Senior Bowl: South Practice Report (Thursday)
By: Sideline Scouting Staff
January 27, 2011
Christian Ponder
Thursday's South team practice was short, but was a lot more fast paced than previous practices, despite players not wearing pads today. Coach Chan Gailey commented that Ladd-Peebles Stadium was a bit of a "ghost town" today, but the practice provided the opportunity for those of us there to get a final look at the South squad in a practice setting, as tomorrow will be walk throughs for both teams.

Florida State QB Christian Ponder had a very poor day. At one point, he took two consecutive snaps and on the first would have taken a sack from Miami's Allen Bailey, then on the next play he fumbled the snap. He also made a few ill-advised throws into double coverage during 11-on-11's. He did, however, show good mobility when asked to roll out of the pocket, routinely beating defenders to the outside. Greg McElroy (Alabama) was just average and threw a very bad pass into double coverage that was almost intercepted by Texas' Curtis Brown.

Greg Salas
Hawaii WR Greg Salas was spectacular for the first half of practice then abysmal during the second half. During the first half, he made two acrobatic catches in the end zone and showed the special hands that got him to this point. The second half, he dropped two very catchable balls. One was a quick slant that he let get into his body and it just fell to the turf in front of him.

Tennessee's Luke Stocker stole the show at tight end this week but Arkansas' D.J. Williams has been very solid as well. He lacks ideal size and may be better off at H-back or fullback but he has tremendous ability as a pass catcher and could be considered as this year's Aaron Hernandez. Local product Preston Dial probably won't be drafted but the South's talent at tight end is considerably better than that of the North's and both Stocker and Williams could come off the boards in the first three rounds.

Danny Watkins
One guy that hasn't been mentioned this week but deserves a shout-out is Baylor OT Danny Watkins. The Kelowna B.C. native dreamed of playing in the NHL growing up and has only been playing football since he was 22 years old and has just two years experience at Baylor. He plays with good technique and uses his hands well and coaches seem to love his personality and work ethic. Watkins took snaps from under center after practice today and seems committed to working hard and getting better. Watkins is already 26 years old and will turn 27 during his rookie season but Bills' head coach Chan Gailey said in yesterday's press conference to disregard his age and evaluate him as a player. Based on talent alone Watkins had earned top 100 consideration but his age will still probably drop him a round or two. Auburn OT Lee Ziemba has struggled in the past few days. He lacks any real suddenness to his game and he can be beat by speed. In addition, his lateral movement is a little awkward and somewhat choppy and combined with 33½ inch arms he may have have to move inside to guard. Florida OT Marcus Gilbert did not practice today and had a walking boot on his right foot.

Sam Acho (Texas) and Brooks Reed (Arizona) impressed with their pass rushing ability today. Acho has a similar frame as former Longhorns' Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle while Reed reminds me of current Baltimore Raven Jarret Johnson and both will get looks standing up as 3-4 outside linebackers.

Von Miller
Texas A&M; LB Von Miller was absent from practice today, and early reports are that he is ill and could not participate. He is still expected to play in Saturday's game. Scouts and analysts have raved about Miller this week, but one has to wonder how much of that talk is predicated on prior hype coming into this week. He has spent much of his time working on pass-rushing drills, and not as much time at the linebacker position working on run support and coverage drills. He may go high in the 2011 draft, but I still believe he is a one-trick pony, and not worthy of a top-ten pick.

Chris White
Coach Gailey commented on Mississippi St. LB Chris White in last evening's press conference, stating that he feels White will likely get overlooked in the draft process, but has the ability to make plays. He is constantly around the ball. White made a nice play in run defense earlier, and always seems to make his presence felt in that aspect of the game. White's hustle reminds me a lot the way scouts viewed now Indianapolis Colts linebacker Pat Angerer, who went much earlier in last year's draft than he was projected. White is a hustler, and his motor will help him find a spot somewhere in the mid rounds of the draft this year.

Curtis Brown
Texas cornerback Curtis Brown stood out again today as the best defensive back on the South team. He looks very athletic, and has a solid frame to play corner in the NFL. His ability to blanket receivers in man coverage is something I haven't seen much this week from a lot of other defensive backs in Mobile. Near the end of practice, Brown jumped a route in the front of the endzone, leaped into the air and nearly came down with a pick. The ball sailed through his hands, but it was an impressive enough play to get the crowd excited.

(January 29) -- The week of Senior Bowl coverage is all wrapped up with a South victory over the North squad, 24-10. The Sideline Scouting crew had a blast providing you with all the best coverage of the week, and we hope you all return for the best coverage for the NFL Draft! Be sure to check out the game recap and pictures under the Senior Bowl tab, and also vote for Sideline Scouting as the best NFL Draft site of 2010-11.
Senior Bowl Recap »

*A.J. Green
WR, Georgia
*Patrick Peterson
*Nick Fairley
DT, Auburn
*Da'Quan Bowers
DE, Clemson
*Blaine Gabbert
QB, Missouri
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