DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon
Day Three of the East Team’s practice saw continued success by several of the Day Two stars. Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham continued his strong week by showing nice patience to let his blocks set up, and breaking a few long runs. At one point he took an option pitch from Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and made poor Clemson safety Rashard Hall look silly with a move in the open field. In fairness to Hall, Graham is easily one of the best players in St. Petersburg this week, and has made several tacklers miss.
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy ran hard and looked a little better than he had on Tuesday. One particularly effective run by Stacy earned a couple of defensive linemen a dressing down by one of the East coaches. One of those linemen, Missouri Western defensive end David Bass, was on the losing end of a Ray Graham stiff arm on the very next play.
The East’s tight ends have been one of the better positional groupings of the week. New Mexico’s Lucas Reed, Boston College’s Chris Pantale and D.C. Jefferson of Rutgers have all looked natural catching the ball and have at least held their own when run blocking. A couple of receivers stood out Wednesday as well. Florida State’s Rodney Smith made some nice catches deep down the field. At 6’5, Smith is an intriguing target with excellent red zone potential. North Carolina’s Erik Highsmith also stood out, showing off his vertical leap to make a catch in a goal line drill; and later picking up big yardage running after a short pass play.
On defense, Georgia cornerback Branden Smith accentuated his strong week with a pair of interceptions. First, he cut in front of the receiver on a deep throw down the middle by Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Nathan Stanley. Then later he picked off another pass along the sidelines. As well as he has played, one concern is that Smith is very thin, so he may struggle with bigger receivers. But his anticipation and ball skills have shone through this week.
- Stanley easily has the best arm of the East quarterbacks. Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron showed good anticipation on a pass to Jefferson early in the day.
- Florida safety Josh Evans was the victim on the aforementioned pass by Cameron, but after a brief coaching moment, Evan was back on the field breaking up a pass.
- Richmond safety Cooper Taylor is very tall for a defensive back (around 6’4). On one play he darted into the backfield to shut down a run by Stacy.
- Arkansas Pine-Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead struggled with South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor on a few pass rushes. Armstead may not be an NFL-caliber left tackle, but he is excellent when pulling to block for run plays. He could have a solid future at guard.
- Speaking of Taylor, he continues to look stiff, and wasn’t the least bit natural in one-on-one drills practicing his rips and swim move.
- U Conn linebacker Sio Moore has received a good bit of attention from the coaches this week – and not the kind he had hoped for. He was clearly getting frustrated in the latter stages of practice Wednesday.
- South Florida cornerback Kayvon Webster hasn’t had the best week, but he did make a nice play to break up a pass in the back corner of the end zone.
- Army quarterback Trent Steelman lined up under center, at wide receiver, and even did some long snapping for the second straight day. He got banged up on one run, but was back on the field quickly.