On the first day of Senior Bowl practice here in Mobile, Ala., I was able to check out the North team here at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Here are my initial thoughts from Day 1:
- Texas defensive end, Alex Okafor had a nice start to his week. There were several times he showed an explosive burst up the field and around the corner. Had some good matchups against Wisconsin offensive tackle Ricky Wagner and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher. There were times during the season where Okafor looked less than interested but was able to disengage blocks and put himself in position to make plays.
- None of the three North quarterbacks threw the ball exceptionally well. Miami-Ohio's Zac Dysert probably struggled the most with his accuracy. Syracuse's Ryan Nassib was unable to connect on some "9" routes because he put too much air under the ball which allowed the corners to work to the ball. North Carolina State's Mike Glennon missed on some simple throws but biggest problem was I never saw him looking down the field to deliver the ball, all underneath stuff.
- USC's TJ McDonald had an interception during 7-on-7 period on an overthrown pass. The one shot that Mitchell had in one-on-one coverage, he got out muscled on the route which surprised me. When in the base defense, these Raiders coaches did not have him in coverage but instead but Fresno State's Phillip Thomas in the slot.|
- Every time I looked up, North Carolina's defensive tackle Sylvester Williams was in the backfield. He played all day on the opposite side of the line and was difficult to block one-on-one. UCLA's Datone Jones had his share of disruptive plays as well.
- Did not see any athletic linebackers in this group when it came to pass coverage. As a whole, they all played one step behind.
- Washington's Desmond Trufant was the best cover man in my book. Rarely did I see him out of position or giving up room in the route. He really wasn't threatened by these receivers and had no problem running with them. Really looked smooth.
- SMU's Margus Hunt had a rough first practice. There are times on tape where you don't see him disengage from blocks and he struggled with that today. Tackle Ricky Wagner owned him for the majority of the day but did get one late pressure. When he has problems he usually plays too high and that was a problem today. Needs to play with more quickness and explosion.