2011 Senior Bowl
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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
MOBILE, Ala. — Here are Mike Wilkening's notes, quotes and observations from Tuesday's South practice and the day's press conferences:
• Tennessee TE Luke Stocker had a fine practice Tuesday and made the catch of the day, a one-handed snag ending with him taking a big hit from a South defender. Stocker, who measured in at close to 6-5 and 255 pounds, runs very well and could be a safety blanket of sorts for his quarterback at the next level.
"If you miss him, your accuracy is poor, because he is a big target," South head coach Chan Gailey said, noting that Stocker needs to improve his route-running.
• Alabama QB Greg McElroy looked sharp in Tuesday's practice, making a variety of throws with accuracy. McElroy threw two nice deep balls, including one to Hawaii WR Greg Salas.
"That was right there, hit me right in stride. ... That was a great ball from him," Salas said.
On Monday, McElroy noted that he wasn't "the best creator," but on Tuesday, he showed some creativity. On one play, the pass rush closed in, but McElroy evaded pressure, kept his eyes downfield and found Miami (Fla.) WR Leonard Hankerson.
McElroy's arm strength has been questioned, but Gailey has been pleasantly surprised with what he's seen in that regard.
"He's got a better arm than I probably gave him credit for walking in here," Gailey said.
• Salas shook off a couple of early drops to finish practice strongly. "You just have to have a short memory, especially at receiver," he said. "You know you're going to get more than one shot out here, and I'm just looking forward to my next one. I'm just going to do the best I can to get open and try to gain the confidence of the quarterback."
• West Virginia RB Noel Devine's playmaking ability has Gailey's respect.
"He has got that kind of quickness that takes your breath away sometimes," Gailey said of the 5-7, 160-pound Devine, whose primary NFL role could be that of a complementary, change-of-pace back.
Added Gailey, "He's going to have a hard time playing every down in the NFL, (but) there is a place for a guy like that, I believe, in the NFL."
• Two South offensive linemen who stood out: Georgia ORT Clint Boling, who really finished strongly, and Florida State OLG Rodney Hudson, whose pro position could be center but more than held his own against the South D-linemen at guard.
Here are Tuesday's South practice observations from Kevin Fishbain:
• Florida OL Marcus Gilbert got the biggest praise from a coach that I saw on Tuesday, being lauded for good communication during O-line drills.
• I couldn't help but notice that Florida P Chas Henry wasn't punting during drills that were meant for the gunners and the returner, but he was throwing to them, and they were pretty, 30-plus-yard spirals.
• Clemson DL Jarvis Jenkins made two nice plays that caught my eye, showing off his arsenal. He used a swim move on one play and a spin on the other, and both worked to perfection as he got into the backfield.
• There's not a lot of great running back talent in this draft, let alone at the Senior Bowl, but Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen looked like he had some potential. He is a physical runner (5-11, 223 pounds) and showed a burst of speed.
• In addition to his highlight-reel one-handed grab, Stocker was the best South tight end in blocking drills, but as he told us on Monday night, he plans to work on his separation abilities in the receiving game.
Despite a 100 percent chance of rain, the sun was shining at Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the North squad got practice under way on Tuesday morning with the Bengals' coaching staff, and the rain never came during the 90 minutes they were on the field.
Coaching staffs, scouts, agents and reporters filled the stands for a look at the North squad that has up to seven potential first-rounders (per PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki). The biggest name in Mobile this week is one of those — Jake Locker.
Here are some observations from Tuesday's morning practice from Kevin Fishbain:
• All eyes were on the three quarterbacks — Locker, Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi. Watching the three of them together, it's very clear who has the smoothest footwork and throwing motion, and that's Locker. His release is short and quick, but it's also hard to ignore that he is the smallest of the three.
• Mike Wilkening will have more on Kaepernick. What I noticed is when you walk on the field, the Nevada QB looks like a wide receiver, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a team take him and take advantage of his height and athleticism.
• Stanzi will get notice for the two picks he threw Tuesday morning. The first was in a drill with just the QB and the wide receivers going against cornerbacks. He underthrew his receiver on a comeback route, and Virginia Tech CB Rashad Carmichael made an outstanding diving interception. In 7-on-7 drills a bit later, Stanzi had a miscommunication on the route with his receiver, and UNC DB Kendric Burney made a nice play to pick it off. Stanzi also badly underthrew a receiver in the flat later in practice.
• On the line, I was excited to watch Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan go up against the big OLTs, Colorado's Nate Solder and Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi. Everyone is saying Kerrigan will be moved to a 3-4 OLB, and when you look at him you can see why — he doesn't appear to have the size of a prototypical 4-3 end, but he sure held his own against the two tackles, using his speed to help push them back. We talked with him after practice, and you can tell he's getting sick of the questions about a 4-3 vs. a 3-4 — he maintains that he would like to play with his hand on the ground but will do whatever coaches ask of him.
• Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal bullrushed Boston College OL Anthony Castonzo in one drill and caught my eye, getting to the inside very easily.
• The biggest crowd reaction came from Stanford DL Sione Fua, who literally put a center on his back on his way into the backfield.
• Nebraska TE Mike McNeill made a nice block from the fullback position on an off-tackle play, getting props from Bengals TE coach Jonathan Hayes.
• I talked with Marshall TE Lee Smith after practice. The 6-6, 267-pounder said he knows what his role is on the field. "I'm not an Aaron Hernandez-type," he said.
• California DL Cameron Jordan attracted a big crowd after practice. He hit Stanzi during drills and got a talking to from the coaches, but he was one of the most impressive guys on the field today. Mike will have more on him.