Area scout Todd Brunner checks in again from Houston, Texas, site of the annual East-West Shrine Bowl. **
The best part of Wednesday's practices was that the weather warmed up some more and got close to 70. It was bright and sunny, and I actually got a sun burnt face. I'm definitely not complaining since it's about 10 degrees back home.
Our staff got together Wednesday night and we discussed all of the players down here this week who maybe separated themselves or answered some concerns we had.
So, in addition to the guys I talked about the other day, I'll highlight a few guys on each team who had pretty good practices in my opinion.
First up to mention on the West squad was Gartrell Johnson, a running back from Colorado State. He runs hard and showed some power with the football. He practiced hard every day this week.
Oregon State wide receiver Sammie Stroughter caught the ball very well this week, showed quickness, and the ability to get open. He might not be the fastest guy, but he's quick and he's able to separate himself from coverage. He also finishes as well by making the catch.
USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava also was impressive. He's a typical USC linebacker, involved in all of the plays and around the ball a lot. He's a good sized kid who can run.
A kid who some Bay Area football fans might already know about is defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert from San Jose State. He had a real nice week. He's a big kid, has great size, and showed some quickness off the ball and pass rush skills. I only saw a couple days of practices on him but he looked pretty good and from what I hear, he shows up on tape as well. So, I'm interested to watch some tape of him and I expect that he'll be at our local workout this spring.
Over on the East squad, I'll first mention Curtis Taylor, a defensive back from LSU. He's a big kid with some really good range. He was getting to the ball and blowing people up when he had the opportunity.
One of the guys I was paying close attention to from my area was defensive back Don Carey from Norfolk State. I was there in the fall and watched him and I saw some of the same things this week. The kid is a real good athlete. He's smooth and has very good feet. He's not really technique sound right now, but he's a kid who has potential. He's probably a guy most teams will look at on the second day of the draft and he may take awhile to get polished up, but he could contribute early on special teams.
Wide receiver Taurus Johnson of South Florida had a productive week of practice. He's got real good hands and has good awareness. Any time he had an opportunity to catch the ball along the sidelines, he did a good job getting his feet down. I really thought he stood out down here.
Another small school kid from my area who did well was tight end Brian Mandeville from Northeastern. He's got the NFL body. He caught the ball well down here and runs good routes. My biggest concern with him was his blocking, but he did a good job down here. He needs to fine tune some things, but he showed he can do it. He may surprise someone late in the draft. He's a little bit like the tight end in New York, Kevin Boss. I'm not saying he's going to be him, but he's got some potential.
So all in all, it was a good week of practice. I think both teams are pretty evenly matched so it should be a pretty good game. I'll get the tape of it after the fact, and will watch to see how the guys performed when it was game time.
I got the majority of my questionnaire forms back so that was good, and for the guys who forgot to turn them in, we'll track them down at the Senior Bowl or the Combine.
The only bad part about the week was that I tried to get on a standby flight this afternoon and didn't make it. Instead I had to sit in the airport for a few hours, but it gave me time to do this blog!
I'll be checking in next week, along with Ethan Waugh, with daily updates from the Senior Bowl.