Wednesday morning's practice began with optimum playing conditions as, the thermometer read 68 degrees and the Florida sun was beating down mercilessly. Although the star power on the sidelines wasn't nearly what it was 24 hours earlier, representatives from all 32 teams were in attendance.
To start practice, the quarterbacks did some light passing drills with the wide receivers and running backs. Northwestern's Mike Kafka was accurate, Fordham's John Skelton showed off his powerful arm and Penn State's Daryll Clark still struggled.
In the 7-on-7 drills, Kafka continued to impress on short routes and had perhaps the throw of the day, as he hit Michigan State receiver Blair White in the seam gunning the ball over linebackers. Skelton's effortless throwing motion impressed several scouts, but he missed a few open receivers on the sidelines. Clark faded when asked to do anything other than check down.
In the full 11-on-11 drills, Skelton really stepped his game up and delivered strong passes to the sideline and down the seam. Kafka was accurate and showed off his athleticism on a scramble in which he ran away from several defenders. Despite the positive play, Kafka's inability to make a quick decision concerned scouts.
"I think I bring a lot of poise, a lot of good mechanics and a lot of smarts about the game," Kafka said what NFL teams should be attracted to about his ability. "I pride myself on studying the game and knowing what my assignment is and what my job is."
It appears that Saturday's game will be nearly as important as the practices, as the receivers haven't given the quarterbacks much separation. They kept slipping on what appeared to be moist grass.
"We'll see how they play in the game," an unnamed New Orleans scout said. "These receivers aren't giving the quarterbacks much to work with."
Running backs Javarris James of Miami and Andre Anderson of Tulane showed good hands and an ability to turn upfield after catching short passes. LSU fullback Richard Dickson continued to catch the football flawlessly and is seemingly impressing all onlookers in attendance.
The wide receiver corps didn't stand out much in the 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills, but White and Penn State's Freddie Barnes appear to be forming a bond with the quarterbacks.
"For me, it's been great. It's an opportunity for me to strap the pads on one more time, although I'm probably not going to the NFL," Villanueva said, as he referenced his military commitment.
While the skill-position players were running 7-on-7s, the offensive and defensive lines took part in 1-on-1 drills. Stars from those drills on the offensive side of the ball were tackles Kyle Calloway (Iowa), Kevin Haslam (Rutgers) and Rodger Saffold (Indiana). Those three players routinely dominated their opponents.
"Calloway and the guy from Rutgers (Haslam) are pretty good," North Carolina State defensive end Willie Young said when asked who were the best players he's gone up against since he's been in Orlando.
Young, Doug Worthington (Ohio State), Rahim Alem (LSU) and Lindsey Witten (Connecticut) impressed, as they beat up on Thomas Austin (Clemson) and Chris Scott (Tennessee). UCF's Torrell Troup dominated in all 1-on-1 situations, but disappeared a bit when facing the double teams in 11-on-11 drills.
"97 (Troup) is the best defensive end I've gone up against here," Calloway said. "He really comes off the ball with power, and he can move to either side. He's really a solid player. He's fundamentally sound."
On the second level of the defense, it has the been the usual suspects stepping up, as O'Brien Schofield of Wisconsin rotated between defensive end and outside linebacker, making plays at both positions. South Florida's Kion Wilson continued to be very quick to the football, and Boston College's Mike McLaughlin had his best day of practice.
One man dominated in the secondary, and that was Virginia Tech's Kam Chancellor. Chancellor both intercepted errant throws and laid big hits on everyone that was in his area. His 6-4, 230-pound frame and physical style of play made an impact on several scouts, as one Green Bay Packers scout wondered aloud, "What is that guy doing playing in this game?" referencing how the Senior Bowl perhaps missed an invite.
Mississippi kicker Joshua Shene got some action, as he connected on two of four kicks from 44 yards with a rush, then blasted both of his field-goal attempts through the uprights from 49 yards away.
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Charlie Bernstein is the editor-in-chief of JagNation.com.
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