Lou: This week there will be a daily report here on Draft King direct from Mobile, Alabama, the site of the Senior Bowl on Saturday after noon. This comes as a special from the outstanding website KFFL.com, which has been a must-visit web information source for me for the past several years. Enjoy!
January 22, 2008
Senior Bowl News and Notes: Day II
By: Cory J. Bonini, KFFL.com
Well, KFFL survived Day 1 of the 2008 Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala. I'm coming to you from Day 2 with thoughts and tidbits from today's practices.
It was a cold, gloomy day, and now the sun is setting. The morning practice, which began at 9:30 a.m. local time, featured the North squad working once again at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The FieldTurf that covers from end zone to end zone is surrounded by a row of shrubbery and a short chain-link fence to prevent the fans from spilling onto the field of play. The downside is that, unlike the Fairhope Stadium field, home of Monday's South squad practice, we as attending media cannot lay foot on the field, either. With the occasional fan trying to mingle in with the crowd of reporters, cameramen, scouts, coaches and NFL executives, sometimes getting a clean view of what was happening on the field was a bit of a challenge, especially since I stand at a whopping 5-foot-9!
With the wind blowing at a fair clip and inadequate clothing being my M.O. of the morning, the notes I jotted down were even more illegible than usual. Today, my KFFL cohort, Richard Garcia, was along side all day long. He wasn't as dumb as I was and dressed accordingly, however.
For the North squad, several things surprised me to varying degrees. First of all, University of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne can actually avoid a pass rush, albeit a mock pass rush. Henne looked the best out of the trio (University of Southern California quarterback John David Booty and University of Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco) with his footwork, and he wasn't too shabby tossing the rock, either.
East Carolina University running back Chris Johnson showed off his agility and blazing speed, but he really left a sour taste in my mouth when it came to his pass-blocking skills. He was pushed aside once, completely bowled over once and completely missed the block twice during one-on-one drills that sent a free linebacker at the simulated quarterback.
University of New Mexico wide receiver Marcus Smith didn't help his draft stock much in my eyes, dropping two easily catchable passes. When you're a little-known receiver from New Mexico, how many passes can you really afford to drop?
The aforementioned Flacco probably wished he was back in Dela-where, after throwing a silly interception that Indiana University cornerback Tracy Porter took back to the imaginary house. Flacco drew the ire of the coaching staff from a verbal sense, as well as managing to gain a few boos from the slim crowd.
The South squad returned to the field to practice at 1:45 p.m. CST and the clouds threatened rain but didn't provide much more than a few droplets. The wind had died down, and this time around I was overdressed, of course. With one layer too many, I felt like the little kid from A Christmas Story while waddling my way around the field.
In what I thought was the most impressive play of the afternoon for either squad, University of Florida wideout Andre Caldwell snagged a pass over his right shoulder while being blanketed in coverage by University of Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Wolfe. Caldwell landed on the 1-yard line before sliding into the end zone. Wolfe couldn't have played the route any better, even having a hand in Caldwell's grill before the Colt Brennan-thrown pass of some 40 yards was hauled in. It was textbook coverage but an even prettier catch!
Almost as nice of a play, Louisiana State University wide receiver Early Doucet, who clearly has separated himself through two practices to be the most consistent of the senior class, caught one over his former LSU teammate, cornerback Chevis Jackson, in nearly identical fashion to the pass that Caldwell landed. There wasn't much Jackson could have done better, and he patted Doucet on the side as they walked back to the origin of the play. The coaching staff didn't much care for that, however, telling Jackson to ignore the fact that he played with Doucet. Do you get the feeling that these two guys have lined up like this before?
I wasn't a fan of University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan's footwork, and neither was freshly named San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz. While working closely with the South quarterbacks, Martz repeatedly had Brennan drop back to work on his feet before jovially telling the former Rainbow Warrior, "You're so quick with everything," in reference to Brennan being in a hurry to get through the drill and not absorb what Martz was offering.
In case you are curious, here are some of the notable attendees from around the league: St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli, Lions president and CEO Matt Millen, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, Jaguars assistant head coach/tight ends coach Mike Tice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. I know I am in Saban country, but it was a bit ridiculous to see all of the cameras pointed at watching him talk on his cell phone while he paced the sidelines.
Signing off for this evening, please join us tomorrow for another installment of KFFL's Senior Bowl coverage. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have some clue as to how many layers I should be wearing!