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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!

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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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East Roster Preview – Collin Klein Leads East

January 14, 2013 in 2013 East-West Shrine Game

I already previewed the Shrine Game's West Roster and players to watch this week at the East-West Shrine Game. Here are the top players on the East Roster to watch:

Collin Klein East Roster Preview - 2013 Shrine Game

Kansas State QB Collin Klein will be leading the 2013 Shrine Game's East Roster

Quarterback Collin Klein, Kansas State:

Klein was in the Heisman race and had Kansas State in the top 5 this year as an option quarterback. He displays good leadership and work ethic to go along with his good size and strong running ability. Serious questions remain about his passing ability, particularly his throwing motion. He can answer some of the questions this week in a pro-style system. Even though he doesn't project as a good passer, he should get a look as a specialty type of player, given that more NFL teams are doing read-option packages with their quarterbacks.

Running Back Ray Graham, Pitt:

Graham was one the nation's leading rushers in 2011 until he blew out his knee. He came back this past season and wasn't as explosive, but displayed good agility and quickness. He can still be an effective weapon out of the backfield but no longer should be considered a featured back option. Expect to him to go off the board in the 4th round.

Wide Receiver Rodney Smith, FSU:

Smith under performed at Florida State this past season, but flashed the ability to be a quality receiver at the next level. With a 6'5 frame and excellent jumping ability, he could be a major red zone weapon. He will probably gain interest in the 5th or 6th round in the NFL Draft.

Wide Receiver Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech:

Davis has an excellent size-speed combo and the agility to play out of the slot as well. Davis has big play ability and can stretch the defense, but there are question marks surrounding his route running and consistency. His upside and his athleticism should have him going off the board in the 4th or 5th round.

Running Back Zach Stacy, Vanderbilt:

Stacy is a short, compact running back with good speed and explosiveness. He's a decisive running back who hits the hole hard, and has a quick cutting ability to change directions. He can also be a weapon used out of the backfield, and a guy you want to get in open space. He should be an interesting 4th or 5th round selection.

Cornerback Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech:

Sweeting is a fluid 6 foot cornerback with good length and starting potential. He can inconsistent in coverage but flashes good playmaking ability and is a sure tackler.

Defensive Lineman Devin Taylor, South Carolina:

Taylor never became the dominant edge rusher that many expected in college, but still had an overall productive college career. He's got great length and should be a solid base end in a 4-3 system. He's strong against the run and can still get some pressure on the quarterback.

Defensive Lineman Joe Vellano, Maryland:

Vellano is a lunch-pail type of defensive lineman, who occupies blockers and plays the run well. He's not great in any single area, but he plays at high level and always seems to be around the ball. He fits best as a 5-technique in a 3-4 system. He should be a 4th-5th round selection.

Linebacker Gerald Hodges, Penn State:

Hodges projects best as a 4-3 strong side linebacker, but could also project inside in a 3-4 system. He's strong against the run and has been good in pass coverage. He's not a great pass rusher and will be limited if asked to blitz a lot.

Linebacker Lerentee McCray, Florida:

McCray projects well in a 3-4 system as a rush linebacker and has upside to get after the quarterback. He was inconsistent some in college, but had a strong senior year campaign that should make NFL teams take notice. He does have question marks in coverage ability and has not be a strong run stopper in his career.

Safety Josh Evans, Florida:

Evans is a multi-year starter at Florida and has been a good in-the-box type strong safety. He struggles some in deep coverage but has been good against tight ends and running backs. Evans is hurt by a deep safety class, but could be a good value pick for a team late in the draft.

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Defensive End Rankings

December 7, 2012 in Defensive Player Rankings

Defensive End Rankings | 2013 NFL Draft Updated: April 12:

1. Bjoern Werner, FSU          

2. Dion Jordan, Oregon              

3. Ziggy Ansah, BYU

4. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

5. Datone Jones, UCLA

6. Alex Okafor, Texas

7. Margus Hunt, SMU

8. John Simon, Ohio State

9. Cornellius Carradine, FSU

10. Sam Montgomery, LSU

11. Malliciah Goodman, Clemson

12. Corey Lemonier, Auburn

13. Devin Taylor, South Carolina

14. Lavar Edwards, LSU

15. William Gholston, Michigan State

16. David Bass, Missouri Western State

17. Wes Horton, USC

18. Meshak Williams, Kansas State

19. Walter Stewart, Cincinnati

20. Michael Buchanan, Illinois

21. Scott Vallone, Rutgers

22. Stansly Maponga, TCU

23. Joe Kruger, Utah

24. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky

25. Eric Martin, Nebraska

26. Tremayne Scott, Ohio


*Note:  Most of these prospects are versatile enough to stand-up in a 3-4 defense, and some of the bigger ends would kick inside in a 4-man front.

Another very deep position group, with both impact talent and good later round depth. As noted many of these guys will be drafted as either rush linebackers in 3-4 schemes, so while the actual distinction can get confusing, one thing is clear throughout this class and that is that they can rush the passer. There are a number of impact rushers in this draft class, and while many of them will be off the board in the top two rounds, there are some intriguing later round options as well.




Archived Mock Draft: Round 4

December 3, 2012 in Mock Drafts

Archived Mock Draft: Round 4

*Please Note: You're looking at an archived post! Visit our 2013 NFL Draft Headquarters for our most up-to-date mock drafts .

94. Kansas City- WR Aaron Dobson, Marshall

95. Jacksonville- LB Nico Johnson, Alabama

96. Carolina- S Shawn Williams, Georgia

97. Oakland- RB Mike Gillislee, Florida

98. Philadelphia- WR Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas

99. Cleveland-  RB Ray Graham, Pitt

100. San Diego- QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma

101. Buffalo- LB Sean Porter, Texas A&M

102. Jets- OL Alvin Bailey, Arkansas

103. Tennessee- S/CB D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

104. Arizona- WR Denard Robinson, Michigan

105. Vikings (via Detroit)- RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA

106. St. Louis- LB Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi

107. Miami- LB Jelani Jenkins, Florida

108. Washington- OT Rick Wagner, Wisconsin

109. New Orleans- DT Jordan Hill, Penn State

110. Dallas- TE Dion Sims, Michigan State

111. Cincinnati- S Zeke Motta, Notre Dame

112. Tampa- WR Stedman Bailey, WVU

113. Seattle- LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State

114. Pittsburgh- CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State

115. Minnesota- OT Brian Winters, Kent State

116. Indianapolis- CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State

117. New York Giants- WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

118. Green Bay- DL Joe Vellano, Maryland

119. Denver- C Braxton Cave, Notre Dame

120. Tampa (via New England)- S Rashard Hall, Clemson

121. Chicago- OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia tech

122. San Francisco- LB Kiko Alonso, Oregon

123-Baltimore- LB Kevin Reddick, UNC

124.Atlanta- OL Xavier Nixon, Florida

125. Houston- TE Joseph Fauria, UCLA