2016 NFL Regional Combine Baltimore Review (Defense)
By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Owings Mills, MD – Who said great things don’t come from Baltimore? Despite self-inflicting issues of crime and questionable politics that clouds the news, there are countless achievements surfacing throughout the communities of Charm City, which garners no praise through the media. The NFL Regional Combine agonizes the same lack of appreciation as Baltimore. Still, Baltimore and the RC will continue to move forward and don’t be surprise when the next big thing is produced by both settings to astonish their worlds.
Baltimore and the NFL Regional Combine shared the spotlight Saturday as a portion of the football world was focus on the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mill, MD.
The defensive players kicked the door in with 80 NFL hopefuls. And for some, getting to the NFL is no longer a hope, just a matter of when.
When it comes to discipline, Eddie Davis III of Rowan would be a great example. The 6-0, 190-pound New Jersey native was sounded in all his movement and footwork. After transferring from Wagner to be with his family, Davis III never lost sight of his NFL dreams.
“I paid attention to my coaches, trusting their words,” said Davis III. “In the offseason, I trained with a player from the Philadelphia Soul, James Romain. He’s been helping me all the time, working on my footwork.”
When asked what would Romain say if he was at the Combine viewing his performance, Davis stated, “He would congratulate me.”
Ardy Holmes of Charlotte is a great definition of explosiveness. The 5-9, 199-pound defensive back displayed great balance and ball skills. But his ability to turn his hips out and explode towards to ball was amazing.
However, the pioneer program builder for Charlotte admittedly recognizes he needs to develop more speed.
“It (Charlotte) was a new program and I wanted to be one of first to help build it,” said Holmes when asked why he attended the program. ‘I trained with D-1 for my explosiveness, but I was born with ball skills. In little league, they would throw the ball up and I would go and get it over everybody no matter how big they were.”
Since speed kills in the NFL, Douglas Moss of New Hampshire should be on the league’s most wanted list. His ability to move, establishing solid footwork and balance, without losing his speed, help set him a part. It’s a good chance that he plays faster during games.
In regards to his running ability, Moss credited his account to an usual, but sensible solution.
“Playground speed, playing with my boys in Alabama,” said Moss about his greatest skill set. “You play with speed, you get faster. But I credit my training at Tech Football Academy and I got faster…God gave me this speed and got to use it.”
When asked what NFL teams will say after scouting his video, Moss humbly replied, “Boy, he’s fast (laughter).”
NFL scouts probably would have an Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants wide receiver) sighting after witnessing New Hamphire Lamar Edmonds’ blonde mohawk hair style.
“I had the blonde hair a few years now. I let it grow out, I cut it down, then I grew it back out again a couple of months ago and everybody was saying ‘Odell, Odell.’ I said it’s not Odell, It’s Lamar (laughter),” said Edmonds.
What NFL clubs will say is the versatile defensive back has great closing and tracking speed. Edmonds showcased good hands, but he couldn’t forecast his mastery of tackling, which is his self-proclaim strongest suit.
“In college, I played corner and free (safety),” said Edmonds. One of my strongest suits is my physicality. I was born to tackle.”
Mike Williams of Lock Haven was aggressive in all his drills. Combined with power, speed and balance, Williams was determined as he finished hard in each output.
“I wanted to give a hundred percent, I gave it my all,” said Williams. “I came this far. After playing football for 15 years, I can’t stop now. I know I can’t make all the plays, but I got to try to make every play. I’ve been working hard everyday with my roommate, Tony Ballon. He’s one of my best friends back home. We have the same mission, the same dream, grinding everyday to get to the next level…I still have plenty of work to do. I got to get back to the lab and fine tone my craft.”
Morgan State linebacker Joel Scott exploded off the charts with a 4.6o 40 time and a 37.5 vertical, topping all linebackers. Scott demonstrated he can be the complete package.
Mounting out to be just as solid were Gregory Hilliard of Wagner and Michael Savage of West Virginia Wesleyan.
Hilliard is a physical athlete with all the traits of being a hybrid linebacker, with good hands to follow. Hilliard moves on his toes extremely well and has great closing speed. Now, Hilliard is focusing on his back pedaling skills. When he defines that area of need, the 6-2, 235-pound linebacker could help provide depth for any squad due to his above and beyond character.
“We (Wagner) have a lot of good players,” said Hilliard. “I tried my best to do a little bit extra to help my team, but I definitely focused on my back pedaling because that doesn’t come natural for me.”
Savage is a traditional linebacker who pays attention to details. The calculated linebacker has solid footwork, very balanced and his motor only ends when the whistle is blown. Savage is driven to not only to get to the NFL, but to be the best.
“This was an interview and I took it that way,” said Savage. “I was very serious, very focus, very goal driven. That’s how I’ve been especially these last upcoming days coming up to this combine. I just wanted to feel like I was ready to go…I was here to do what to was suppose to do. And I came to do business.”
Defensive end Braden Bennett of Wesley is pretty light for the position. Nevertheless, he is crazy strong. The explosive lineman is quick off the edges, uses his hands well and possesses the speed a pass rusher needs in today’s NFL. Registering a 4,86, towering all defensive linemen, was a testament to his skills.
But he needs a better spin move to complete his technique.
“Every Sunday, I watch a lot of techniques. Hands in the dirt, people standing up, I just watch and watch,” said Bennett. “I seen in 2011 or 12, Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers) came off the corner, pumped up and came back with a spin. Best move I ever seen. I tried to do that, but I have to do a better spin (laughter).”
Johnson C. Smith’s Austin Jacques isn’t fancy, just practical. Jacques kept everything simple Saturday, and attack. Jacques blitzed the drills with power and fundamentals. Basically, Jacques viewed the combine as everyday football preparedness, and he was definitely prepared.
“Bag drills are bag drills, broad jumps are broad jumps, 40’s are 40’s, especially when it comes to position drills,” said Jacques, with confidence. “It’s what you do over and over throughout the season so as long as we’re been playing football. So, I came in with the mentality of knowing what to do.”
Wide receiver Avius Capers represented Johnson C. Smith as a Carolina Panther for a brief time last season. Jacques hopes to be the next player from the pride program to get to the NFL.
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