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East West Shrine Game Who to Watch:

January 19, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Here are 5 players to watch from each squad from an NFL Draft stand point:

East:

1. RB Ray Graham, Pitt:

-Graham has had a great week of practice showing speed and explosiveness. He is working his way up draft boards and could be looking at a third round pick come April. He's a bit undersized for a feature back role, but could still work in a more wide open offense, particularly one that runs zone or outside a lot. He can also be an effective weapon out of the backfield, and has been working on his return game as well down here. Expect him to continue his big week with a strong performance today.

2. OT Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff:

-Armstead was probably the most impressive offensive lineman on either squad this week. He showed good footwork with the quickness to get to the edge. He's got a good anchor and won a number of one-on-one battles in practice. He also looks to be very strong at the point of attack, and could develop at either tackle position. This was a big week for him, and this game will help out as well. He doesn't have much experience versus higher level talent, so this really raised his draft profile. He's still a bit raw, but he could work his way into the 4th or 5th round.

3. WR Emory Blake, Auburn:

-Blake had a really good week of practice and graded out well in every area. He showed good hands and body position making a number of tough catches. He ran crisp, fluid routes and was quick in his actions. He used his body well to shield defenders and showed more speed than people gave him credit for. It's a deep receiver crop this year, but Blake rose to the top this week and looks to be well worth a late round pick come April. Expect him to continue to have a strong week in today's game.

4. S Cooper Taylor, Richmond:

-Taylor lacks the big school pedigree of many of the safeties here and he didn't have near the draft hype, but he really flashed this week. He's a big physical safety, yet has good speed and quickness. He showed good instincts and read the quarterback well in practice. There wasn't full hitting in practice so expect him to really shine in the game where he can show what his size/speed combo brings to the table. He's in the late round mix, but is definitely trending upward.

5. WR Trent Steelman, Army:

-Steelman in many ways stole the show this week. He was Army's option quarterback these last four years, but transitioned to WR this week. He still got some looks in the backfield as an option quarterback and was also utilized on a number of trick plays. He even worked as a long snapper when others struggled to get the ball to the punter/holder (and he did a good job). While typically you'd expect him to struggle as a receiver he actually had a nice week and is very much in that Wes Welker mold (albeit very raw).

West:

1. DL William Campbell, Michigan:

-Campbell had one of the strongest weeks of any player down here, causing constant headaches for opposing offensive linemen. He shows great burst off the line and is very good about winning the leverage battle. At times he plays out of control, but the potential is definitely there for him to be a very good player at the next level. He's looking to go off the board in the mid-round range.

2. DL Wes Horton, USC:

-It was a bit of a disappointing season for Wes Horton, but he had a really strong week and was the best pass rusher here. He fits best in a 4-3 defense, but should be able to generate quite a bit of pressure at the next level. He gets low and is quick off the snap, making it tough for offensive linemen to get their hands on him. He should be in the 5th-6th round range and can continue to trend upwards.

3. LB Keith Pough, Howard:

Pough had a really strong week, showing really nice athleticism as well as good leadership. He also took to coaching well, which is another thing that matters to scouts. He showed sideline-to-sideline speed and was pretty instinctual in both coverage and against the run. He's still a bit raw, but he's got some really nice future potential.

4. WR Jasper Collins, Mount Union:

Collins had a strong week, he really ran nice routes and showed really good hands. The only knock on him is he struggled to get off press coverage and will need to work on that for the next level. Other than that he's got a great skill set for a slot receiver and should contribute on special teams as well.

5. QB Matt Scott, Arizona:

It was a disappointing week for the signal callers, but Scott did give some hope for the West team. He's a little undersized, but he showcased a nice deep ball with good velocity. He needs to work on his touch, but the potential is there. They didn't run much of it in practice, but Scott has some read option potential, as he's got really nice speed. He's probably no more than a 6th or 7th rounder, but there is some upside.

Ranking the Shrine Game Rosters by Position: Defense

January 19, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

(*note this is based on this week of practice, not their overall draft rank)

Defensive Line:

  1. William Campbell, MIchigan
  2. Wes Horton, USC
  3. Joe Vellano, Maryland
  4. Izaan Cross,Georgia Tech
  5. A.J. Francis, Maryland
  6. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State
  7. David Bass, Missouri Western State
  8. Anthony McCloud, Florida State
  9. Travis Johnson, San Jose State
  10. Devin Taylor, South Carolina
  11. Scott Vallone, Rugers
  12. Caleb Schreibeis, Montana State
  13. Will Pericak, Colorado

A little disappointing overall as a group. Originally thought there would be more overall upside in this class. Still some good players at the top of this list though.

Linebacker:

  1. Keith Pough, Howard
  2. Gerald Hodges, Penn State
  3. Sio Moore, UConn
  4. Matt Evans, New Hampshire
  5. A.J. Klein, Iowa State
  6. Nathan Williams, Ohio State
  7. Steve Greer, UVA
  8. Lerentee McCray, Florida
  9. Robert McCabe, Georgetown
  10. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina

Strong linebacker group, arguably the 2nd most talented position here. Just about all these guys should be drafted and many had really strong weeks.

Cornerback:

  1. Brandon McGee, Miami
  2. Josh Johnson, Purdue
  3. Branden Smith, Georgia
  4. Micah Hyde, Iowa
  5. Aaron Hester, UCLA
  6. Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech
  7. Trey Wilson, Vanderbilt
  8. Sheldon Price, UCLA
  9. Travis Howard, Ohio State
  10. Kayvon Webster, South Florida
  11. Khalid Wooten, Nevada
  12. Melvin White, La Lafayette
  13. Demonte Hurst, Oklahoma
  14. Terry Hawthorne, Illinois

Good overall group and that is even with some disappointments like Hurst and Hawthorne. Many of these guys will need some time to develop, but they showed the potential to one day be at least a nickel back in the NFL.

Safety:

  1. Duke Williams, Nevada
  2. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
  3. Josh Evans, Florida
  4. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse
  5. Jahleel Addae, Central Michigan
  6. Cooper Taylor, Richmond
  7. Rashard Hall, Clemson
  8. Earl Wolff, NC State
  9. Branden Bishop, NC State
  10. Keelan Johnson, Arizona State
  11. Cody Davis, Texas Tech
  12. Bradley McDougald, Kansas
  13. Kejuan Riley, Alabama State

Strong safety group overall as more than half of these  guys will get drafted (perhaps as many as 10). Some guys may be limited by scheme, but overall there is a lot of NFL talent in this group. This is either the 2nd or 3rd strongest position behind RB and possibly linebacker.

Ranking the Shine Game Rosters by Position: Offense

January 19, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Quarterbacks:

  1. Matt Scott, Arizona
  2. Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana
  3. Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
  4. Alex Carder, Western MIchigan
  5. Collin Klein, Kansas State
  6. Seth Doege, Texas Tech

Disappointing week for the quarterbacks, no one really distinguished themselves, and most were fairly disappointing.

Running Backs:

  1. Ray Graham, Pitt
  2. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt
  3. Christine Michael, Texas A&M
  4. Zach Line, SMU
  5. Montel Harris, Temple
  6. Kerwynn Williams, Utah State

Strongest position group on either side of the ball, all six guys are draftable players, and many should go in the 3rd-5th round range. Being the 5th or 6th name on this list is by no means signaling that these guys had poor weeks. Everyone here graded out to the positive for the week.

Wide Receivers:

  1. Emory Blake, Auburn
  2. Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech
  3. Jasper Collins, Mount Union
  4. Keenan Davis, Iowa
  5. Erik Highsmith, UNC
  6. Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee State
  7. Trent Steelman, Army
  8. Rodney Smith, Florida State
  9. Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky
  10. Chad Bumphis, MIssissippi State
  11. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech
  12. Brandon Turner, Navy

*Arizona's Dan Buckner had to pull out due to injury

This group has a good amount of talent, though a couple of the bigger names (Rodney Smith and Marcus Davis) had disappointing weeks. A lot of smaller school guys stepped up this week and showed they are worth a look at the next level.

Tight Ends:

  1. D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers
  2. Chris Pantale, Boston College
  3. Lucas Reed, New Mexico
  4. Zach Sudfeld, Nevada
  5. Josh Hill, Idaho

The tight end group took a hit when Nick Kasa accepted a Senior Bowl invite and Joseph Fauria had to pull out due to injury. There are still a few interesting guys out here with nice big frames that could help a team out.

Offensive Linemen:

  1. Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  2. Nick Speller, UMass
  3. Earl Watford, JMU
  4. Mark Jackson, Glenville State
  5. Blaize Foltz, TCU
  6. Jeff Baca, UCLA
  7. Ryan Turnley, Pitt
  8. T.J. Johnson, South Carolina
  9. Eric Kush, Cal (Pa)
  10. James Ferentz, Iowa
  11. Andrew Robiskie, Western Illiniois
  12. Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State
  13. R.J. Dill, Rutgers,
  14. Garth Heikkinen, Minnesota Duluth
  15. Matt Sewell, McMaster University
  16. Jordan Devey, Memphis
  17. Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
  18. Sam Brenner, Utah
  19. Dannn O'Neill, Western Michigan
  20. Kirby Fabien, Calgary

-The Offensive line is a solid group, but really thins out as you get near the bottom. There isn't that much draftable talent in this group, especially outside the top eight guys. Still you have a lot of small school guys who have some upside and potential, that just need to grow.

 

Ray Graham Talks About His NFL Future

January 18, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Here is my interview with Pitt running back Ray Graham at the 2013 East West Shrine Game:

On the tradition of Pittsburgh Running backs:

Interview with RB Ray Graham.

Fanspeak's Interview with RB Ray Graham.

It's definitely an honor, starting off with the great Tony Dorsett, and all the past running backs. It is just an honor to be able to be mentioned with those types of running backs. It's definitely a humbling experience and it makes me go that much harder.

On any conversations he's had with former Pitt running backs:

I spoke with Dion Lewis. Dion Lewis and I keep a good relationship, we are real cool off the field, we had a good relationship while we were there together playing together back-and-forth. Shady, he comes back some times and we'll talk as well.

What's the best piece of advice given by a former Pitt player:

Just work hard every day. Tony Dorsett told us what he used to do was work his basics, such as simple things like his footwork. Working from the smallest things 'going right', 'going left'. Just working on small steps, and he said that he perfected it and like doing it in his sleep. I took that and ran with that and I just tried to get good feet by doing that. He gave great feedback to us and I took it.

On what lessons he took from the adversity Pitt has dealt with in recent years:

I just think that it only makes you stronger. The things that you we've been through, because we've been through a lot of different coaches and how you bounce back from that is on you. I think we took it and ran with it, and we didn't back down from a challenge. No matter who came in there, we looked at each other as a family. We went in there and were going to be strong no matter who came in there. And I just think that you have to be strong to deal with situations like that, anybody could have just said that "oh I'm leaving" but we stayed together and kept playing and doing what was best for the team.

On what he learned and how he grew coming back from the knee injury:

It was a humbling experience. It was definitely humbling, it lets  you know that you are not invincible. Anything can happen to anybody at any given moment. As always it's a gift of God's glory, you praise his name every time you get a chance to and don't be shy about it. He gave me another chance to play, and I'm very happy everyday. I'm happy and blessed to be out here.

On the best two traits that he will bring to an NFL team:

A will to get better, to learn and get better. Just being a leader, lead by my actions. Continue to try to get better and help my team out any way I can.

On what part of his game on the field that he wants to show teams that he can do:

I want to show that I can catch the ball, and be a scat back out of the backfield. I think that I can catch the ball really well, and I like my chances against linebackers. Also I want to show my blocking, I  think I have improved on my blocking and think I can continue to get better with that. And just making people miss, I think I have a good chance one-on-one with defenders.

On the best piece of advice the coaching staff at the Shrine Game has told him:

When you are doing everything, going hard and going fast. Coach tell us everytime go big or go home, and he always tells us we aren't going home so it's time to go big. They just tell us that there are always eyes on you so what you do is what you put on film. You got to try to put the good things on film and that is what we try to do.

Fanspeak's NFL Draft Coverage:

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TE D.C. Jefferson Finishes Strong During Shrine Game Walk-through

January 18, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Thursday was just as walk-through day for both teams so little can be gleaned from the players not in pads, but here are a few observations:

East:

Coach of East Team Jerry Glanville at walk-through.

Coach of East Team Jerry Glanville at walk-through.

TE D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers:

Jefferson made a couple nice catches really showing his 6'6" 250 lbs frame, and the potential it can bring to the next level. He had an acrobatic Hail Mary catch at the end of the East practice that turned a few heads.

QB Collin Klein, Kansas State:

Klein continued to be off target on a number of deeper routes. He did well checking down the ball and not forcing it, but his throwing motion still limits him.

Safety Brandon Bishop, NC State:

Bishop looks good out there in coverage flowing naturally to the ball, and jumping a few routes to knock the ball away.

Cornerback Trey Wilson, Vanderbilt:

Really like the quickness you see out of him, definitely think he could cover slot receivers at the next level. Displays nice instincts and ball skills.

Quarterback Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech:

Not a good day for him throwing the ball he was off target on a number of throws, he had far better practices earlier in the week.

Quarterback Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana:

Stanley looked the best out of the East QB's, he's a big guy with a strong arm. He also has some nice mobility to go along with that size. He still needs to work on his reads and ball placement, but this was a nice final warm-up for him.

West:

Quarterback Matt Scott, Arizona:

Not a strong finish for Scott, he was off target on some throws and threw into coverage on some other ones. They did allow him to run the option some and he looked good doing it so that was a plus.

Tight End Zach Sudfeld, Nevada:

He probably had his best and most consistent practice of the week. He showed good hands making a couple really tough catches. Now there wasn't real blocking so it is impossible to say if he improved in the thing that was bugging him the most earlier in the week. Still it was a nice performance to wrap up the week.

Running back Kerwynn Williams, Utah State:

With no real contact it was easy for him to shine, but Williams took advantage, showcasing big speed and quickness. He's got the explosiveness to be a weapon out of the backfield and that is what he showed.

Wide receiver Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee State:

Amos looked crisp and fast running routes and also made some nice adjustments on balls that were thrown off target. He showed good hands and some nice consistency (which is a problem among a number of receivers).

Wide receiver Keenan Davis, Iowa:

Davis had  another nice practice, one of the best ones at locating the ball and fighting defenders for it. He doesn't have great speed, but has really nice hands and awareness.

CB Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma:

Made one nice play, but got beat bad a couple other times. Despite being a quick guy he would let guys get behind him forcing him to grab jersey and get a penalty rather than get burnt for a TD.

Safety Keelan Johnson, Arizona State:

It's been a bit of a quite week for Johnson, but he had a strong final practice. He showed nice range and was quick to the ball. He broke up a couple passes and looked solid all-around.

Fanspeak's NFL Draft Coverage:

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LB Keith Pough and DL William Campbell Lead the West on Day 3

January 17, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Wednesday East-West Shrine Game West Practice Notes:

Linebacker Keith Pough, Howard:

-Pough might not be the biggest name, but he's had one of the biggest weeks. He had a strong Wed. practice both in coverage and making plays against the run. He is one of the most vocal players on defense, showing quite a bit of leadership. He looks to have sideline-to-sideline speed and has not had any issues handling the jump in talent level.

Linebacker A.J. Klein, Iowa State:

Klein shows good range back there and is a smart defender who seems to be responding to coaching very well. He shows good football IQ and should be able to make it at the next level.

Wide Receiver Jasper Collins, Mount Union:

Another strong day for Collins, he makes a number of tough catches and really shows great quickness getting in and out of his breaks. At times he is a little outclassed, but he comes back strong the next rep.

Quarterback Matt Scott, Arizona:

Rough day for Scott, he was off target on a number of throws. It was easily his worst day and is a strong reminder how raw he is overall. The deep throws were the biggest problem, but he missed on some shorter routes as well.

Defensive Line William Campbell, Michigan:

Good day for Campbell, he consistently is the biggest challenge for opposing offensive linemen, and gains some penetration on every play. Even when he's blocked, he isn't truly stonewalled or driven back. Really looks like a nice disruptor at the next level.

Safety Duke Williams, Nevada:

Williams had a nice day in coverage. He ran well with receivers and did a good job defending the ball. He's not a top tier safety, but he has the whole package of skills that you are looking for, they just might not be as refined or consistent as you'd like.

Safety Zeke Motta, Notre Dame:

Motta continues to make some big time plays, while being consistent throughout the practice. He will make a mistake or two, but rarely is it a major miscue. He doesn't have the best coverage or ball skills but they do appear to be playable.

Safety Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse:

Thomas has gotten better each day in practice. He shows nice range and breaks on the ball quickly. You can see the upside and starting potential despite not having great size.

Safety Bradley McDougald, Kansas:

Really struggled in space and in 1-on-1 drills. He did not look fluid at all, and was late to react to the ball. He did do better in team drills, and showed some impressive closing speed on a couple of plays, but overall it was a poor performance.

Cornerback Terry Hawthorne, Illinois:

Another poor practice for Hawthorne. Bit on the double move big time. He was also unable to reroute receivers and conceded the underneath. His instincts and reactions appeared poor throughout practice.

Cornerback Micah Hyde, Iowa:

Hyde probably had his best practice of the week and really showed up in every format (1-on-1, 7-on-7, full team). He really was good in coverage and stayed stride for stride with some receivers on deep routes.

Cornerback Travis Howard, Ohio State:

The West Offensive Line.

The West Offensive Line.

Howard breaks to the ball well and plays with really good technique. He struggled against some faster receivers, but overall had a solid day.

Offensive line Sam Brenner, Utah:

Brenner had a better day on Wed. though it was still probably below par for what should be expected. He did play with better leverage and wasn't caught reaching nearly as much.

Offensive line Ryan Turnley, Pittsburgh:

Another solid day for Turnley, he didn't concede much ground and was pretty consistent throughout. He never really dominated the line of scrimmage, but he didn't get dominated either.

Wide Receiver Keenan Davis, Iowa:

Davis again looked pretty good, though he did drop one pass that he should have had. Overall though he was quick, and fluid running his routes. In tight coverage he fought hard for the ball and didn't concede it to the defender.

 

Fanspeak's NFL Draft Coverage:

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CB Branden Smith and DL A.J. Francis Lead East Team

January 16, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Here are some quick thoughts from today's morning practice at the East West Shrine Game:

Cornerback Branden Smith, Georgia:

-Smith made a number of nice plays in coverage including a few interceptions. He showed a nice back pedal and broke on the ball well.

Safety Kejuan Riley, Alabama State:

-Riley really shined a couple times today despite not being heralded as much as some of his teammates. He didn't get fooled a couple times on double moves and ran stride for stride with some receivers.

Cornerback Trey Wilson, Vanderbilt:

-Wilson had an all-around good day and is probably one of the better cover guys on this squad. He's fluid in his breaks and looks to have some nice potential going forward.

Defensive Line A.J. Francis, Maryland:

Francis was really quick off the snap and giving a lot of offensive linemen problems. He showed good power and consistently maintained good leverage. It was a strong day for him and definitely something that opened some eyes.

Defensive Line Joe Vellano, Maryland:

-Vellano had another good day, he's not the quickest or biggest guy out there, but he has to be one of the most intense. Even when he "loses" a battle, he makes the offensive lineman do quite a bit of work. He's the type of defensive lineman who will give 100% on every snap. Another point about when he does get blocked, is that I haven't really seen him get dominated off the line. That's not to say that every snap is great, but when he does lose he's not getting completely pushed out of the play or blown off the line.

Quarterback Collin Klein, Kansas State:

East offense at work led by Collin Klein.

East offense at work led by Collin Klein.

-Klein has struggled this week with his touch passing and timing routes, and at least part of the issue can be attributed to the hitch in his throwing motion that seems to mess up the release at times. Klein though has looked really good with his zone read option runs and decision making giving him still some hope to get a shot from a team.

Wide Receiver Brandon Turner, Navy:

Turner has the size at 6'4", 225, and he's got decent speed, but he's not too fluid in his motions. You can also tell that he's not as accustomed at running the full route tree. He probably will need to add some weight and  work at TE to make it at the next level. but he could be an intriguing guy with the position change.

Running back Montel Harris, Temple:

-Harris may be slightly overlooked due to the talent at running back down here, but he's not a guy you can completely forget about. He runs strong and had a couple really nice runs today by finding the hole and showing good burst.

Wide Receiver Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech:

-A lot of focus this week has been on his Hokie teammate Marcus Davis, but Fuller has had a nice time down here as well. He made one really impressive catch along sideline in the end zone where it was over his head and he caught it one handed. He also showed nice deep speed and agility throughout the day.

Check back later for more updates!

Fanspeak's NFL Draft Coverage:

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Quarterback Matt Scott Leads The West Team In Day Two of Practice

January 16, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Here is a full recap of Day Two of the East West Shrine Game for the West Team:

Quarterbacks:

Matt Scott, Arizona:

-Scott has now had two pretty strong practices, but really opened some eyes today. He's got good height and while he's a little thin, he still has a good deep ball, with nice velocity. His touch isn't perfect, but it's good and more than playable. In addition Scott has good athleticism and can be used in more of a running capacity.

Alex Carder, Western Michigan:

-Carder has nice size and a decent deep ball, but he really looks to be nothing more than a practice squad type of guy.

Seth Doege, Texas Tech:

-Doege struggled in practice, and really doesn't look like a prospect  for the next level. He can handle underneath stuff fine (though doesn't have much zip), but struggles outside the numbers or on deeper throws.

Running backs:

Zach Line, SMU:

-Line runs strong and finishes his runs. He has solid agility and speed, but isn't a game breaker in either area. He does look like a bit of a tweener, but there is still a lot to like with him as a late round guy.

Christine Michael, Texas A&M:

-Michael had a really good practice today, continuing to show excellent burst and strong legs. With back-to-back really nice practices, he is looking more like a mid-round (late 3rd-early 5th) prospect, and could likely be at worst a number two back as a rookie.

Kerwynn Williams, Utah State:

-Williams is a bit undersized and doesn't have much of a chance to be an every down back, but he brings great speed and agility to the table. He made some really nice long runs/catches in practice, showing some home run ability. He needs to do a better job of keeping his feet with contact, but still looks like a solid change of pace back for the late rounds.

Tight End:

Joseph Fauria, UCLA:

-Fauria didn't practice this afternoon after getting injured yesterday

Wide Receiver:

Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee State:

-Amos consistently flashes as a solid player in practice, with nice speed and  some short area quickness. He has some upside as a slot receiver, but there are some questions as well. At times he struggled to get off press coverage, and his route running wasn't as smooth as you'd like it to be. His hands were solid, though he did have one that he dropped.

Dan Buckner, Arizona:

-Buckner really uses his size well and once again showed good hands and initial quickness. He adjusts well to the ball in the air and runs pretty crisp routes. He doesn't have a great long speed which may keep him from ever developing into a star, but he can play at this level.

Jasper Collins, Mount Union:

-Collins had a mixed second day. On one hand he showed great speed and quickness, making a number of tough catches. On the flip side he really struggled versus the jam, and got rerouted on some other plays. He has the ideal potential for a slot receiver, but struggling versus the press is a concern and was noticed by more than a few scouts.

Keenan Davis, Iowa:

- Davis had a number of nice catches in traffic, and did a good job getting open. He isn't top level in any one area, and made a few miscues, but overall looks solid.

Offensive Line:

Jeff Baca, UCLA:

-Baca had a nice practice working at both guard and center, he missed a few blocks and got out muscled at times, but he continued to work to get better. He took to coaching tips well, and never gave up on blocks.

Sam Brenner, Utah:

-Brenner struggled throughout practice today. He was caught reaching on multiple occasions and had to be corrected a couple of times. It was a really poor showing overall and definitely a big step back for Brenner, who had been considered a solid late round guy.

Blaize Foltz, TCU:

-Foltz got outmuscled a few times but overall had a strong practice maintaining leverage and finishing blocks. He profiles best as a guard and may work best in a power system.

Ryan Turnley, PITT:

-Turnley has been working at guard and had a really solid all-around day. He struggled at times, but seemed to correct his mistakes. Despite being 6'6" he maintained his leverage for much of the practice. With some tackle work in his history he offers some nice versatility as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:

Josh Boyd, Mississippi State:

-Boyd shows good power and gets off the ball well. He's not elite, but had a really good all-around day getting nice penetration.

William Campbell, Michigan:

-Campbell had another impressive day, giving offensive linemen fits throughout practice and at times living in the backfield. He was very quick off the snap and played with really good leverage. A couple of times he was maybe a bit out of control, but the West offensive linemen weren't able to take advantage. Campbell flashed a lot of potential with this practice, and with the right coach/system could be very effective at the next level.

Wes Horton, USC:

-Horton was the best edge rusher of the group and got a lot of penetration throughout the practice. He works best as a 4-3 defensive end, and has really impressive length/speed combo.

Travis Johnson, San Jose State:

-Johnson had a good practice, particularly when asked to rush the quarterback. He's not a good run defender and really needs to move to an outside backer/situational role.

Linebacker:

A.J. Klein, Iowa State:

-Klein showed good instincts and filled the hole well throughout the practice. In coverage at times he lost his man but did well overall.

Keith Pough, Howard:

-Another solid day from Pough, he shows good leadership/work ethic and continues to make some nice plays out in the field. Not a star, but looking like a good late round guy.

Cornerback:

Terry Hawthorne, Illinois:

Hawthorne had a couple really nice plays, but overall struggled. He was getting beat deep too many times and struggled to adjust to the ball. His awareness was a continuing problem today, and really hurting his draft stock. His back peddle looks to be a little sloppy and he's not flipping his hips as quickly as you'd expect.

Travis Howard, Ohio State:

-Good all-around practice, constantly challenged receivers and played the ball really well in the air. He was pretty smooth and fluid in his back peddle and breaks.

Safety:

Zeke Motta, Notre Dame:

-Solid day overall, needs to do a better job of locating the football. He positions himself well, but would have had some more big plays if he would turn and look for the ball earlier (or at all). That being said he did well against the run, and did make one big play in coverage.

Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse:

-Thomas had a nice day, flashing good instincts to go along with his impressive athletic ability. His range was very impressive as was his ability to diagnose the run.

Duke Williams, Nevada:

-Williams had a solid day making a couple really nice plays in coverage. He broke on a couple of passes really well reading the quarterback the whole way. He's got nice range and good size overall.

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RB Ray Graham and WR Emory Blake Have Good Day 2 Practices

January 15, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

East Team Practice Day 2 from The East-West Shrine Game

Running back Ray Graham, Pittsburgh:

-Graham really showed well today for the East team. He proved that he was fully healthy with a number of very nice runs that showed off his agility and speed. He did a good job finding the hole and making people miss to get extra yards. Graham also caught the ball extremely well out of the backfield, showing he could be a viable 3rd down back at the next level.

Wide Receiver Emory Blake, Auburn:

-Blake showed the best of a very talented receiving group for the East squad. He came up with big catch after big catch, showcasing very good hands. He got in and out of his breaks well and showed some polish as a route runner. It was a very strong all-around practice and one that should help propel him up draft boards.

Wide Receiver Trent Steelman, Army:

-Steelman was an option quarterback at West Point, but came to the Shrine Game as a wide receiver. Despite being new to the position, Steelman had a really nice day catching the football making a number of nice receptions. Even one that he may have been called for a push off on, was a very nice reception along the sideline where he had to make adjustment to the ball. Steelman also got some looks as an option quarterback in practice as well. Steelman also impressed with his work ethic as he even worked on being a long snapper, after the linemen doing the job kept struggling. He won't do that at the next level, but his willingness to do anything and succeed at it will be noticed among scouts.

Tight end D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers:

-Jefferson showcased a really nice frame and good hands as a receiver. He also won some key battles in full scrimmage drills opening up some really nice running lanes. He should definitely draw some interest as a number 2 TE in the late rounds of the draft.

Safety Cooper Taylor, Richmond:

-Taylor is as big as most linebackers here, but ran well enough to think that he can stay at safety. He has a nice back peddle and is fluid enough in his turn. He showed some really good instincts in 7-on-7's and 1-on-2 drills, and was complimented by the coaching staff for being in proper position multiple times. Had full hitting been allowed, it is clear he would have made some impact plays.

Cornerback Brandon McGee, Miami:

-McGee had one of the best all-around practices today, showed really good coverage ability and played the ball extremely well in the air, coming down with a couple interceptions. He rarely got fooled and was probably the toughest defensive back for receivers to face. He also really showed good short area quickness, which could make him very effective in the slot.

Defensive Line Izaan Cross, Georgia Tech:

-Cross started out a little slow in practice, but as the day wore on he improved greatly. During the scrimmage portion at the end of practice he made some really nice plays, getting into the backfield for sure stops.

Defensive Line Joe Vellano, Maryland:

-Vellano was among the quickest linemen (on either side) off the ball, which allowed him to get good leverage on a number of plays. Didn't make many flashy plays, but he played smart filling holes and slowing down the run quite a few times. In one-on-one drills he had a couple of really nice sessions showing good power.

Check back later as I have a full-recap of today's practices!

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Running Backs Christine Michael and Zach Line Shine at West Practice

January 15, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

Here are my observations from Day 1 at the East West Shrine Game:

Running Back Christine Michael, Texas A&M-

-Running backs is typically one of the toughest positions to judge in practice, particularly when they are just wearing helmets and shells, but Michael the Texas A&M product looked solid. He ran tough and showed good change of direction ability and long speed. His work ethic throughout practice will surely catch the eye of NFL scouts as, will his continuously wanting to get better with each opportunity.

Running back Zach Line, SMU:

-Line is generally seen as a fullback at the next level, but he's making a strong case to get some carries in the NFL. He has 3,996 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns over his last three seasons. He's also shown solid production catching the ball out of the backfield in his career. At practice, Line ran hard and caught the ball well in individual drills. At times he ran too high, but for the most part kept his pads low running with good vision. He may still work as a fullback in the NFL, but he should have his fair share of offensive touches.

Quarterback Matt Scott, Arizona:

-The Arizona product was the top quarterback on the West roster today. He showed nice touch on some throws outside the numbers, or deeper down the field. Scott also was pretty accurate underneath as well. He missed on some timing routes, but that is completely forgivable given that it is the first day of practice and Scott was working with new receivers.

Quarterback Alex Carder, Western Michigan:

-Carder displayed perhaps the strongest arm at practice, throwing a couple really nice deep balls. He did have some accuracy issues, but did show some late-round/UDFA potential overall.

Wide Receiver Dan Buckner, Arizona:

-Buckner at 6'4" 211 lbs has the best size of any receiver on the West. He showed a good short area game and an ability to out muscle defenders for the ball. He lacks great speed, but has good hands and ran most of his routes very cleanly today.

Wide Receiver Jasper Collins, Mount Union:

-Collins may be a Division III receiver but he didn't act like it during practice. He made a number of nice catches in traffic showcasing very nice route running and hands. His speed and quickness also stood out and he profiles very well as a slot receiver at the next level.

Wide Receiver Amos Anthony, Middle Tennessee State:

-Anthony had perhaps the best practice of any offensive player. He really showed great hands and route running ability. He did a good job getting by one-on-one coverage, and used his body well to shield defenders from making an attempt on it. Add in impressive speed and he really looks like a receiver who could get some interesting mid-round attention.

Tight End Joseph Fauria, UCLA:

-Fauria looked good in one-on-one drills and seven-on-seven, making a couple really nice catches. One he dove out for showing nice hands and good concentration. Unfortunately he suffered an injury that forced him from practice early.

Defensive Lineman William Campbell, Michigan:

-Campbell had a good all-around practice, but really distinguished himself during the scrimmage at the end. He got off the ball really quickly, causing him to get deep penetration on a number of plays that would have surely resulted in sacks or tackles for a loss. Campbell has a good frame and displays some really nice power.

Linebacker Keith Pough, Howard:

Pough was a vocal leader on the sideline and showed a strong work ethic. When given opportunities he showed good awareness, and decent speed. Coming from a smaller school he still has questions to answer, but it was a good first day for him.

Cornerback Terry Hawthorne Illinois:

It was an up-and-down practice for Hawthorne as in seven-on-sevens he had a couple really nice plays, including breaking for the ball on one and using his good length to break-up the pass. During the scrimmage though he struggled when asked to turn and run versus some of the quicker receivers. Though he was far from fluid on those plays the biggest issue appeared to be a delayed reaction time to seeing that the receiver was going deep.

Safety Zeke Motta, Notre Dame:

-Motta had a really solid all-around practice, showing up well both in seven-on-sevens and full team scrimmage. He was his best when he could play up on the line and reroute tightends or get off blocks to go after the ball carrier.

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