Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Once again the pacing and scout-friendly portions of the session were brutal, but there was some sights to see.
South Dakota LB Tyler Starr had himself quite an afternoon. Earlier this week I wrote that he was the best athlete of the West LBs and he proved that again. He undercut a route and nearly came up with a diving interception on one rep. On the very next rep, he mirroredWashington QB Keith Price as Price scrambled away from inside pressure. Price opted to try and flip the ball past him, but Starr reached out and made a strong INT. On the very next rep he quickly sniffed out a run and exploded past the blocking to nail the runner with a big thump.
Starr has proven himself to be rangy, smart, and athletic. There’s a lot to like from the small school Starr. Okay, I know that was cheesy…
Keith Price is not a NFL-caliber quarterback. Here’s the last thing I will say:
Keith Price just took a long wind up to spike the ball in a 2-minute drill vs. air.
— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) January 15, 2014
I did see more to like from Keith Wenning today. The Ball State QB has a bit of a long delivery but he has excellent velocity. The accuracy is inconsistent, but he can really gun the ball into tight windows and isn’t afraid to do so. But he has a lot of Jake Locker moments too, where you can tell he has no idea where his throw is going from the second it leaves his hand.
Colorado State OLB Shaquil Barrett has real value for teams that like to draw holding penalties, because he was held on just about every rep. When the West coaches moved him to rush end, he demonstrated he had enough power to fend off the tackle but also showed he could take the edge and flatten a little. When I talked to him after practice and brought up pass rushing his eyes lit up and he stood a little taller. He needs to drop a few pounds but I like him as an early Day Three prospect who can play base SAM and move to pass rushing in nickel packages.
Bernard Reedy, the diminutive wideout from Toledo, was the most dynamic offensive weapon today. He had a few balls get to his pads, but he caught everything thrown his way except one pass that hit his back shoulder on a crossing route. What impresses is his ability after the catch. He did an ankle-breaker move on Oregon State CB Rashaad Reynolds that would make Tim Hardaway proud, and Reedy gets vertical quickly unlike some smaller receivers. He was crisper with his feet than Pitt State’s John Brown today.
San Jose State wideout Chandler Jones also impressed. He exudes smoothness in everything he does, just a polished athlete with a good sense of the game. He made a tough contested catch in traffic by attacking the ball with extended hands, then quickly pivoted outside and broke away from SJSU teammate Bene Benwikere. He followed that with a sliding catch in front of BYU safety Daniel Sorenson, who was around the ball a lot in team drills.
Houston punter Richie Leone was either really awesome or really bad, with no in between. When he’s on, his leg is as good as any NFL punter.
Virginia Tech DT Derrick Hopkins struggled this afternoon. There’s not a lot of subtlety to his game; he’s going to try to go through the offensive lineman right in front of him. Stanford C Khalil Wilkes was able to neutralize him by putting his hands strongly on the top of Wilkes’ shoulders as he tried to bulldoze forward. Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard one-upped Wilkes by pulling the chair on Hopkins when he leaned out too far, then belly-flopped on top of him.
USC tackle Kevin Graf was more aggressive than he has been in the other practices. He wore it well. Earlier I had pegged him as a catching-style blocker, but today he fired out and consistently attacked the inside shoulder of the pass rusher as instructed. He really torqued UCLA DE Cassius Marsh on a rep, staying square and pushing him over. Marsh left with an undisclosed injury after one more rep though he did make it back on the field. Graf has the biggest upper arms of any player in St. Pete.
Fresno State G Austin Wentworth showed good balance and the ability to sit in his stance. I noted he was quite adept at sliding to the inside and driving the pile to his right.
Louisiana Tech DT Justin Ellis continues to impress. He’s a real handful, not very quick but not slow, and there is a difference. He’s got a polished and powerful shoulder rip and also does a great job of protecting his chest as a target. The position coach loved that he always has his head up, something that is not true of Wisconsin’s Beau Allen.
I was hoping to see something noteworthy from Pitt State LB Nate Dreiling, but he just didn’t stand out. On a roster with Starr, Max Bullough (who made an athletic INT of Price) and the active Barrett, he has not matched their level. Small-school players need to make an impression in all-star games or else it’s a loss. He’s got one more day to make his name count.
On a Lions note, I did not see any Lions personnel at either practice session today or in the team hotel.
Tags: Austin Wentworth, Bernard Reedy, Chandler Jones, Derrick Hopkins, East West Shrine Game, Justin Ellis, Keith Price, Keith Wenning, Kevin Graf, Khalil Wilkes, Max Bullough, Nate Dreiling, Rashaad Reynolds, Richie Leone, Shaquil Barrett, Shrine Game, Tyler Starr