NFLPA Game practice report: Day one

A breakdown of the first day of the NFLPA game preparations from San Antonio.

If I’m going to put money on which prospect comes off the board first from this year’s game, my bet goes on Hampton DT Kenrick Ellis. At 6-5, 336 pounds, he does a great job sitting into his stance, exploding off the snap and keeping his pad level down through contact. He was really tough to move off the football during team sessions today and really uses his length well to keep himself clean on the move. Now, he is a character concern and does have inconsistent awareness off the snap. But he’s a real talent and overall there’s not much physically separating him from a guy like Baylor’s Phil Taylor.

It was good to see Grambling State DE Christian Anthony back on the field today after a heart condition took away his 2010 season. However, at the same time, he looked like a guy who hasn’t played football in about a year. To his credit, the guy has some natural power when asked to anchor and took on pulling linemen well when run at. However, his overall balance was poor through contact all practice, he didn’t use his hands well enough to disengage and just seemed rusty overall — which is expected. Obviously, there is a huge medical concern with him, but the natural power is there for him to at least get a chance to develop as a practice squad guy at the next level, but he’s going to be a work in progress.

The more I watch Ohio State cornerback Devon Torrence, the less I like the guy (and I came into the year not a fan of his game). Despite the fact he’s a tight-hipped kid who struggles to redirect and maintain balance, he doesn’t even do a decent job of finding the football, thus making him a guy who I can never see making plays in the pass game at the next level.

One corner, on the other hand, who really stood out to me today was UT Chattanooga’s Buster Skrine. He was patient in his back-pedal, showcased good fluidity and balance when asked to change directions and was tough to separate from all practice. Plus, at 5-10 and 186 pounds, he has good enough size for the next level and will definitely be a prospect I will be keeping an eye on closely during the week as he has the makings of a roster guy in the NFL.

California PA quarterback Josh Portis really had a tough go today. He doesn’t spin a real clean football, isn’t real balanced in his drop and because of those faults he had an impossible time driving the football through the winds in San Antonio today. He has some upside as an athlete, but in my view doesn’t even look worth a practice squad spot at this point; simply needs too much work.

I had a number of up and down impressions on Abilene Christian OT Trevis Turner. On the bright side the big guy can bend. He sits into his stance well as a run blocker, fires off the ball quickly and has a little snap to his game. However, he’s raw with his hands, lacks great awareness off the snap and gets upright at the point in the pass game, allowing himself to get jacked vs. the bull rush. He’s an interesting small-school offensive tackle with some bend and size, but I still don’t think I would use even a later-round pick on the guy. Like him more as a free agent.

Call me crazy but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Texas A&M DL Lucas Patterson. He was back playing inside as a DT today and looked good playing the run off his frame, cleanly defeating slide-down blocks and making plays on the football. He’s not a great pass rusher and wasn’t as effective this season as a first-year starting five-technique, but I think with some time the guy could develop into a solid rotational guy in either a 34 or 43 scheme and has the kind of high motor and mental makeup that just makes me think the guy is going to find a way to stick.

Small-school wideout Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State) is a gifted athlete. He’s explosive off the line, gets up to top-end speed quickly and has some real snap out of his breaks. However, he’s not a real polished wideout — routinely drifting/showing his routes early — lacks ideal concentration when asked to adjust to a throw and make a play on the ball and does have some character concerns. Nevertheless, he’s the most dynamic small-school wideout I have seen so far this year and does have the talent to intrigue as a later-round guy.

Finally, Missouri CB Kevin Rutland is a tall, long-legged corner who is stiff when asked to turn and run. He really struggles to keep his pad level down and doesn’t get back up to speed quickly. He was consistently gassed vertically down the field today during practice and isn’t a legit roster guy in my view.

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