receiver in the process.

Secondary
-The best in the secondary seems to be Troy Hill. Terell Floyd had another good day but Hill is the best NFL prospect from the corners. He is being avoided by the QBs and when they come his way he makes them pay. He broke up more than one pass and he plays press coverage well. He has great speed so when he is in press and can look at the QB he can really be a menace.

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