Elite11 Day 3: Hinder Stays Consistent

It was a day of reversals as fatigue can play a role in each player's performance. Some of the top guys from yesterday's session struggled, and some of the other quarterbacks stepped up their game. A Day 3 look at the performers of the EASports Elite 11.

With literally hundreds of throws each day, it's not surprising to see the level of each quarterback's performance ebb and flow as he gets a little more gas in the tank, or on the contrary appears to be a little more drained than the day before.

Jesse Scroggins was one of the players that looked considerably better than he did during Day 2. He still wasn't at his best, but it was a marked improvement over yesterday's action. Scroggins had better touch on the ball when he was rolling out, and he had more zip on his passes from the pocket.

I mentioned yesterday that he looked tired, and it wouldn't be surprising considering the third big passing event in the last week (that I knew about). I asked his coach today if Jesse would admit to being tired. He said he did, and that Lakewood even had some passing league games between the three events that Scroggins had taken part of. 

Scroggins will also be unburdened tomorrow by his college announcement. He filmed his segment today in which he picked his team of choice, and it will air on ESPN's College Football at 3:00 Pacific Time. It appears to be USC and Tennessee as his finalists, and it wouldn't be a surprise to the the southern California quarterback stick close to home.

Barry Brunetti
threw touch passes almost exclusively on Tuesday, but he had considerably more zip on his passes today. He was rolling well to his left and throwing left with precision, and not fading the ball like he was on Tuesday. There was little air under his passes for most of the routes. 

As expected Brunetti excelled when throwing the goal line fade. While some quarterbacks have to limit their natural release to limit the velocity, Brunetti can change velocity with virtually the same arm motion every time. It helps his accuracy on his shorter throws. A good comparison would be a pitcher who can throw a pin point change up.

Blake Bell - Bell was the player I pegged as having the best overall day on Tuesday, but he wasn't as crisp today. He appeared to be suffering from a little fatigue as well as his throws lacked the crispness that they did the day before, and there was a little wobble to several of his passes. Bell seemed to sum up his own day on the circuit target practice portion of the day when he hit the target (the object is to go through the target), and it stuck to the outside of it. His eyes went immediately skyward and knew he wasn't getting many breaks today.

Tyler Bray - Bell and Bray were one and two on my Top 5 on Tuesday, but like Bell, Bray didn't have the same crispness in his throws and his accuracy suffered when compared to his previous performance. His release was a little longer, his legs weren't driving into his throws like he did on Tuesday. In short, he looked like he was a little gassed. 

Robert Bolden - From a two day perspective, Bolden has been consistently the best. If it were golfing, he wouldn't have the best score on Thursday or Friday, but he'd be at the top of the leader board with the best cumulative score on Saturday. Bolden seemed to show even a little more arm strength today, and while this group lacks the big arm of years past, as of now, I'd peg Bolden as having the strongest arm of the 12 Elite 11 performers. He also threw the nicest goal line fade with the tightest spiral of the reps I watched.

Bolden moves with fluidity in both his drop backs and shows flexibility in his arm that allows him to deliver the ball from different angles without sacrificing accuracy and power. Bolden was part of the early group that included Bell, Scroggins, and Brunetti, as well as instructor Daryll Clark of Penn State, and on his rolling left, throwing left to the out route in the end zone, he threw the best ball of the group, including his instructor.

Devin Gardner - After coming back from the Elite 11 last night, I rewatched tape of Devin Gardner. This isn't the same quarterback that teams saw a year ago. If I only had junior film to judge him on, I'd push to have him moved to another position. What I see out there now, while still raw, is a big framed quarterback that holds his own, in some cases, exceeds his Elite 11 counterparts in a camp that showcases pure passing skills.

Gardner is quick in his release on the short routes. There is very little time between when he decides where he's throwing and when the ball arrives at its target. His release lengthens considerably when he's loading up to throw the ball downfield, and it gives defenders a split second longer to recover. Once he learns to trust his arm strength, and keep his compact throwing motion, he'll force teams to stay honest and guard the deep third of the defense. 

On his first rep in the 7v7, Gardner showed his ability to put pressure on the back of a defense with a corner route where he deftly dropped it beyond the safeties reach and over the shoulder of his target. 

He gets depth on his seven step drops very easily as one might expect with his athleticism. His quick drop allows him some extra time to scan the field from a "ready" position, rather than the moment longer it might take another quarterback to reach his seven step drop. After his seven step drop, Gardner threw a rope on a crossing route that was his best throw of the camp.

Austin Hinder - Hinder continues to get better and better. He's always solid on his rollout passes, but today he showed better passes from straight drops. His first 7v7 rep was a five step drop with a quick tight spiral to a 15 yard curl pattern to his right. It's a pretty standard pattern, and a pattern I'd seen him struggle to hit from the pocket before. Not today; today Hinder looked much more comfortable in dropping back and releasing the ball.

Jake Heaps - Scout's #1 rated quarterback was also the day's #1. Heaps hit every pass asked of him. He didn't just hit his passes, he hit them with authority. He'd place a skinny post on the bridge of the receivers nose. He's take a seam route up the middle with inside coverage and put the ball on the outside ear of the receiver.

Manning the Target

The circuit targets were setup again as each of the participants runs to the four stations to try and hit a target that represents a different route. One of the targets is roughly 30 yards from the line of scrimmage, towards the sideline. It's the deep comeback route, and one that will separate the men from the boys in terms of making the big throw.

I saw each player with at least two attempts, and I saw three players that were successful on the deep comeback, Carson Palmer, Daryll Clark and Jake Heaps.

I talked with one of the receivers during the camp. I asked him "It's 3rd and 15, who do you want to throw you the ball?" He had to think of it for a second, but then said "Probably Jake".

After today's performance, I agree with him.

Chandler Whitmer - I mentioned yesterday was the first time I saw Whitmer miss a pass; it may have also been the last time. Whitmer didn't make any mistakes on his throws to live receivers. He and Heaps were lined up in the same group, and they were both throwing darts. The only thing that separated Heaps and Whitmer was that Heaps was getting a little more velocity on the passes that called for a little more zip.

Phillip Sims - I was critical yesterday of Sims throwing motion in which he drops the ball below his waist when he winds up, but watching closer today, he only does that on his deeper throws. He has a live arm and is able to get velocity on his passes without having to muscle up and put a lot of effort into his throws. On his short passes and rollout game, Sims had a nice compact release and delivered the ball on target.

As the day went on, more passes were incorporated into the day, and it was then that the ball drop reappeared. It's fairly dramatic, going fully below his hip and will look like candy to onrushing defense ends. He proved that he doesn't need the big windup throughout the day, so it's a hitch in his game that I expect will be fairly easy to correct.

Joe Boisture - Boisture suffers a little from the same ball drop that plagues Sims. Because he is so tall, a hitch in his delivery is more pronounced and it tends to look a little more awkward than some of the shorter players. On his delivery, Boisture's football would turn and point to the ground while dropping before coming back up into a throwing position.

His accuracy suffered at times with the long release. I expected his delivery to cause him the most trouble on his rollout routes, but interestingly enough, his rollouts were some of his better throws on the day, including the rollout to his left, throwing left. There isn't any one thing about Boisture's throws that are going to separate him from his Elite 11 counterparts, but he has one attribute that several of them will never have. His 6-6 frame while being relatively light on his feet will give him a big advantage moving forward.

Nick Montana - Montana had another solid day throughout. He was another player that looked stronger today than during Tuesday's event. His first read on the 7v7 was a 12 yard out to the slot receiver after the outside receiver had gone deep, and Montana threw the ball on a line to hit his receiver in the chest.

The defense livened up the second time through, and Montana threw a go route up the sideline to a receiver that had streaked past his corner and the oncoming safety. The ball was placed perfectly leaving room for the receiver to take several strides before having to worry about running out of the endzone.

One of the targets on the circuit drill was a roll left, throw left to a 12 yard target set where an out route would conclude. After the first full cycle through with every participant, Nick Montana was the only high school player to make the 12 yard rollout. The instructors Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Chase Daniel, and Daryll Clark, working in succession, went 4/4 the first time through. 

Wednesday's Top 5

1. Jake Heaps
- Extra zip on is passes today
2. Chandler Whitmer - Looked just like Heaps with a little less velocity.
3. Robert Bolden - Livest arm on the day, with a consistent tight spiral.
4. Devin Gardner - The best athlete is becoming one of the best passers?
5. Austin Hinder - Not as sharp on his rollouts, but much better out of the pocket.

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