Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
I started the day watching DB drills before moving to some OL/DL reps, and then full 11s. I also caught some QB/WR work in a red zone drill as special teams engulfed the rest of the field.
Richmond safety Cooper Taylor wears #1 and it’s fitting, because he is the best safety in St. Pete. I’m not going to beat the dead horse here but it’s readily evident in both positional drills and when the squads went to 11-on-11. His burst for a safety of his size is great, and his positional awareness is above average.
Georgia CB Branden Smith had an excellent morning session. He picked off two passes, including a great highpoint catch along the sideline. Closing speed with the ball in the air is his calling card, and he left his mark today.
NC State safety Earl Wolff received praise from the coaches on more than one occasion. He was lauded for a rip move after a catch and getting the proper depth in a zone drop. In 11s he closed quickly on an outside run and was in control to make the tackle.
Georgia Tech CB Rod Sweeting was on the other end of the practice spectrum. He struggled to grasp the correct assignment in zone, and he allowed a catch in 11s when he was slow to make his break.
Alabama State safety Kejuan Riley looked better today than he has earlier in the week, as if he is more self-assured. He was definitely more adept at filling vs. the run, though his pad level remains too high.
Miami CB Brandon McGee proved a quick study. He got beaten inside on a rep for a completion, but on the next rep he correctly positioned himself and showed fluidity to shut it down.
Purdue CB Josh Johnson dropped an easy INT in a drill, and he was visibly slower making his break than McGee when doing the same drill side by side. Johnson did fare better in actual competition, though he did not show good awareness on a deep ball thrown to Marcus Davis. On that same play Clemson safety Rashard Hall got torched over the top and was slow to turn and chase.
Things got very spirited in this drill, which also included the LBs. There were several near-fights and lots of pushing and extra-curricular activity on almost every rep.
JMU guard Earl Watford was at the epicenter of much of the fisticuffs. He is the type of person who does not handle defeat well, and he lashed out at GT DT Izaan Cross when Cross got leverage on him and turned Watford back into the ballcarrier’s way. He did make an excellent seal block on Florida State DT Anthony McCloud, who has about one step of range but excellent stoutness in the middle.
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor blew up the first two plays in 11s drills. On the first he cruised around LT Terron Armstead and scared the QB into a bad throw. On the next he successfully leveraged inside and disengaged with a quick arm rip to get to the ball.
David Bass from Missouri Western continues to impress, though today was not as dynamic as earlier this week. He got washed out on a run on a nice down block from Matt Sewell. Sewell had a better showing today.
Rutgers T RJ Dill is another guy who does not take defeat well. A rep after Princeton DE Matt Catapano (continuing his great week) beat him with a nice power move, Dill sought him out after the play, running a good 10 yards down the field to get a lick in. Catapano had a great reaction, and he showed once again he’s exceptional with his timing and squaring up on twists and stunts.
UMass lineman Nick Speller had a better day, and did so playing left tackle instead of his usual right side. He showed good hips and knees and punch power, though he did tear Devin Taylor’s jersey on a hold.
Virginia Tech WR Marcus Davis continues to scuttle his own draft stock with poor play and making excuses. On one red zone rep he missed a tough throw and blamed the sun…which was to his back. Teammate Corey Fuller made a couple of very nice catches with extended arms that showed the strength in his hands.
New Mexico TE Lucas Reed made an excellent catch in traffic and showed the ability to transition from receiver to runner quickly. He nailed New Hampshire LB Josh Evans on a run block. Evans is the least impressive linebacker here, and it’s not a good LB group in general.
I have more notes but my laptop battery is dying, so look for more in-depth East reports tomorrow.