DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon
Day Two of the South team’s practice started out broken into positional groups, with running backs doing some footwork drills. It was largely uneventful until Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor tripped over one of the pads. Taylor recovered to have a terrific day running the ball, displaying excellent vision and burst through the holes in breaking a couple of long runs. His South teammate, Florida’s Mike Gillislee had a strong day as well, cutting on a dime to break a big gainer. Both backs caught the ball well in drills and have three down, starting running back potential at the NFL level.
South coaches spent a great deal of time drilling receivers on sideline routes and getting both feet in bounds. Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton excelled in this exercise, showing steady hands and terrific field awareness. Baylor’s Terrance Williams did a nice job tapping his toe to haul one in just a few plays after dropping a pass on his way out of bounds. Georgia’s Tavarres King was also able to get his feet down regularly, and later showed off his vertical in getting to a high throw from Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson. Unfortunately for King, he wound up fumbling the ball.
In one-on-ones between the lines, the South offensive linemen got off to a slow start. However, many of them were able to rebound and turn in solid performances. Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson got beat by an inside move from Lavar Edwards, but recovered on the next play to completely pancake the LSU defensive end. Johnson showed off a nasty streak that had people in the seats buzzing, and he appears to have solidified himself as a legitimate first round prospect.
On the defensive side, much of the focus was on Ezekiel Ansah. The BYU defensive lineman had some problems getting around the edge, but absolutely embarrassed Virginia tackle Oday Aboushi with a spin move to the inside. Ansah has talent, but he is not the outside pass rushing prospect some folks want him to be. Conversely, Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington looked terrific in drills displaying speed and power on his pass rushes that surprised many onlookers. While Washington’s production was way down in 2012, he showed glimpses of potential the year before. In practice today he looked closer to the 2011 version of himself.
Lastly, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel looked at home in the All-Star game setting. He was fairly sharp when going to his first (and typically only) read, and looked comfortable when he had plenty of time to throw. But Manuel remains an enigma – a fact best summed up by consecutive plays about midway through practice. On the first, Manuel threw a beautiful touch pass to the sideline where Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton had the ball glance off his fingers. Then, on the very next play, Manuel rolled to his right and short-armed a pass into the turf. Manuel may convince some team this week that he is worthy of a first or second round pick, but that team would be taking a huge risk.
- Offensive linemen Larry Warford of Kentucky and Brian Schwenke of Cal were gritty in one-on-ones, both displaying a mean streak and ability to anchor. Schwenke also did a nice job helping on a double team and then passing his man off to get to the second level.
- Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins and Clemson center Dalton Freeman took turns besting each other. Curiously, Freeman was able to hold his ground against the much larger Jenkins.
- Linebackers Nico Johnson of Alabama and Vince Williams of Florida State had trouble covering running backs out of the backfield on passing downs.
- Cal defensive back Marc Anthony had a strong day in coverage, breaking up several passes including a late throw by Wilson that resulted in an interception by Williams.
- San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden broke up a pass from Oklahoma QB Landry Jones late in practice, and he and Anthony also tracked the ball well in early drills.
- Wilson picked up a botched snap, rolled to his left, and completed a long pass to Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera. Later Wilson connected with Patton on a deep post about 20 yards or so downfield, but the QB likely would have taken a huge hit if not for practice restrictions.
- On the final play in team drills, Washington would have easily pummeled Jones for a sack, but instead had to pull up and let the QB get rid of the ball.