ORLANDO — With full pads on for both sides Tuesday, the National Football Post breaks down the action from day two at the East-West Shrine Game.
After playing the five-technique at Virginia this past season, DL Nate Collins seems to be making a quick adjustment to defensive tackle this week. During Tuesday’s practice, Collins was consistently able to make his way into the backfield using his explosive lateral quickness and a sudden arm-over move. He even displayed some natural power and leverage on his bull-rush. One-on-one, he was the most impressive East defensive lineman on the day and, with time, looks like a guy who could develop into a solid penetrating tackle or inside nickel rusher for a defensive front.
Just getting it done
Another defensive lineman who never really seems to “wow” but has the ability to win battles inside is Ohio State DL Doug Worthington. Worthington possesses an above-average first step off the snap and has the ability to consistently beat reach blocks inside and find the ball on plays away from his frame. Plus, he displayed the length and lateral quickness to be productive during one-on-one drills. He lacks ideal size for the DT position at only 288 pounds, but he can be effective inside as long as opposing linemen don’t get their hands on him initially off the snap. Worthington plays angry, never shuts up and seems to have some real leadership qualities to him. He’s a guy who won’t get much love on draft day but will find a way to play in the league for 10 years.
The best of the bunch?
One offensive lineman who really impressed me Tuesday was Indiana OT Rodger Saffold, a 6-5, 312-pound athlete who has quickly emerged as one of the top prospects here. During 11-on-11 drills, he showcased the range to reach and seal Rahim Alem off the edge on one occasion, then followed that up with an impressive anchor against Greg Hardy’s bull-rush. In addition, Saffold displays quick, powerful hands and does a nice job maintaining leverage through the play.
Just go long
If you need a big-play threat in the pass game, look no further then West Virginia wideout Alric Arnett. When he’s asked to run vertical routes, the guy showcases a real second gear to his game and accelerates quickly out of his breaks. He consistently was able to get behind corners Tuesday, and although he isn’t a real polished overall route runner, Arnett knows how to create chunks of yards down the field.
Let him do what he wants
I got a chance to talk with Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield after practice and asked him, “Ideally, what do you want to do in the NFL?” His response: rush the passer. With that said, I love that the guy is willing to work out at linebacker to try and make his way into the NFL as a 3-4-rusher. But when watching him, you can tell Schofield has a deep-down passion for getting after the quarterback. To me, he looks like an ideal nickel rusher.
Tight ends Nathan Overbay and Dennis Pitta had their moments throughout Tuesday’s practice. Overbay isn’t a real explosive or sudden athlete off the line and struggles to quickly get into his routes when his hands is on the ground, but he has that strider speed needed to track the football and make plays away from his frame once he gets going. Pitta is much more explosive off the line and does a nice job getting into his routes quickly and remaining balanced out of his breaks. He showcased good body control and change of directions skills underneath, with the acceleration to consistently create separation vs. man.
It’s obvious watching Oklahoma cornerback Brian Jackson live that he simply doesn’t have the type of quick-twitch ability to close on the football in off-coverage. He’s a tall, long-armed kid who’s at his best when he’s able to get his hands on receivers, and he once again was consistently able to win his one-on-one matchups whenever he was asked to press off the line. He showcases good physicality and really knows how to reroute receivers. Jackson might not be the most efficient corner in space, but there is a place for him in the NFL because of his bump-and-run ability.
One out of four
The tackle position on the West isn’t an area of strength. Cole Pemberton lacks range in pass protection, Chris Marinelli doesn’t have an impressive combination of power or athleticism, and Marshall Newhouse looks better suited to play guard. However, the one guy on the roster who looks like he has the ability to develop into a starter at the next level is Cal standout Mike Tepper. Tepper possesses a big frame, has shown better range on his kick-slide than given credit for and has the ability to create a push off the edge. I wouldn’t project him as a left tackle in the NFL, but as a tough right-side player, I think he can play in the league.
Arizona DT Earl Mitchell showcases good burst off the snap and has the lateral ability to slip blocks and create behind the line. However, he needs to win with his first step because he really struggles once opposing linemen get into his frame.
I can’t wait to see Arizona State RB Dimitri Nance in the game Saturday when he has a chance to actually break some tackles. Nance is so thick and compact that tackling him is like trying to wrap up a Coke machine. He’s quicker than he is fast and looks like someone who can create for himself between the tackles.
Iowa State offensive guard Reggie Stephens lacks quickness off the snap and always seems to be playing from behind. He struggles to move his feet through contact and doesn’t possess the fluidity to consistently hold up one-on-one in the pass game.
The more I watch Washington State center Kenny Alfred, the more I like him. He isn’t the biggest of most powerful guy, but he snaps and steps quickly, is sticky at the point of attack and does a nice job gaining leverage and finishing blocks in the run game.
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