Originally Published: January 20, 2010
Sanders steals the show in Day 3
SMU wideout shines and sends stock soaring, while others struggle in Day 3 practice
By Todd McShay
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wednesday's practice was again in full pads as the teams prepare for Saturday's East-West Shrine Game (ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET). Here's a quick look at players who had good days, and players who had bad days. And remember, this is just one day out of the whole week, so one day does not make or break a prospect.
East Team: Good Days
EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME
As important as the East-West Shrine Game is, it's the preceding week of practices that can send an NFL prospect's stock soaring or plummeting. ESPN Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl will be in Orlando, Fla., blogging live from the practices and offering daily reports on who is doing well and who still has some work to do.
Scouts Inc. also will blog live during Saturday's game, which will begin at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
FB Richard Dickson, LSU
At 6-foot-3, 244 pounds, Dickson doesn't have the prototypical size to move to tight end, but he could do a lot in an H-back/FB role. He has good, not great, point of attack skills so while he doesn't explode through a hole, he shows good technique, keeps his legs under him and keeps them moving and shows good balance. He would be a solid blocker but where he'd help a team is in the passing game. He has soft, natural hands and caught the ball away from his frame during warm-ups, drills and team spots. For example, he caught a screen and showed some elusiveness by making a guy miss for a 15-yard gain. While Dickson doesn't excel in any one area, but he has enough versatility to contribute in a number of ways. He is worthy of late-round consideration.
DB Barry Church, Toledo
Church spent a lot of time today in deep middle zone coverage and that centerfielder role played to his strengths. We know his weaknesses, that he has stiffness in his hips which creates problems any time he has to change directions or track the ball or receiver, but today showed the things he does really well like reading the QB's eyes, reading his keys and protecting himself. He was reacting quicker than most of the other players in coverage on the East defense. He might not run a great 40 time, but for a 215-pound safety, he closes pretty well. It's not great closing speed, but he's quick enough to make up some ground when the ball is in the air. Another thing he does well is he fills hard in run support, but he's under control when he does it. He takes good angles and is breaking down as he approaches the running back rather than just flying in there, throwing a shoulder and lunging, which a lot of college safeties tend to do. He's among the top three DBs in this game.
DT Nate Collins, Virginia
Although undersized (6-2, 285), Collins continues to impress with his explosiveness. For example, on back-to-back plays against Rutgers OT Kevin Haslam and Iowa OT Kyle Calloway, he was so quick they couldn't block him. In the drill, they were supposed to block down on Collins and push in inside, but he was so explosive off the ball and got upfield so quickly, neither guy could stop him. We did see him get knocked down to the ground once during team period, but he was consistently disrupting plays in the backfield otherwise. He's making it very difficult for the bigger tackles to get into his frame. From a technique standpoint, one way he masks his lack of anchor is by really sinking his hips and exploding out of his stance. Picture someone getting ready to do a standing broad jump, how they get in that crouch and that's kind of what Collins is doing and it's paying off.
East Team: Bad Days
RB Andre Anderson, Tulane
Anderson was kind of underwhelming today. He never had a burst through the hole and seemed like a one-speed guy. He had problems during inside run periods really seeing the hole and was late hitting it at times. He needs to show more patience. He also struggled catching the ball in drills with a few drops. One was on a throw behind him, but he needs to make plays like that to show he can contribute in the passing game.
OL Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
We blogged about it earlier, but Render is way too much of a leaner. He does not do a good enough job of rolling his hips at the point of attack and driving his legs. He could be seen on the ground several times during the run period because he doesn't seem to have a true center of gravity and loses his balance. During team drills, he continued to lunge and ducked his head, which made him extremely vulnerable to push-pull moves from a defender (just like it sounds, the D-lineman will push the lineman, then pull him and throw him to the ground). The other big concern we have about Render is that he has yet to show he's very athletic. We didn't see it on film and haven't seen it here yet and he'll have a tough time adjusting to blocking moving targets downfield as well as redirecting in pass protection.
WR Blair White, Michigan State
He's a classic overachiever who started out as a walk-on, worked his way up to starter and was one of most productive receivers in the Big Ten this year. We love toughness, he's real instinctive and he finds a way to catch the ball in traffic almost every time. But I think his habit of catching the ball with his body will catch up to him in the NFL. He shows the ability to pluck the ball away from his frame, but he just doesn't do it very often. On shorter routes especially he is always trying to catch the ball off his pads or his body. For guy who has to do everything the right way in order to have a chance to make it in the NFL, that's a habit he's going to have to break in a hurry.
West Team: Good Days
WR Emmanuel Sanders, SMU
As good as Utah's David Reed was yesterday was how good Sanders was today. The West team really focused on one-on-ones today and he was great in his routes. He's a little undersized (6-foot, 183 pounds), but he worked with receivers coach Keenan McCardell -- who was in the NFL for 16 years despite being just 6-1, 191 pounds -- and it paid off. McCardell taught him little things about how to get off press coverage using his elbows and not extending the arms, which a referee would see. He worked with him on double moves off the line, or dipping the shoulder coming through. Sanders has the right set of tools -- quick feet, good change of direction skills -- to apply the coaching right to his game. It wouldn't surprise us in the least if Sanders and Reed both turn into pretty good No. 3 WRs in the NFL working in the slot.
DL Martin Tevaseu, UNLV
Hard to believe the 6-2, 340-pound Tevaseu could go unnoticed, but he was being overshadowed by some other players until today. He's stout against the run and does a good job of extending his arms and getting a good push. On inside run period, he got underneath Washington State OL Kenny Alfred and walked him 3 yards backward. He is raw as a pass-rusher, but he can collapse the pocket. He's a little too big right now and he'll need to lose a few pounds or conditioning will be an issue, but he has the tools to be an excellent 2-gap defender.
TE Riar Geer, Colorado
Geer has flown a little under the radar, but he had a good practice on Wednesday. He isn't the most gifted athlete and lacks an extra gear to create separation, but he runs good routes, manages to create some separation and catches the ball naturally and easily away from his frame. While he isn't a road grader as a run blocker, he does display a quick first step, gets in good initial position and does a good job staying engaged and keeping his hands inside. He showed the ability to hook the edge on outside runs and transition to block defenders on the second level.
West Team: Bad Days
DB Darrell Stuckey, Kansas
Stuckey took a lot of false steps in coverage and against play-action today. He's always peeking, always biting -- he's like a gullible little brother who you can always trick and get out of position. Yes, he's big, ripped, tough against the run and can come up and make a big hit, but all that gets erased by all the negative plays he gives up. He really struggled in the one-on-ones and while defensive backs coach Marlon McCree was trying and trying to work with him, it just didn't seem like it was getting through.
OL Chris Marinelli, Stanford
We talked about Marinelli having a down practice on Tuesday, and he did not redeem himself on Wednesday. He works hard from snap to whistle, but he didn't get any kind of movement as a run-blocker during one-on-ones or team period. Even worse, he couldn't get the job done in the pass-blocking one-on-ones. The big issue is that he gives up far too much ground, to the point where the coaches told him he has to take surrender out of his game. It was a bad day where Marinelli had trouble with both speed and power rushers.
LB Dexter Davis, Arizona State
At 6-2, 245 pounds, Davis is undersized for an end so he'd have to prove he could play in space as a linebacker and that didn't work out very well for him on Wednesday. He just didn't look natural. He was very stiff in space and he struggled with any sudden change of direction. For example, in the first team period, he went to corral North Dakota State RB Patrick Paschall on the outside, but Paschall cut back inside and Davis was unable to recover, lost his balance and nearly fell to the ground. He also struggled in man coverage. His lack of size and his struggles to play in space could send him falling into the later rounds of the draft.
Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl contributed to this report.
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