The Senior Bowl's North team finished its final full-pads practice of the week, and some players started to stand out as they became more comfortable with the schemes and techniques being taught. Plus, see what USC's Pete Carroll had to say about a number of his former players entering the draft.
With nine USC
players participating in Senior Bowl practices this week, it was no real surprise to see Trojans coach Pete Carroll show up in Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday, the final day of practice in pads for the players.
Carroll offered his insights on his players to the NFL Network crew, including analysts Mike Mayock and Charles Davis. We'll include Carroll's comments to them without the position-by-position review of which North squad players looked good, who may need work and who is showing progress as the week of practice advances.
While Chad Henne continued to draw the most praise from the NFL Network analysts, Carroll talked about his thoughts on John David Booty. "He's a really accurate thrower. He's just a naturally accurate kid. … There are no throws he can't make," Carroll said. Carrolls thinks scouts may have lost track of Booty when he broke his finger early in the 2007 season.
Davis continue to tout Henne's performance in Michigan's bowl game. "The Capital One bowl against Florida was one of the most shining examples of the talent of Chad Henne … He was huge that day. More than 500 yards of total offense they dropped on the defending National Champion Florida Gators. That was impressive," Davis said.
Delaware's Joe Flacco still doesn't look completely comfortable in the pocket after dropping back, but he did show the ability to anticipate receivers' breaks and release the ball before the break was made.
California running back Justin Forsett made some very good reads and cutbacks on a long run while weaving his way through traffic. He shows the ability to dip his shoulder and make himself smaller against defenders taking an angle on him.
Kansas State's Jordy Nelson is tall and has just enough speed to make it in the NFL. He has looked pretty consistent all week. He isn't flashy, but he is good at getting his head around and locating the ball quickly.
Purdue's Dorien Bryant was good at getting his feet down in bounds on high throws, but he lost one pass that he let hit his body.
Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman is looking more comfortable with running routes and much better catching the ball than he did earlier in the week. And he was finally making even the tough catches. He displayed some good ability to shield the defender from the ball.
Virginia Tech's Eddie Royal can sell the route he's not running and getting into the breaks quickly.
California's Lavelle Hawkins sells the double move and has made a lot of good deep catches, including a subtle push-off while hanging onto the ball in coverage.
New Mexico's Marcus Smith presses the route and forces the cornerback to make a decision, but he's likely a late-round pick or rookie free agent.
USC's Fred Davis still looks like easily the best pass-catching tight end on the North squad. "He's such a good athlete and he's tough and he can run. And they'll find out he can block as well," Carroll told NFL Network. "I think he's going to be somebody that there are going to be a number of teams that are going to love him. I think Freddie is the guy that might be most exciting to these guys."
Davis looks good at positioning his body between the ball in the air and the defender.
Gosder Cherilus worked at right tackle during walk-through. Some wonder if he can play left tackle, too, which he also played in college. Once again, keep his leverage low will be the big question about him.
Oregon State's Roy Schuening "is a guy that could play eight, 10, 12 years in the National Football League because he's ideally suited to be an interior lineman," Mayock said. He looks to be the best of the guards on the North.
Nebraska's Carl Nicks is a big tackle that can extend to make up for a lack of quickness against the quicker defenders.
North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer was sent home with an injury. Replacing him was Iowa's Bryan Mattison. Mattison's dad is the co-defensive coordinator at Florida. Mayock called Bryan a "try-hard kid."
Notre Dame's Trevor Laws really flashed in the team drills, shedding blocks quickly and getting into the quarterback and running backs.
Carroll on USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson: "He understands the game. You're going to see that he's a bright football player."
Purdue DE Cliff Avril stayed home nicely on a bootleg to force a quick throw.
USC DT Sedrick Ellis is super quick against even some of the best offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, including the previously impressive Schuening.
The NFL Network crew continues to speak well of North Carolina State's Demario Pressley, but so far he hasn't flashed on the video footage they have shown.
Jason Jones has practiced at defensive tackle, defensive end and even performed some linebacker drills. He a tall body that showed some really good quickness and hand moves on one outside-in moves to the quarterback and made a play or two on the running backs as well.
Virginia Tech's Xavier Adibi "has the movement of a safety coupled with the striking ability of linebacker," Davis said. "Imagine him in a Tampa-2 type of coverage scheme chasing plays down from the back side. Oh, my." Adibi flashed good quickness past the block on one rushing drill.
Colorado's Jordon Dizon is best at outside linebacker, according to Mayock, who called him a tackling machine.
Keith Rivers, the top-ranked inside linebacker by Scout.com, showed the ability to keep up with quick running backs and tight ends in coverage.
USC's Terrell Thomas kept in good position on the outside route and locates the ball well. "He's a good bump-and-run guy," Carroll said. "He's also a really good competitor. He studies. He loves the game. It's important to him."
Boston College's DeJuan Tribble appears slow to react to the receiver routes.
Indiana's Tracy Porter keeps strong position and is quick to get to the ball.
Colorado's Terrence Wheatley made one good read on the quarterback's eyes and stepped in front of a red zone pass. However, he didn't complete the play with an interception that he could have been returned for a touchdown.