Day 1 Practice Wrap Up- North Team

Posted: January 22, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl
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Eric Fisher of Central Michigan

I watched this first day of practice like everyone else without a press pass… from my couch, tuned into NFL network as the North team practiced for the first time on television. Some things really catch your attention when you watch such a talented group of individuals. One is that the size of the players and the speed of the game are at another level, and a lot of guys figured that out during their first taste of 1 on 1 drills. The drill that gets the most attention and the most scrutiny is the OL vs DL 1 on 1 drills. And for good reason as the North squad boasts several first round talents on both sides of the ball. Eric Fisher (above) from Central Michigan is as good as advertised. He was a 3rd team All American this year playing in the under appreciated MAC conference. He measured in at 6’7″ with huge hands and long arms, everything that scouts covet in a Left Tackle prospect that is charged with protecting the teams best investment. Fisher is a technician in pass protection, always using great patience and hand punch. Rarely does he get beat with speed. The drill actually ended with the “match up of the day” where Fisher was pitted against Texas pass rushing specialist Alex Okefor. Okefor had a great day during the entire practice session and really opened eyes with his pass rush skill set and his motor. He played the majority of the day on the left side of the line, but he kicked over to the left to go against Fisher. Okefor had his way with everyone he faced and used an array of pass rush moves and has great hand fight to him. He gave Fisher a run for his money with a great speed rush to get to the edge, Fisher even opened his feet up way too soon, but in the end Fisher just took Okefor along for a ride and all the QB would have had to do was step up and make the throw. These two will be fun to watch in the coming months and don’t be surprised to see both taken in the top rounds, Fisher likely going in the top half of round 1. Besides the two I just mentioned, here are some thoughts on the offesnive and defensive lines for the North squad.

-A player that had a great first practice was OT/OG David Quessenberry of San Jose State. He has the height and length to play tackle, but needs to put on some bulk to his 6’5″ 295 pound frame. Quessenberry has a great pass blocking skill set and shows great patience in his ability to block DL one on one. He took on some of the best all day and held his own every time, rarley giving up a pressure on the QB. His best attribute right now is that coaches think he can play inside and outside and he did well at both spots Monday.

-A couple OL hurt them selves today as far as initial impressions. I thought Notre Dame center Braxton Cave got exposed, not only in 1 on 1 periods but in Team drills as well. He gets caught lunging at opponents way to much and his feet were set in stone most of the time. He was having trouble with the bull rush and the speed moves he was seeing all day. He has great size at 6’3″ 305 lbs. but he has the dreaded “short arms” tag that offensive lineman are judged on. The next guy who did not have a good day at all during 1 on 1 drills was Hugh Thornton of Illinois. He really had trouble during the drill and Okefor made him look very bad on a couple of reps. He even tried to kick out to Right Tackle but he just doesn’t have the feet to block outside speed rushers. He struggled with the bull rush and club moves all day, as well. Both Thornton and Cave will have to bounce back in the next few days to not see a slip in their stocks on MOST draft boards.

I will focus more on the defensive lineman as we go forward this week, but here are some things that stood out to me during practice #1.

-Margus Hunt (below) from SMU is an absolute physical freak. He measured in at 6’8″ and 277 pounds. He is raw as can be and he has a great story that lead him from Estonia to SMU football, but his size and physical abilities will impress enough to get him picked in rounds 2-4.

SMU's Margus Hunt

SMU’s Margus Hunt

-Datone Jones from UCLA and Kawann Short of Purdue both had great days during drills. Both players flashed large pass rush skill set and constantly won their match ups against the OL. It will be good to see these two progress throughout the week.

 

 

-John Simon of Ohio State played both LB and DL during drills and team and he is a guy that is going to have to play in a limited spacial setting. He had major trouble at LB covering TE’s and was exposed against RB routes and TE’s during Team periods. At one point he blew a coverage and almost gave up a touchdown if Mike Glennon doesn’t overthrow his target down the middle of the field. Simon isn’t big enough at 6’1″ 256 to play an end in a 3-4 but he also may not have the skill set to play outside either. He is a grinder, however  and he is a guy that will play his heart out to make the team in any way he can.

More to come on the skill players in the morning. But for the first day of coverage, the OL vs DL match up was very highly publicized and I have to give the first round to the DL. We will see what the day brings for the hog mollies tomorrow.

 

 

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