Practice Report: Rookie Minicamp Day 2

Day 2 of rookie minicamp is in the books, and here are my evolving impressions of the players here this weekend:

  • Daniel Jones has more than enough juice to throw the deep ball, and get the ball on a straight line 15+ yards down the field with velocity to the sideline from the opposite hash mark. What I like about how Jones plays the position is ability to manage velocity. Despite the multitude of drops he dealt with at Duke (and some at camp on Friday), he puts excellent touch on the football and doesn’t zip it unless the throw demands it. Maintaining consistent accuracy will be a far larger component of his future success than arm strength, as Pat Shurmur discussed at his Saturday afternoon press conference.
  • Jones’ best throw in practice came on a bullet on a deep post to tryout receiver from Duquesne, Nehari Crawford. He beat Julian Love and Jones threaded the needle to him in stride for the big gain. I haven’t see Crawford, who is built like a slot receiver, drop a pass.
  • DeAndre Baker hasn’t allowed many catches against him during rookie minicamp, and he has shown off his physical style. There were a few penalties on defensive backs for excessive contact on Friday, but the rookies played much cleaner in their coverage on Saturday.
  • Baker had two notable plays in practice. On one snap when he was asked to play off-coverage, he was beaten on a stop and go but couldn’t come up with the catch on an underthrown ball. A few players later, he played perfect tight man and got his head around just in time to deflect a deep pass into the hands of defensive back Whitfield McKinely, who grabbed the interception. Baker is a true bump and run, press cornerback, and James Bettcher will likely give him ample opportunities to play that way in his defensive scheme.
  • Dave Gettleman mentioned safety as a possible position for Julian Love at his post-draft press conference. During this weekend’s camp, he has played in the slot, outside cornerback, and at safety. If Grant Haley proves to be the superior slot cornerback, maybe Love will also be in the competition at free safety. His tackling, ball skills and ability to break on the ball in zone is something he showed often at Notre Dame and it should translate well to the free safety position.
  • Oshane Ximines was in the backfield often on Saturday. I look forward to seeing him in full pads in training camp when he gets the chance to battle offensive linemen who can be physical with him. With shorts and no pads, he looks like a very promising pass rusher with great hands and a lot of quickness.
  • Dexter Lawrence is playing up and down the line, not just at nose tackle. His quickness is apparent for a man of his size. He should impact the defense right away.
  • Fifth round linebacker Ryan Connelly made a nice play on the ball, covering a running back man to man in the slot. He navigated into the flat with him, and got his hand cleanly around the back to knock the ball away.
  • Fellow linebacker and undrafted free agent Josiah Tauaefa from the University of Texas-El Paso has shown a good motor throughout the weekend. He positioned himself perfectly on a slant that would have resulted in a big hit over the middle.
  • Swiss army knife Mark McLaurin from Mississippi State is an interesting player. He is listed as a linebacker at 212 pounds, but he was also asked to play a bit as a defensive back/safety in dime packages during practice. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher likes versatile players, and he might have the strength to play near the line, and the speed to cover in the back end.
  • Nate Harvey, an outside linebacker from East Carolina, is another interesting player. The undrafted free agent signee is just 237 pounds but had 12 sacks in his final collegiate season. He certainly has talent, and I’m curious how James Bettcher decides to deploy him. He missed Saturday’s practice with an injury.

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