Originally written on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 1/16/13

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28: Branden Smith #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Just uppers today, the practice session for myself drifted more towards quarterbacks, receivers, and defensive backs. It was an impressive showing for Emory Blake, Devin Taylor, Robert McCabe, Branden Smith, and Brandon McGee today. Quarterbacks -Nathan Stanley has shown the best arm and the most consistency of any quarterback here, and there’s a lot to like with him, but Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech had another solid day. As expected, the timing/anticipation passer has gotten better every day, and his quick release, tight passes, and touch in the 20-30 yard range is a pleasure to watch. -Collin Klein struggled again today, with multiple off-target passes, and not much has changed since the first day he got here. However, his intrigue still lies in the read-option, “wildcat” role, and possibly at a new position. I’m looking forward to approaching him about that tomorrow.   Running Backs -Without pads, it was another lackluster day to evaluate running backs. I really didn’t have any notes (again, my apologies) other than Ray Graham showing ample quickness and Montell Harris dropping a few passes thanks to lackluster out of backfield routes.   Receivers/Tight Ends -Marcus Davis of Virginia Tech just can’t track the ball past 20 yards. He’s struggled each and every day in that area, and today was no different. He doesn’t get his head around on deeper breaking routes quick enough, he lacks downfield route definition, and despite looking the part, he isn’t a receiver that will make an early contribution in the NFL. -Rodney Smith of Florida State did a better job of finishing catches and adjusting to the ball more consistently today, but he still doesn’t secure the ball and “grab” it out of the air each time. I know he’s had plenty of attention this week thus far, and he could be the highest drafted receiver this week. -I have the most fun watching receivers when Emory Blake of Auburn is running routes. He’s a technician in every route he does, today splitting the safeties on a perfect dig routes as well as still gaining separation on shorter in and out breaking routes. I’m not sure what his upside is, but he’s impression enough to know he’ll stick on an NFL roster. -Rutgers TE DC Jefferson isn’t a favorite of everyone, but he showed two things today that further proved his worth as a top 5 (or earlier) round pick. First, he showed great hand strength and pop in the run game, shoving Sio Moore on the ground for one occasion. And then, he showed the separation ability against linebackers to get upfield and give his quarterback a throwing lane. -Finally, Lucas Reed from New Mexico is a very raw route runner and doesn’t have the savvy to consistently get open in the NFL. But his natural size and length, his ability to play physical in the run and pass game, and extension away from his body as a blocker shows he has upside to be a developmental guy. Offensive/Defensive Line -I stayed mostly away from the line drills after going hard at it on Tuesday, but two guys who stood out today were Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine-Bluff offensive tackle, and Devin Taylor, South Carolina defensive end. Armstead impressed in all facets today, kick sliding well, getting upfield in the run game, and keeping his hands inside. He may end up being the best player from the game this year. -As for Devin Taylor, after an unimpressive day yesterday, he showed great edge setting ability, a strong bull rush, the ability to transition inside, and extending well upfield. After today, he may have jumped back into one of the best offensive/defensive linemen here. Linebackers -The standout of the linebackers today, and the only one I had positive notes for (didn’t see everyone though) was Georgetown’s Robert McCabe. I thought he stayed low, transitioned, and closed very well on tight end and running back routes today, even from a 4-3 SAM Under (on the LOS) spot. He struggled to jam consistently (likely thanks to his size), but he transitioned very well, and was in ideal position in the run game. -On the other hand, Matt Evans from New Hampshire struggled all day today, not picking up running backs/tight ends well, struggled to separate, and struggled mightily to disengage vs. interior lineman at the second level.   Defensive Backs -Melvin White from Louisiana-Lafeyette struggled again today, way too high out of his stance, showing an inability to transition in breaks. He’s just a “size, high upside” cornerback, but very raw, needs work, and may not be worth it. -Brandon Smith of Georgia impressed today, much more than I expected. He closed quickly on routes all day, attacked the receivers well in zone looks, and was physical all day. He had an interception that he played very well, high pointing the ball after coming off his initial man coverage. -Another strong day for Brandon McGee of Miami (FL), keeping his feet, adjusting off his route well, staying low with good body positioning. After a bad first day, he’s showing why he has so much promise. -Earl Wolff adjusted well all day to routes, keeping his back flat and consistently drawing praise from coaches. I wasn’t a big fan of his on film, but his play today makes me want to go back and re-visit him much more.
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