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CHTV at the Senior Bowl: Day One Notes

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CHTV at the Senior Bowl: Day One Notes

Normally, Senior Bowl practices are divided in such a way to where you can see both the North squad and the South squad. One gets the morning and one gets the afternoon.

Mondays throw that aside because the morning is given over to the weigh-in and the evening is the dinner with the media, so the window for practice is shorter than usual.

They have one of the practices at the normal venue (Ladd Peebles Stadium, where the game is played) but ship the other team off to Fairhope Stadium, about a 30 minute drive from Mobile itself.

Once upon a time, these practices happened simultaneously, which meant you only saw one Monday practice. Now that Phil Savage (former scout, NFL GM, player personnel director and coach) is in charge, staggering these practices so you can catch most of both.

I traveled to Fairhope, but was able to catch a lot of the other practice as well. As I didn't get a full look at the North practice Ladd Peebles, rather than cover each practice individually, I'm just going to give you my basic thoughts on players who stood out.

Before we get too into it though, one thing to keep in mind. This is Day One of practice. Especially for the skill position players, this is a tough day. Quarterbacks and wide receivers don't know each other and that can often provide a skewed look at what they are capable of. We'll get a much more accurate look at those players during Day Two and Day Three.

All that being said, I am not very excited by this group of quarterbacks.

Until last year, every time I have come to Mobile, some quarterback has "jumped out" at me. Once it was Colin Kaepernick, another time Russell Wilson.

It's early but I just don't see that guy here.

Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo showed off a cannon of an arm, but zero touch. He did everything at 110 percent. Handed the ball off hard, pitched it hard, threw it long hard, threw it short hard. He looked like he was trying to go through his receiver.

I'm all for a show of arm strength, but Garoppolo took it a bit far. You have to take something off  your shorter passes, but the ball came out just as hot on a short route as it did on a long or intermediate pass. I want to see some touch on his throws before the end of the week. He could just be hyped up, especially coming off a very good Shrine Game. It happens, guys try to prove themselves a little too much on day one.

Sometimes it works out, as it did with Russell Wilson, who looked aggressive and exceptional during his first practice. Sometimes, it doesn't work as well, as was the case today.

Fresno State's Derek Carr looked solid at the South practice, showing overall solid mechanics and a smooth motion on his throws. He didn't blow me away but he threw a nice ball.

I can't say the same for David Fales, the San Jose State quarterback who didn't seem to finish a throwing motion. It looked like his throw stopped early and whenever I saw that, his pass floated. His accuracy (and the float of his passes) went up drastically whenever he had to go long.

The North didn't have anyone stand out positively, at least when I was watching. Tajh Boyd had accuracy issues, though he was probably the best of this group. I'm not sure I buy Tony Pauline's comment that any team - including the Packers - think Boyd is 'undraftable' after a day of practice. Even after looking at his tape. Is he Teddy Bridgewater? No, but he's not a disaster.

At least I won't judge him that after one day. It sounds more like either 1) a team not in need of a quarterback downgrading a guy or 2) smoke and mirrors.

Pauline is good at parsing info, but I can't buy undraftable based on today. It's knee jerk reaction at its worst.

That said, I didn't much like what I saw from Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, whose day was summed up perfectly by CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.

Consistency will be key for him the rest of the week.

Stephen Morris of Miami had the same issue. One minute a decent pass, the next a high overthrow.

The other group I watched closely was the South's wide receivers.

I felt like Texas wide receiver Mike Davis was solid as advertised. I saw him come off the line quickly, adjust to bad balls and make some nice leaping catches. He also did a good job of catching the ball away from his body. Far too many of the other receivers let the ball hit their chest, a good way to produce a bobble and drop.

He also showed very soft hands, which made it even easier to control the ball.

Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt had an up and down day. He had more than a few drops, but he also had a beautiful leaping catch where he high-pointed the ball. If he can clean up his drops, he could have a great week.

At 5'8", 179 pounds, I had concerns about Florida's Solomon Patton. Would he get beat up at the line and overpowered by the secondary? At least for today, the answer was yes, sometimes. He was overpowered at the line a few times, but he also fought for the ball and used his hands as well to fight off the defender. He may find his rhythm as the week goes on.

Another smaller guy, Jalen Saunders from Oklahoma, had less success. He was repeatedly overpowered by the secondary and had a few drops on what should have been easy passes. He wasn't happy about it, and gave himself penalty pushups. That's great and all, but we need to see him improve this week and not just at pushups.

A few other quick notes on positions I didn't get to watch in depth:

  • Good friend and Denver radio host Cecil Lammy has been coming to Mobile since before it was trendy and is an incredibly sharp evaluator. So when he tells me to keep an eye on West Virginia running back Charles Sims, you know I'll do it. I only got to see Sims briefly today but he impressed with his speed and vision.
  • I loved the pace with which the Jacksonville Jaguars practiced. It was intense and energetic but everyone was having fun. When we got the the North practice, shepherded by the Atlanta Falcons, the pace was laconic. And I might be wrong but it seemed as if they started special teams early and went a long time with it.
  • I watched some of the defensive line drills at Fairhope and came away impressed with a few guys. I loved the short, violent use of hands by Princeton's (that's right PRINCETON) Caraun Reid. He ran his drills through the tackling dummies fast and hard. I felt Arizona State's Will Sutton also ran the drill well, though he seemed off balance once or twice. And Tennessee's Dan McCullers seemed to struggle during the drill, standing too upright and not delivering powerful blows with his hands. I intend to spend more time with these guys over the next two days.

So that's all for Day One from Mobile, Alabama. I'll be back tomorrow night (or Wednesday morning) with some thoughts and observations from both the North and South practices, as well as some quotes which I gathered during Monday's Media night.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

fipp's picture

I love senior bowl week. Such a great start to kick off draft season with shrine game and senior bowl back2back.

RC Packer Fan's picture

couldn't agree more... absolutely LOVE it!

William Bajczyk's picture

I'm glad you're at the Senior Bowl. Excellent first day report! Thank you. This is where the diamonds in the rough are found. What about left tackle, Billy Turner, from North Dakota State? He seems like a beast. Keep up the great reporting.

andrewgarda's picture

I'll keep an eye out for him today - he's on the South squad, so he's an afternoon guy. Thank for reading, glad you're enjoying.

jmac3444's picture

definitely looking forward to the rest of the week

RC Packer Fan's picture

I watched the north practice yesterday on NFL network.
From what I saw on there I didn't see anything that looked horrendous with Boyd like Pauline had suggested. Obviously I didn't see the whole practice but from what I did see he didn't look out of place.

andrewgarda's picture

Yeah I'm not sure what to make of the "Boyd is undraftable" thing. I don't know if it's based on the practice or tape from this year. I don't know if the guy who told Pauline that is any good at scouting QBs.

It's the aspect of draft analysis time which I dislike - so easy to report rumors without context.

Boyd wasn't great but he wasn't a disaster, especially compared to many of the other quarterbacks.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree with that. I hate when certain scouts or people reporting on players. Especially when they don't put their names with the reports.

From what I saw from Boyd (which wasn't a lot), to me he looked better then Thomas and Morris from the North squad. His throws seemed to be more accurate as far as hitting the WR's correct side.

The other part I didn't like about Pauline's comments is its very premature. These guys are in their first practice together. Give these guys 2-3 practices and if you don't see guys improving then come out and say it.

I am looking forward to seeing how all the players improve throughout the week.

Hank Scorpio's picture

I read elsewhere that Chris Borland had a nice day at Senior Bowl practice. I would be thrilled if the Packers can add him on Day 3. Especially if they already nabbed another ILB on day 2.

Am I crazy to think that he can be like Zach Thomas--an undersized but uber-productive college player that succeeds despite not fitting the mold of what you'd want for an ILB? He certainly was a playmaking machine at Wisconsin.

I know I think the Packers could stand to replace both of their ILBs. Even if you skew to the more positive view of AJ Hawk, he's getting right on up there in age and has a big contract that doesn't match his productivity.

Evan's picture

Is Borland really that undersized?

I see him listed at 6'0", 245 lbs. Hawk is 6'1", 247 lbs. Patrick Willis is 6'1", 240 lbs. Bowman is 6'0". 242 lbs.

Now I don't watch college football so maybe he's a lot slower or not as athletic as those guys, but from a pure size standpoint he seems right in line with other ILBs.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Borland is 5'11 245. He is shorter.

The thing that stands out to me with Borland is his instincts. If you watch games he is almost always near the ball.
The one thing I want to see is how he can do in coverage. He is more of a downhill type of player. If he can prove he can cover I think he will move up. I think late 2nd round is his ceiling right now. (based on his size)

He kind of reminds me of Bishop. His ability to blitz and his physical play.

Evan's picture

CBS and NFL Draft Scout both have him at 6'0". I have no idea what's accurate.

Hank Scorpio's picture

The Senior Bowl weigh-in gives the same numbers RC gave... 5'11", 245.

I know the Packers avoid UW players. I'm not sure if that is a choice or just the way things work out. But I hope they are taking a good, hard look at Borland. Like RC said, he's got terrific instincts. ILB is clearly a need.

Denver's picture

I'm actually surprised he's 5' 11"...seems shorter than that to me. I LOVED watching him play for the Badgers; incredible college player.
That said, don't know if I'd like the Pack to draft him. He's endured quite a few injuries and I fear his NFL career will be quite short. Though maybe 2-3 years of Borland as a Packer would be better than 6-7 years of another average ILB.

Hank Scorpio's picture

Denver---good point about Borland's injury history. The last thing the Packers need is another guy to add to IR. It's something to consider, for sure.

The write up from on Borland at Senior Bowl practice so far...

Chris Borland LB Wisconsin

5113 245 9 3/4 28 7/8

Mon: Just a tremendous day. Shows big time playmaking skills defending the run or covering the pass Constantly around the action and flies to the ball. Definitely helped himself today.

Tues: Another terrific day. Plays all out, explosive and outright dominant. Tremendous during blitz drills and could not be stopped.

For Badger fans, James White, Jared Abbrederis, Jacob Pederson and Dezmen Southwind are also summarized at the URL.

jamie's picture

I think (and kind of hope) Seattle is going to draft Borland. Schneider seems to like Wisconsin players, or at the very least is well informed of their abilities and body of work, and he'd fit perfectly into their defensive scheme. He is a sideline-to-sideline player and flies to the ball with insane quickness.

I agree with the others who say they'd be a little uneasy about the packers drafting him. He has had shoulder injuries in the past and I don't think he'd be as well suited in our defense.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I honestly think he is a perfect fit for our defense. I think he is tailor made to be a 3-4 ILB.

He has amazing instincts. Watch him play and he is always around the ball. Also he is a good blitzing LB.

My concern with him, is he is more of an attacking/downhill LB. How will he do in coverage? With the league being more of a passing league you have to have LB's that can cover.

Is Borland the same as Hawk? I have heard him compared to Kuechly (just shorter). The guy he reminds me of a bit is Desmond Bishop. I think he could be a similar player to Bishop in our defense.

Last night I was watching the North Practice and Mayock said that if he was 3" taller he would be a top 10 pick.

Turophile's picture

Keep up the good work Andrew. I just love to read about who catches your eye.

Most especially (for the Packers defense), NT, S, ILB. I keep tabs on corner as well, though the need there depends on what the Pack do in the offseason. On offense TE and WR are the positions most in need.

You have said you are not primarily a Packers fan, more a fan of football generally, so I imagine that means you will look at all positions this week. Even so, there is still plenty to learn from your articles (like NT McCullers shortcomings). Keep them coming please.

RC Packer Fan's picture

WR is very deep. I think the Packers can find a key contributor in the 4th-5th round this year.

TE, is weaker. After the first 3 guys there is a drop off. Right now I would say that CJ Fiedorowicz is the 4th TE.

A guy this week that a lot of people are raving about is Jimmie Ward - S NIU. He is a guy to keep an eye on.

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