Shrine Game Notebook: West Squad Day One

January 14th, 2013

The draft stock strength of the West roster is the secondary, which has several players who will likely come off the board in the 4th and 5th rounds. The Lions had a scout in attendance who was rapt with attention on this position group.

UCLA has two corners here, Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price. Both are 6’2” and similarly built athletically, though Hester is 10 pounds heavier. Hester looked a little more fluid in drills, but Price played better in the 11s drill, nicely anticipating a bounce cut by the runner and also steering a wideout to his inside help. Hester stayed too wide on a similar route situation and his coach let him know about it.

Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame: Motta needs a good week to wash the bad taste of his BCS Championship game away, but he is not off to a strong start. It’s frustrating because he very much looks the part at 6’3” and 215 pounds and offered some glimpses of excellent downhill closing ability in 11s. But in agility drills he frequently took an extra half-step to change direction, and his shuffle was very high. As a volleyball player I really watch with great interest how DBs shuffle step, because that’s an integral athletic skill to both sports. Motta is too upright and doesn’t get his feet far enough up off the ground, which leaves him vulnerable to the turf monster. Sure enough, in the next drill the turf monster got Motta and sent him tumbling as he tried to break outside. In that same drill he was chastised by the coach for staring into the backfield instead of flowing to the mythical receiver.

Bradley McDougal, S, Kansas: If you’re looking for a playmaker at safety McDougal is not your man. He dropped just about every ball he touched, including one that bounced off his hands, into his facemask, back to his hands, and then off his knee. He did make a very good read on a draw play and closed quickly, and in the special teams drill he would have blocked a punt if the punter had actually kicked it.

Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois: Two things stand out about Hawthorne–he’s got real long arms for a 6’1” guy and he’s very smooth and fluid of movement. His initial quickness and breaks are very good. He didn’t show great instincts in 11s, however, getting lost in the wash on a crossing route and being a little slow to react on another.

Jahleel Addae, S, Central Michigan: I was surprised to see Addae listed at just 5’11” and 200 pounds because he looks bigger than that in person. Maybe it’s the hair, of which he’s got a lot. The turf monster got Addae on one rep, but he made a very good grab on a ball behind him that showed he can catch with his hands. It matters not to his safety skills, but he also rifled a ball back to the coach with a spiral and velocity that were better than a lot of QBs.

Ohio State CB Travis Howard was the most explosive athlete of the bunch, and I cannot emphasize the word “explosive” enough. He is electric out of breaks, able to hit top speed right away and very fluid with his hips. These drills play well to his skills, as he seldom showed much physicality at Ohio State and wasn’t asked to today other a couple of reps in jam drills where he was more interested in dropping back than jamming. His reaction speed and quickness really stand out though, and he will be a draft board riser for a heavy zone coverage team.

Duke Williams, S, Nevada: Williams is very weight-room strong with a physique of a power lifter. He also showed he can really jump to get to a ball, although he couldn’t secure the INT. Williams is straight-line fast but wasn’t the quickest guy in shuffling. He was praised by the coaches for getting the proper depth on a drill where they had to break to the sideline and make an INT one rep after Addae failed to do so.

Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech: My biggest knock on Davis heading here is that he often comes to a stop when changing from backwards to forward, and sure enough it happened here too. It’s strange because he moves laterally pretty well. Davis made a nice catch at his knees while just completing a turn.

Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse: Thomas is more compactly built than the other safeties, and he was also stiffer in agility drills than most. He needed an extra step to burst out of his shuffle step. He was guilty of a hold on Idaho State TE Josh Hill in 11s drills. It was not his best day.

Oklahoma CB Demontre Hurst made an outstanding interception in individual drills, reaching over his head with one arm while at full extension on his leap and cradling the ball into his elbow before crashing to the ground and rolling right up. He looked very at home in the jam drill.

Also faring well in the jam session was Nevada CB Khalid Wooten, who really jolted the faux receiver (another DB) and then burst back in a controlled pedal to grab a pick.

General Notes:
Arizona State P Josh Hubner had the line of the day. As I mentioned above, William Campbell was awful at long snapping. It forced Hubner to do all sorts of moves to catch the ball and get punts off. As he wandered to the sideline he told a teammate “some of them I was Derek Jeter, then I had to be Tyson Chandler”. Funny and poignantly accurate. When Hubner did get to kick he boomed balls that would hit the bottom of the scoreboard at JerryWorld.

I didn’t focus on the LBs but in 11s Virginia’s Steve Greer showed leadership and quick play recognition. Iowa State’s AJ Klein looked beefier in person than on film.

Eastern Kentucky WR Tyrone Goard is very long and lanky at 6’4” and 196. He’s quick off the line though, and he eats up cushion rapidly. To his credit he was not afraid to ask the position coach for extra guidance on where the route needed to be run and how to position his arms pre-snap. I like his willingness to learn and get better. Now hit the weight room young man!

When driving back to the base hotel, I pulled up alongside a car in which Packers GM Ted Thompson was the passenger. I like my music loud and proud and had some Finnish folk metal (Turisas for those who care) cranked and the windows down. I’m pretty sure Thompson flipped me off and said nasty things about me as we pulled away from the light. If it’s too loud you’re too old, Mr. Thompson…

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