The windiest and coldest day here since I've been in Mobile, it really felt like it was a good day to get evaluations because most of the players felt fairly comfortable with the system and the players around him.
More receivers really stepped up, the biggest name quarterback finally had a day like most hoped for, and what's the biggest problem with Nate Solder? Here are today's North notes:
-The quarterbacks today all had their best day yet from what I saw, and Jake Locker really showcased himself well much of the practice. He had the velocity on the deep passes, looking in rhythmn on the outside patterns, and only struggled deep down the field a few times. Ricky Stanzi looked comfortable moving in and out of the pocket, and Colin Kaepernick showed impressive touch in the middle of the field in throwing over linebackers.
-The two Boise State receivers went in totally opposite directions this practice. Titus Young looked much more consistent catching the ball today, and his breaks were smooth and explosive. He could be among the best receivers in this draft based on his big play ability alone. Austin Pettis, however, struggled getting off the line versus press coverage, and had one of the slowest set of feet among the receivers.
-Dane Sanzenbacher looked solid today in his 2nd day on the team. He was very quick in his routes, efficient in his steps, and drew lots of praises from the Bengals coaching staff. Still, he struggled with more physical cornerbacks, and probably maxes out as a slot or #4 receiver.
-Vincent Brown impressed some more today, nothing new, with great routes and separation, but Dwayne Harris really shined today with at least two outstanding catches and showcased his soft hands and concentration with a defender draped on him. Harris has shown how reliable he can be this week.
-Of the running backs today, Kendall Hunter had by far the quickest feet in drills. He showed it in team drills as well. Also, Demarco Murray didn't necessarily show slow feet, but he's a long strider at times and I wonder how much wiggle he'll have in the NFL.
-Against speed guys or slower rushers, Nate Solder looked the part of an NFL left tackle. However, when bull rushers, especially Ryan Kerrigan and Christian Ballard attacked him inside of his body, he was pushed back and really looked average. Also, I noticed Solder getting in some late hits and small scuffles, including once with a cornerback. I'm not sure if it's a mean streak (which would be okay) or an attitude problem (not okay) and I don't want to assume too much, but that was a slight cause for concern for me.
-Brandon Fusco again showed great technique and balance today, and may be one of the most impressive interior linemen here in Mobile. Also, James Brewer struggled again today, and gets beat pretty easily with quicker, good hand usage pass rushers. Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castanzo both looked solid today, I though Carimi had the best day of the three OTs.
-Lawrence Wilson dropped back in coverage very well today, almost having a pick thanks to his quickness off the snap and reading the quarterback. Also, Casey Matthews has shown all week long that he can match-up in coverage, and was locking on tight ends very well on the flat and with outside routes.
-Last year's biggest winner was Cameron Jordan, and while he still looked very impressive today, he needed a lot of coaching and was only average in getting off double teams today. That's a big issue too if teams hope he can be a 5-technique rusher. Also, Jeremy Beal looked very slow off the snap today and rarely won't battles as a pass rusher. He dropped back as a linebacker a few times, and looked just okay, but wasn't used all that much.
-One of my favorite players here to talk to is Kendric Burney, and I like his game within the first ten yards of his coverage. He's very physical as a press coverage guy, and knocked a stronger receiver in Niles Paul clear off his route. However, he struggles with deeper coverage and he'll need a team with a great pass rush and one that allows him to play close to his receiver.
-Of all the kickers I've seen here, I think Alex Henery is the only guy I would consider drafting. He's shown good trajectory on his kicks and has been relatively consistent from 40-45 yards.
-There was some kickoff and kick returning for a part of practice, and the kick returners were Dwayne Harris, Niles Paul, DeMarco Murray, Joe Lefeged, Kendall Hunter, and Titus Young.
-Rashad Carmichael didn't practice today thanks to a high ankle sprain he reinjured since his final game of the year against UAB. Also, new addition Terrell McClain didn't practice today because he didn't have pads ready for him. Hopefully he can go tomorrow.
-BIGGEST WINNERS: Jake Locker, QB, Washington; Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina; Lawrence Wilson, OLB, UConn, Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State