Gilyard may lack the bulk you desire at the wide receiver position, but you can’t deny his playmaking ability. Measuring in on Monday morning at 5-foot-11 and 179 pounds, Gilyard took his game to the practice field and was the most impressive player during the North Team practice. Gilyard displayed a burst off the line, quickness in and out of his breaks, soft hands and the ability to adjust to errant throws. Not only did Gilyard demonstrate polish as a receiver, but he also showcased his skills on special teams. During special teams practice, Gilyard looked comfortable returning kickoffs and did a nice job battling the sun. Gilyard is a solid second round prospect, but could elevate his status into first round discussion if he continues to shine this week.
LeFevour has a lot of skills and showed them off on Monday.
The 2010 quarterback class is top-heavy with talented juniors Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame). And outside of the enigma that is Tim Tebow, the senior quarterbacks lack the star quality that’s been represented in the previous years. But on the first day of practice, Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour was a pleasant surprise and clearly outperformed his counterparts on the North Team, Tony Pike (Cincinnati) and Sean Canfield (Oregon State). LeFevour was quick in his drops, showed poise in the pocket, held the ball at chest level and delivered with surprising velocity. A major criticism of LeFevour entering this week was his ability to make all the throws, most notably his arm strength to the outside. On Monday, LeFevour displayed his arm strength, and a lot of that had to do with his feet being setup properly. LeFevour has prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 229 pounds and has plenty of skills to work with; he just has to end up in a situation where he has time to develop.
Mays is a lock to be first round selection in April, but nothing is set as to where he will be selected in the opening frame. Measuring in at 6-foot-3, 231 pounds in front of scouts on Monday, Mays looks and plays like a linebacker in the secondary. An intimidating force that looks for the knockout punch on every play, Mays displayed those skills during Monday’s South practice and received rave reviews from scouts in attendance. Mays’ physical nature was evident during one-on-one drills, as he mauled the opposition at the line during every sequence. In coverage, Mays was surprisingly patient and had a great sense of timing. Nobody questions Mays’ ability; it’s his consistency and the lack of impact numbers he posts that concern observers. With a strong week in Mobile and a solid showing the rest of the off-season, Mays will compete to be a top 10 pick in the draft.
A 5-foot-11, 186-pound physical corner from Rutgers, McCourty has lockdown potential on the outside. During practice, McCourty was fluid in his backpedal, transitioned nicely with receivers and showed good awareness during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. He played tough on the line and didn’t give much of a cushion on the outside. McCourty is an intriguing player that’s receiving plenty of interest from teams in Mobile. He’s an ascending player at this point, and even though it appears he’s likely to be a second round pick, he will receive late first round consideration.
Blessed with the longest arms at the Senior Bowl (35 inches), Iupati possesses the overall mass and versatility that teams salivate over. Iupati wowed NFL personnel and scouts at the weigh-in on Monday morning and featured an imposing 6-foot-5, 325-pound physique. On the practice field for the North Team, Iupati played with leverage, displayed quick feet and kept the defender at bay during individual drills. Despite starting 34 career games at left guard for Idaho, Iupati has the athleticism, length and strength to move to left tackle. If a team views him as a left tackle during the draft process, Iupati’s stock will go through the roof, and there’s a chance he could end up being a top 20 selection.
Graham had a standout day on Monday and finds his stock on the rise.
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
Graham was a huge hit on Monday; scouts that I spoke with at the weigh-in were excited to see him on the field and what he could do off the edge. During individual drills on Monday, Graham dominated Virginia Tech offensive tackle Ed Wang on consecutive instances. He demonstrated a quick first step, a powerful bull rush and a dominant swim move that overwhelmed the overmatched Wang. The 6-foot-1, 263-pound Graham will receive plenty of interest from NFL teams that run a 3-4 defense, and he has a lot of the same qualities that former Wolverines standout and current Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro LaMarr Woodley possesses. He’s a borderline first round prospect at this time, but could easily move into the 22 – 32 range with a strong off-season.
Despite his small stature (5-foot-8, 181 pounds), Ford is a solid playmaker and is extremely effective in space. He only dropped one pass during Monday’s practice; it was the first pass that was delivered in his direction. But after that initial drop, Ford caught every pass thrown his way. He also showed his worth on special teams, and shared duties with Gilyard on kickoff returns. Currently, Ford is likely to be a mid-round draft pick, who with a strong week at the Senior Bowl could receive third round consideration.
A three-year backup and just a one-year starter at West Virginia, Brown has a lot to gain this week in Mobile, and he got off to a promising start on Monday. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound signal caller displayed poise in the pocket, good footwork and recognition skills and delivered a catchable ball to receivers. Brown is still a work in progress and is considered to be a developmental quarterback at best. But on Monday, he was the most consistent quarterback on the South Team.
Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
When you look over the quarterbacks on the North roster, Pike is widely considered to be the highest rated of them all. He may even be the quarterback that translates best to the next level in Mobile. But on Monday, Pike was all over the place with his accuracy, mechanics, touch and velocity. He was quick in his drops, but struggled to set his feet, which resulted in him not throwing tight, accurate passes. It was also surprising that he struggled with intermediate routes; Pike usually connects on crossing patterns. But the biggest concern of all was his lack of touch down field and his inability to drive the ball. He didn’t appear confident during the two-hour afternoon session, and it was obvious he has to get his timing down with the receivers. It was just one practice where the players were wearing shorts and shoulder pads, but it was alarming to witness his poor performance.
Alexander had a breakout year in '09, but failed to impress on Monday.
The best part of Alexander’s day came during the morning weigh-in on Monday. Alexander showed off a strong, chiseled 6-foot-4, 221-pound frame to scouts, and it appeared everyone who attended was impressed. But later in the day on the practice field, Alexander failed to live up to the hype, after he caught 113 passes for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season. Alexander lacked burst during passing drills and dropped three passes. He also struggled with his route running and failed to shield defenders away with his frame. Alexander has a lot of promise and is receiving a lot of attention from scouts. He has to play with greater purpose this week, and show a burst that translates to him being an outside receiver in the NFL.
From the flabby physique at the weigh-in to the poor conditioning that he showed on the practice field, Monday was a day to forget for Mount Cody. Measuring in at a disappointing 370 pounds, Cody’s inability to be an every down player at the next level was apparent, as it appeared that he got winded during the South Team’s practice. Cody lacked burst and didn’t uses his hands well during drills. He’s never posted impact numbers during his career and is considered to be just a space eater in a 3-4 defense. It only takes one team to like a player during the draft, but it’s hard to justify Cody being anything more than a mid-round selection; a major boom or bust prospect.
Skinner was another prospect that impressed during the weigh-in on Monday; he measured in at a solid 6-foot-2, 214 pounds. But on the practice field he featured a choppy backpedal, lacked fluidity in his hips and flashed poor hands. During special teams drills, Skinner was called offside twice. For his effort, one coach yelled, “That’s twice Skinner, you don’t listen son.” It wasn’t the impression Skinner wanted to make during his first meaningful practice in front of NFL personnel.
Ed Wang, OT, Virginia Tech
While Wang has the size you want in an offensive tackle, the lack of athleticism he showed on Monday was eye opening. Wang didn’t move well laterally in pass protection and Michigan’s Brandon Graham ruled him in one-on-one drills. He also had a difficult time staying low and getting under defenders. Wang has to improve his footwork if he expects to compete against the pass rushers in Mobile. It’s going to be a long week for Wang.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.