MOBILE, Ala. – Practices are concluded at the Senior Bowl, so the only other time we'll see these guys do some work in pads will be Saturday at the actual game.
With my last opportunity to evaluate some of these players, I tried my best to focus on some guys I hadn't seen much of. Here are some notes from the morning session with the North team, as well as the afternoon session with the South team:
- Coming into this week of practices for the Senior Bowl, I was curious to see how Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland would play in coverage. During the college season he played with his hand on the ground and was primarily used as a nickel rusher. In the one-on-one work with the running backs, I thought that he did a nice job of playing with patience and allowing the backs to make their moves before he would react. He wasn't too aggressive or over-playing any of the routes. Once the ball was thrown, he was able to quickly adjust on the move and rally to the ball. It was good to see him get these types of snaps to answer those questions that scouts had about him.
- Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell is a much better pass rusher when he can stand up rather than when he puts his hand on the ground. What is also positive about Fackrell as a rusher is that he is never going to give blockers the same rush. He is just as good getting around the corner as he is going inside. He can set it up either way. Fackrell is becoming one of my favorite players in this draft.
- I was asked for my impressions of Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett from a Twitter follower and I have to say I'm impressed with his ability to get up the field and find space in routes. He can gain separation, and he shows a wide catch radius to boot. When the North squad was working in the red zone, he was a nice option and presented himself as an easy target. He has a real feel for this.
- If you ask me who has been the better defensive tackle in these practices – Alabama's Jarran Reed or Penn State's Austin Johnson -- my nod would have to go with Reed. He has been more active playing the run -- but more importantly rushing the passer. Coming into these practices I was convinced that Johnson was a more complete player at that one-technique, but Reed was able to put himself back into the picture in my opinion.
- The receiver that stood out on the South squad this afternoon was Paul McRoberts from Southeast Missouri. There were several snaps in the one-on-one period while in the red zone and then later in the team period where he was able to separate and finish his routes with a snatch catch. He also showed the ability to high-point the ball on a fade from North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett over the top of LSU defensive back Jalen Mills in the end zone. Other than McRoberts, Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard and Minnesota's K.J. Maye, this group struggled.
- This was the first practice that I really noticed Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington. It appeared that Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams was sitting out of practice, so Washington received more work and took advantage of the extra reps. Washington is especially good when you can get the ball to him in space and he can just make people miss. He also did a nice job of getting the ball to the corner, then around it without much trouble. I don't quite know what to make of him at 5-7, 200, but with that type of explosive ability I would sure try and find a spot for him.
- I like what I saw from Kansas State fullback Glenn Gronkowski in practice on Thursday. The Jacksonville coaches have him playing as an "H" in their scheme, which is not a bad idea. At 6-2, 238 he is a bit of a tweener size-wise, but his hands and ability to adjust in route make me believe that you could find a place for him on the roster. I haven't studied any fullbacks in this draft but when I get back to Valley Ranch, I am going to see where he fits.