Senior Bowl: 10 Thursday observations about the North squad
Utah defensive end Nate Orchard showed incredible speed and agility during Senior Bowl North squad practice, and also impressed with his ability to stay within his assignments. He was a big winner on Day 3.
MOBILE, Ala. — Here are 10 random observations from Day 3 at the Senior Bowl — specifically the morning practice session involving the North squad, coached by Ken Whisenhunt and the Tennessee Titans staffers:
1. Quarterbacks continued to be less than impressive on Thursday for the North squad. The passer that had the most trouble was East Carolina’s Shane Carden.
Carden was picked off twice in the team portion of practice, and at least two other times in individual drills. He’s having trouble looking safeties off his intended target, which is how Ibraheim Campbell grabbed one interception. Carden also launched one of the worst passes of the week as the offense tried to connect on a flea flicker. His pass was a good 20 yards short of its target, and well out of bounds.
2. Several injuries hit the North team on Wednesday as three players sat out on Thursday and one was limited.
Running back Jeremy Langford (low back tightness) and guard Robert Myers (ankle) missed the session. Linebacker Mike Hull had his knee scoped three weeks ago and it puffed up on him on Wednesday, according to a Senior Bowl representative. Hull and Langford will miss Saturday’s game, while Myers will still try to play.
Linebacker Zack Hodges (knee strain) was limited in practice, and did not look good going at partial speed.
3. Tony Lippett showed some incredible leap-and-grab skills in the back corner of the end zone during the early portion of 1-on-1 drills. Not only did he show the strength and timing needed to get up to the football, he showed great body control to grab the ball before Quandre Diggs could, and land with both feet in the end zone.
4. It pays to be quick off the snap, and defensive tackle Carl Davis has showed just that all week. He was especially impressive on Thursday in 11-on-11 drills as the offensive linemen had to resort to double-teaming him to keep him out of the backfield.
Davis is a very disruptive force up front, and Duke guard Laken Tomlinson called Davis one of the two toughest defensive tackles to control.
5. Speaking of Laken Tomlinson, the Duke Blue Devil said that he feels he’s gotten better every day this week. Most scouts agree completely.
Tomlinson uses such a wide base to direct traffic with his man. He can push a defensive lineman any way he chooses, and he’s been manhandling opponents for three days. Tomlinson is one of the players in Mobile that has done a good job of upgrading his draft stock.
6. Danny Shelton didn’t have a stellar first two sessions, but he finally showed his first-round upside on Thursday.
Just about every guard at the Senior Bowl mentioned Shelton’s name as the toughest to play against. He’s next-to-impossible to stop 1-on-1, and he was held so much by offensive linemen that his numbers started to fall off.
7. Nate Orchard might have been the best player on the field on Thursday. He pulled down an interception when a screen pass hit him in the helmet and his quick reaction time allowed his hands to grab the football. But that wasn’t his best play of the day.
In 11-on-11 drills, the offense tried an end-around. Orchard, instead of over-pursuing, stayed home and crushed the ball carrier for a loss on the play. He played both defensive line and linebacker, and dominated at both positions.
8. T.J. Clemmings came into the Senior Bowl with high expectations as one of the fastest-rising seniors in the country. He hasn’t performed well at all, though.
Clemmings has shown poor footwork and technique, and he’s been blown past by guys like Deion Barnes and Orchard, to name a few. It looks as if Clemmings can’t handle guys who can really explode and get past a lineman quickly. That will make it tough to pay left tackle in the NFL.
9. The best tight end on the South side is easily Clive Walford. Delaware’s Nick Boyle showed on Thursday that he’s the cream of the crop on the North team.
In what is becoming a rarity in the NFL of late, Boyle can not only catch passes, but he’s a great blocker too. If you’re a tight end and can push defensive linemen around and get open and catch passes with regularity, you’ll do OK in the NFL.
10. East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy showed off in 1-on-1 drills in the early portion of practice. He made play after play in the end zone and showed very soft hands that rarely bobbled anything. He had a few passes bounce off him on Wednesday, so this is a big adjustment. Almost as important as hauling in passes, Hardy received loads of praise late in practice for his blocking acumen. On more than one occasion a Tennessee coach congratulated Hardy for making area-clearing blocks down field.