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Thursday Morning- The North
As we've stated all week the North's practice are more organized and very workman like. This morning was no-pads day but it was still run with quickness and speed. Since this was a no-pads day we really did not concentrate too much on the offensive and defensive line, no reason, but felt we got a good look at the defensive back seven and offensive skill players.
Please Note: We will be in transit back home tonight immediately after the South's final practice and will not be able to post any stories until tomorrow around 1PM. We will have a story on the day's action, just a little later than what we've been posting all week.
Again, none stood out or helped themselves in fact many are going in the wrong direction. Kurt Kittner has been inconsistent all week and is just not in tune with his receivers. His accuracy has not been good and though he has not made bad decisions, Kittner has not won over any believers this week. Once you think David Garrard is heading in the right direction he proves you wrong. After sitting in the pocket and throwing a nice touchdown pass in short yardage drills he came back later in the morning and threw a pair of horrible interceptions after not being able to find the safety or see the linebackers. We thought coming into the draft Garrard was a fifth round choice at best and we stick by that. Josh McCown has been indecisive, hesitant and is not making good reads from the pocket. He shows some zip on his short throws McCown did not have the week he needed to improve his stock.
Lamar Gordon impressed today with a good overall performance. Besides the great burst of speed he showed, Gordon was right on with his pass catching and did a solid job not only receiving the ball out of the backfield but also running well after the catch. Jon Wells again showed good running instincts but his lack of speed and a burst through the hole is apparent to many. For the most part Jarrod Baxter had a solid day catching the ball well and showing enough speed to get outside the box and block around tackle.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Marquise Walker finally showed some vulnerability today dropping a few passes and losing out to Michael Lewis on one occasion while Cliff Russell continued his bad pattern of inconsistent hands. Tight end Dan Graham look like a true professional and like every other practice went about his business in complete detail. Again he found the open spot in the defense and made catches all day. We spoke with him afterwards and he told us that Tampa Bay and Chicago have shown the most interest in him (more next week). Tracey Wistrom is not fast or athletic but a real good football player. Today he made a beautiful catch in traffic over the middle with two defenders draped on him. Once again, the star of the show today was Antwaan Randle-El. He made the tough and difficult catch all day and looks like he was born a natural receiver. This kid has really stepped up and helped his draft stock unbelievably this week.
Once again, no linebacker really stood out today. James Allen looks like he will be a competent weak-side linebacker but as with the rest of the week, just did not make enough plays on the ball. Napoleon Harris is still showing hesitation to his game and is usually a half-step late off the line in pass coverage or slow reacting to runners out of the backfield. He is a great athlete though but we do not feel he's done enough this week to push himself into the top 35 picks. Justin Ena worked hard today and played with good awareness and recognition when placed in zone coverage against the pass but lacks the great lateral speed or quickness to the ball. While Ben Leber has done a solid job reading and anticipating the action he has not made any plays and has done a lot of running around aimlessly.
Michael Lewis has shown excellent pass cover abilities in the short field and was all over the place making plays against the ball this day. He did well against the tight ends and backs, even at one point going up against Marquise Walker and breaking up a pass. Oregon's Steve Smith is another that did well in a small area and really toughed it out against any or all that played within ten-yards of his zone. Again Lenny Walls shows no ability to flip his hips and gets beat down the field as did Kevin Thomas all day. Several scouts noted aloud that Jon McGraw just plays "smart football," and were impressed with his feel for the game.