South practice is all wrapped up at Ladd Peebles Stadium and that brings day three at the Senior Bowl to a close. Like yesterday, practice got off to a slow start. The South squad seems to have an unhealthy obsession with special teams. Around 20 minutes worth of the practice was spent running gunner drills and various work on the special teams unit. It really ruined any rhythm in practice that the South team could have had. With all this work they’ve spend on special teams, the South better return a kick or a two for a touchdown.
Below are some of the highlights and lowlights from today’s practice:
-Arizona’s Brooks Reed and Sam Acho of Texas were working out with the linebackers today. Reed seemed to have the better footwork of the two throughout linebacker drills. Acho has still failed to live up to his hype coming into the week. It’s been a disappointing week from the former Longhorn.
-Tight end Preston Dial of Alabama has done a lot better than anticipated this week. Dial has shown some great explosion into his blocks and has very reliable hands. While running routes early in practice, Dial reeled in two spectacular one-handed grabs. During one-on-one’s Dial beat safety DeAndre McDaniel of Clemson, while Florida’s Ahmad Black suffered the same fate only in a more dominating fashion.
-Leonard Hankerson spent another day being Leonard Hankerson. A big, impressive route runner who uses sudden body movement to get separation from the defensive backs. Hankerson did drop a ball today, but other than that appeared flawless. Greg Salas of Hawaii also had a good day. Salas caught everything with his hands early — contrary to a questionable report that I saw earlier in the week. Salas won every one of his one-on-one battles, even juking Shareece Wright out of his shoes on the final rep of practice.
-Also at receiver, Courtney Smith of South Alabama continued his struggles. I had him down for four drops on the day and he has been having a rough time getting separation. Smith has the body of an NFL receiver, but is still too raw. I see Smith being a mid-to-late round developmental prospect. He has the physical tools, he just needs to bring his concentration up to par.
-Running backs Derrick Locke and Bilal Powell continued to add on to their solid weeks. Locke has shown great vision, while Powell has shown great footwork and a constant effort to gain the extra yard. Powell has been one of my favorite backs here in Mobile. He has performed right up there with Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray.
-The quarterbacks still failed to stand out. Christian Ponder holds on to the ball way too long, Greg McElroy seems to be the most consistent of the group and I just don’t see the hype for Andy Dalton. Dalton hasn’t shown a strong arm and his accuracy has been spotty. Dalton is afraid to go deep — possibly because he doesn’t have the arm to do so. I have heard reports of people being very high on Dalton, but they just must be watching something other than what I’ve seen.
-Along the offensive line, Baylor’s Danny Watkins was impressive. He won all of his one-on-one’s in what seemed to be a shortened session in the pit. Lee Ziemba continued his struggles this week as he didn’t win any one-on-one’s. KJ Wright beat Ziemba to the outside twice. DeMarcus Love of Arkansas also struggled at left tackle. Derek Sherrod failed to live up to expectations, but hasn’t been horrible.
-No player along the South offensive line has been horrible, however, none are spectacular. It is going to be interesting to see how they can contain the North defensive line which includes Cameron Jordan and Christian Ballard.