Senior Bowl Day Three-South Practice Impressions

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There were a couple of roster adjustments made with minor injuries affecting both squads. Florida Atlantic RB Alfred Morris has been added to the South roster. He replaces Chad Diehl (concussion) of Clemson. Of note, Morris becomes the first player from FAU to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl.
Other players dropping out after injuries include North Cornerback Alonzo Dennard of Nebraska, who is out with a hip flexor. Dennard was physical and competitive in both full-pad sessions. He’ll be replaced by Josh Norman of Coastal Carolina, who shined in last week’s East-West Shrine game. Also out is Alabama’s Marquis Maze.

Observations from the last of the full-pad practices for the South team:

The South Defensive line continues to shine with potential first rounders Quinton Coples of North Carolina, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, and Courtney Upshaw (LB) of Alabama. Ingram was the standout Wednesday afternoon. He’s similar in stature to the Steelers Lamar Woodley, short and squatty (6-1 276) but stays low and uses leverage to get underneath blockers. Ingram also possesses excellent first-step quickness.

-Keep an eye on three South linebackers who fit the Bears profile…athletic and fast, but undersized. Texas’s Emmanuel Acho (6-0 235) has good bloodlines. His brother Sam plays for Arizona. Acho flashed during one on one drills with his quickness and range. He can play either the Will (weak) or Sam (strong-side). Miami’s Sean Spence has marginal size (5-11 228), but flies around the field. He appears fundamentally sound, and displays a physical presence. Spence played middlle linebacker for the Hurricanes, but may be better situated on the outside. North Carolina’s Zach Brown is a former school 60 meter record holder. He’s fast, athletic, and quick with good striking ability. However, his work during practices mirrored his 2011 campaign…flashes of brilliance sandwiched around stretches of inconsistent play.

-Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden enjoyed another solid day, and has outplayed both of his South counterparts, Arizona’s Nick Foles and San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley. Weeden’s poise and ability to assimilate the pro concepts are a plus, regardless of the age factor. He has the size (6-3 219) and arm strength necessary, and his accuracy has been evident in practices.

-Georgia OT Cordy Glenn enjoyed a solid day, stonewalling Courtney Upshaw in a one on one battle. Glenn is huge (6-5 346) and has the long arms necesary to engage defenders. He showed a decent punch in Wednesday’s session, fending off oncoming rushers and then anchoring his massive build. Adds versatility with the ability to kick inside to guard. A name worth remembering come draft time for the Bears. Borderline first rounder.

-A pair of South defensive backs Dwight “Bill” Bentley of Lousiana Lafayette and Janoris Jenkins have generated buzz all week. Bentley had the better of it on Wednesday. He’s small (5-9 178) but tenacious in press coverage. Bentley shows the ability to flip his hips and mirror wide receivers. He plays with an air of confidence and has backed it up all week., moving from a late round prospect to a solid 3rd-4th round pick. Jenkins possesses all the athletic traits, but the former Gator squatted on too many routes in one on one’s, looking to make the interception rather than make the play. He may be too overconfident in his skills.

-Another small college corner, Furman’s Ryan Steed had an off/on day. He possesses good size (5-11 190) and challenges wide receivers, but wasn’t as consistent with his footwork and technique.

-Steady is the appropriate word for Vanderbilt’s Cameron Heyward (5-11 188). He demonstrates a smooth and fluid backpedal with good ball instincts. He was turned around though in a one on one mathcup with Houtson WR Patrick Edwards. Heyward isn’t elite, but would be a safe mid-round choice. Edwards was showing well too, before a late practice apparent hamstring injury.

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-Florida RB Chris Rainey has helped himself this week by showcasing his versatility. He’s ran routes with the wide recievers in additon to working out of the backfield. Rainey may have elite speed, and though he’s small (5-8 178), could offer teams a strong third-down specialty option. He’s looked natural as a pass catcher, running good routes and catching the ball cleanly. Rainey could be what the Bears hoped Devin Hester would be all along….a multi-dimensional weapon who can catch a few deep balls, return kicks, and pick up yardage on reverses/gadget plays.

-Juron Criner of Arizona had another good day. He displayed excellent body control in one on one drills and continues to catch the ball well. Criner showcases good instincts and the ability to get open.

-Alabama C William Vlachos ( 6-3 306) won’t win any bathing suit contests, but was stout in one on one drills. He does a nice job of using a hand punch and is quick out of his stance. Vlachos is probably destined for the late rounds, but could add depth to a Bears line that will need to eventually replace Roberto Garza.

-Georgia CB Brandon Boykin shined. He’s been one of the week’s most consistent performers. In one on one drills, he demonstrates toughness, quick instincts and change of direction skills, and an aggressive, physical nature that belies his 5-9 183 pound frame. Boykin uses his hands well and appears to enjoy press coverage. His return skills add value.

-Florida State LB Nigel Bradham is a thumper. He’s big (6-1 237), fast and physical. He displayed good coverage skills and instincts, blowing up a intended reception by the running back in one on one drills.

-Louisiana Lafayette’s Ladarius Green, TE, followed up yesterday’s solid workout with another impressive outing. He’s a huge target with soft hands and good route-running skills. If the Bears want a receiving threat to bolster the

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tight end position, Green would fit nicely to give the club an option down the seam. Fellow tight end Brad Smelley of Alabama is limited athletically, but caught everything in sight.

-OT Matt McCants (6-5 309) of UAB struggled in one on one’s, getting walked back to the quareterback and bull rushed on consecutive sessions.

Many of the scouts and coaches left after Wednesday’s workouts, with Thursday and Friday’s practices serving as more “walk through’s” prior to Saturday’s contest. I’ll be on hand through Thursday to add commentary and flush out the week’s oveall impressions.

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