First off, I’ll just say that combining the fact that it was an “uppers only” practice and I got the chance to meet up and talk with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc for a long while, my West notes today are lacking more than expected.
However, Keenan Davis impressed, two smaller school receiver struggled, Terry Hawthorne and Zeke Motta flashed, an update on Manase Foketi, and Wes Horton with an up and down day.
-Nothing much of real note from my view of the quarterbacks, as everyone played as expected. Matt Scott of Arizona was very erratic in his ball placement, and while he flashes ample velocity, he struggled across the field all day. Alex Carder showed the deep touch, and works hard to get the adequate air on vertical passes, but was hit or miss at times during practice. And Set Doege’s lack of arm stood out once again, in particular on a handful of deep outs that he just could reach on time.
-Without pads (and some lackluster drills), it’s tough to give an actual evaluation of the running backs. But Christine Michael showed off the jump cuts and ability to get upfield, while Kerwynn Williams showcased his speed on both interior runs and on the edge. Hopefully positional drills are more valuable next practice for the running backs.
-Another impressive day from Keenan Davis, as he dominated my tweets most of the day. He was attacking the ball well in the air, finishing catches on the interior, and tracked the ball well vertically. He’s been the only receiver on this roster to have impressive both days.
-I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Dan Buckner today, including working better outside the hashes than I thought he would coming in. He extends very well away from his body, and can finish catches. However, he seems to make catches tougher than they are at times, and could use his body better after the press.
-The small Jasper Collins struggled versus press today, had at least one drop that I saw, and struggled all day with getting separation vs. physical corners. That’s the biggest knock on him,a nd though he impressed when he got vertical yesterday and his routes showed better definition than expected on the outside, he’s no lock to be a draft pick as of now.
-Finally, Tyrone Goard further indicated he’s mostly a one route guy. He got vertical and made a fantastic play on the ball at one point today, showing that’s by far his best value to teams initially, but he struggled to readjust himself against physical cornerbacks, especially when breaking routes on the outside.
-At tight end, Zach Sudfeld of Nevada stood out. Though he lacks great top speed, he separated in the seam well, and has been the target of the QBs both days now.
-The biggest news today was Manase Foketi injury being discovered. He has a pulled right calf, and it seems he may be out all week. That’s really tough news, as he could have really helped his stock this week to be in the Day 2 discussion.
-Also I noted, Blaize Foltz looked a bit slow off the snap, but he snaps his hands up quickly and shows good pop off the line. Also, Sam Brenner of Utah took to coaching today, including two absorbing two coaching points and taking them in stride. I heard from a scout last night on what a smart, coachable, heady guy he is, and he showed that a bit today.
-The most intriguing guy today was USC’s Wes Horton, who showed that he’s still raw in his hand adjustment, gets too high and plays with poor pad level at times. But at other points, including in pass pro drills, he showed some great pop upfield and knocked over the offensive tackle (missed who) on one occasion.
-Also of note on the defensive line, Travis Johnson showed the strongest and most decisive hands in two separate drills, but I haven’t personally see him dominate. Hopefully I’ll catch him against this lackluster offensive tackle class soon.
-I hope there’s pads tomorrow, as the East notes are much more prevalent today than in these West notes.
-Only note I had on linebackers was, on two occasions, Howard’s Keith Pough picked up the running back well out of the backfield. An impressive athlete, Pough is standing out more as a natural linebacker than I expected thus far.
-The best cornerback of the day from my eyes was Terry Hawthorne. The most talented cornerback here and our top rated one coming into the game, he showed great press ability, showing a good understanding of when to sink and adjust vertically as well as stay tight to defend against in-breaking routes. I didn’t see every snap he had, but from what I saw, against both smaller/speedy guys and Dan Buckner, he stayed tight and physical across the field.
-Iowa’s Micah Hyde stayed with his receivers well today, and what he lacks in speed he seemed to make up for in ideal reactions. He’s a major instinct guy, and I think the more he sees these receivers, he’ll be able to compensate for his lack of foot speed more consistently. Also, Khalid Wooten of Nevada flashed as a press cornerback. Like the upside with him.
-Finally, Notre Dame’s Zeke Motta, on two occasions, ran perfectly with receivers in vertical routes. One time, he didn’t turn his head at all, and Keenan Davis nearly made a circus catch around him (but he was in ideal position). The next vertical route, he stayed tight on the receiver’s inside hip, adjusted to the ball, and came up with the interception. If he can cover in man like that, Motta is showing there isn’t much he can’t do at an adequate or beyond level.