MOBILE, Ala. – You always have to be ready for the unprecedented in this job.
I’ve come to the Senior Bowl every January since 1992, and I can honestly say I’ve never missed a practice – until now. With inclement weather moving into the Mobile area, Senior Bowl officials have opted to move practice to the indoor facility at South Alabama, which doesn’t have room to accommodate credentialed media.
That’s some unfortunate luck for us, but we’ll figure out a way to still provide coverage of this Wednesday work. In the meantime, here are some notes from Tuesday afternoon’s practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
· One thing you notice with all these college offenses is that these young quarterbacks are not comfortable taking snaps under center. The majority of these kids play in spread schemes, so having to drop back is a whole new world. On the South squad, Will Grier appeared to be the best handling this, but Tyree Johnson and Gardner Minshew had their share of problems. They were just not as clean as they needed to be and it affected their accuracy.
· Montez Sweat is the best pass rusher in this game. At 6-6, 252, he physically looks capable of handling responsibilities off the edge. His speed and first step quickness are impressive. He gets on blockers in a hurry and it puts a ton of pressure on them to have to adjust to him. His strength is underrated, as well. There is some snap to his game and it’s not often you see that from those edge rushers.
· This is not my LSU bias talking, but I really liked what I saw from tight end Foster Moreau. Of the South team tight ends that worked, Moreau was just as good as Dax Raymond, who I had a third round grade on. Moreau did a nice job of separating down the field, which put him in position to finish on some plays. I like the group of tight ends in this draft. It’s a position that has some nice depth this year, with guys that can play along the line or flexed if needed.
· I didn’t know much about Bruce Anderson, the running back out of North Dakota State, but I had heard some whispers out of the weigh-in this morning about the type of player he was. I was impressed with the way he was able to take the ball and run it tough inside or bounce it to the edge. He showed some nice quickness there. I was also impressed with the way he was able to catch the ball. He has natural hands and catches the ball well on the move.
· I wish West Virginia linebacker David Long was two inches taller. It might be hard for him to play linebacker in the league at 5-11, 230, but you can tell he’s a heck of a player. He has a really good feel for how to play in pass coverage with his off hand. There were a couple of snaps where he had to carry the running back in the flat and he didn’t miss a beat. He understands how to play with angles and then react to the ball. These offensive linemen had a hard time blocking him in the running game. On several snaps, he was in the backfield before the play had a chance to develop.
· Keep an eye on this receiver David Sills from West Virginia. He might not be the quickest or fastest receiver, but he somehow manages to separate down the field. He caught everything that was thrown his way -- and from what I saw on the college tape, that’s always going to be the case. I was extremely impressed with his body control and balance, as well. He’s natural moving and putting himself in position to finish plays.
· I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Zach Allen, the defensive lineman out of Boston College, but this live look has changed some things for me. I initially thought he was nothing but a power rusher without any pass rush moves -- but that’s not the case at all. There is some movement on the edge when he rushes and doesn’t get stuck on blocks. He was much more active in this practice than he was on his tape. He also showed some versatility kicking inside and rushing from the tackle spot.
· If teams are looking for that “short daddy” defensive tackle, Greg Gaines from Washington is your guy. At 6-1 309, he is nothing special physically, but during these drills I came away impressed with his ability to play off the block with his hands and get on the quarterback. Where he got into a little trouble was during the team period, when he faced several double-team blocks and he just couldn’t separate as well.