Today was the last day of practice in full pads for the members of the 2010 Senior Bowl. Some new members joined the group to fill in for injured players, and these players quickly joined the original participants in an effort to impress coaches and scouts in attendance. Today was the last time before the Senior Bowl itself for players to show these evaluators how they play in pads until their individual pro days.
Among those scouts in attendance were representatives of your Houston Texans, including Gary Kubiak. One draftnik witnessed some Texans scouts talking to Idaho guard Mike Iupati, Vanderbilt offensive tackle Thomas Welch, and Fresno State running back Lonyae Miller. Before you get too excited or upset at the notion that Texans evaluators seem to be taking an interest in offensive players, keep in mind that the Smithiak administration usually plays their draft cards pretty close to their vest; both Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin claimed to receive no special attention from the Texans prior to the draft last year.
For note on individual performances today, follow the jump.
Late Edit: As I stated above, Will Spencer of Draft Breakdown reported that Texans evaluators were seen talking to Mike Iupati, Thomas Welch and Lonyae Miller. As TexansDC pointed out in the comments, Drew Dougherty of the Texans official web site just published a report of practices at the Senior Bowl and players that have impressed so far. Intriguingly, Iupati and Miller were both listed in the report along with Dan Williams, Cam Thomas, Dexter McCluster, Perrish Cox, Anthony Dixon, Tyson Aluala and Taylor Mays.
This could all be coincidence, but it is interesting. Those players are not the only players impressing at the Senior Bowl, in fact a few of them such as Dixon and Aluala, have been rarely mentioned in practice reports on other sites. Would it be outside the realm of possibility to assume that Dougherty, who works for the Texans organization and therefore has a great deal of access to the coaches, observed which players had caught the Texans scouts' eyes, spent most of his time watching them in practice and then used them as the centerpiece of his practice report? Dougherty even went as far as to ask Cox, who is a Waco native, what he thought about playing for the Texans.
All of this isn't very scientific, but considering how little was reported by the Chronicle or anyone for that matter on who the Texans were targeting last year for the draft, I'm willing to grasp at straws a little. If anything, it might show the positions and type of players they are interested in, i.e., big defensive tackles such as Williams and Thomas or big bodied running backs like Dixon and Miller.
- LeGarrette Blount (OREG) ran well today, showing his ability to run between the tackles as a one-cut runner. The one area in which he continues to show deficiencies in is running pass routes.
- Matt Tennant (BC) showed flashes of quality play today while taking reps at center. Yesterday, Tennant was beaten a couple of times while playing guard, but he went a decent way to erasing that from memory by stuffing defensive tackles in the middle.
- Chris Cook (UVA) had a good day in coverage. At 6'2", 204 lbs., evaluators are in disagreement whether Cook is better suited as a cornerback or safety in the NFL. Cook did pick off an errant pass while in press coverage, something not easily done by most safeties.
- Jacoby Ford (Clem) had a very good day, finally showing the speed that he is known for. He twice beat Kyle Wilson (BSU), once on a go route, and he was wide open on a crossing pattern during team drills. Ford will likely run extremely well at the combine considering his track background, and he made a case today that he has the receiving skills to go along with his impressive speed.
- Mike Iupati (Idaho) had another strong day in "the pit"--the defensive line vs. offensive line one-on-one drills. As a guard, he is showing he deserves to be the first off the board. He was also played some at right tackle today, and while he didn't look as out of place as he did at left tackle, it was still obvious that he isn't used to playing in space.
- Offensive tackle Ed Wang (VT) and guard Shawn Lauvao (ASU) have been continuously beaten in the pit during both days of full pad practices. Lauvao got completely run over by Alex Carrington (Arkansas St.) on a defensive stunt.
- Brandon Graham had another strong day, strengthening the growing feeling that he might have a shot to be drafted in the first round. He did, however, lose containment during the team drills on a bootleg play. Jared Odrick (PSU) also continued his good play and received praise for his penetration during the pit drills.
- There seems to be mixed feelings on linebacker Darryl Washington (TCU). Some analysts such as Mike Mayock think that he is a prototypical WLB in a 4-3 because of his sideline-to-sideline speed, while others feel he is too small and lacks physicality in his play.
- Ed Dickson (OREG) had a phenomenal day by running crisp routes, showing good speed, and catching everything thrown his way. The question for Dickson now will be can he play as a complete tight end by blocking.
- SYd'Quan Thompson (CAL) is another divisive player amongst analysts. This is because he looks out of place in one-on-one drills, but looks good in seven-on-seven and team drills. Thompson lacks the speed to keep up with speedy vertical threats, but plays the run and underneath routes very well with aggressiveness and decisiveness.
- Taylor Price (Ohio) and Mardy Gilyard (CIN) both had good days running routes and catching the ball. Gilyard's speed is unmatched among North receivers, while Price has shown the best hands.
- Perrish Cox (OK St.) intercepted two passes within four plays today, both of them reportedly tough plays. These ball skills will undoubtedly cause his stock to rise.
- Taylor Mays (USC) had another rough day in coverage. Mays seems to be more suited to make big hits over the middle rather than breaking up passes.
- Ben Tate (AUB) ran well today and performed well in pass protection.
- Myron Rolle (FSU) is still shaking off the rust that came from a year away from football while at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Rolle is not a ball hawk as shown by his low interception totals, but he is in incredible shape and you know he is intelligent.
- I continue to be impressed by Nate Allen (USF). He holds up better in one-on-one coverage against receivers than expected of a safety, but sometimes fails to turn his head an locate the ball when he is in position to break up a pass.
- Shay Hodge (Ole Miss) did much better than the previous two days in getting off press coverage and making solid catches. Hodge is a big body receiver and can improve his stock greatly during the game and at the combine.
- Riley Cooper (UF) seems to be the best receiver on the South at beating jams at the line and beating coverage with physical play. He still shows inconsistency with his hands.
I apologize for a lack of reporting on the South practice, but the practice was delayed, so the first 45 minutes of the hour coverage on NFLN consisted of watching players warm up. I should have better notes for tomorrow's practice.