MOBILE, Ala. – It seems like we've only just gotten here, but the final day of practices have arrived. The North and South teams will go through one more day of full practice, followed by walkthroughs on Friday. Finally, the Senior Bowl itself will kick off Saturday afternoon.
I'm grateful to get one more day to evaluate these players, because it feels like every time I turn around I'm missing some quality work from a new player. There truly is a lot of talent here worth evaluating.
With that in mind, here are a few pre-practice notes about guys I'm hoping to get a better feel for during these Thursday practices:
- Much of the talk at wide receiver has been centered around Braxton Miller, but a player that's having a nice week himself is Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard has been consistent in the way he has run his routes with separation but also in the way he has finished. We have seen him in these practices make plays on all levels of the field, which was something he had shown on his college film. Scouts have to be impressed by what they have observed from him so far.
- Didn't have much of a background on TCU running back Aaron Green before this week, but I do like what I have seen with his quickness to and through the hole. He has shown the ability to make defenders miss, but where I believe he has really stood out has been his ability to be a square, physical pass protector in these one-on-one drills with the linebackers.
- A team is going to draft Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins and be very satisfied that they did. At 6-2, 259 he has been a load to have to deal with for the South offense. What is interesting about him on tape is that in the Bulldogs' scheme, he played everywhere and I could see a NFL coaching staff doing the same with him. His size, power and speed make him an ideal 4-3 SAM or 3-4 OLB that can rush but also be used in coverage. He has those type of instincts.
- There were some really nice one-on-one battles between Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones and Minnesota wide receiver K.J. Maye during Wednesday's practice. Jones might lack height, but he doesn't lack pop and Maye was able to match him when the two went at it. Neither player gave an inch when it came to the outside blocking drills. Each rep got to the point where I thought there was going to be a fist fight, but they managed to hold their cool. Need to do some more work on Maye as a potential Dwayne Harris-type of player for the Cowboys.
- Speaking of needing to do more work on a player, Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward comes to mind. At 6-5, 296 he has shown up several times in pass rush drills and during the team period. The question from the scouts this week is whether to play him inside as a tackle or keep him at end? Scouts have also told me to keep an eye on Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, who also flashed with some quickness in the pass rush drills. At 6-3, 276 he has the type of build that Rod Marinelli covets at that spot.