Tuesday Morning- The North

A look at the North and some of the tougher, meaner linemen available for April's draft. Also information on the likes of Lamar Gordon, Brian Westbrook and Dan Graham. Plus rumors circulating on the Texans trading Terell Owens!

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Tuesday Morning- The North


David Garrard showed a nice arm and better fundamentals, especially with his footwork setting up to throw but still, his ball placement is lousy dropping into the pocket (he holds the ball waist high) and his accuracy was wild.  Garrard seemed to pre-determine where the pass would end up and threw it regardless if his receiver was in the middle of double coverage or wide open. Josh McCown did nothing to impress today as he was directing his throws and did not react well when pressured.  He does a solid job scanning the field and looked off the safety in the pocket.  Kurt Kittner's day could be best described as inconsistent; he takes an extra step throwing off a three-step drop, which slowed his release, and constantly forced his passes into coverage.  The throws lack zip and he tried to direct the ball too much. 

Running Backs 

Brian Westbrook was used early in practice to return punts and looked consistent, showing the ability to handle the ball and even catch it fluidly on the move.  When handed the ball as a runner he showed good moves, shake-n-bake and great vision with a lot of patience mixed in.  Westbrook is small but used it to his advantage as he runs low and gets lost behind his linemen.  He also caught the ball well.  Lamar Gordon showed well today.  He is a patient runner with good vision and finds the running lanes quickly getting through them and has the speed to turn the corner.  He does not adjust well off the initial hit and was not used much as a receiver out of the backfield. 

Tight Ends 

Chris Baker worked hard all morning, diving all over the field to make the tough reception, fighting off defenders.  Overall he looked good but not in the class of Daniel Graham.  Graham played with speed, intensity and did well all day.  He ran great routes and constantly beat opposing linebackers trying to cover him.  Though his blocking is nothing to write home about it is not because from lack-of-effort rather, pure size/strength. 


As tough a practice Woodrow Danzler had yesterday the same cannot be said for Antwaan Randle-El.  This morning as the former Indiana quarterback looked solid in every aspect of his game.   First, as a punt returner, he handled the duties well and caught all the punts when waiting for the ball.  He had some difficulty judging the punts and was making to many last minute adjustments, but overall he was passable.  Randle-El was then even better when used as a receiver; he caught the ball well all day long, went over the middle, extended and pulled the high pass out of the air.  He also ran good routes and came back to the ball, extending his hands and plucking the pass naturally.  Randle-El needs to get in a little more in-tune with his quarterback but overall it was an excellent showing.  Another receiver that drew raves for his play today was Marquis Walker, who caught everything in site, dominating opponents.  Walker uses his is great size and strength to get off jams or box out opponents and did a fine job catching the pass in stride.  Cliff Russell of Utah played with good speed as was expected and made a few difficult receptions on the sidelines but does not show the strong hands or ability to pluck the high throw out of the air and dropped a few.  Herb Haygood, who drew rave reviews yesterday had a very inconsistent practice and mishandled a lot of easy passes.  Ashley Lelie was at practice hanging out.  We spoke with him at length and presently he is in Atlanta working out full-time with Chip Smith.  Lelie said they are doing a lot of seven-on-seven drills and some explosive weight lifting to improve his strength and speed but not bulk.  Improve his speed?  Lelie told us he has run a 4.22 forty, which is what he's looking to duplicate before the draft.  He is undecided about running in Indianapolis during the combine and is trying to set up a pro-day workout but surprisingly, is not doing much work on his route running. 

Offensive Linemen 

To our minds no linemen looked as good as Chester Pitts; he is fundamentally sound, has excellent footwork and plays with good technique until the whistle blows.  He also showed surprising strength at the point and buried Dwight Freeney the first play in drills.  Pitts however does not show the great blocking range and we are still a bit unsettled about him being a full-time left tackle.  Eric Heitman drew much praise from the coaches today and he worked hard, playing with both strength and leverage.  He never got beat at any point and held his ground all practice.  Victor Rogers also played very well today.  Rogers is a solid natural athlete with good strength who destroyed opponents when he plays with solid fundamentals, the problem is Rogers does not stay square and gets turned which leads to him getting beat.  That happened on one play but Rogers listened to the coaches the following snap and drove Ryan Denney five yards off the line of scrimmage, which had scouts clapping.  Richard Williams made his debut here today and his upper body strength is apparent, so apparent as he looks almost top heavy. He is strong at the point but needs a lot of technique work as he does too much shifting of his shoulders and is not good with his hands.  Jonathan Goodwin of Michigan was another that played with good strength and power, overwhelming opponents all practice.  Ditto that for Ed Ta'Amu who drove opponents off the line but had difficulty finishing his blocks as he has a tendency to duck his head.  PJ Alexander was complimented by coaches for his techniques and style but must improve his playing strength.  Alexander spent most of the day at center.  How intense is this week? Victor Rogers and Eric Heitman had blood stained uniforms by the middle of the session.  Matt Hill did not distinguish himself and looked out-classed. 

Defensive Linemen 

Larry Tripplett looked good in morning drills, showing solid footwork and lateral movement skills.  Later on in scrimmage his quickness and explosion off the snap were evident and though he went hard he still gets wired in blocks with opponents rather easily.  We spoke with him after practice (an interview we will post next week) and he told us he is intently working out and getting ready for the combine. Another we spoke with at length who had a good practice was Akin Ayodele of Purdue, obviously the best athlete of all the defensive linemen from the North.  He is fluid and fast, covers a lot of ground and was quick off the snap but like Tripplett, had difficulty getting off blocks once engaged with opponents.  Ayodele told us during an interview (which we will post next week) he has been doing linebacker drills in case teams want him to move off the line of scrimmage but has not been told he will do so here this week.  Nate Dwyer does not have the sane athleticism as Ayodele but still looked solid today.  He is explosive off the snap and a hard working, hard-nosed prospect that plays with a nasty attitude.  At one point he went after LeCharles Bentley after the whistle, only to be separated by coaches.  Dwyer has difficulty in any direction other than straight ahead and is slow to shed blocks as well.  Dwight Freeney was quick and athletic but could not get off blocks in scrimmage and was hammered by Chester Pitts and at one point was handled by Tracey Wistrom. Later on Freeney sat on the sidelines with an injury to his left ankle.  Anthony Weaver is strong, athletic and does not get beaten by blocks but you just get the idea it takes a while for everything to sink in with him as he shows no explosion or suddenness to his game.  He was consistently a half-step behind the opponent off the snap and rarely beat anyone.  Weaver has great potential and upside but is a ways from meeting it.  Gregory Scott showed athleticism, hustle and quickness all morning but is technically unsound and does not do a good job playing low with leverage and made himself a target all day for opposing linemen.  


Napoleon Harris looks a little rusty playing off the line of scrimmage after lining up in a three-point stance all year but shows great speed and explosion.  He now needs to fine-tune the instincts.  James Allen did well reading and anticipating run plays also showing the ability to play off blocks but just lacks and quickness or "zest" to his game. 

Defensive Backs 

Keyou Craver was one of the better defensive backs for the North and made several impressive picks in practice.  Rahsad Bauman looked solid in drills all morning and though small, did his best to play a physical brand of football and prove to scouts he would not be intimidated by bigger opponents; for the most part he succeeded.  Kevin Thomas of UNLV had a solid practice looking fluid and smooth in his hips and was quick turning back to the ball making plays against the pass.  Lamont Thompson looked real good all practice.  When placed in man-on-man coverage assignments in drills he more than held his own and did a great job all day covering deep centerfield when playing safety.  He moves well sideline-to-sideline and shows excellent footwork.


Dave Zastudil had a bit of an inconsistent day.  He kicked a few beautiful moon-shots that got great hang-time and perfectly spiraled through the air and to his credit, he is quick getting the ball off his foot but on more than a few occasions the ball quivered through the air and he punted for poor distance.  He was nowhere near the level of Nick Harris last year.   

Ryan Denney and Grant Wistrom were both used to long snap and though not great, improved as the day progressed and showed some potential. The snaps lacked zip getting to the punter but the were accurate and easy to handle.


Rumor Circulating the field: The Titans have been shopping Terrell Owens; it seems they expect to pick him up in the expansion draft and are asking a first and third round pick for him!

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