Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
The first day is all about the QBs, WRs, TEs, and DBs.
The North QBs are Zac Dysert, Ryan Nassib, and Mike Glennon. All three are widely seen as potential first round talents, but that was not very evident today.
Nassib from Syracuse is the shortest of the three but throws the most consistent tight spiral with velocity. His mechanics are the most consistent as well, with a good weight transfer and quick shoulder. The biggest issue for Nassib is throwing the ball to the right spot at the right time. He was a count late several times and missed some marks, generally outside. Some of that is clearly attributable to being the first day working with these receivers, but it bears watching.
Glennon is just head-pounding frustrating to evaluate. I genuinely see why people like him so much; his height is fantastic and when he uses proper lower body mechanics his throws are excellent with great pace and a catchable tilt. He showed the ability to rifle the ball outside the numbers as well. But his mechanics are inconsistent, something that plagued him at NC State. When he hits the top of his drop he tends to let his back foot go flat, which throws off the timing of his body and weight transfer. He threw an INT today that was a textbook example of this as it causes the ball to sail high and puts too much torque on his elbow. He doesn’t always have great rhythm to his feet and shoulder either. He threw an absolute duck on one rep but then followed it with a laser strike on the exact same route. They did a rollout drill at the end of practice where he was perfect one rep but would fail to rotate his hips and get his feet too close on the next. From that standpoint he reminds me a lot of Christian Ponder, who is a very good QB when he practices proper fundamentals but a train wreck dumpster fire when he doesn’t.
Dysert really struggled on the first day. In the dropback drill he tends to let his back foot slide too far back, which throws off his coordination. His throwing motion is much more arm-heavy, which leads to more shoulder and elbow torque and potential for breakdown. He made a lot of reactive throws instead of anticipatory throws today, a terrible sin for NFL QBs. Again, it’s the first day of practice with unfamiliar receivers in a new offense, but when the pattern is a simple 8-yard out there’s not a lot of reason to hold the ball until the receiver is open. Dysert did that twice, and both got picked. He really struggled mechanically when rolling out, particularly to his left. On one instance he tripped over his own feet and tumbled to the ground. He was very late to deliver the ball on the rollout end zone drill, as if processing the information a little too slowly. This is correctable and I hope I see improvement as the week progresses.
I kept a tally in my notes of “What the F***” throw from the QBs: Dysert 6, Glennon 5, Nassib 3. And I was generally being nice because it’s the first day. Take these guys in the top 40 at your peril. Heck, based on today and selective film study take any of these guys in the top 100 at your peril.
The WR vs. DB battle are always intriguing and this was no exception.
Oregon State CB Jordan Poyer thrived in the jam session, locking up Marquise Goodwin and Aaron Dobson and completely nullifying them form the routes.
The best wideout during the jam drill was Kansas State’s Chris Harper, who quickly shed hands from all combatants and quickly got into his route. I have several positive remarks about Harper in my notes from today, including a strong block on Poyer in 11s drills that opened a sideline crease. He caught every ball with all hands and only hands, while showing crisp breaks and a nice outside burst after the cut.
Texas WR Marquise Goodwin is smallish but man can he flat-out fly. Desmond Trufant whiffed a bit on the jam (he went too high) and Goodwin was 10 yards down the field before Trufant was completely turned around in chase mode. Early in practice they ran an end around to Goodwin and he looked like Tyson Gay sprinting with the ball. As I Tweeted from the sideline, he is my pick for fastest man at the Combine. He’s certainly the fastest at the 100. He’s not soft, however; he uses his hands nicely to shed the jam and has a subtle forearm push-off move down the field. He does really gear down to make his lateral cuts, something readily evident to anyone who watched the Longhorns last fall.
Elon WR Aaron Mellette had a mixed bag of a day. He really struggled to get off press coverage but made a couple of very nice, difficult catches. He has very smooth body control and strong hands, but there is very little suddenness to his motion.
Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton has very quick feet. I wrote that in my notes three times. He beautifully sold an inside fake with a quick step and shoulder turn before sharply breaking it outside and torching Utah State CB Will Davis, who looked a step slow and tight in the hips all day. Wheaton made a nice one-step out cut and turned it up to catch a deep throw with a nice highpoint jump late in practice.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson of UConn is a corner that I like more than most heading here, and he solidified that today on the field. He was very tough in jam, not letting Mellette get three yards up the field and showing good quick footwork to mirror the receiver when he danced at the line. He also got a pick on Dysert with a great jam on Wheaton on an out where Dysert never should have thrown it. One negative was that he was very easily blocked against the run, the one thing that Marshall WR Aaron Dobson did well today. Scratch that, I also found in my Dobson notes “made a very sharp corner break”.
USC safety TJ McDonald looks great in his pads, but in watching the agility drills he was consistently way too high in his backpedal and required an extra step to break laterally. He committed a hold when covering Mellette out of the slot and got torched on a seam route by Western Kentucky TE Jack Doyle, who was faster than advertised.
San Jose State TE Ryan Otten is built more like a supersized receiver than TE and not overly quick, but once he gets a couple of steps he has sneaky speed. He uses his shoulders and feet well when running routes and can quickly adjust to a poor throw. He got down the seam quickly on a rep in 11s but Dysert wildly misfired high and behind him.
Colorado TE Nick Kasa had a couple of passes that got into his thigh pads and dropped another low throw. He’s not unathletic at all, but he really struggled when the ball wasn’t at his chest or above. He is definitely the lithest of the tight ends in the open field.
Denard Robinson is certainly a wild card. He was grouped with the receivers but donned a yellow non-contact QB jersey all day. Fielding punts was a great misadventure for Robinson, as he mangled four of them and failed to catch another which drew the ire of the special teams coach. He looked pretty crisp in running routes and has nice footwork along the sidelines. He really needs to learn how to look the ball all the way into his hands, but that will come with increases repetition.
The Raiders coaching staff worked for quite a while with the quarterbacks on designed rollouts. Given that their incumbent QB is Carson Palmer and he has the mobility of a Pontiac Parisienne with snow tires, it makes me wonder if they’re going to look at a QB change.
I wasn’t really focused on the line play, but Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher completely dominated every rep I watch. There are some pretty good tackles here but he is head and shoulders above the rest.
SMU DE Margus Hunt was the one player that all the other players approached as they trickled onto the field. He is charismatic and definitely well-respected by his peers. In what limited action I saw he was very tall in run defense and gave up the backside contain badly. I also noted that a great deal of his height is in his upper body. He stands 6’8” but his waist is almost dead even with guys 3 and 4 inches shorter. I worry this leaves him susceptible to back problems and anchor strength issues.
This place is a total sausage fest. I counted exactly two females in attendance today, with at least 500 men in Ladd Peebles stadium. Let’s hope the Mobile bar scene is a much more favorable ratio!