January 25, 2011
MOBILE, Ala. -- In Tuesday's morning practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the North team took the reins on offense, giving us a chance to see what several different NFL prospects could do. Of particular interest was a group of three quarterbacks, one speedster running back, and two offensive linemen.
In the quarterback warm-ups, Jake Locker, Ricky Stanzi and Colin Kaepernick alternated reps. From a pure mechanical perspective, it's clear to see that Locker is the most well-developed of the three -- whether in shotgun or under center, he looked poised and natural dropping back, rolls out easily, and throws out of motion as well as any quarterback I've seen in a long time. Locker also has the quickest release and a compact motion that will serve him very well in the NFL. His primary issue is that he struggles with accuracy in the pocket, and that has showed up through the week as passes have sailed on him.
Stanzi has an over-the-top motion that could get him in trouble at the next level -- the delay on his motion seems problematic. Stanzi also struggled with outs at about 15 yards; he seemed to have issues with consistent accuracy. He appears to be better with stuff between the hashes, where he doesn't have to scan the field or throw on the run.
Kaepernick didn't seem to have any trouble dropping back from under center after a college career spent playing primarily in the Pistol formation. He's just as comfortable in full shotgun -- the pre-pass issues are not formational in nature, they're mechanical. Kaepernick has a little lag in his throwing motion, and as well as he sells multiple fakes out of the backfield and understands the concept of play fakes, it takes a little time for everything to come together. Also struggles with throws across his body.
Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray (pictured above) really stood out from the 7-on-7s on. Everything you've seen was on full display -- the ridiculous burst from the handoff, his great ability to bounce outside in a big hurry, his pure cutback speed, and that extra gear when he hits the sideline and beats that first defender. He's also got a great way with faking a cutback and heading to the outlet for a quick pass. He also shows great acceleration on screens. I've gone back and forth on comparisons, but the obvious Reggie Bush(notes) comp doesn't really process -- he's better between the tackles and may have Jamaal Charles(notes) potential.
Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter presents an intriguing package, but I would expect more leg drive from a compact player. He doesn't seem to escape first contact and has lacked the drive through gaps I was hoping to see thus far.
While Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi may have been the best at his position in Monday's practice, it didn't transfer over to Tuesday. Carimi was very quick off the snap, but he slipped off blocks at times and got bulled back far too easily.
Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, on the other hand, impressed with his ability to get off his first block and take on another at the side. He also looked very strong when taking ends back through in pass protection and preventing them from getting pressure. In one instance, he took his man out of the play, and Kaepernick was able to step up and make a completion. He was aggressive without letting that tendency overwhelm him -- he didn't lunge and he kept everything in front of him.
I also liked what I saw from Michigan guard Stephen Schilling -- the guy definitely plays with a nasty streak and shows the technique you'd expect from a school with so much great offensive-line history. Representatives from the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs made sure to talk to Schilling after practice. A projected third-rounder at this time, Schilling could benefit greatly from the pre-draft process, especially as he shows zone teams his ability to hit the second level decidedly and in a hurry.
Afternoon practice starts soon, and I'll be back with more player notes Tuesday night.
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