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Scout's Eye: More Notes From Senior Bowl Practices; Standouts From North Team

IRVING, Texas – We're back from the Reese's Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., but I've only just begun to break down the prospects we watched there.

Here are some of my refined impressions from watching the North squad practice this week. I'll have notes on the South squad on Friday.

  • As this draft process starts out, keep an eye on Stanford's defensive end, Henry Anderson. He wasn't a player that was initially on my radar before I made the trip to Mobile, but after studying his work from the practices, I have to admit he got my attention.

At 6-6, 287, he might be more of an end in a 3-4 defense than an edge rusher in a 4-3. But what I liked about the player was his ability to come off the ball and use his hands to control the blocker. There were several snaps in the one-on-one pass rush drills where he was able to fire those hands inside, grab the blocker and disengage to get up the field. Anderson also plays with some surprising power to the point where he is driving the blocker back into the quarterback.

He managed to play this way with Jamal Douglas and Robert Myers when they tried to sit down on him. Later in the drill, Anderson lined up on the outside shoulder of center Max Garcia and quickly beat him to his snapping hand to gain a pressure. There were no negative plays from him in the opportunities that I saw.

  • My experience in going to these Senior Bowl practices tells me that there will be times when coaches would like to see a player move from his natural, college position to one that might better suit him in the NFL game.

Last year, Michael Sam worked as an outside linebacker and it didn't go well for him in that look. This year there are a couple of different players that fit this bill in Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall at corner and Harvard's Zack Hodges at outside linebacker.

The player I want to focus on is Hodges, who played as a defensive end for the Crimson. At 6-2, 245, he might not have the ideal weight as, say Nate Orchard or Markus Golden, but in studying his game tape from Harvard he can bring the same amount of pressure off the edge. I was surprised by how well Hodges was able to move in space while dropping in coverage but also how well he reacted out of the drop.

The only fault that I observed in his coverage was there was a lack of feel in the way he covered, and what I mean is when the receiver took him up the field he just wasn't near enough to feel when the receiver was breaking the route off. This is more about a lack of experience than it was bad technique. I could see a team using Hodges as a strong side linebacker in a base defense, then having him put his hand on the ground and rush out of the nickel.

  • During these North practices there was plenty of focus on Miami-Ohio's cornerback Quintin Rollins, and rightfully so -- but the smart scouts also had an eye on Quandre Diggs out of Texas.

At 5-9, 196, might not have the ideal height, but he is extremely solid at that weight. What caught my attention was the way that Diggs was able to, no matter what receiver he was covering, keep an ideal position. Diggs was able to carry receivers not only on the outside, but there was a snap or two where he shifted inside and ran with the receiver out of the slot.

In the one-on-one period with the receivers, the offensive coaches tried to hit him on a vertical "9" route with Devin Smith, but he was able to stay with him and later in the period they tested him across the field and not only did he play the route well but was able to knock the ball away.

I am looking forward to getting the opportunity of studying Diggs' work from his season with the Longhorns to determine where he falls on this board. First impressions were very good.

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