After spending all week at the Senior Bowl and then watching the game film of Saturday’s game in Mobile, here are some final thoughts that stood out.
· Was really looking forward to the matchups with Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher against Ezekial Ansah of BYU and Lavar Edwards of LSU to see how he would be able to handle the quickness of both players. During the week Fisher had his ups and downs with Datone Jones of UCLA and Alex Okafor of Texas. There are games where you can study Fisher against Iowa, Michigan State and even Northern Illinois where he is battling nice competition. Fisher started off well in the game mainly against Edwards but there were a couple of plays where Fisher got a little too tall and allowed Edwards to get into his body and walking him back into the quarterback. When Fisher has troubles, he it is when he carries his hands too low and tries to reset them. What an NFL team will have to do is teach him to keep his hands in better position so he can get a jam on his man to try and stop his charge which would better allow him to sit down on the rusher. There is no problem with his feet or foot work at all which saves him when his hands are bad. In studying the tape, what surprised me about Fisher is that he only played two series than watched the remainder of the game from the sidelines. In asking around, I didn’t get the feeling that he was injured during the week or in the game but this was just his own choice. Fisher came into the week in my view the second best tackle on the board and believed that there was a shot for him to get to the Cowboys at 18 but can now see him going well before that.
· There were times during the practices sessions where Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill would show up, then others where he was not a factor in the play. In the game, Hill showed up in a big way. I thought he played with explosive quickness and power. There were times where he played as a one technique and was able to win one-on-one but he also lined up as a three and was able to defeat a guard, tackle combo block. There was no wasted movement in the way he played, everything was up the field and in an attacking mode. He was able to shed blocks in the running game but also use a swim move to free himself rushing the passer. He was able to fight power with power. Did a nice job of locating the ball and working in that direction. Didn’t take any plays off and was in constant motion. Can see him playing in the role of the three technique for the Cowboys in this scheme. Doesn’t have great height at 6’1” but explosive quickness makes up for that with his ability to get up the field. Could be a nice fit in that 3rd round if the board falls right.
· The more I studied Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien, the more I like him. He can play either strong or free, he is not afraid to hit but I will say this on school tape, he had a couple of misses in the hole but felt like it was more due to his desire to go for a big hit. On the Senior Bowl tape, he showed the ability to cover the tight end in the flat or play with range from center field. He looks aware and is not fooled. His best trait might be his ability to find the ball. He can really cover some ground when he sees it. There is speed and quickness to his game. There is no hesitation. He is a physical player in that when he is in the box will take on pullers at the point of attack or he will jam the tight end in coverage. Has a nose for the ball. Is generally in the pile unlike some of the safeties that I have studied that stand around the pile. Doesn’t play afraid. Did not back away from the challenge of the game. Like him better than Eric Reid of LSU because he can cover, he is faster and his physical play.
· There was plenty of buzz during the practices about the work of Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and Kentucky guard Larry Warford both on the South squad. In the game, I thought Johnson had his moments against Margus Hunt of SMU, Alex Okafor of Texas and Datone Jones of UCLA where he showed some quickness in his sets. The best trait that Johnson has is his desire to finish his blocks. I was very impressed with how often his man was not part of the play. His technique is not always smooth or pretty, he almost pounds his feet in the ground to get himself in position to make his blocks. The biggest question I have of Johnson is really how strong is he? I mentioned how hard he fights to block but at 302, he plays a little light and there are times where you see these rushers take him down the middle and he really has to anchor down the best he can to keep them from walking him to the quarterback. Larry Warford on the other hand plays with power and doesn’t have problems with rushers that take him down the middle. There were several plays where he was able to handle Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern and Sylvester Williams of North Carolina without any problems. Even when he was matched up against Kawann Short of Purdue and Jordan Hill of Penn State, it was very good battles. I am surprised how light on his feet Warford is and his ease of movement. Was used on the outside in the screen game and didn’t labor at all to get there. Plays with a nice set and punch. There was one play where he knocked Short back with a two hand punch that stopped him cold. Can get movement in the running game whether he is single blocking or working on the double team. Before the Senior Bowl, I thought that there would be a chance to Warford to be there in the second round when the Cowboys picked but I don’t believe that will be the case now. There are those that will take Johnson in the first round but I would sure like to see what those strength numbers are before I make that call.
· I have to be honest that I didn’t expect Ezekial Ansah of BYU to have the type of game he did for the South squad in this game. I thought there were times during the practices where he was late off the ball and didn’t play with the proper technique which kept him stuck on too many blocks. You could see the raw ability of Ansah but in the game, he played like a different player. I had seen him play like this before against Utah but that was when he was coming off the bench. In the Senior Bowl he did a much better job of using pass rush moves and playing with his hands. He put a lot of pressure on these North offensive tackles because they couldn’t handle his ability to take power than turn it into speed. When he can get the corner he is very difficult to stop if you do not set wide enough on him. What really surprised me is the power that he showed against offensive tackle Ricky Wagner of Wisconsin driving him right back into Ryan Nassib. There was another time where he did the same to David Quessenberry of San Jose State but he just ran right over the top of him getting a sack and causing a fumble. There were questions about Ansah and the lack of football that he played to this point in his career but he showed nice awareness on a waggle to his side, staying at home and knocking the pass down. In the game, Ansah played the majority of his snaps as the strong side defensive end in the Lions 4-3 and really held up well when the ball came to his side. I might be tempted to play him on the weak side and let him rush from the side because of his athletic ability and speed. See him as a better fit in this type of scheme as opposed to a 3-4 one. People are comparing him to Jason Pierre Paul because of his lack of football experience and this might be a reach but he physically reminds me of a young Jason Taylor when he came in the league.