CANTON, Ohio – Sunday was the first day of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy and campers got to go through their first practice Sunday night. Here are some of the key takeaways from the first of six practices.
I WAS IMPRESSED WITH ...
There aren’t many occasions during camp season when there is a collection of this many talented defensive backs on the same field. Five-star Tyreke Johnson, the top rated defensive back in the 2018 class, lived up to his ranking, displaying crisp footwork and winning the large majority of his reps during one-on-ones. Highly rated four-star Asante Samuel wasn’t far behind Johnson. The 2018 prospect on the smaller side for a cornerback, but his technique is very advanced, he is very patient, and is extremely explosive. Fellow 2018 defensive backs Kalon Gervin, Brendon Radley-Hiles, and Isaiah Humphries were also very good.
The entire group of running backs was outstanding. Florida State commit James Cook and four-stars Lorenzo Lingard, Ricky Person, and TJ Pledger were pretty much unstoppable. Cook and Pledger had the best feet during drills and Lingard and Person excelled during the one-on-one session. Leddie Brown, another 2018 running back, was also very impressive. He’s added some good weight and did a good job separating from the defenders in the open field.
Defensive end K.J. Henry was the most dominant lineman on either side of the ball. He is faster, has better technique, and is more experienced than any of the offensive linemen he went against. Expect the coaches to challenge him more and more as the week goes on.
I WAS SURPRISED BY ...
When we saw 2018 Rivals100 defensive tackle PJ Mustipher at the Rivals Camp in New Jersey in April, he looked a bit out of shape and a little slow off the line. The Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh star showed up in Canton looking much slimmer and seemed to have his quickness back. None of the offensive linemen Mustipher faced could stop his forward momentum and he did a good job of shooting the gaps to get to the quarterback.
The way Richard Gouraige played at offensive tackle instantly made everyone watching forget that he is listed as a defensive end. The four-star is every bit the 6-foot-5 he is listed and he has a ton of room to fill out his frame. Gouraige’s quick feet, physicality, and strong punch are major assets that he can build upon. He already has a long offer sheet, but many more offers are in store for him.
Defensive tackle Marcus Kidd has only play one season of football and his technique is very raw but he possesses athleticism that few players his size have. He is very quick off the line of scrimmage and has a good motor. Kidd may not pan out as a defensive lineman, but he has all the tools to be an impressive right tackle with the right coaching. Don’t be surprised if he is a late offer for a Group of Five or Power Five school.
Penn State 2018 Rivals100 commit Micah Parsons is a very impressive prospect. He will play defensive end in college and he is exceptionally athletic. On Sunday, he did position drills with the wide receivers and could consistently get open during the one-on-one sessions. Parson also took a few reps as a defensive back but had mixed results.
The linebacker group isn’t very deep but is headlined by 2018 Rivals100 prospect Dax Hollifield. As an inside linebacker, he will rarely have to cover running backs in games like he does in the camp setting, but he still held his own.
Quarterbacks Jalen Mayden and James Foster led the quarterback group. Foster is committed to North Carolina and his skill set seems to be a good fit in the Tar Heel offense. Mayden, a four-star prospect, has a very high ceiling and showed that he is a seasoned veteran of the camp circuit.