Wednesday Afternoon- The North

A look at the North's final big practice. Except for quarterback, the North squad has better talent and many of them stood out and really helped themselves this afternoon.

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Wednesday Afternoon- The North

Mobile is the place to be this week as the unemployed and underclassmen are working the sidelines hard trying to get noticed. Out of work coaches Woody Widenhoffer and Charlie Weatherby are here looking for work while juniors Ashley Lelie of Hawaii, Jerramy Stevens of Washington and Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth look to gain the notice of scouts since they cannot play in this All Star Classic.

Quarterbacks

The bottom-line on the signal callers from the North; they do not look good. Kurt Kittner has looked indecisive and inconsistent all day, David Garrard does not read the defense well nor does he sense pressure and Josh McCown has slow delivery and plays back on his heels. In fact the best quarterback on this team is Antwaan Randle-El who has not taken a snap behind center. Randle-El has done a terrific job as a receiver and looks like a natural at the position running crisp routes, coming back to the ball and catching it with his hands. He's also done a good job as a return specialist. One thing Randle-El does not possess is the blinding speed and has had difficulty getting separation down the field. This could pose a problem for his draft rating as he lacks the great size/speed numbers.

Running Backs

Lamar Gordon again ran the ball well today showing speed and vision. We spoke with him afterwards and he said going into the combine he would be working on his route running skills, as he feels confident with his hands. He's looking for a 4.35-forty in Indianapolis. Ohio State's Jonathan Wells ran well showing excellent vision and patience with some power mixed in. He did an admirable job catching the ball but had great difficulty when used as a lead fullback and mishandled a few snaps. Jarrod Baxter played well at fullback and impressed with his ability to get outside the tackle and block while also catching the ball well and as was the case in college, looked powerful running the ball. Scat-back Brian Westbrook looked good the few times the ball was in his hands. He caught the ball well and shows good jelly running after the catch with the ability to set up defenders, make them miss but also ran with vision and patience. Ennis Haywood caught the ball well out of the backfield but did not do well when asked to block.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Marquis Walker looked solid again running good routes, using his large frame well to shield away opponents and making the difficult grab in traffic. He did drop an easy one but for the most part has had a very successful week and pushed himself into the first round. Ron Johnson had a few nice grabs but for the most part does not play like a big receiver and did too much body catching and cradling the pass, which will be his downfall, come draft time. Cliff Russell was very inconsistent and dropped as many as he caught. Many will be "wowed" when they see Russell's forty-time prior to the draft but he needs a lot of work on his overall receiving skills. Dan Graham looked solid again and did a great job finding the soft spot in the defense all day and caught the ball well. He is climbing up charts.

Offensive Line

Both players from Colorado looked very good today. Little-by-little Victor Rogers has been more consistent with his techniques, matching them with his sheer athleticism. The end result had been efficiency blocking for both the run and pass. Line-mate Andre Gurode on the other hand has seen action at both guard spots as well as center and has dominated opponents. He has worked hard on staying low and playing with leverage and has not given an inch of ground all week. Chester Pitts has a solid say and looked good at tackle. We spoke with him afterwards and he told us he'd like to stay at tackle but realizes his height may factor into a switch to guard at the next level (if fact his position coach we spoke with last night blatantly said Pitts will play guard at the next level). Pitts has good feet and can move, so if pushed inside he hopes it is in a system that pulls its' guards. Jonathan Goodwin, Eric Hietman and Kurt Vollers are not the greatest athletes but hard-working tough sonofabitches! Hietman worked hard through the whistle and looked solid, Goodwin played with better techniques and drew the praise of coaches and though Vollers did not do well in one-on-one drills, he came back in scrimmage a had a fine series, twice knocking Ryan Denney off his feet. Ohio State center LeCharles Bentley played tough all day and showed great strength in the middle of the line. PJ Alexander had a tough go of it and was twice torched by Ryan Sims.

Defensive Linemen

The quickness and explosion of Larry Tripplett is evident off every snap and this was far and away his best practice. Tripplett got a lot of penetration all afternoon in both one-on-one drills and in scrimmage as he made several plays behind the line. Anthony Weaver spent most of the day at tackle and looked solid, but nothing spectacular. There is probably no player in Mobile that play's with the desire and heart equal to Justin Bannan of Colorado. He is neither big nor strong but plays with a relentless motor and finds a way to get the job done. Another that has gone very hard and showed well the past three days is Akin Ayodele of Purdue. As we mentioned prior he is an excellent athlete with quickness and speed but showed great arm and hand technique getting off blocks today and got a lot of upfield penetration. Nate Dwyer of Kansas went hard again and made a lot of positive plays while Ryan Sims shows great explosion of the snap but is the kind of player that ,"if he can't beat you with the first move he won't beat you at all."

Linebackers

Like the South, none of the linebackers have stood out. Raonall Smith made several positive plays against the pass and forced the action against the run, but did not make a whole lot of them. Ditto that for James Allen who positions himself nicely to make a play on the ball but does not do it enough. Ben Leber did not have a good day and looks rather non-descript this week.

Defensive Backs

Several of the corners and safeties have stood out. Again, LaMont Thompson looks outstanding against both the run and pass showing great ball skills and a head for the game. Several scouts talked with him (more on that next week) and came away smiling. He has really upped his stock here. Another with good ball skills is Rashad Bauman who showed great flexibility in his hips and was fluid moving in every direction. He was applauded by coaches but had great difficulty against bigger opponents and lost out on several occasions. Nebraska's Keyou Craver had a day typical of his college career; looking awesome on several plays but


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