RSP author Matt Waldman shares his thoughts on the second day of Senior Bowl practices.
The Lions staff left observers wanting more after Day 1 of Senior Bowl practices. Detroit gave a lot more to its audience on Day 2.
We saw a lot more 11-on-11 opportunities, one-on-one drills, as well as a stalk-block drill where receivers took on defensive backs one-on-one with another receiver as the runner.
Below are reps that I found notable from the practice–and there’s plenty here. While the stalk-blocking drill was informative and several receivers performed reasonably well, there were few notable performers in terms of ideal technique.
The runners working between the tackles in 12-on-12 did a competent job with most reps, even when creases were absent. You will see a few of these reps below.
I’ll share overall thoughts on players late Thursday night or Friday morning.
Running Back Pass-Pro and One-on-One Receiving Drills
Joshua Kelley led off with a one-hand extension towards an edge rusher and sliding into position at the height of the linebacker’s arc. However, Kelley wasn’t aggressive enough with his hands to slow the linebacker’s efforts and he missed his chance to redirect with the defender.
Kelley didn’t deliver his hands with violence during his second assignment and the rusher immediately earned control of Kelley’s chest with his hands and pulled the runner off-balance on the way to the quarterback by working across the face of Kelley and using an arm-over of Kelley’s inside shoulder.
Kelley’s first route broke to the flat after he put a shake and arm-over on the linebacker. Both moves were sharp, but the break wasn’t flat enough and it allowed the linebacker to break up Kelley’s reach for the target. On the next route, Kelley made a flatter break after shaking the defender early and also doing a better job selling a vertical break with a couple of steps upfield before breaking with a good line to the flat and catching the ball well ahead of the defender. Kelley then lined up outside against off coverage and set up the in-cut with a shake, breaking flat with the initial steps past the stem, and then angling the break downfield for the catch and room to run.
In 11-on-11’s, Kelley was smart to scrape the inside shoulder of his right guard to maximize the space in the crease from a 12 personnel set.
JaMycal Hasty led off the second day of pass protection drills with the same issue he displayed with the first rep of these drills on Day 1–he missed his shot with his hands and it cost him the assignment. Today, Hasty overextended his frame and gave up a swim move by linebacker Evan Weaver, who worked past Hasty in quick fashion to the quarterback. He had initial difficulty anchoring against linebacker Zach Baun but managed to stave off the initial bull rush after giving up a few steps before finally anchoring within a yard of the quarterback.
Hasty whipped his opponent on his first rep as a receiver, abbreviating the duration of his shake move and delivering an arm-over to work outside the off-coverage and then giving another shake at the top of his stem to break inside for the catch. The linebacker was still well-behind Hasty as the back made the catch. Although he did a good job of reaching away from his frame for the ball, he doesn’t have much of a catch radius-wingspan when extending his arms. When split wide, he earned inside position with a three-step release move and a chop of his outside arm with a full-motion to get over the reach of the opponent. He didn’t earn enough separation to avoid the trailing defender’s reach to the ball past Hasty’s frontside shoulder that knocked the ball away. Hasty’s break could have been sharper to prevent the reach from the opponent.
Darius Anderson earned good depth and squared his opponent during his first assignment but he doesn’t shoot his hands with the form and violence necessary to generate force. He maintained position long enough for a quick throw off a first read but he was not stout enough to withstand a pull-down and shed by the edge rusher. On the next rep, he set late and to the inside on a one-on-one assignment with an edge rusher and couldn’t move laterally after contact with the defender.
Anderson earned quick separation on the linebacker playing off coverage with a move early in the stem to set up a path outside the defender and then worked vertically before breaking to the flat on a deep cross. He arrived a step shy of the target as a member of the coaching staff urged Anderson to leg-out the break to reach the ball. Anderson beat the off coverage of his next assignment with a sharp stick to the linebacker’s outside shoulder. He worked across the field and extended well for the ball while on the move across the middle, snaring the target over his outside shoulder. Anderson delivered an excellent break with a flat line on an in-cut from a wide alignment that earned him a good position for the catch on the next target. He earned a full step at the break-point of this route despite facing an opponent playing off-coverage with inside shade because he delivered a stem to threaten the outside and a sharp stick and turn with the flat break.
Anderson spotted a bounce-out opportunity early in a 12-personnel run that he took outside the containment around the short corner for a nice gain. He also ran a counter-play from shotgun where he made an excellent cut inside a defender at the edge of the formation for significant yardage.
Darius Anderson with nice work on the counter. Sharp cut at the edge and before that, good bend on the bounce. pic.twitter.com/og6eScyegB
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) January 23, 2020
Anderson and Kelley made the best decisions regardless of the presence or absence of a crease when working in 11-on-11 situations.
Tight End Receiving Reps
Good work from Brycen Hopkins at all three phases of this route.
Physical, graceful, and technical. pic.twitter.com/nRMGpD05l6
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) January 23, 2020
Brycen Hopkins: On a sail route against tight coverage, Hopkins showed sharp handwork to chop through the initial reach of the defender and then executed an abbreviated but violent rip at the top of his stem. Hopkins finished the route with a turn behind the momentum of his break to make the catch of the errant throw near the boundary. This was a fluid route with violent snap in the turn and use of his hands.
Hopkins followed up with an excellent move during his stem to bait the grabbing defender outside before dipping back to the inside and chopping down on the defender’s reach as he broke to the post, which freed him of the defender’s grasp. Hopkins leaped for the high-and-hot throw, earning full extension to the ball and turning his back to the trailing defender at his inside shoulder with a good pull-down.
Hopkins then beat the outside shade of an off-coverage linebacker with an excellent sale of the post with his head, pads, hips, and knees, before taking two small steps to pivot back to the inside and cross the face of the trailing defender biting on the post. Hopkins’s good habit of snapping his turns helped him against a defender playing him tight and physical from an inside shade position on this route breaking to the flat below.
Although not caught, Brycen Hopkins understands that violent/snappy hands and turns win vs physical play. pic.twitter.com/XYM5BouNXt
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) January 23, 2020
Charlie Taumoepeau: He executed a sluggish first rep, not showing suddenness off the line of scrimmage. He attempted a two-handed swipe on the coverage, but could not clear the defender fast enough and lumbered through his break as the ball arrived at the spot where Taumoepeau should have been.
Taumoepeau faced outside shade as he released from a three-point stance on the next rep. He used an arm-over as the defender reached for him and then set up his break inside with a look-out to the boundary as he reached the top of the stem. The quickest part of the route was the initial get-off from the line. The rest was notably slower than his peers and again, “lumbering” is the descriptor that comes to mind.
Taumoepeau might have earned two steps on the defender but remember that the defender began the route playing outside shade of the tight end. Once again, his pacing was deliberate at best on an over route where he earned position early against off coverage playing outside shade away from the break. Despite being slower than his peers, he’s fluid enough to turn behind the break-path and catch the football with his hands.
Sean McKeon: He won his first rep with a quick dive inside the coverage and a rip that failed to work. Although he nearly stumbled after the rip, McKeon learned into the defender and snapped his turn through the contact, earning separation as the bump on the defender dropped the defender to the ground. McKeon made the catch with his hands framed at helmet-level at his back shoulder.
Adam Trautman: He sold the corner route after getting his coverage to turn its hips to cover a deep seam route. Trautman finished the pattern with a sharper bend to the boundary for an out. He caught the ball that arrived behind his break-point with good framing of his hands.
Trautman then won a post route that he set up with the sale of the corner route. He began from a three-point stance against the linebacker playing tight at the line. Although Trautman’s turn back to the inside after selling the corner route to the left hash earned him a lot of separation, the route covered a lot of horizontal space and would only work realistically if paired with a slow-developing play like a play-action throwback.
His next target came against a safety playing tight to the line and Trautman earned a step of separation but the ball arrived late and to back shoulder at an angle where the trailing defender had an easy position to defend the target.
James Proche: He earned separation on a short curl with a good break back to the ball after crossing the face of the off-coverage defender during his stem off of the line. Proche ran the out during a rep and the cornerback maintained excellent position through the receiver’s chop and rode Proche up the stem and undercut the break from trail position.,
He earned a target with a step on the cornerback while breaking on a crossing route but could not maintain possession after the ball struck his well-framed hands reaching for the target. The corner’s swat was enough to disrupt the process of securing the ball, which Proche should have done on this play.
Later, he earned an easy play on a short out against coverage shading Proche to the inside. A quick arm-over and flat turn did the trick. Proche’s best work of the afternoon came on an over route during 11-on-11’s where he worked across the middle, settled in the opposite flat and caught a pass that was fitted between the high and low defender. Good extension over his head and turn inside for the ball. It wasn’t a catch of high difficulty but the window was a tight one and the tracking was the most challenging part of the target.
By the way, this was the second daring throw in the middle of the field that I noted from Anthony Gordon this week. This one was close enough to the edge of reckless that I’m not sure I’d say I admired it.
Perhaps the best thing Proche did during the second session was block. The Lions simulated perimeter blocking on a receiver screen with a ballcarrier. Proche was among the best at working chest-to-chest, turning his opponent, and sustaining his effort.
Antonio Gandy-Golden: It became clear after the first day of practice that Gandy-Golden leans on the arm-over as his release move, and dares defenders to force the strong receiver off his line. Defenders couldn’t pull it off on Tuesday. Today, Gandy-Golden earned initial position off the line with a chop but he got his inside arm tangled under the arm of the tight-coverage of the cornerback and he failed to complete his turn on the break. This left the corner in position to knock the target away.
Although he earned separation and the catch on an in-breaking route during the next rep, he nearly got pushed to the boundary while struggling to work free of contact when the defender beat Golden-Gandy to the punch. This was a good example of what will happen to Golden-Gandy until he learns additional release moves to combat opponents who anticipate the arm-over and beat the receiver with first-contact.
Gandy-Golden earned initial separation on a go route with a well-placed and violent arm-over but the lofted throw gave the cornerback time to recover and also forced the receiver to wait on the ball. Gandy-Golden worked to the inside shade of the tight coverage off the line, dipping the outside shoulder from the corner’s reach and then execute an effective throw-by with his arm while breaking outside. He finished the play with good extension through contact to his arms to catch the ball near the boundary. He caught a go route later in the session after using the arm-over with precision to earn the position and maintain his line up the stem despite an attempt to pin him to the sideline. During 11-on-11’s Gandy-Golden worked inside the cornerback and used a three-step move with arm-over to earn a lot of separation on a go route but dropped Shea Patterson’s perfectly-thrown target. It was the most egregious drop Gandy-Golden had all week.
Antonio Gandy-Golden almost exclusively uses the arm-over as his tight-coverage release weapon but he’s precise and hard to move off his line. Good player with room to get better. pic.twitter.com/z6nnYGYIAK
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) January 23, 2020
K.J. Hill: The quick-footed Hill sold the defender to the outside with a stem towards the sideline and then dipped inside and upfield before breaking across the field for easy separation on the over-route. This was an efficient route that used angles to tell the story rather than multiple moves that can slow-down the pattern and deceive the less learned into thinking that the receiver’s work was impressive.
Hill once again earned separation to the inside with a dive outside and a well-placed arm-over as he broke inside that sent the defender reeling to the ground. Hill dropped the throw despite extending and framing his hands well. Hill won another route breaking to the flat because he broke the route back to the quarterback, which mattered greatly because the cornerback used outside shade to begin the play and remained patient with Hill’s dive to the inside at the early stages of the route. .
Denzel Mims: Like Hill’s initial display during his first rep of the day, Mims used angular and efficient moves to win his route. He dove inside the defender to set up a throw-by to seal his move back to the outside to set up the out route. The target wasn’t accurate but the route showed off another part of Mims’ library of moves to combat tight coverage at the line of scrimmage.
Mims pushed off at the top of his stem on a short-breaking hitch later in the session and was well past the five-yard mark when doing so. Mims did a better job of punching early with both hands off the line on the next route, a streak that he finished with a stack, and then late hands to snare the ball over his shoulder.
Denzel Mims illustrates “late hands” on this go route. pic.twitter.com/InkWWfV9CL
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) January 23, 2020
Mims executed another throw-by at the top of his stem to earn separation on an out.
Michael Pittman, Jr.: Beginning the one-on-one sessions with a slant, Pittman used a two-step hesitation move to work outside and then swiped inside to earn a position for the catch. Pittman had to balance-touch his hand to the ground during a three-step break on a sideline curl that was too slow and unbalanced to succeed. Pittman hasn’t shown much with his hands at the line of scrimmage and against tight man downfield. He got hung up trying to shake the reach of a corner at his hip on a streak that resulted in Pittman being 1-2 steps shy of the ball in the end zone.
Quartney Davis: His coverage anticipated the out and undercut the receiver’s break as the receiver reached the top of his stem. He gave an outside-in move off the line that he punctuated with a swipe to earn separation on a shallow crossing route but he didn’t extend his arms enough to fully attack the ball and he let the target bounce off his hands and chest. Davis dropped another route breaking across the middle despite easy separation because he didn’t frame his hands tight enough to the ball that arrived a step ahead of his frame in-stride and at chest level. Another drop of an easy catch.
He pushed off at the top of his stem to earn a hitch later in the session. He ended the session with an arm-over through his stem against tight coverage that wasn’t physical and it used his separation to stack and then break back to the ball for the catch on the curl. Davis then dropped a curl route at the boundary in seven-on-seven drills where he only needed a small jump to high-point the ball. Davis made the initial catch but coverage over top swatted at Davis’ arms and the receiver lost control of a target that should have been a catch despite the contact.
Chase Claypool: He caught a dig route but only after multiple attempts during the stem and break to release from the tight coverage that would have been enough to dissuade a quarterback from targeting Claypool if this were a primary or secondary route on the play. In fact, the defender’s ability to stay patient and in position through Claypool’s movement resulted in Claypool losing his balance at the top of the stem. This was not a “winning” rep even if it counted as a catch.
Claypool ran a speed out against off coverage, flattened his break back to the passer, and extended for the ball. He made the initial catch but the defender’s swat of Claypool’s arms forced the receiver to reinforce his possession of the ball as he was falling away from the target with arms fully extended. He made a good catch.
He made a diving catch later in the session off a short hitch where he pushed the defensive back off the line and executed a hard break back to the QB but didn’t continue moving outside until the ball was in the air and he released he had to dive for the target. It was a good catch but highlights that he’s a banger with length but not sudden and it can lead to plays that require more difficult execution than they should.
For additional Senior Bowl coverage, check out Matt Waldman’s RSP 2020 Senior Bowl Page for a schedule and links to previews, practice reports, podcasts, film breakdowns, and commentary.
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