The first day of practices at the 2017 Shrine Game are over, and I for one am overwhelmed by the amount of information that pours out of St. Petersburg every year. The 2017 NFL draft rumor mill kicks into high gear around this time as most teams dive into the draft process hard.
And while I doubt every team takes a “cloak and dagger” approach to the media during the draft. I also believe that it never hurts to drop a little misinformation.
Which having the media there in the first place provides tons of misinformation. As one anonymous scout put it: We watch the (practice) film after, so don’t worry if you miss anything.
A strategy that most of the draft media doesn’t take when it comes to the Shrine. There are so many things happening on the field at the same time, that it’s easy to see a player make a good play while missing all the bad plays they made or vice versa.
But that’s why I’m going to be completely open that whatever I saw or heard today could be completely wrong after going back and watching the practice tape. I focused on wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs in receiving drills and some offensive line/defensive line drills.
So let’s begin with the standouts from the East Practices.
During wide receiver warmups, every one of them with the exception of Tony Stevens(Auburn) and Drew Morgan(Arkansas) had loud hands. It was a bit disappointing to say the least.
In fact the best receiver from the East squad was actually a running back in De’Veon Smith. He had two fantastic reps at receiver showing impressive glide/break manipulation, and one rep in which a scout exclaimed like a Halo player who just no-scoped a noob: Got him!
But more than that, Smith looked very explosive in his breaks. Something most of the receivers on the East squad couldn’t muster.
At tight end, most of the talent looked stiff and slow. Scott Orndoff looked the best out of the group, but he looks like more of a Day 3 selection off tape and his performance today.
On the offensive line Dan Skipper, Lucas Crowley and Kyle Kalis looked solid with mistakes here and there. While Skipper and Erik Magnuson in particular had moments of stiffness that won’t leave my mind.
In addition to Joseph Dieugot of Florida International who had some buzz about him, but he had a rough day in pass protection. Where he was showing off bad body language and venting his frustrations in public.
Cooper Rush looked the most well built in terms of size and frame. But the best passer was Alex Torgersen who despite throwing fast balls on almost every throw.
He still showed the most promise in team drills. Where he hit some nice throws in intermediate coverage.
A lot of buzz was on the Florida pass rushers coming in, but it was Florida Atlantic’s Trey Hendrickson who showed explosiveness and balance. There was also some buzz about Joey Ivie of Florida, but a lot of it is tape based as he simply did not look as dynamic of an athlete as he did before his injuries here.
Corner was a mess, but Jack Tocho was the most consistent in 1v1 and team drills. All of the CBs made at least one good play, which is why you could see other writers hyping any of them based on those individual plays.
However, Tocho made multiple plays in press and stuck to WRs like a sticky bomb, blowing up any chance for a play to be made.
This was truly the Austin Carr and Gabe Marks show. Carr had the softer hands, but Marks had Carr in dynamic movements.
Marks was the most vocal wide receiver there too, Where he let the quarterbacks know what he wanted in terms of ball placement.
Carr shined in the short breaking routes, while Marks excelled in double moves on deeper routes. In fact, everything I saw on tape with Marks and Carr in terms of positives were on display here.
It was the most impressive WR group. Along with Billy Brown who had his moments as well.
Probably the weakest group I saw today was the West Side QBs. Each had issues with ball placement and Zach Terrell couldn’t hit intermediate or deep routes with any type of regularity.
It caused some frustration with the receivers who had missed opportunities to shine, because the ball was way too high or too far outside the numbers. Guys like Carr and Taylor made some great adjustments, but they should have had more consistent placement.
The best looking tight end here was Michael Roberts. He didn’t look explosive, but he had soft hands and made some very difficult contested catches.
The biggest standout in receiving drills was Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale. He looked natural in routes with a few nice moves to create separation and get defensive backs off balance.
All the cornerbacks struggled on the West squad, and all of it stemmed from poor eye discipline. Even a corner in Aarion Penton from Missouri who usually played with solid eye discipline on tape was being way too aggressive in his approach.
Most of the mistakes were mental. So I hope to see improvement as the week goes on.
However, I am disappointed in the West Side’s corner group thus far. I will go back and watch the practice tape to see if I’m exaggerating things, but all I saw was a whopping.
This concludes my general thoughts on day one of the Shrine Game. It may seem like a jumbled mess of information, but that’s how I feel after the first day.
So many thoughts have yet to crystalize, but I am excited to focus on LBs and Safeties tomorrow. Where there could be a few gems in the group.