The weather was once again in the 50’s but the rain was not as heavy and wind gusts were minimal at the historic Rose Bowl.
The National team had a crisp session and made it through the first part rather dry until the rain kicked in. There was lots of exciting play today, especially during the scrimmage portion of practice, here are some of the top performers:
Northern Arizona WR Emmanuel Butler (6030/220) has emerged as one of the top prospects in attendance with back-to-back strong practice performances. He can play above the rim, showcasing the ability to come down with contested balls but also the body control to box out defenders in order to make the catch. Butler is a natural hands catcher and has been making tremendous plucks. His frame and athleticism should earn him strong Day 3 consideration.
Kansas WR Steve Sims Jr. (5090/176) has earned the respect of opposing cornerbacks in just a short period of time. A big Day 1 performance, which included several deep ball catches commanded the respect of defenders today. Cover men were allowing as much as eight-yards cushion during one-on-ones in fear of getting beat deep. Sims Jr. is your prototypical slot receiver who can also serve as PR.
San Diego OT Daniel Cooney (6084/314) is mammoth and the tallest player here. It’s only natural that he appears to get stood upright due to his height and his flexibility is limited but the strength he possesses is rare. Cooney has an arm jab stronger than George Foreman and can dispose of 300-pound lineman with a simple one-arm push. He projects as a practice squad candidate who is worth developing.
CSU-Pueblo CB Darius Williams (5106/197) is a physical press corner who went toe-to-toe with the aforementioned Butler and won on more than one occasion, using an aggressive style of play to jam him up at the line of scrimmage. His draft stock is certainly trending in the right direction and is a name worth storing in the memory bank for pro day season. He compares to Cre'Von LeBlanc (Eagles).
The American team came out with pads today, highlighted by the trench warfare session between the big uglies. Coach Chuck Pagano seemed to get more involved, especially on defense. Here are some risers from today’s practice session:
Baylor QB Jalan McClendon (6043/215) has emerged as one quarterback moving up draft boards this week, as he has showed off his cannon arm and made a slew of nice throws. He found UAB WR Xavier Ubosi (6026/209) running a twenty-yard crossing pattern with a bullet. McClendon possesses great size and poise in the pocket, along with impressive arm velocity. He met with a dozen teams on day one and that number is sure to increase after today. Scouts have been impressed with his acumen and football IQ during interviews.
Colorado State WR Olabisi Johnson (6004/200) has turned heads and impressed many with his overall game. A natural athlete and smooth route runner, Johnson has made several nice catches through the first two days. With a strong combine and/or pro day showing, it’s possible that he can parlay this momentum into hearing his name called on Day 3 of the draft.
Marian TE Brandon Dillon (6034/247) did his best Big John Stud impersonation, as he clobbered LSU SS John Battle (6003/207) with a straight stiff arm that pummeled him to the ground. On another play he did an excellent job of making a chip block and then proceeded to find the open seam in the defense and make the catch. While his timed-speed will come into question, his yards after the catch ability is exciting.
Troy DT Trevon Sanders (6020/327) absorbs double teams and eats up space, clogging up the run lanes. He is very stout at the point of attack upon contact and showed the ability to disengage and make a play. He’s a big-time factor stuffing the run due to his high motor and athleticism. The battle of the day featured Sanders matched up against Youngstown State C Vitas Hrynkiewicz (6040/300), as they locked heads on several occasions both during one-on-ones and in scrimmage. The result, a draw.
NEWS & NOTES
NFL teams want to get to know UAB DE Jamell Garcia-Williams (6072/249), who stated that he has met with over 20 teams thus far.
Indiana OT Brandon Knight (6036/311) hobbled off the field with a leg injury, which appeared to be to his right knee and did not return to action.
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