1. Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central Oklahoma (6041, 262 and 4.85 E): Bryant has an excellent first day of practice and already had a few NFL people saying that Bryant made himself some money today. Good looking “on the hoof,” Bryant’s initial quickness helped him beat the OT to the turn point consistently. With extremely quick 35 ½ inch arms, Bryant can get hands on OT first and consistently showed the ability to beat pass blocker. Able to jolt OT with hands, he displayed the quick burst and change of direction ability to beat the OT around the corner or back inside. If Bryant practices this way the rest of the week, he could be the player that comes out of this game and makes the biggest jump up draft boards.
2. DeVonte Christopher, WR, Utah (6002, 192 and 4.55 E): Christopher was the best receiver on either team today. Not only did he run excellent routes, but his ability to set-up defenders and get cornerbacks to turn their hips made it easy for him to create separation. Although he dropped a few passes today, he showed good hands most of the day. He reached out and caught the ball away from his body well. He showed excellent quickness and speed running sharp, precise routes. He turned defenders around with good double moves and was able to get open with surprising ease. If he continues to play this well the rest of the week he could really move up draft boards.
3. Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri (6046, 291, and 5.20 E): On a day where many DL dominated, Fisher was one of the few OL to impress today. Quick out of stance and setting up to pass block with good base/leverage, Fisher consistently got his hands on pass rusher fast. He “got a good fit” fast, locked out and was able to stay on and maintain pass block to eliminate man. Despite lacking ideal bulk/weight, Fisher was able to stop bull rushers in their tracks. Not only impressive as a pass blocker, Fisher was able to seal man inside on side/angle in-line run blocks and could chip and get through to the second level to seal LB on backside of the play. For an offensive tackle who came here not regarded as a top prospect, today he played like a much better player than expected.
4. DeQuinta Jones, DT, Arkansas (6035, 308 and 5.35 E): For a 300+ pounder, Jones was surprisingly productive lining up at both DE and DT. From both alignments his quick and powerful hands allowed him to jolt blocker initially so that he could dictate his pass rush. Despite lacking ideal DE size, he showed the quick hands to defeat OT and beat him around the corner. When maintaining leverage during his pass rush, Jones could jolt OL backwards initially and then could either defeat him with a move or jerk him to side to get by him. He was not as effective when he did not get hands on OL first and could be stood up and eliminated from the play too easily.
5. David King, DT, Oklahoma (6044, 281 and 4.85 E): After grabbing everyone’s attention with his incredible physique at the weigh-in, King showed during practice that he is not the prototypical “look like Tarzan, play like Jane.” Although he was not dominant today and had his struggles shedding blocks due to playing inside at DT where he was constantly out-weighed by 20+ pounds, he still showed enough to warrant inclusion on this list. Consistently quick off the ball, King was most effective when he relied on his quick and active hands to keep OL from getting ahold of him while he split gaps. On running plays, he was consistently able to get backfield penetration to disrupt plays behind the LOS. Unfortunately, as a pass rusher he was not effective when he tried to bull rush as the OL were often able to get their hands on him first and kept him pinned on the LOS.
6. Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M (5112, 198 and 4.55 E): While he did not show the explosive burst and elite speed to stretch the field, Nwachukwu is a smooth, fluid athlete with deceptive quickness out of his breaks to get separation. Consistently able to get open, he showed strong hands, great concentration and body control to make tough catches throughout practice. He did an excellent job of twisting to catch off-target throws and of winning battles for contested passes. Uzoma is not going to be a high draft pick, but somewhere in the fourth or fifth round he will get drafted if he continues to perform like this the rest of the week.
7. Lane Taylor, OG, Oklahoma State (6030, 326 and 5.30 E): While no one is ever going to confuse Lane Taylor with David DeCastro as he lacks top athleticism, his performance today definitely impressed. Consistently quick out of his stance, Taylor’s ability to set up with good base and “get an excellent fit” on DL, both in pass pro and on run blocks, enabled him to consistently stop his man and keep him out of the play. His technique combined with good strength and competitiveness, so that he could stone bull rushers and get movement on side angle run blocks. Taylor’s productive first day has me very intrigued to watch him the rest of the week.
8. Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati (6001, 194 and 4.55 E): Not well known by the public, Thompkins showed today why scouts have been telling us all season that he is a legit “sleeper.” Clearly well coached, Thompkins route running really stands out as he runs the entire “route tree” excellently. He knows how to get open, gets his head and hands around quickly out of cuts and has the strong hands to pluck the ball on passes that get on top of him fast. He displayed the body control and sideline awareness to consistently get his feet down in bounds when catching passes along boundary. Thompkins also showed the ability to turn short passes into big plays with his quick burst of acceleration and speed after the catch.
Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE