Senior Bowl Blog: Monday Afternoon

Nick Athan reports on Monday's North practice from the Senior Bowl.

MOBILE, Ala. - The most frustrating aspect of Monday's practice was the Oakland Raiders' coaching staff. They did a poor job of instructing the players - when a mistake was made, sometimes it was ignored. There also wasn't any flow and sometimes plays continued even after the ball carrier was stopped, a good way to get someone hurt.

Most of the scouts in attendance shared my opinion, and many left the practice field in disbelief. We'll see how the 49ers' coaching staff handles the South practice tomorrow. The South and North squads separated locations for their workouts today.

Quarterback:

Chad Henne (Michigan) - His arm strength was questionable throughout the entire practice. He had a tough time making even the most basic of throws across the middle of the field. He did have some zip on the ball at times but was generally off target. Not a strong day.

John David Booty (USC) - Like Henne, Booty was all over the place today. He throws a soft ball and has good size at 6-foot-3, but didn't really show much. His delivery is suspect. When the defense came after him he struggled even more.

Joe Flacco (Delaware) - I spoke with him this morning and he seemed like a confident young man. He throws the ball with tremendous zip and what he does far better than Henne or Booty is square his hips before his release.

He struggled during 11-on-11 drills, but most of that can be attributed to the fact his center, Chad Reinhart from Northern Iowa, could not deliver the snap consistently. Overall Flacco looked the most polished of all the quarterbacks Monday.


Running Back/Fullback:

Dantrell Savage (Oklahoma State) – The 5-foot-9 back had a rough day. He dropped a lot of short passes and had a hard time finding the hole during running plays. Savage has speed, but his size will be an issue at the next level.

Justin Forsett (California) – Another player with size issues. He's an inch shorter than Savage but had better footwork, better vision and caught the ball like he wants to play in the NFL next season. On one reception he nearly broke linebacker Jordan Dizon's (Colorado) legs. Dizon wound up doing the splits after Forsett cut back to avoid him.


Wide Receiver/Tight End:

Jordy Nelson (Kansas State) – Caught everything in sight, ran crisp routes and showed off some speed. His ability to catch balls in traffic was impressive. One of the few wide receivers who got open consistently and really stood out.

Adarius Bowman (Oklahoma State) – Might have been the most disappointing player Monday. Showed no speed and no ability to break away from the line of scrimmage, and was also lackluster in his route running. On one throw, Bowman didn't even try, wound up turning around late and the ball was nearly intercepted. For someone who has a world of talent, he played like an undrafted free agent.

Martin Rucker (Missouri) – After dropping his first pass, Rucker rebounded to beat everyone like a drum the rest of the afternoon. It didn't matter if it was a linebacker, safety or cornerback, they were all helpless with Rucker on the field. He's more physical than I realized and was one of the stars for the North offense. He doesn't need much coaching, either. His game is NFL ready.


Offensive Line:

Carl Nicks (Nebraska) – The only lineman who really stood out for me on the North. Nicks footwork was solid and he did a great job playing left tackle. He needs to learn to back peddle and stand his ground better as he'll be playing against some of the NFL's premier pass rushers, but he was by far the best offensive tackle on the field.

The knock on Nicks at Nebraska has been his lethargic practice routines. Something got into him today, however, and at 345 pounds and standing 6-foot-5, if he plays this well all week he'll be a mid second-round guy in April.


Cornerback/Safety:

DeJuan Tribble (Boston College) – He stands a shade under 5-foot-10 and reminds me of PacMan Jones, but isn't as fast. Tribble's problem at Boston College was the fact he didn't want to hit anyone. You can't blame him because of his size, but his footwork is outstanding.

Terrell Thomas (USC) – He's five inches taller than Tribble but was all over the field. He needs to bulk up some, but I thought he really stood out. His footwork is solid and he back peddles and turns better than most of the other corners.

Tom Zbikowski (Notre Dame) – Another player under six feet tall, but aggressive. He's a head hunter and seems to be one of those overachievers that will end up playing on Sundays. I've not seen much of him, but Monday he was giving Rudy-like effort.

Charles Godfrey (Iowa) – Of all the cornerbacks I watched Monday, Godfrey had the best footwork and closing speed. In drills he was the sharpest of the bunch and even though he's a bit small, he plays big.


Linebacker:

Shawn Crable (Michigan) - One of the bigger linebackers, standing 6-foot-5, but has serious game. He plays a bit too upright but he can close and hit. Crable also appeared to be in tremendous physical shape and I think he's someone to watch this week. He was the better than any linebacker I saw today.


Defensive Tackle:

Sedrick Ellis (USC) – I'm surprised he showed up this week because LSU's Glen Dorsey decided to pass on the Senior Bowl, but Ellis was amazing. He could not be stopped. Nobody on the field Monday afternoon had an answer for him.

To me he is the most NFL-ready defensive player at the Senior Bowl, and I say that even without seeing the South yet. He'd be a bright light in the middle of KC's defensive line next season.

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